Who is really culpable?
How often have you heard someone trying to avoid blame for something. It happens so often it’s become taken for granted in so many cases. Organisations blame each other, for failing to fulfill a contract. Charities blame each other for impacting their donations. School children who get caught misbehaving say something like “it wasn’t me, it was” …..
Perhaps the biggest blame game of all is played by politicians, both indivually and collectively. Here in Great Britian members of our parliament within the chamber of government itself seem more intent in scoring points by allocating blame, than spelling out their own policies.
Of course there is nothing new in the blame game, it probably began as soon as humans began to develop a language. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the first phrases spoken was ‘He did it.’
The blame game starts early in the Bible too, in the very first book, Genesis. After Adam and Eve realise, in the garden of Eden, that they are naked God asks Adam “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Adam’s immediate reaction is to try to shift the blame to Eve saying “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree”.
While possibly unintended through an unconsidered, probably knee jerk reaction, Adam’s attempt to blame his wife actually directs the blame towards God himself. He should not have prefaced “she gave me some fruit from the tree” with “The woman you put here with me”.
Of course it is possible to take this particular blame game even further. It might be inferred that Adam’s attempt to shift the blame comes full circle, placing the blame firmly back upon himself. After all, wasn’t Eve created out of Adam?
Post inspired by Rev’d Ian W’s sermon.
Have You So Little Faith?
In Matthew’s account of Jesus walking on water, on the sea of Galilee, (Matthew 14: 22-33), Matthew tells us that Peter was the only one of the disciples in the boat to have the courage to step out of it, to go to his Lord.
After a few steps, Peter begins to become fearful and starts to sink into the water. Jesus reached out his hand to Peter and caught him, then chided him “You of little faith, why do you doubt” (NIV translation). Peter was sometimes, somewhat inept and often prone to getting things wrong but in this instance, should Jesus have chided him?
Peter might have begun to doubt after leaving the boat but remember, none of the others left its relative safety. Only Peter had the courage and faith to step out at all. I can imagine that if that event occurred today, the bunch of apostles would be winding him up and egging him on; ‘go on, mate, get yer feet wet’ and ‘what, not afraid are we’. Well, I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I’d be too afraid to do it, even at the risk of getting the mickey taken out of me by my bunch of mates.
Jesus chided Peter in front of the other disciples about his lack of faith. Shouldn’t he have chided the remaining disciples in the boat, who, it seems from the story related to us, made no effort to walk to their Lord?
As always I only offer another possible interpretation for discussion. I do not suggest the more usual interpretation is wrong in any way.
Chocolat is a book by Joanne Harris. This relates to the book, not the film, in which some of the characters have been differently imagined. Nor is this a review of the book, which will be published in due course on Entertaining Angels Bookshelf.
I wanted to look at the attitudes of some of Harris’s characters. In particular Vianne Rocher and Curé Francis Renaud.
Vianne has recently arrived, with her young daughter Anouk, in the village of Lansquenet. Soon after her arrival in the church’s season of Lent Vianne opens a chocolaterie.
Francis Renaud is the curé, priest of Lansquenet’s village church. He takes immediately against Vianne and her daughter on his first visit to the as yet unopened shop, when Vianne says she doesn’t go to church. His manner toward the chocolate shop becomes hostile, thinking it a sacrilege in the lenten season. Curé Renaud shows no welcome to or tolerance for the newcomer to the village, actively seeking to turn the village against Vianne.
Like the pharisees of two millennia ago, the curé seems too concerned with appearance and tradition. Curé Renaud’s sermons since Vianne’s arrival in the village have been hostile. The curé’s woes increase further when river gypsies arrive on the Tannes, mooring their boats by the village. The curé not only fails to set an example to the village but is equally intolerant of the river people as of Vianne. The priest may know the Bible but hardly exhibits a Christian attitude.
Particularly hypocritical is the owner of Café Republic, Paul Marie Muscat. He treats his wife appallingly like an unpaid slave. He has on occasion hit her and it seems he was the person who set fire to one of the river gypsies boats.
He justifies it all to himself in the church confessional, where the curé must know everything but can do nothing because the secrecy of the confessional is sacrosanct. The hypocrisy of the curé extends even to trying to persuade Paul’s wife Josephine to go back to him citing the sanctity of marriage, knowing she’d been hit by the violent, bullying café owner.
Vianne, by contrast, makes no bones about not believing in God, yet nonetheless is a good woman and friend. She seems not to discriminate against anyone, even those who seem unhappy about here presence. She has a talent to see beneath the surface of people, stripping away their veneers. She manages it in a kindly way.
Vianne Rocher does not set herself against the curé. It seems to the curé she does when his parishioners, at least some of them, under Vianne’s gentle and subtle persuasion begin to think for themselves, instead of blindly accepting the curé’s words.
Though no believer in God neither does she shove it down anyone’s throat, letting her actions speak for themselves. She is not hypocritical like the priest and many of his flock who, Vianne’s remarkably perceptive daughter Anouk observes, do not believe in God either though they go through the motions and attend church.
Audio expires after approximately 90 days.
Three in one and one in three God, we come before You on this Trinity Sunday to offer You Father, Son and Holy Spirit our praise and thanks. We bring to You what is on our minds in a spirit of truth and love as we live in Your love. We offer this prayer in the name of our saviour Jesus Christ.
Christ our Saviour who came in physical form to redeem us and set us free. Holy Spirit who came to to guide and support us. Holy Father who watches over us. You are the one God, eternal Trinity. Be with Your people whom You formed in Your image.
Loving God, You are the creator who gave us stewardship over this planet. Forgive us that we treat everything as our own, instead of in care for You.
We praise You for Your creation. By Your grace You gave us everything we need for life and health. Grant that the resources of the Earth may not be hoarded by the selfish nor squandered by the foolish, so that all can share in Your gifts.
We pray for Your church everywhere. For churches that are thriving and those which may have lost a sense of direction, for those that are fading and those that must meet discretely or in hiding.
We give thanks for the churches of our parish, their leaders and the lay officers in their various roles. We remember that the churches are the people, not the buildings in which we meet.
We thank You for the gift of rebirth. Like Nicodemus, we were reborn into Your church. Father free our hearts to welcome strangers and share our faith, bringing others to rebirth. Open our minds to know Your truth and understand your will.
Lord and Father we pray for peace. Humanity has broken Your world. Show us how to re-create it as You intended it to be. We do not ask for peace without effort, but for Your guidance how to achieve a peace for all that will not be taken for granted.
Guide those in positions of leadership whether local, national or global. Heads of state and politicians, members of government and leaders of faiths. May Your will guide their decisions and give them a vision of compassion, peace and justice.
We pray for those whose life is saddened by the death of a loved one, be with them in their grief.
Father before whom all burdens can be laid, we lay before You our burdens and we remember those with a greater burden than ourselves who are sick or sad, injured or lonely and those who care for them. We pray that they feel Your comfort and strength and know that they are safe and loved by You.
Lord, lead us into the coming week. If we feel alone, remind us that you are always close. Keep us from making mistakes and help us not to disappoint you. When we face hard decisions or difficult work, when we enjoy ourselves and have fun with others let us remember that you share these times with us.
Merciful Father, accept this prayer for the sake of Your son our saviour Jesus Christ.