When I turned on the Mac this morning and looked at the comments on yesterday’s post, I felt like giving up. The way in which some of the off-topic argument was conducted is so contrary to everything this blog stands for that I felt like saying ‘A pox on both your houses’. It is not the first time I have had to deal with difficult comments. Clearly, I ought now to devote more time to moderating comments on the blog. I’m not sure I can afford that time, so I am now thinking about what form (if any) this blog should take in the future.
It is ironic that today in England we are remembering Guy Fawkes and the unsuccessful plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The temptation to short-circuit an argument is always there, and there are many ways in which we can do so, especially where religion is involved.
Take Guy Fawkes himself, for example. He has always seemed to me muddled and misguided and really rather pathetic. His end, however, was horrible, and the number of people dragged down in his wake was horrible, too. Far from achieving anything of value, he merely re-stoked the fires of antipopery. His Gunpowder Plot proved to be yet another damp squib; and I’m sorry to say, we seem to go on with our damp squibs even today.
To continue the analogy, the problem with damp squibs is that they let off more smoke than fire. There are very real divisions among Christians today but we shall never overcome them unless we are prepared to let go of old hatreds and work to clear up old misunderstandings. To do that three things are necessary: prayer, study and dialogue — prayer, because anything we try to do by our own efforts is doomed to failure; study, because only true learning can overcome ignorance and fear; dialogue, because we shall never resolve our differences unless we talk about them with charity and courtesy, seeking to understand as well as seeking to be understood. Charity and courtesy can be difficult to maintain at times, but we must, because anything less is unworthy of the God we all serve.