July has been a very full month, and my writing has been focused elsewhere. From 2-12 July, I took part in a clergy consultation at St George’s House, within Windsor Castle. Our theme was God: Some Conversations, considering how we speak about God in the context of various challenges and potential opportunities facing us nationally and globally, including the state of the Church, the future of healthcare and the NHS, the arts, Brexit, democracy in a ‘post-truth’ Information Age, organised criminal gangs, and environmental issues.
As part of my contribution to the consultation, I presented a paper on lament. If you are interested, you can link to it here.
As it turned out, lament was a theme we returned to over again in the course of our deliberations, noting that it was missing from our public discourse. We also observed that evil often counterfeits good, and that, in the absence of a robust practice of lament, the tabloid press holds out a counterfeit version: endless daily tales of woe, framed by outrage and identifying scapegoats to blame. In contrast, genuine lament acknowledges our pain – and inability, at times, to rescue ourselves – and recognises the pain of others, showing empathy; leads to an appropriate accepting of our own responsibility, and repentance; and always, even in the most apparently hopeless of situations, holds fast to hope.
I came to Windsor with a hunch that lament would be one necessary and helpful way to frame God-conversations and came away with that sense very much affirmed. Come the autumn, I will want to explore this further.