A Ray of Hope

Preparing to move is a tiresome business, especially when it means having to sort through hundreds of books damaged by damp and make painful decisions about what to try to rescue and what to abandon. It is a relief, therefore, to be able to spend a few moments dwelling on some of today’s news items. The possibility of a pre-emptive strike by Israel against Iran fills me with horror — do we realise what the consequences might be for all of us; the E.U. directive that depriving prisoners of the right to vote is an abuse of human rights suggests a confusion between human rights and civil rights — lazy thinking we cannot challenge at the polls; the IMF’s not-so-veiled exhortation to develop another plan for the economy simply leaves me flat and weary. But amid all this chuntering and gloom, I found something that made me rejoice, a ray of hope, and I found it on Twitter, courtesy of The Church Mouse.

The London Evening Standard has published an article about the mother of a murdered son selling family heirlooms to provide a better life for his killers. You can read it here, and as you do so reflect on the quality of forgiveness that Fatemah Golmakani is showing. It was not enough for her to forgive her son’s killers and bear them no animosity. She has taken the further step of selling things precious to her for their benefit and, possibly most difficult of all, decided that she will engage with them, mentoring them in the hope that their lives may change for the better. There is a lesson there for all of us.

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The Web Magisterium and Other Weighty Matters

Tonight, after first vespers of SS Peter and Paul, the pope is going to launch the long-awaited Vatican news portal, www.news.va. If the sneak preview we were treated to at the Vatican Blognic is anything to go by, it will be worth waiting for. Benedict XVI is not perhaps the most naturally web savvy of men, but under him the Vatican has made strenuous efforts to improve its online presence (in the case of the Vatican web site the verdict must be ‘could do better’, but at least it’s a start).

I was mulling over this when I found on my Twitterstream a link to Fr James Martin’s reflections on what the Church is/is not doing online. Taken together with the same author’s Ten Dos and Don’ts, and the wise words of Pete Phillips on engagement with social media, we have a helpful summary of how best to make our web presence constructive. Needless to say, Digitalnun nodded her head in agreement over most of it and wondered whether we, as a community, come anywhere near to living up to the ideal. Is there scope here for a seventy-fourth chapter of the Rule?

One particularly eye-catching phrase used by Fr Martin was ‘the web magisterium’. What a perfect way to describe a phenomenon most of us have encountered from time to time (and maybe even been guilty of ourselves on occasion): the self-appointed guardian of the Church, who knows how to castigate what is wrong with bishops, priests and religious; who has the solution to other people’s problems and believes in ‘speaking the truth in love’; who is blissfully unaware of his/her own feet of clay and regards disagreement as a form of martyrdom. I’m not sure which is scarier: the liberal or the conservative manifestation. All I can say is, I thought about it a little, and trembled!

Finally, a sad day for bloggers: Mouse is hanging up his laptop for while, to concentrate on Mrs Mouse and the Baby Mice. We shall be the poorer for his loss, but children grow up fast, so perhaps he will return to the blogging scene earlier than we realise. Hope so.

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