I was in an online discussion group that I join sometimes, and one man from Russia joined us. Most of us live in Canada, and the Russian man was very unhappy that a church had been burned, close to where I live. That’s what he knew about us.
I looked up the news story, and I am surprised. An old and historic Catholic church was burned, in a town called Morinville. I know the town well and I have driven past that old church many times.
Many leaders have spoken against the church burning. There has also been a request for the Pope to apologize:
It is easy to understand the concern. The news story about children buried near their boarding schools was carefully managed. Someone has been gathering evidence for months, and probably for years. When they had the right information, they chose the time and method to publish what they had found. I’m not criticizing them, I respect their skill in managing the media. This story is important to them and it could be lost easily, behind stories like what some movie star wore to the Oscars.
If you want people to understand you and sympathize, plan a press release.
Also, people I know understand who is the Prime-Contractor, and who is the Sub-Contractor. We know that many years ago, the Government had an idea, passed it into law, hired subcontractors, gave clear instructions, and then inspected the work regularly; and payed for it all.
Telling the Pope to apologize is just telling to Sub to take all the blame for what happened, when they were only following instructions from the Prime. We understand this, and burning a Catholic church could turn public opinion against the protesters. They worked too hard to lose the argument now because of someone’s blame shifting and evasion.
We can also see religious persecution in the church fires. It’s easy to understand that some people used to get out of bed on Sunday mornings, and they went to that church in Morinville, to worship God. In the region, many people were married in that church. We can guess that those people understood the Residential Schools about as much as the rest of us; they knew almost nothing.
Also, that building Morinville was very old and a center of the French Canadian community that built the town. It was also a source of community pride; the town is turning into a suburb of a big city, and the old community is being drowned in new housing developments. It’s near an army base and military families like to live there, and Costco and Walmart are just ten minutes away.
I remember that old church, and I am sad that it’s gone.
So, how do we burn things and persecute people? First, we need to be victims. Human beings have a tendency to do terrible things, when we are hurt and we can blame someone else. Burning that old church was a terrible thing, but anyone who endorses the burning of the church is probably grieving and angry about another terrible thing that happened to them. We can’t tell them to not feel that way; they are acting like any of us, in the face of grief and anger. The problem is that we can lash out without restraint, when we are hurt enough.
That makes us dangerous, and it creates another cycle of victims; our victims who could do more of the same. Our civilized societies are like a stick of dynamite with a fuse. It only takes one match. That’s probably what it took to burn down the church.
It’s good that the Native leaders have spoken against burning churches. I’m sure they know the dangers contained in the anger of the victims. In history, other leaders have gone in the opposite direction. Do you know how Hitler directed the persecution of the Jews? He blamed them. In twisted Nazi logic, the Jews were hurting their German victims, and persecution of the Jews was just resistance.
So, we know what is wrong, but who did it right? Where is our example of the best way to deal with grief and anger?
A man named Jesus was arrested by his enemies and rushed through a phony trial. He was condemned to death and nailed to a cross. He looked down from the cross, at his enemies who hated him, and who were laughing as he died. You may know the story, his words were: Jesus said, ““Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Luke 23:34)
We couldn’t blame Jesus if he was angry, but he did the right thing. Notice that his enemies ignored him, and continued with their cruelty. It’s about us, not them.
We need to appreciate that man Jesus. He did the impossible right thing when we all do the wrong thing; he put the fire out.
That’s a lesson we all need.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6: 14 and 15)