Having written over a hundred pieces for this blog, I ask myself whether I have got anything more to say. The answer is probably yes, as long as I keep reading and drawing on the insights of wiser people than myself. What does surprise me is that I have, more or less, not deviated away from the main theme of the blog, the abuse of Christians by other Christians. I sit down at my computer two or three times a week wondering which issue to speak about. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes I find it less straightforward. What keeps me going are two reasons. The first is the thought that some of this material in the blog may help victims of various kinds of Christian mistreatment to have a clearer understanding of the forces that have been deployed against them, intellectual and emotional. The second reason is perhaps more selfish. It is a recognition that if I keep writing things down, like a student writing essays for a university tutor, I am giving myself an extra incentive for keeping up my reading in fascinating areas of study. Without this incentive, I might wonder if there was any point of keeping myself informed. As a retired clergyman , I don’t have the stimulus of adult confirmation classes or discussion/teaching groups anymore. So you, my blog readers, are a kind of substitute ‘parish’ discussion group.
This brings me on to a second point. There is a small group who make comments, not always complimentary but all of them to the point. Without these comment makers, I would feel that I was speaking into a great silence so I am very grateful to all who do comment. Beyond the group who comment there are also others who come on to the blog more or less regularly but who do not say anything. Although most of these individuals are unknown to me by name, there are some who have written to me privately to let me know of their existence. I am extremely grateful to them for this. In some ways it is more encouraging to have a general expression of support than a strong reaction of disagreement to something I have said. As an encouragement to others, I am mentioning here the possibility of communicating with me direct, via the main page of the blog, or direct to my email. My email address is email@example.com Talking to an invisible crowd has its own challenges.
As you all know the genesis of this blog was the letter sent by Chris Pitts to the Church Times in June 2013. This letter set out way in which Chris had suffered negative experiences at the hands of other Christians. Chris and I are regular telephone contact with each other and I try to reflect his concerns in the topics of the blog. His experiences are obviously grounded in a set of particular events, past and present. I have interpreted the theme of this blog within a wider context, without losing sight of the basic theme that Christians can and do hurt each other. Some of this hurt may be unconscious or unintentional, but a lot is caused by the crassness and cruelty of human beings who use power abusively. A particular complication is caused by the fact that there are theological systems that appear to encourage human cruelty, by the use of such techniques as shunning or ostracism. I have also spoken about the use of fear tactics in preaching. Both ostracism and fear tactics can be justified from the words of Scripture, but that fact does not, according to my thinking, remove them from needing to be scrutinised in accordance with our moral and ethical reasoning. There is something quite terrifying about evil being perpetrated from the words of a book that is supposed to promote life and goodness.
So this blog post is a commitment to carry on with my posts for the foreseeable future. My determination will be increased by hearing, even briefly, from those of you out there who follow but do not comment publically. There is a programme run by Google, called Analytics which gives me total of hits each day. I cannot completely interpret them as it is difficult to decide who are regular visitors and who are those who stumble on the blog by chance. For the record there are about 35 hits each day. Not a huge number but it is sufficient to encourage me to think that there some people, even though a small number, who think this project is worthwhile. I for one think it is!