Canterbury Cathedral urged to turn wargame row into peace pledge

By staff writers
May 26, 2006

Canterbury Cathedral urged to turn wargame row into peace pledge

-26/05/06

On the day that marks the anniversary of St Augustine of Canterburyís death in 604, Englandís most famous Cathedral ñ which is dedicated to him ñ has been urged to turn a public spat with a computer wargame manufacturer into an opportunity to promote global peace.

UK Christian think tank Ekklesia is suggesting to Canterbury Cathedral that instead of trying to get Koch Media to withdraw their War on Terror game, which uses the building as one of its backdrops, they could mount an exhibition on initiatives in non-violence ñ and ask the manufacturer to promote it to their customers.

A spokesperson for the Canterburyís Dean and Chapter, Christopher Robinson, said on Wednesday: ìHaving the cathedral as aesthetic wallpaper for violence and hatred isn't appropriateÖThe whole point of the church is to preach God's love to the world and for humans to love each other.î

But Ekklesia says that while it sympathizes with this view, pushing for a ban is counter-productive, and a more positive approach is needed ñ one that also involves the church repenting of its own role in conflict over the years.

Explained Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley: ìWeíre delighted that Canterbury Cathedral is taking a stand against war. But itís also stuffed full of military images and has a Warriors Chapel. So in honesty itís not wholly surprising that it should be seen as a backdrop to war by others.î

He continued ìA more positive approach might be for the building which millions think of as the ëheadquartersí of the Church of England to re-brand itself as a ëpeace cathedralí by mounting an exhibition about non-violence and conflict transformation.î

Said Bartley: ìPerhaps the Dean could extend an invitation to groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams, whose work to bring Sunnis and Shias together in Iraq was highlighted during the recent hostage crisis.î

The War on Terror computer game depicts a worldwide battle between terrorists, a NATO-like strike force and the Chinese.

Monte Cristo, the company which developed it, says it sees Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Becket was murdered in the 12th Century, as ìa natural backdrop for the valour of the world forcesî ñ alongside the Eiffel Tower and the Brandenburg Gate.

Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow says he is not surprised: ìFor centuries the established church has been perceived as a natural ally of the state and armed force. Yet Jesus urged his followers to put away the sword and become peacemakers. Rather than censoring others, this is a wonderful opportunity for the Cathedral to show a different face of the church ñ to turn the other cheek, if you like.î

Ekklesia says that while there are legitimate concerns about wargames, the religious habit of trying to ban things that they find offensive is part of a ëChristendom mentalityí ñ the idea that the church is there to order others around, rather than to promote alternatives and get its own house in order.

The think-tank has also called for the repeal of blasphemy laws and has been critical of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill for its possible impact on free speech. But it says that people of faith and non-faith also have to get beyond the ìadolescent desire to offend one another just for the hell of itî.

Commented Ekklesiaís Simon Barrow about the Canterbury wargame row: ìEveryone recognises that ëtoxic faithí and religiously sanctioned violence is a major problem today. The rejection of violence ought to be an identity-marker for Christians in the modern world, and a sign that baptism means crossing over from death to life. In many ways this goes further than arguments about ëjust warí (which seeks to limit violence) and pacifism (which promotes alternatives to it).î

On its website, Canterbury Cathedral proclaims that its mission is to "show people Jesus". Worship has been offered on its site for 1400 years.

Ekklesia says that it is sending its proposal to Canterbury Cathedralís Dean and chapter this weekend, and hopes for a ìconstructive conversation in the near futureî.

[Related material on Ekklesia: Rethinking hate speech, blasphemy and free expression - an Ekklesia response to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill; God and the politicians ñ where next? - a comment on the BBC 2 documentary on faith and politics in a plural society; Beyond the politics of fear - an Ekklesia response to the London bombings; Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams; How Easter brings regime change - Simon Barrow says the Gospel means an end to the politics of death; Plea for armed forces chaplains likely to be rejected 26/05/06; Mennonites and Catholics seek to cooperate on peacemaking; Blair challenged by Christian peacemakers; Jesus commitment to nonviolence highlighted at St Peter's; Churches urged to consider more radical peacemaking following Iraq hostage crisis; Archive of comment and features on Christian Peacemaking; Movement celebrates 60 years of peacemaking; Peacemaking for Churches by Yvonne Joan Craig (book); Fragmentation of the Church and Its Unity in Peacemaking; (book); From the Ground Up: Mennnonite Contributions to International Pecaemaking (book); Christians join global war resisters gathering in the USA; [PDF] Becoming a Peace Church File Format - Adobe Acrobat]

Canterbury Cathedral urged to turn wargame row into peace pledge

-26/05/06

On the day that marks the anniversary of St Augustine of Canterburyís death in 604, Englandís most famous Cathedral ñ which is dedicated to him ñ has been urged to turn a public spat with a computer wargame manufacturer into an opportunity to promote global peace.

