I spent the last 36 hours or so in a nice hotel in Ballymena with a bunch of colleagues and friends. All of us coming from a faith perspective, some clergy, some lay, and all serving in working class loyalist communities. Some of us are also engaged in conflict transformation initiatives with the loyalist paramilitary organisations who are such a central part of the areas where we work.
We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we have overheard conversations that perhaps we shouldn’t have; we have all wondered whether we could be guilty by association with organisations and individuals; and we have endured the suspicion of fellow believers who through ignorance or wilful desire have chosen to ignore these communities. I have wondered whether, in some circumstances, I have compromised my faith in the morally ambiguous murk that often surrounds these groups.
But it strikes me to that this fine line is exactly the line where faith is required. To stand way back behind the lines does not require too much faith. To teeter on the edge in danger of toppling over, it’s there that one needs to be aware, to be attentive, to be prayerful and to be accountable. Who was it said that ‘there are many angles at which a person may fall, but only one at which they can stand straight’?