Sins of unity

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times:

I have a deep ambivalence about the word “community”. We talk a great deal about the pathologies of individualism, but not enough about the moral dangers of human togetherness.

Last Saturday night, I walked into the wrong pub in the East End of Glasgow. Celtic had been playing at home. The pub was decked out in green. And I was inadvertently wearing a blue jumper. Had I thought about it, I’d have remembered that blue is the colour of Glasgow Rangers, and that, in this city, a blue jumper does not go unnoticed in a Roman Catholic pub.

That’s an understatement: the moment I walked through the door, eyes swivelled to meet me like the guns on a destroyer. With my shaven head, I might well have been mistaken for someone looking for trouble. I also suspected that the polite explanation that I’m: (i) English; (ii) a Protestant minister; and (iii) support Chelsea wasn’t going to make my life any easier, either. So I left sharpish. In that pub, community felt like another word for sectarianism.

Generally, the Church only ever sees the good in the idea of community. Yet, in the name of community, all manner of nastiness and bigotry is frequently excused. Precisely because we are so focused on the sins of the first person singular, our radar is insufficiently attuned to those committed in the first person plural. It’s a moral blind spot.

Read it all.

Past Posts