situation ethics

A journey into town for a mid-year diary yielded one bit of fish, one pint of milk, one rescued dog, and an interesting conversation about God (but no diary).

As I went into the Co-op for something green, a young woman jumped out of her van and called to me urgently. She tugged at a bracelet till it showed the familiar: W.W.J.D. ‘Sorry, could you help me… could you tell me: what’s the D for?’

So I told her and asked if a friend had given it to her (yes), then began to explain the idea. Seeing the bracelet reminds us to slow down a bit, to think before we do something: ‘what would Jesus do?’

And she said, ‘Oh, I know how it works. I use it all the time. I just forgot the words. It’s really important to stop and think about Jesus — to think about what Jesus wants, what Jesus would do.’ And then we laughed about those times when asking the question led to the equally familiar question: ‘well, what would he do?’ It’s not always clear

And off she went, laughing and smiling.

She clearly doesn’t go to church — I had the feeling she’d been looking for someone to ask for a long time. But God matters to her. She wants Jesus to be involved with her life

It’s people like her we need to catch, if only we could find the right bait.

15 thoughts on “situation ethics”

  1. Indeed. And if you ever solve that one, fame and fortune will be yours. I was playing today with an old and beloved idea – that if I could really do what I wanted, I would tour the country in a horse drawn caravan, with the chickens in a gypsy coop, and the cat at the window, and give punch and judy shows, but not on punch’s old themes, fine as they are, but on the parables and other things – I have an especial yen to do the sheep and goats – the point being that they are such wonderful daft funny stories, and we go so deadly earnest over them that it does them no favours. But till we get out there, and do some mould breaking I suspect things will stay as they are.

  2. Oh, the wretched need to earn dosh, and the fact I can’t actually take the animals in today’s world – it would mean separation, and animal sitting, and all kinds of difficulties, and would I have the skills, and can I get the audiences, and all of that. And the taking of me away from writing in what time I have left after working, and I simply could not subsidise it. In favour is that the parables speak for them selves, and I think would be funny over and over and over again. The woman forced out of her kitchen as the dough rises, and the jack and the bean stalk mustard seed, and Mr Punch as God, or as his steward, because who is the Unmerciful Steward if not Mr Punch?? and the fact we are so so full of reverence we don’t hear them. Both Hugh, and on Sunday last, Gene spoke of how we have lost the toughness which lets the Jews grapple in an unafraid way with Scripture, and I think it is all too true, all too true.

  3. Rosemary, are you writing a book about this? Because I would like to read it if you are. Maybe with illustrations.

  4. Actually, Rosemary, Sarah might be onto something. You could test the US religious book market by starting through the convent… who have nice links to SSJE… who have links to Cowley Publishing…

    As for illustrations — Sarah, if you scroll down to the photos of Rosemary’s leaving eucharist, all the sea creatures are her own. Clever, no?

    Rosemary — I really like the idea of a travelling caravan for parables. Maybe you could do it once a year, at the book festival? With Alison…

  5. ‘It’s people like her we need to catch, if only we could find the right bait.’

    The only ‘bait’ we need is the quality of our spontaneous response to such encounters. And we don’t do the catching: the Great Fisherperson does.

  6. Um, if I had anything on paper … but it is all in my head. I so badly need to finish the big biography and free myself up.

    Before I could write this, I think I would need to do it, as so many pitfalls lurk in a new medium like this. If illustrations, then Alison – I saw the ones she did for a ‘Life of Pi’ competition. Stunning is not the word. But I see the plays as traditional puppet theatre, a one person show. I admit that what attracts me is the doing of them – the audience response. Not to mention pitching up somewhere different as the spirit moves.

    What I have often thought of doing for publication is something like a set of my little stories for say a liturgical season – and recently I have started playing with the idea of story of Jesus seen through the eyes of Judas, which would be almost heart breaking. For this reason, I think I need something a tad less controversial first.

  7. Currently Eamon, I don’t think most people have a clue what they are accepting or rejecting, and I don’t see how they can do either unless they have some understanding. We are afraid of Scripture – and some revere it without loving it.

  8. I think it is almost a cop out view of Judas. I read him as an angry perfectionist who cannot face his own imperfections until the end. But seeing through his eyes would give one the chance to see much more clearly why Jesus infuriated people. But I think it must stew nicely on the burner for a bit.

  9. Yes, of course. But a lot depends on whether the encounter offers time and opportunity to go into the detail of what we believe. It also depends on the receptivity of the other person to scriptural teaching. But it is our way of relating that will, in the first instance, show people that being a Christian makes a difference. Most people of good will will respond to that.

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