This past week feels like an exercise in mind numbing torture.
In our news: Oscar Pistorius (accidentally) murders his girlfriend, South Africa reels and almost breaks under the dark truth of gender violence and cruelty, a new political player enters our stage under intense scrutiny and criticism, the head of the Catholic Church resigns, the first in 500 odd years …
And what do we talk about?
We talk about John Wesley, the father of Methodism. We talk about him ad nauseum. This, of course, is because that it is what our syllabus requires of us. This is what we have been told is relevant for future ministers. I could weep!
At no point have we attempted to connect our faith and our learning with the real world. I have tried on a few occasions and in different settings to raise some of these questions, but we seem to be too frightened/too diplomatic to broach them. This stuff is important – is it not? – not just because of its sensationalist nature but because this is what our country is talking about. How do we interrogate the new political party’s ideology in light of our current political landscape? How do we teach others to be analytical without the outright dismissal of a potentially important moment in our history, our future? How do we respond theologically?
How do we learn about the ugly side of human nature if we don’t discuss rape, gender violence and patriarchy? Holding meaningful ceremonies without rigorous teaching and conversation to underpin them is, well, meaning-less. I read a comment from an extremely well educated young man studying abroad this past week that said the following: “Men, wake up tomorrow and make your mother or wife a cup of tea. Compliment a stranger on her looks”. This guy speaks so much truth and yet this one statement on how to address gender issues shows how just far we still have to travel. We are not addressing these things here.
So I am demoralised. I am despondent … it feels like we are going around in circles rather than taking any meaningful steps forward.
God forgive me… I am trying to remain positive and to keep my head up – ‘running the race with endurance and courage’ but some days are just tough.
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage each other, especially now …” (Hebrews 10: 23 – 25)
I pray these words would take root in my heart…