Christ’s Antidote

From time to time I like to comment on items in the news in this article and think about what Scripture might have to say about these situations. Two items have dominated the news this week, the first is the horrible roller coaster crash at Alton Towers, and the other is the emerging collapse of the leadership of world football’s organising body FIFA.

Alton Towers first. As most of you know our family are thrill-seeking roller coaster junkies and have regularly screamed our way around various tracks. The other summer we stayed near Alton Towers and rode on Smiler a number of times and totally loved it. It is a ridiculous, zany, full-on, bonkers ride. I’ll be honest and say I would hesitate before climbing onto it again though, and my prayers and thoughts go out to those who have received serious injuries in the crash.

FIFA? Who am I to comment on this story? It is so hard to know what is really going on here beyond the reporting from Western media outlets. It would seem that the organisation’s top hierarchy is corrupt to greater or lesser degree, something that the Bible has a lot to say about with its practical messages about justice and fairness in trade and general life. It is interesting, however, that beyond our media, other parts of the world are reporting it quite differently and have a contrasting impression of Sepp Blatter and his colleagues. Hopefully the investigations will be themselves fair and unbiased and the truth be revealed and responded to appropriately.

There is a link between these stories. In both cases much of the reporting has been over-dramatic (The Sun’s headline about the Smiler crash, I’m looking at you) and the commentary over the top. Blatter has become a hate figure and demonised by so many who don’t know him and don’t know the truth about what’s going on and are simply feeding on the general hype around the case. There’s a form of ‘political correctness’ these days that calls us to feel the need to express moral outrage at such events in a way that simply feeds others in escalating the scorn or hatred or ridicule.

In the New Statesman this week Amanda Palmer, herself a recipient of such vitriol reflects on its cure. Courting controversy in her choice of words, deliberately so I’m sure, she writes her thoughts about how to respond to figures who by their deeds or words stir up such hatred in us. ‘I am, perhaps, an extremist in this regard,’ she says. ‘But I am starting to think that the only true antidote to extreme hate may be extreme love, a radical empathy. Jihads of compassion. Crusades of kindness. A movement in which we attempt to love our enemy . . . Oh, hold on. Jesus already said all that. Wait – did it work?

A provocative final sentence which she leaves hanging unanswered. Did it work? Does it work? Will it work? In many ways the answer is no, we still have hatred and violence and retribution. On the Cross Jesus was killed trying to overcome with love and his followers still haven’t brought an end to scorn and slander and worse. But I have faith, faith in Jesus and his Father that as the Bible says and the resurrection supports, eventually love wins. That is why I’m willing to give Palmer’s exhortation a go and try out what Jesus preached and demanded of his followers. One day love wins.

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