I'm looking forward to this event coming up in Perth soon, and hoping that I'll be able to get (or at least get a copy of the recording if not). It promises to be stirring, troubling, uplifting and challenging -on a number of levels.
The Christian teaching on forgiveness is stretching enough when applied to the petty disputes and irritations of my life, and there have been times when frankly I have just not wanted to be reconciled to the other, nor wanted to offer forgiveness. Yet - being able to do so is life-giving, right, God-honouring and unburdening. What intrigues me is what this seminar will reveal about living-out Christ's challenging ethics, when the pain inflicted is not on the level of domestic dissapointment, but of hatred, barbarity and mass murder.
There are those of course who reject out of hand any such Christ-inspired attempts to love enemies and be reconciled to the pepetrators of crime. Last week the IRA bomber Patrick Magee and Harvey Thomas (whose body was pulled, barely alive from the Brighton rubble from Magee's bomb) shared the platform at my parents church and talked openly about their dialogue and how they have pursued forgiveness, reconcilliation and even friendship. This however did not happen without a written protest from Norman Tebbit, another of Maggee's victims, who categorically believes that notions of reconcilliation are nothing more than a naive violation of the basic principles of justice, which would (possibly) not offer Maggee the lectern but the lethal injection.
Whilst I am instinctively against Tebbit (and not just 'cos it was him!), this is obviously not a conviction which, thank God, I have ever had tested in the crucible of personal bereavement. Perhaps if I had suffered like him - I too would see Christian-reconcilliationism has foolish and dangerous. What I am interested in hearing is how in exactly this testing experience Lesley Bilinda was able to follow Christ, and how it has affected her subsequently. It promises to be a significant morning.