This is not the article that I put to bed around 5pm on Friday. That will now be next week’s contribution to the newsletter.
The event in Christchurch New Zealand cuts across everything. It cannot be left to one side. It needs to remain front and centre, and occupy our thoughts for some time to come. Because our interfaith consciousness will need to be strengthened and not weakened by what happened in two mosques 2,400 Km’s away.
And, I’m sure it will remain with us, because we are very sensitive to the world around us.
What took place in Christchurch is an unimaginable tragedy but it was no aberration; no brain-snap by an unhinged malcontent. I’m aware that we have very little detail and can’t leap to too many conclusions, but we can leap to at least one. This was the consequence of a seed of hatred sown years ago by people frightened by diversity; watered diligently by right-wing media and its commentators, and fed regularly on fear and resentment, by white (often Christian) supremacist blog sites, and their adherents.
The murder of so many innocent people in New Zealand quite clearly needs to generate our compassion but that is not enough. This tragedy needs to arouse outrage, and then our Christian faith needs to convert that outrage into positive relations with women, children and men of other faiths. The Muslim community in Australia has been marginalised, vilified and vulnerable for too many years, and we need to help bring that to an end.
But for the moment, this Sunday especially, I’d like to invite each of us to imagine what it must feel like to be a Muslim in Australia and New Zealand today. Let us walk in their shoes for a while and let that imagined experience inform both our prayers and our actions.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.
PS I’ve just hit send and a strongly worded email has just landed in Senator Fraser Anning’s inbox. His ‘tweets’ straight after the incident are an appalling display of thoughtless and reckless conduct by an officer of the parliament.