Monday, October 22, 2018

Interview with the Archbishop of York

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York
The Rt. Rev. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, is the first Black Church of England Archbishop to be ordained within the United Kingdom.  

Here, he talks about the importance of nonviolence for him as a Christian.

Z:  How are you personally affected by the violence in the world today?   

JS:  Saddened (and angry!) because:
  • Violence seems so often to be a knee-jerk reaction to either fear of personal threat or manipulation by vested interests combined with social media.
  • Targeted violence designed for maximum collateral damage hitting bystanders to the arguments, often those who have least resilience
  • Even more collateral damage to society in general – disruption of governance, daily life, resources with an undermining of trust, truth and community.  
Please can you give me one or two examples of how you practise nonviolence in your own life?

Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers”. Making peace means action, not passivity. With that in mind, I try to give young people a goal to aim for: that is God’s Kingdom. You can find some of the components in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapters 5 – 7. But we humans need more than good advice and good examples, so I also share with them the good news about Jesus Christ himself, who is the Prince of Peace. He gets to work within us, putting right what is wrong and through the Holy Spirit giving us dness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Surely this is how we all want to live?  

Many parents are struggling with issues around violence today. Young people are shooting and stabbing each other – I am sure you are aware of the fact that violence is increasing, both in London and across Britain. What practical advice or suggestions can you offer to parents about how to protect their children from violence, and how to prevent violence? 
  • encourage them to have a circle of trusted friends who are not all like them
  • be interested in their interests, feelings, hopes and don’t work so hard there’s no time for children
  • relax together. Don’t put children under so much pressure – positive support is better than negative sanctions
  • surround them with adults, other than family, who will be protective of them, who they can learn to trust and go to when they get to the “asserting independence” phase of their lives (role of godparents!)
  • watch age-appropriate news and other programmes with them
  • encourage them to read stories – a wonderful way of learning about the world, universe and everything else (especially themselves) and to see things in perspective.
  • there are some excellent books for children and young people about difficult topics, eg the children’s version of I Am Malala with lovely illustrations, and Michael Morpurgo’s books.
Please add any further remarks you would like to make.

Because of my Christian faith, for me, it is a privilege to belong to a church family that breaks down barriers between people of different places, cultures, backgrounds. I want young people to be able to celebrate diversity whilst also knowing we all belong together - different, but one family, sisters and brothers together.

+Sentamu Ebor 

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