The owner of this blog has graciously offered me space for a little musing about church conflict. It was this person who said recently "all church conflicts are unique because the factors influencing each person is unique, but all church conflicts are also fundamentally the same".
The story of the Church throughout history is the story of more conflict and more people behaving badly than will fit on the head of a pin.
I recently read a lovely book called "Blessed Among All Women" by Robert Ellsberg -a compendium of the lives of holy Christian women who, for the most part, were abused, vilified, excommunicated, martyred and betrayed -mostly by people in power in the Church. That they kep their faith in such difficulties is amazing -that no-one has ever, to my knowledge, stopped the church long enough to ask "why do we keep doing this?" is even more amazing.
Australia is about to have our first official Saint -the Blessed Mary McKillop, who was one such woman. Her bishop excommunicated her for a time!
I would like to suggest that conflict in the church has as its base the same root causes as all conflicts in the human society we belong to -power and money. Someone has power and is jealous that someone else is more popular or more succesful so that they get afraid and attack. Someone has access to the money and the presige and others want it for their own causes.
Of course we follow a crucified God who gave up power and money to show us what love is like so fights over power and money are horrendously obscene. Perhaps that is why most churches don't want to talk about conflict. They don't want to talk about their last conflict and so they are never able to learn how to work their way through the next one so that a better outcome is possible.
People are different therefore we will disagree with each other. Like married couples however, if we are to live together we need to learn to 'fight fair" and to make up before the sun goes down.
Do you know of any Church that has taken the issue of conflict seriously enough to examine its own conflicts and seek a way through them to a win-win situation?
(There are some historic Peace Churches -the Mennonites and the Quakers for example -who have some valuable things to teach us about conflict. To learn however we would first have to own up to the violence we inflict on each other>
ROBERT INCHAUSTI: SUBVERSIVE ORTHODOXY
3 years ago