Saturday, 23 October 2010

Only being loved makes a man lovable: basic Christianity

One of my favourite passages to quote is from Harold Loukes (1960) The Discovery of Quakerism. Here are a few selections from a longer piece...
'the Quaker effort for criminals and the insane brings out something of the meaning of their search for "that of God in every man".'
'The problem comes when we meet the unlovable: how is that to be loved? It was because this was to hard that through so many Christian centuries the treatment of criminals and the insane was marked by such bitter cruelty.'
'the Friendly challenge... was to say that whether or not a man was "unlovable" was beside the point: he was made to be loved and only being loved makes man lovable. As a doctrine there is was nothing new in this: it was basic Christianity. The novelty lay simply in the way Friends sought out the two most unlovely groups they could find and set their unsentimental caring to work.'
This seems very apposite as a new project is launched in South Yorkshire, Circles of Support and Accountability, which aims to provide a network of support to sex offenders who would otherwise be lonely, isolated and... all the more likely to re-offend. If criminals in general can be thought of as an 'unlovely group', then surely sex offenders are the most vilified and despised of the lot?
It's a project which started in Canada in 1994 and from the beginning has relied heavily on volunteers being drawn from faith communities.
Volunteers are now being sought to set up 2 or 3 groups in this area. There's more detail in our Sheffield Quaker website. I fervently hope that we will, as a community, being able to get involved in the project.

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