Inner Circle

 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Dear Inner Circle,


Time for some straight talking. Some religions have demonstrated a propensity for violence. All religions long for peace but some have a history, so consistently violent, that it’s hard to deny an inboard inclination to torture and slaughter. In most cases, the fiercest violence was inflicted not upon other religions but upon sects and groups of people from within their own religion. I speak of course, of Christianity.

For three hundred years, Christianity had no power to persecute anyone. They were an irritant around the Roman Empire and were themselves the object of persecution. Everything changed when the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, believing this God had delivered for him victory in a battle at Milvian Bridge. Suddenly it was cool to be Christian if you wanted to do business in the Roman Empire. In due course it was not just cool, but compulsory. From this moment on, the Church showed great interest in correcting those with flawed understanding. Enthusiasm for the correcting process may have been fuelled by the constant confiscation of the land and goods of the “corrected”.

Christian Emperors such as Charlemagne sent out his soldiers into the world to offer people a choice of baptism or death. These were wonderful times of Church growth. (‘LOL’ my granddaughter would insert here). Long after Rome had collapsed and the Christian centre of the world was in the East, in modern Turkey, it wasn’t the marauding Muslims who destroyed the Christian centre but the marauding Christians. Those same blood-thirsty Christians were the aggressors in the series of persecutions against Muslims that we call ‘the Crusades’.

What about the murderous unleashing of Christian zeal that was the Reformation? How Catholics and Protestants slaughtered each other and sought to persuade by burning people alive and cutting off heads. What about the Inquisition? What about Northern Ireland? There were rare moments of unity such as at the siege of Munster, where Catholics and Lutherens joined together in common purpose to slaughter the Anabaptists.

“But all this history was long ago,” I hear you say. “It wasn’t us”. Well in our recent past, we, the Christian West, invaded Iraq. Two hundred and fifty thousand (think about that number) people protested by marching through Sydney. Millions protested around the world but it made no difference. The Christian West demonized Saddam Hussein as if he was worse than Robert Mugabe or any other tyrant. We demonized him as if he had anything to do with 9/11. Nearly two hundred thousand Iraqi civilians died. Double that number were injured. Millions were made homeless and for what? How are the people of Iraq enjoying the "freedom” of the Christian West? This pointless exercise cost nearly five thousand American lives and who knows how many suicides of veterans in the USA. It was a war that made a few Christian leaders fabulously rich and the majority of Christian tax payers burdened with debt for generations to come.

If I wrote without sleep for a month, I would barely begin to unfold this theme. I want to say what should have been said in 2001, if we’d have had any politicians who were real leaders. “My God, we should talk to these people”. Can you blame Muslim people and countries for feeling threatened, not heard and desperate? We should talk to these people. Our feelings are raw. Who can bear the image of a large truck driving through a defenseless crowd of families? Our default response is to hit back rather than understand. We feel unsafe and it’s hard to get perspective.

The most popular reaction to this theme today is a kind of fundamental atheism. “Let’s just dump all religions” is probably Australia’s strongest sentiment in recent times. It’s an understandable reaction but not unlike a four-year-old putting their fingers in their ears and yelling, “La la la”. But there are some questions about life and death that are unavoidably religious. Questions such as, “What is a human being worth?” will only have answers through the exercise of faith, no matter whether the questioner is religious or atheist.

I am a Christian minister begging my Church to worship Christ less and follow Jesus more. If you know of a religion where the teachers begin every sentence with, “I’m probably wrong…” let me know, I want to sign up.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Graham


