MIDDLE GROUND, COMMON GROUND

How was your summer?

As we all stream back to school, it doesn’t feel as if this is going to be an ordinary new term. Too much has happened. News bulletins became more like drive-by shootings during the summer as huge, life shaping, sometime shocking, events and happenings were announced. Newsreaders assumed new but useful facial expressions of – frankly – bewilderment.

So what do we need to look out for at the start of the new school year?

Having just been fortified by witnessing an excellent discussion between some Brexiteers and some Remainians (truly, the office seemed to provide a context for this team to be wonderfully grown up and generous as they argued and then argued some more while listening too), it will be the ability to rise above differences that I’ll be working on.

As if on cue, an old joke was sent to me by an American friend about this very thing: about why looking at what we have in common rather than magnifying differences is going to be kinda crucial.

I was taking a short cut towards a bridge one day, and saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump.

I ran over shouting ‘Stop! Don’t do it.’
‘Why shouldn’t I?’ he asked.
‘There’s so much to live for!’
‘Like what?’
‘Well…are you religious?’
He said: ‘Yes.’
I said. ‘Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?’
‘Christian.’
‘Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?’
‘Protestant.’
‘Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?’
‘Baptist.’
‘Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?’
‘Baptist Church of God.’
‘Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?’
‘Reformed Baptist Church of God.’
‘Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?’
He said: ‘Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915.’
I said: “Die, heretic scum,” and pushed him off the bridge.

I’m less sure, now, how funny that actually is………..

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