UK Christian think tank Ekklesia is suggesting to Canterbury Cathedral that instead of trying to get Koch Media to withdraw their War on Terror game, which uses the building as one of its backdrops, they could mount an exhibition on initiatives in non-violence ñ and ask the manufacturer to promote it to their customers.

A spokesperson for the Canterburyís Dean and Chapter, Christopher Robinson, said on Wednesday: ìHaving the cathedral as aesthetic wallpaper for violence and hatred isn't appropriateÖThe whole point of the church is to preach God's love to the world and for humans to love each other.î

But Ekklesia says that while it sympathizes with this view, pushing for a ban is counter-productive, and a more positive approach is needed ñ one that also involves the church repenting of its own role in conflict over the years.

Explained Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley: ìWeíre delighted that Canterbury Cathedral is taking a stand against war. But itís also stuffed full of military images and has a Warriors Chapel. So in honesty itís not wholly surprising that it should be seen as a backdrop to war by others.î

He continued ìA more positive approach might be for the building which millions think of as the ëheadquartersí of the Church of England to re-brand itself as a ëpeace cathedralí by mounting an exhibition about non-violence and conflict transformation.î

Said Bartley: ìPerhaps the Dean could extend an invitation to groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams, whose work to bring Sunnis and Shias together in Iraq was highlighted during the recent hostage crisis.î

The War on Terror computer game depicts a worldwide battle between terrorists, a NATO-like strike force and the Chinese.

Monte Cristo, the company which developed it, says it sees Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Becket was murdered in the 12th Century, as ìa natural backdrop for the valour of the world forcesî ñ alongside the Eiffel Tower and the Brandenburg Gate.

Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow says he is not surprised: ìFor centuries the established church has been perceived as a natural ally of the state and armed force. Yet Jesus urged his followers to put away the sword and become peacemakers. Rather than censoring others, this is a wonderful opportunity for the Cathedral to show a different face of the church ñ to turn the other cheek, if you like.î

Ekklesia says that while there are legitimate concerns about wargames, the religious habit of trying to ban things that they find offensive is part of a ëChristendom mentalityí ñ the idea that the church is there to order others around, rather than to promote alternatives and get its own house in order.

The think-tank has also called for the repeal of blasphemy laws and has been critical of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill for its possible impact on free speech. But it says that people of faith and non-faith also have to get beyond the ìadolescent desire to offend one another just for the hell of itî.

Commented Ekklesiaís Simon Barrow about the Canterbury wargame row: ìEveryone recognises that ëtoxic faithí and religiously sanctioned violence is a major problem today. The rejection of violence ought to be an identity-marker for Christians in the modern world, and a sign that baptism means crossing over from death to life. In many ways this goes further than arguments about ëjust warí (which seeks to limit violence) and pacifism (which promotes alternatives to it).î

On its website, Canterbury Cathedral proclaims that its mission is to "show people Jesus". Worship has been offered on its site for 1400 years.

Ekklesia says that it is sending its proposal to Canterbury Cathedralís Dean and chapter this weekend, and hopes for a ìconstructive conversation in the near futureî.

[Related material on Ekklesia: Rethinking hate speech, blasphemy and free expression - an Ekklesia response to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill; God and the politicians ñ where next? - a comment on the BBC 2 documentary on faith and politics in a plural society; Beyond the politics of fear - an Ekklesia response to the London bombings; Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams; How Easter brings regime change - Simon Barrow says the Gospel means an end to the politics of death; Plea for armed forces chaplains likely to be rejected 26/05/06; Mennonites and Catholics seek to cooperate on peacemaking; Blair challenged by Christian peacemakers; Jesus commitment to nonviolence highlighted at St Peter's; Churches urged to consider more radical peacemaking following Iraq hostage crisis; Archive of comment and features on Christian Peacemaking; Movement celebrates 60 years of peacemaking; Peacemaking for Churches by Yvonne Joan Craig (book); Fragmentation of the Church and Its Unity in Peacemaking; (book); From the Ground Up: Mennnonite Contributions to International Pecaemaking (book); Christians join global war resisters gathering in the USA; [PDF] Becoming a Peace Church File Format - Adobe Acrobat]

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