Blogging Ellul: What can I learn from you?

On Monday I had the privilege of reconnecting with half of the group that I travelled to Israel and the West Bank with last November, and in the evening the honour of addressing a newly re-formed branch of the Council of Christians and Jews Parliamentary Branch at the House of Lords.

The CCJ has played an incredibly important part in my personal development, giving me my first exposure to dialogue, an experience which has continually challenged me to rethink and better express myself. Facing the questions of someone with a different frame of reference strengthened my ability to express myself to them and to myself, and made me the Jew that I am.

But travelling with Muslims, Christians and Jews to the Holy Land last year asked me to consider another layer of the dialogue. I had grown accustomed to hearing the other, and learning from them. However as our varied ways of approaching the land, her politics, her religions emerged, it became clear that there was no one way of seeing anything, and no matter our back ground or faith, we all saw things differently. So not only do we learn to express ourselves and listen better but we learn to hear each other and ourselves better, and to hear that where we are coming from is also a narrative.

There were so many powerful moments and examples of this, but just one was an incredible tour of Jaffa with a Jewish Israeli and a Palestinian Israeli who were both history students that had deliberately extracted their own nationalistic narrative about each location, which of course were very different. Neither was entirely true, neither entirely false, both were the truth as seen by one set of eyes.

In Ellul, we have an opportunity to explore a little of how our own received narratives have influenced us to become who we are, and perhaps change what we have allowed to become our accepted narrative. In taking the time to do this internal work, perhaps we can formulate what narrative we wish to leave behind as a lasting legacy and make the changes necessary to make it happen. May it be a legacy of goodness, justice, care and happiness.


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