Sunday, 17 March 2013

Radio Shropshire Pause for Thought March 17th 2013

It is a few decades ago that, as a spotty teenager, I used to go the Saturday night dances at the old Wem Town Hall

I kidded myself that I looked like Marc Bolan, but on reflection I probably looked more like a youthful Mr Bean

A few weeks ago though I put on my best pair of jeans and a comfy t shirt and I went dancing again

The music was amazing all the old favourites were played, Dancing Queen ,ymca, etc etc alongside the incredible gangham  dance

The DJ was superb but what really made the evening was not the music or the DJ or the lighting but the company.

Some of the dancers were in wheel chairs ,others had Down’s Syndrome ,or epilepsy ,cerebral palsy or autism but my goodness they knew how to have fun in joyful and uninhibited ways …to use a dancing metaphor……. they were having a ball

In the middle of this joyful ,noisy musical chaos ; my attention was drawn to a man who I knew could not speak, and who obviously found communication very difficult. I watched as he walked slowly from one side of the room to the other , over to the most damaged child at the disco ,a child confined in a wheel chair with severe and profound learning difficulties, and with a caring look on his face, that man took the child’s hand and held on tight .

I have to tell you I learned something about love that night was for me a Holy moment 2 damaged human beings sharing love, and I can only marvel, and as one of your colleagues puts it Mike ,Take my hat off to humanity

I have been desperately sad to read stories about what happened not far away at Stafford Hospital or at Winterbourne View ,or stories of abuse in church ,or of killings in Syria stories of the inhumanity human beings are capable of showing each other
This is wrong

The very first book of the bible – Genesis – declares that every man and every woman bears God’s image; that the whole of humankind enjoys this indelible privilege and responsibility. That is a very radical thought

Everybody, every human being is made in God’s image and therefore every human being is of infinite value to God and therefore every human being has value and we should treat each other well

The strange thing is that as my experience at the disco proved very often the people society would regard as damaged have understood and indeed celebrated this profound truth in a way that more intellectual and more powerful people often fail to do.

As someone put it we are in danger of moving from a society that values people and uses things to becoming a society that uses people and values things

We can change that if only we will learn the lessons my friends at the disco were teaching me

Whatever you are doing today

Whether your shopping or playing football ,spending time at home or walking in the countryside How will you treat your fellow human beings ?


  1. As a father of a disabled child, I have watched in horror at the reactions of some when he gives them a hug or says hello... one individual just pushed him over... Humanity at it's worst?
    I have also seen amazing acts of love by complete strangers who have hugged him back, held his hand and even tried to converse with him.
    My son is a physically "normal" eleven year old, but with global developmental delay and a mindset of a toddler. He laughs a lot and is always smiling, bringing great joy to all who will take the time to understand him.
    Well said Charles... lets give everyone the respect they deserve as those whom God has created - especially those who do not conform to Society's norms!

  2. Thanks and I agree so much with you!

  3. In the church where I was raised, I "learned" that our sinful depravity prohibits the non-Christian human from doing anything truly good, beneficial or altruistic. However, as your story so aptly describes, what we see in humanity - yes, even among those who do not follow Christ - the Divine Imprint, the capacity and the willingness to afford dignity, care, compassion, and joy to another person. This is, I now believe, what God intended, and sometimes people outside of the church put it into practice more than those who are deemed religious. Thanks for sharing such a compelling image today, Charles. I'll be watching for someone's hand to hold... DudleyC

  4. Dudley, looking forward to seeing you soon.
    The truth is that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world and not just in the church. I think I always knew that but reading Hirsch and Reggie McNeal et al helped me to look out for it more

  5. What an inspirational Pause for Thought, Charles! I agree also with Dudley about "the Divine Imprint" - even among those who do not follow Christ." It's so true that reading about abuse, neglect and cruelty can be depressing, so we need to keep a balanced view, and to remind each other that there are more examples of love and caring and kindness, but these are probably not deemed "newsworthy." I have often thought we may need some enterprising person to start a "GOOD NEWSpaper"- with articles that celebrate the kindness and caring that exists in our world; all that is best in humanity. A GOOD NEWSpaper would not advertise in a way that implies that people are only worth what their possessions are worth, or only acceptable if they conform to a prescribed "image", but would celebrate the fact that people are precious and that God loves them. You could say that blogs like this are as near to a "GOOD NEWSpaper" as we are ever likely to get!