Thursday, February 14, 2013

Just war memories in Lent

I went to the first meeting of the Lent Course today and found myself involved - or perhaps trying not to get too involved, or trying not to talk too much which is an associated matter - in a brief discussion of Just War Theory. I first came across this a long time ago, when I attended my first RCC* in Edinburgh and had to second a motion put by the man who many years subsequently became our bishop. At the time of agreeing, I hadn't realised that seconding a motion would mean rather more than simply sticking my hand up, and I was horrified to find out that I was expected to speak to the gathering for about 10 minutes.

Of course, once I had prepared what I wanted to say, and typed it out double-spaced on, I think, A5 sheets of paper, I found the whole thing rather shockingly enjoyable. At the time, I had not yet returned to teaching after the weans, and it had been some six years or so since I had addressed a class, but the combination of a microphone, a largish audience and the applause at the end proved irresistible. It was also the fatal move that had me not only going along to a local CND group (in 1980 this was quite radical in a US Navy garrison town) but also becoming publicly vocal, and TV and radio interviews followed, as well as requests for copy from Peace News and other publications. Heady stuff, which didn't end till the navy left and I was not anywhere to be seen in the public deliberations of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

I went to Greenham Common too ...
It fascinates me now to see how mainstream such thinking has become in church circles, how we can discuss the ethics of Christians and violence without polarisation. My disappearance from church matters was directly linked to my CND activities, and I didn't enjoy much of the fallout. But today I relived that early introduction to the dilemmas of violence and proportionality, and I felt glad that I'd gone through the four minutes to midnight era and emerged into the morning.

But I do love a good demo ...

*Representative Church Council - where most of the laity functioned. The Provincial Synod at the time had 10 lay members, if I remember correctly - I was one of them.


  1. Gosh, that takes me back, Christine. I never made it to Greenham Common, but I was Secretary of our home-grown Mid-Wales Peace Council in the early 80's which numbered a fair few Christians among its members and made the long trek to London for a big CND march against cruise missiles. It all helped when i had to do a long essay on Just War theory for my ministerial training in the late 80s.

    1. I only spent a weekend at GC, but it made a huge impression - and a whole bunch of Greenham women (almost wrote 'wimmin' there!) came to Dunoon to demonstrate at the Holy Loch base and I had to organise it with the local police. Now *that* was an interesting exercise!