I have been listening to the testimony of Gordon Brown at the Chilcote enquiry and to the BBC's question time last night and I can't help but notice that as faith decreases so blame increases in modern society. It's particularly noticeable around election time of course, but its not restricted to politics - it is fast becoming endemic in our culture. We blame the police for failing to eradicate crime, catch murders, burglars or car thieves.. We blame politicians and the media, scientists and teachers, doctors, bureaucrats and ministers for the state of the world, our health, our eduction, our quality of life and even the state of our souls.. Oh, and of course we blame you for anything bigger that we can't understand but is spectacularly nasty, or unpleasant or disastrous.
To what end? What advantage is there is blame? How does it help to point a finger in this way?
I could understand if it were in order to offer forgiveness, but that's not why its done. There is little evidence of any desire to forgive in the intention to blame, there is only evidence of a desire to prove that whatever caused/is causing the hurt was someone else's fault.
To blame someone/something else is another way of divesting personal responsibility, of standing outside the situation and distancing oneself from it.
We know the harm that blame causes, we even tell people - you mustn't blame yourself..
But perhaps we should blame ourselves, at least until we can get rid of blame altogether, and replace it with the Gospel message of intra-dependence instead of independence, of grace and mercy instead of judgement and damnation and most of all, of growth in grace and holiness through the gift of forgiveness.
Christians especially have this responsibility to recognize 'there but for the grace of God go I' and to offer the support, forgiveness, love and peace that they themselves would want. The know to 'carry one another's burdens in love', and how important it is to 'love your neighbour as you love yourself' - and that by neighbour we mean all of humanity.
So how has the blame culture crept so insidiously into our churches?
Ministers, priests, deacons and officers are often blamed for things that the membership think is wrong with the Church, as though members have nothing to do with the leadership in either electing or appointing them, and hence nothing to do with decisions that they make. Perhaps they really feel they haven't - perhaps they do no think their prayer about such matters counts, nor do they value the effort that they make to share in the process of discerning your will.
And of course the same is true the other way around - members are often blamed for things that the leadership think is wrong - as though the leadership is not a part of the membership!
Blame goes hand in hand with distancing - but we are called to be a reconciling people. You teach us that it is never to late to be reconciled one to another, that no matter the sin - it is past, no matter the offense - it is is wiped away - because we are all one in Christ. It seems to me that only by recovering the unity we claim in Christ, can we end the blame culture that defeats our ultimate purpose of working with you to build a reconciled world.
Standing against the blame culture is never easy - but its time that the Church took a lead and practiced what it proclaims in your name. I cannot blame those I help to elect, those I help to appoint, those I pay to serve for my own failure to be involved in the work of this world, in its peace and struggle to the perfection which you desire for it. I cannot distance myself from the wars, the violence, the sickness or sin, for those involved are my brothers and sisters in Christ. So I will look to align myself with their grief and their sorrow, and stand beside them, as best I can, whilst you redeem and restore the right relationships between us.
Otherwise, surely I would deserve to be called hypocrite by a world that believes that all that the Church does is the same as everyone else and pass blame and judgement without grace or favour.