Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Justice by any other name...

Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people's opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken.

Quaker Faith & Practice 1. Advices and Queries: 17

It seems to me that the contemplative way, even perhaps the way of Christ itself, is summed up in these words. Certainly it seems to have been how our Lord treated others himself (see e.g Mark 7.24ff; John 4.1-42) and it is exactly this quality of open-heartedness that contemplative prayer seems to foster.

Defensiveness in matters of faith seems to be an endless problem. Fundamentalists of whichever faith seem to suffer from it, and along with it seems to go a deep distrust of the contemplative life. One can see this, for instance, in the persecution of Sufis by Islamic fundamentalists, and the online campaigns mounted against Christian contemplative prayer a few years ago by Christian fundamentalist groups in the USA. Of course contemplation is worrying to fundamentalists - it is the openness and well, fairness, that it seems to engender that is so threatening to a mindset "which refuses to allow its ideas to be examined or challenged." (McGrath & McGrath, 2007)

 Justice is another name, it seems, for vulnerability - for that is where openness leads. The heart is God's own place, and true prayer opens the heart to God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. There doesn't seem to be any other way...

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