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

www.revgrahamlong.com

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Previous Inner Circles

2016

14 July: Holy ground

7 July: Sowing in tears, reaping with shouts of joy

30 June: A bit of banter about Bondi

23 June: My cup runneth over

16 June: Injecting some joy

9 June: At the end of the line

2 June: Lots of perspiration and a touch of inspiration

26 May: Swimming against the tide

19 May: Every 7 days but not weakly

12 May: I once was blind

5 May: A place to belong

28 April: Lest we forget

21 April: I've seen into the abyss

14 April: Colourful language

7 April: Poetic licence

31 March: Happy in the Cross

24 March: Easter

17 March: A party mix

10 March: The intimacy of everything

3 March: An unusual look

25 February: He ain't heavy

18 February: Tears of laughter and sadness

11 February: Wisdom is a tricky business

4 February: A wave from The Wayside Chapel

28 January: Some long distance loving

21 January: No time for judgement

2015

17 December: Last note for 2015

10 December: Sanity Clause if coming to town

3 December: It's all about the presence

26 November: The joy of not knowing

19 November: The curse of perfectionism

12 November: To speak is to act

5 November: My cup runneth over

29 October: Prophet and loss

22 October: Finding yourself in a magical team

15 October: A silly question

8 October: Surprised by the joy

1 October: Being dead right

24 September: A day by the Wayside

17 September: It's a gold rush

10 September: The psychology of onions

3 September: Life comes from without

27 August: Surprised by the beautiful

20 August: Light shining through the cracks

13 August: A matter of balance

6 August: Recognising a gift

30 July: Your weakly note

23 July: 'A thing' from the Wayside

16 July: The future is calling

9 July: In love with some Dame

2 July: Better days ahead

25 June: Something funny, something beautiful

18 June: Seeing what's there

11 June: Amazing mates

4 June: There's a time and a place

28 May: The weight and the joy of being a neighbour

21 May: You're invited

14 May: Laughing, lying and loving

7 May: The awesome in the ordinary

30 April: Wayside light

23 April: Priceless gifts, freely given

16 April: Good news from the Wayside is great news

9 April: Awesome

2 April: Easter by the Wayside

26 March: Thankful for little things

19 March: A few minutes in the cross

12 March: Seeing what isn't there

5 March : A tour like no other

26 February: Tough love

19 February: Puffing or building

12 February: The two shall become two

5 February: Chest pains

29 January: Shear joy

22 January 2015: Fully alive

15 January 2015: Blessed interruptions

8 January 2015: A glimpse of glory

2014

18 December 2014: Christmas hat in hand

11 December 2014: A little season of goodwill

4 December 2014: There was nothing silent about that night

27 November 2014: It's not about feeling better

20 November 2014: Gathering Moss

13 November 2014: Love the land, love the people

6 November 2014: The power of presence

30 October 2014: Paralysed by presence

23 October 2014: The joy of sight

16 October 2014: The best medicine

9 October 2014: Who would have guessed?

2 October 2014: There's no such thing as a terrorist

21 August: Saving souls

14 August: Squeaking out

7 August: A time for turning

31 July: You're okay

24 July: Happy tears

17 July: Let's aim higher

10 July: Gristle and good

3 July: The joy of not knowing

26 June: If not now, when? If not me, who?

12 June: Longing for riches

5 June: When you least expect it

22 May: Finding home

15 May: Flying

8 May: Tests, triumps and tissues

1 May: Skuse the French

24 April: Lifting the curtain

17 April: Collective love

10 April: Cardiac arrest

3 April: Awe struck

27 March: You're invited to something special

20 March: Rather a prohet than a loss

13 March: It's all happening at the wayside

6 March: Love makes all the difference

27 February: What goes around

20 February: The joy of being empty handed

13 February: Loving the growth spurts

6 February: Mighty glad to be back by the wayside

23 January: Some criminals have class

16 January: Wonderful surprises

9 January: Ready, set

2013

19 December: Thanks for an awesome year

12 December: Mission and wishin'

5 December: The ups and downs and all is well

28 November: Kissed by the community

21 November: Our cup runneth over

14 November: A revelation from wayside

7 November: When excrement happens

31 October: I am therefore I think

24 October: We are surrounded by heroes

17 October: When you least suspect

26 September: A wayside wobbly

19 September: Knowing a gift

12 September: Advancing at the retreat

5 September: A little dose of good

29 August: Fighting with a feather

22 August: The boom is just beginning

15 August: True riches

8 August: Small is beautiful

1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views

25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside

18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage

27 June: Holy ground

20 June: You cannot take what can only be given

 

 

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