Nation e-Edition

Well, all that glisters . . .

By Clifford Hall (Rev.)

| Fri, November 09, 2012 - 12:00 AM


My priest colleague Rev. Graveney Bannister, with characteristic vigour in his sermon at St Lucy’s Parish Church (MIDWEEK NATION of October 31) has quite properly admonished us to address our social responsibilities, and calls upon us to conceive of ourselves as “landlords” of our communities, or witness the desecration of our “images” of “law and order”.

In particular, he mentions the practice of urinating in the street as an environmental and pollution concern, as well as being an affront to children, women and “others”.

Well, he has a point. Yet things are never quite as they seem, and that is the problem with the idea of “images”. In our conduct, the image may amount to mere observance, posturing. It may have nothing to do with whom we really are as people.

The authoritarian image of the landlord, though it may serve in some circumstances, may amount to “playing God” in a created order, which is His rather than ours and in which we are, consistently with the teachings of Jesus, “stewards” not freeholders.

Urinating in the street may speak to the nature of the human condition; but may equally speak to the absence of public toilets.

And what of the “image” of “law and order”? Well, it is familiar to the political platform, but sits less well in the armoury of the Christian priest.

It prompts the question: “Whose law and order?” Do we mean the law and order of the police state, or of the Pharisees, or the law, say, of love? Do we mean the oppressive law and order that amounts to a denial of human rights impressed for far, far too long on Raul Garcia?

Or – since we have inevitably moved into the legal system – do we mean the law and order reflected, say, in the image of the Bail Act, that attorneys Mia Mottley and Arthur Holder have so vehemently criticized recently?

The jurist would say that refusing a man bail explodes the “golden thread” of our law, constitutionally entrenched: the presumption of innocence.

He would say the image is tantamount to detaining a man because he has not yet been found guilty.

The priest would agree with them, but would add that the image conveys as fundamental Christian precepts the centrality of sin and guilt, shame and punishment; that man is inevitably “fallen” and irredeemable.

Well, maybe it’s time for our Court of Appeal to scrutinize this image and deliver fresh guidelines to our overly-enthusiastic magistrates. What did the prophet Micah say?

Wasn’t it something to do with tempering justice with mercy? Or is that only a Sunday by Sunday thing?

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