Monday, June 28, 2010

Of polls and anarchists

An article in the Montreal Gazette June 28, 2010, reports on a national poll showing support for the monarchy as ‘lukewarm’ across the country, decidedly cold in Quebec. The occasion of course is the beginning of Her Majesty’s Canadian tour. Interestingly, the same poll looked at attitudes toward some other terms such as ‘socialism’, ‘family values’, etc. “(W)ords such as religion, church, Catholicism and Protestantism drew half-hearted reactions from most Canadians…… And 89 per cent of Canadians gave "family values" a positive response.”

The Anglican Church reviewed the findings, and reported on its website: “ A large majority (77%) of all Canadians say they do care (emphasis added) whether or not the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Presbyterian Churches survive the legal claims against them. Although church goers, regardless of frequency, express concern over the Churches' survival, concern is higher among those who attend regularly (89%) than among those who do not (71%)……. Only 22% of Canadians say they are indifferent to whether the Anglican Roman Catholic and Presbyterian Churches in Canada survive. ……. Forced to choose between making Churches pay claims regardless of consequences or protecting them from bankruptcy, fully 80% of Canadians believe the Churches should be protected from bankruptcy."

So when I look at these comments in aggregate, I am left scratching my head a bit and wondering if the cup is half empty or half full. Is the ‘lukewarm’ reaction to religion words the result of a national decline in interest for all things religious – or is it a sign of the strength of religious beliefs holding up as well as it is under incredibly trying and scandal-plagued times? That it could be much much worse, in other words, if we were not a nation who understood at some level that one’s relationship with God is bigger than the institutions that provide a home for our worship of God.

Another musing. We spent $1 billion to put on the greatest ….. what? ….. show of collaboration among the world’s leaders? …… embarrassment to our country? …… photo-op for the Prime Minister’s next election campaign? …… forging of a strong way forward by those who govern the world’s economies? What is your own take on that? Well, there I was trying to think through the significance of it all, when I see the live coverage of black clad people smashing up downtown Toronto and setting a couple of police cars on fire. I will not repeat the angry thoughts that ran through my head as I watched. But as always happens – without fail – when I am in one of those moods, the thought starts to insinuate itself, ‘These are God’s beloved.’ I tell you, that is tough. I am not only wanting them to be stopped, I have some punitive measures in my head. That is not God’s way. I think of the Prodigal Son. These are wayward folk. Boy are they off track. So cynical, so angry, so despairing of ever having influence in what they see as the power structures in some or all nations. Lash out, disturb, inflict pain, and disrupt. An embarrassment to people who still do believe in the power of protest, and who marched peacefully. What is the response to them? I feel an elder son response coming on big time.

But the Father just waits. And hurts. Not for himself, you understand. That would be us, that would be the elder son, taking it all so personally. No, the Father hurts for the woundedness of people whose wounds further hurt not only themselves but the citizens of the community around them.

I do know what the Father asks. That we pray for them. That we try to find it in our hearts to be less concerned about the punishment than the conversion – less concerned about the handcuffs than the softening of hearts.

I will try. And as I say that, I know that the first heart that needs to be softened is my own.

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