Archbishop Justin has caught the headlines by saying he has moments when he doubts God’s existence. Standing gazing up at the stars in Northumberland’s Dark Sky Park I found myself doubting my own existence. Faced with the sheer vastness of the universe, there was no problem believing in God, but I was conscious of my utter insignificance and the minuteness of my own sense of being. Looking up at worlds upon worlds, my presence seemed of no importance or significance, less than a pinprick in the canvass of creation. The idea that the Creator of all this knows me, and even loves me, is beyond my comprehension; this is the real miracle at the heart of creation. Wrapped in visions of the Milky Way, mesmerised by a billion lights, contemplating that there is a God who believes, in the midst of this vastness, in my existence, my soul is stilled and silent – quite literally awe-struck.
In the Scottish Independence campaign it was always going to be easier to promote “yes” rather than “no”. Saying “yes” has a vision, an energy, an excitement about it. “No” feels restricting and controlling, even finger wagging, and at times that is exactly how the No campaign has felt.
In an age when individualism, localism and nationalism are seen as values to be cherished, the idea of “better together” seems to go against the mood of our times. Yet tribalism and denominationalism blight our world. Iraq is almost too late waking up to the reality that it is better together. Across the Middle East only when nations learn they are better together will there be peace. It is in harnessing our diversity that humanity can thrive.
In an increasingly interconnected world, we are aware as never before as to how much we need each other. Our survival depends on affirming the things that unite us rather than stressing the things that divide us. No matter how Scotland votes, on this small planet, floating in the vastness of the universe, humankind’s future depends on us knowing we are better together.
The Times reports that Islamic State pays its fighters about $400 per month, almost double the salary of other militant groups. Amidst all the talk of extremism, never forget the impact of poverty. When a group comes offering a different way, the size of the pay packet may be as important as any discussions about faith or philosophy. As long as there is poverty and an unequal sharing of the world’s resources there will always be a ready audience for the extremist.
If we spent as much on aid as we do on arms, I wonder how different the world might be?