Call me Sinatra I suppose – but no one with a sensitivity level above that of a lump of iron could not fail to have been moved by comments made here asking me to stay, and wanting this place to continue its mission. It is easy to forget what has been wrought here across the years, and by many hands – and to discard it on an impulse of anger would be an error; better by far to apologise for my hasty and unkind comments – public confession was the practice of the early Church, and it is good for the soul – so in the words of the General Confession:
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
I have certainly said things I ought not to have said and not said those things which I ought to have said, and willingly confess my faults and ask pardon, not only from my Lord, but from my friends and colleagues here – and may living a ‘Godly, righteous and sober life’ not make me too boring or inclined to judge others – at least for a while, until I stumble again.
I was struck by what Rob and Gareth said about the presence of Satan here. I don’t say this to excuse anything I said which caused offence, and I apologise to Jock, QV and most of all Dave Smith, for anything I wrote which caused offence; it does not matter if I meant to, I did – so a full and frank apology is called for. But I certainly felt a force here when I was writing some of my responses – and I should have desisted.
What I would say, as we proceed towards Holy Week, is that this Lent has been, for me, the hardest I have experienced. I would also ask some of our Roman Catholic friends to remember that to talk about my views, or those of others here as ‘heresy’ is never going to lead to a good place. If those of us who are not Roman Catholics thought as you do on the things where we are ‘heretics’ then we should be in your Church; as we are not, I think we all have to accept what follows from that – which is that accusations of heresy are about as unhelpful as me accusing others of lacking love.
As QV has noted, the impersonal nature of the internet can make things hard, as Chalcedon commented (and his patience with us all has been magnificent, so thank you C) without any body language, we can go badly wrong. But you know, for many years here we haven’t, and we haven’t because we have relied not on our own strength, but on putting our weaknesses at His service so He can make what He can of this place.
It was not so much the disputatiousness that made me think it best to stay away for a while, it was the feeling of a lack of love and charity in my own soul – but what has been said by so many, has opened a treasure chest of love in me. Geoffrey’s post moved me, as did Neo’s, as have the comments of Dave Smith, Rob and Gareth. But if everyone will forgive me, I want to say a special thank you to Bosco. If nothing else has come of this episode (and I think it has and will), others have, I think, seen what I have always seen – that the love of God is in him, and I am proud to call him brother. I have a redhead’s temper and give in to it sometimes, but I am too fond of you all, and came too close last year to not being here, to turn my back on you.
Let us walk towards Gethsemane together, bearing our crosses in as much love and mutual affection as is given to a bunch of repentant sinners.