New Year Message From Ray Simpson

 

The fourth industrial revolution threatens to reduce humans to robot-users, and to reduce communities to dormitories. Western democracies are sleep-walking into a new tyranny – the untramelled power of tech giants and social media disinformation. The infra-structure of democracy hangs by a thread.

 USA is polarised as never before.  UK’s Parliament faces something like a Brexit nervous breakdown. Tribalism stalks the world. As the UK and Commonwealth Queen said in her Christmas Day broadcast: ‘Even the power of faith, which frequently inspires great generosity and self-sacrifice, can fall victim to tribalism’.

According to Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber ‘We are all slaves to our ‘partisan brain  …we are hard-wired to resist facts that challenge our existing beliefs.’ . *The Enigma of Reason: a new theory of understanding (Allen Lane 2017),

 Despite the fact that certain imprints of the Creator may be discerned in western culture, much is sick at its heart. Edward Gibbon’s classic study The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire has led countless others to analyse the elements that lead to the rise and fall of civilisations. Many contemporary commentators believe that the dominance of western lands has reached its peak, and decline has begun.

 The fall of Rome was followed by The Dark Ages, but The Way led into deserts where new experiments of the Spirit took place. These led to a Golden Age. Unless a significant number of people adopt a sustainable way of life today it seems likely that millions will die of plague, civil breakdown and hunger. If this catastrophe takes place, those who have adopted a way of simplicity, discipline and sustainable habits will be the survivors.

Ray Balls, Guardian of The Community of Aidan and Hilda in USA writes: 'For  the  coming  year  I  would  like  us  to  focus  on  Healing,  focusing  on  the  sixth,  seventh, ninth,  and  tenth  elements  of  our  Waymarks.  Our  nation,  our  Church,  indeed  our  world, are  so  fragmented  that  this  is  needed  desperately  and  I  believe  we  can  each  be  an  element of  Reconciliation  in  our  homes,  our  congregations,  and  our  communities.  I  encourage each  of  you  to  become  involved  in  a  service  that  will  help  protect  the  environment,  the hopeless,  the  homeless,  the  sick,  the  prisoner,  and  the  widows  &  orphans  this  year. Several  of  us  already  are,  but  there  is  so  much  need  and  we  are  vowed  to  engage  the “abandoned  places  of  Empire”  (to  quote  from  the  neo-monastic  literature).  This  is  the Way  of  Aidan,  and  it  is  the  way  in  which  the  church  conquered  the  hearts  of  the  Roman  Empire  in the  earliest  days  of Christianity. '

Penny Warren, Members’ Guardian of The Community of Aidan and Hilda in UK, offers us these words: ‘May we enter this new year holding tight to the hand of Love. We face politics where we are tempted to say one is right and all others are wrong, or religion where one is right and all others are wrong or denominations or spiritualties where one is right and others are wrong. And let us also beware of being so ‘open minded’ that we see those who think differently also as wrong. If we take the hand of Love, it will call us to see love in each person whatever they think. That will take a lifetime of learning, training, pain, failure and joy at still being loved by the Lover of all.’

In an audience with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul we learned this: ‘The only viable means of spreading the gospel is the cultivation of one’s own soul to become more spacious to embrace all people’. In an era of polarisation let us cultivate spacious souls.

 

Posted at 12:48pm on 28th December 2018
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