Last year I took my son to the cinema to see the Dreamworks movie Home. I found it really enjoyable, and also deeply moving. It's about prejudice, ignorance and fear, told through the animated medium of amusing aliens and the near destruction of earth. In recent months my thoughts have turned again to that word 'home'. And, actually, the same themes from the film have been all too evident.
I think most of this came home to me when watching Paul O'Grady's excellent TV series The Sally Army and Me on the BBC. It was one of the later episodes, where Paul was sent on a special mission with The Salvation Army to Athens, a major hub for refugees arriving in Europe from North Africa and the Middle East. I cried as I saw the horror, hundreds of people, including very small children, sleeping in a town square, relying on sandwiches and tea provided by The Salvation Army. And then along comes a local resident, who starts shouting the odds, that the refugees are not welcome, and so on. Paul O'Grady then tells the woman to go home and leave them alone.
People who just want to live. And someone wants rid of them.
During that same show, Paul O'Grady (who is both openly gay, and a huge fan of The Salvation Army) asked about The Army's stance on LGBTQI, and was told that any homosexual would have to swear to celibacy to become a member. This upset Paul (understandably, I think), as he knew many people who would join but would not be allowed...
People who simply want to be included, to express their faith and serve.
Immigration continues to be a hot topic. Attitudes towards our LGBTQI brothers and sisters come under scrutiny.
But it seems to me that home is where we live. Not a place, not bricks and mortar, but a state of affairs where everyone can live - can participate and express themselves freely, can contribute and benefit. Home is where we live, as a human race, welcoming every member of the human family, all God's children.
Just a final note on prejudice. I was brought up disliking gherkins. I was told I wouldn't like them, and always removed them from burgers. And then, one day, I tried one. And it turns out, they're not so bad...
Ron Rolheiser on ATHEISM AND BELIEF...
1 week ago