bras rubbing in a cathedral of cynicism

14 09 2009

How would you respond to the idea of a cathedral running sessions for rubbing bras? It would, even to the most open-minded, seem a little odd. Where do the bras come from for a start? Do you bring your own? Then the simple misunderstanding is realised, the ‘s’ is restored, and wholly more innocent past-time of brass rubbing is revealed.

Simple emphasis can make a huge difference. Wherever you are, say “bras rubbing” and then “brass rubbing”, and you will see what I mean. Obviously the context makes a difference to the understanding.

When the story broke about the government introducing more checks for parents who drive children to sports clubs, the press reaction was interesting.  The checks are being considered in light of the Soham murders, in which someone with previous convictions was able to slip through the net and continue to work with children. Seen from the perspective of protecting children, these checks are a good thing. And the news-breakers, so critical of social services, government, and anyone who can be blamed when something goes wrong, surely would support it. A positive emphasis expected, though obviously not uncritically.

But intriguingly, the checks were immediately branded as ‘paedophile checks‘, surely too much of a tabloid phrase even for the BBC. And all the problems were pointed out, with all the cynicism we come to expect from our news media. A negative emphasis. This makes any who think uncritically and accept what they are told that these checks will be an invasion of privacy, a hassle, unnecessary. Complain, complain, complain.

For me, this isn’t really about whether these particular checks are right or wrong. It is about emphasis. When we are told things, are we told within a cathedral of cynicism – of politicians, of establishments; are we fed comment and opinion in the guise of news; are we aware of the need to filter all that we hear.

If so, what filter should we use? For followers of Jesus, the same old filter of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, self-control. It applies to all things. To stories from the BBC, the Daily Mail, the bloke down the pub. It does not mean we cannot be vocal in our support or opposition. It does not mean we should not stand our ground. It does give us a responsibility to listen well, to hear the emphasis, to discern whether it is a worrying case of bras rubbing or a simple case of brass rubbing. I hope that is worth our (under-wired) support.

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