My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Friday, 10 January 2014

Kairos: Time for Action, Call to Action

Driving this afternoon over to my garage to have my car serviced, there is a queue on the other side of the road that must be over a mile long. And it is going nowhere, at least for the time being. The cause of the hold up: just one car broken down in the middle of the road at the traffic lights. Several drivers are already getting impatient and turning around to go back or find an alternative route. One driver negotiating this impatient and dangerous move nearly hit me. No one seems to be doing anything about the real problem – a car which could be simply pushed to the side of the road if there were sufficient man power and will power; if people stopped thinking just about themselves and looked for a solution for all.
Many of us after a long and tiring day of work have the frustration of sitting in traffic queues, or waiting for trains and buses, sometimes for hours when things go wrong, just to get home. Imagine, though, if the queuing and long waits are part of an oppressive controlling regime, every single day, and if they are a reflection of a severely limited freedom, and if there simply is no other route to take? Because that is the reality every day for the many weary workers waiting to return home to Bethlehem through the Birqat es sultan gate in the Separation Wall after a long day’s work in Jerusalem on the other side of the divide. Sometimes in the morning they cannot get to work on time, even get to work at all, because of the same humiliating system. We saw this separation wall several times on our travels through Jerusalem and it is a striking and potent symbol of the prolonged occupation of the West Bank and the suffering of so many of these beleaguered citizens. Sometimes eight metres high concrete, heavily covered in graffiti, sometimes nasty touch sensitive wire topped with razor wire, it is there for “security” or so Israel says.
After decades of suffering Israeli occupation, in 2009 Palestine Christians published the Kairos Palestine document: A Moment of Truth- a word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian Suffering, an appeal for Christians everywhere to sit up, take notice and actually do something.
The Peace Pole in Jerusalem
In 2012 a group of over 60 Christians gathered on the Hebridean Isle of Iona to consider their response to this appeal for help. The document that was finally produced out of this gathering, Time for Action, is a call to the Churches of Britain to respond faithfully and courageously to the situation in Israel and Palestine.
In June 2011 a group of U.S. clergy, theologians and laypersons inaugurated a similar movement for American Christians. Their document is Call to Action .

I have been and seen for myself the injustices and humiliations that Palestinians face daily and I urge my readers to take a look at these projects and to do something! The booklets are different, but the messages broadly similar: Go and see for yourself if you possibly can just what is happening in the Holy Land, follow up with political action, challenge the theology and misuse of the Bible behind these injustices, and pray. The American booklet includes a very useful study guide as well.
Why Kairos? “Kairos” is Greek for “favorable time,” “crisis,” “decisive epoch.” It demands urgent response, a change of mind and direction. Jesus invoked this urgency in his mission in Galilee when he says “The time has come.” Other Kairos moments were when the injustices of Apartheid and slavery were tackled and overcome. A more recent Kairos moment came with the launch of A Common Word, about which I have written in a previous post.

Pilgrims to the Holy Land take with them the gifts of joy, trade, prayer and hope. 

looking across from the Shepherds' fields to Israeli occupation
settlements beyond the fence
That is just a beginning. They also take with them the opportunity to be educated about what is going on over there. I believe that education is the key to many, if not most, of the problems of this damaged and wounded world.

As I write this I notice coincidentally in the media that Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, seems to be going about face on his previous attitude, and now says that it is time to do a deal. He is still unrepentant, however, about the settlements still being built and expanded in the occupied West Bank, only too visible to us on our visit, and illegal under international law.
(UK reporting in the Telegraph is here).


  1. Eleanor, Thank you for this reflection on the Palestinian situation. I, too, once went on pilgrimage to Israel, back in the mid-90s, before that huge wall was built. Then, there seemed some hope of a solution or reconciliation; now there seems to be none.

    1. And the wall is all in the name of "security". The booklets Time For Action/Call to Action are really worth reading.I would very much like to get my church to run a home group around this.