Right versus right

Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, 7th century Bishop, appears on the liturgical calendar for today, although in parentheses, with the day actually devoted to Lenten Feria, meaning a plain old day without a saint to celebrate.  I happened to have been in Durham England this past summer during a much celebrated appearance of a single page from the gorgeously illuminated “Lindisfarne Gospels”, created in the good Bishop’s honor.  Far better known in England than America, Cuthbert didn’t strike me as anything close to a parenthetical figure  in that part of the world.

One story about Cuthbert made a strong impression on me.  The Romans and the Celts had vied for control in England of Christianity.  Their biggest issue was the different formula each had for determining Easter’s date.  The two sides had met in Whitby to discuss this burning issue some twenty years before Cuthbert’s time and Rome had won out.  The Irish monks at Lindisfarne could not accept their defeat and left the island off northeastern England where they had lived to return to Ireland.  Cuthbert came along soon after and decided that it was more important to get along, which England and Rome then managed to do with moderate success until a certain King Henry VIII came along…

That’s the Cliff Notes version anyway.  Finding the wisdom to know the difference between those things worth working for and the far more numerous things not worth fighting over is probably a good goal for all of us.  Finding areas of common ground and celebrating differences seem like a way forward to me.

Last week St. Alban’s hosted the Chaplain to the U.S. Senate, Barry Black, for a forum  examining the addiction to power.  When asked how he ministers to such an apparently divided and divisive group of people, he said something particularly important, I thought.   Issues that come before Congress, he said, are essentially “right versus right conundrums.  Right versus wrong is easy”, but Senators are dealing with “paradigms such as truth versus loyalty, individual versus community, long-term versus short-term, justice versus mercy.  Right versus right.”  Finding merit in the opposition gives me hope that Cuthbert’s wisdom lives on.



This entry was posted in Sonya Subbayya Sutton and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Right versus right

  1. Anton Vanterpool II says:

    Sonya, beautiful and fitting juxtapose between the sacred and secular worlds.

  2. Warren Clark says:

    I found Lindisfarne a magical, thin place. We collected some St. Cuthbert’s beeds on the beach. ..

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