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Sunday 24 July 2011

Sorrow and prayers for Norway

Three brief thoughts from praying about Utøya and Oslo:

Tragedy is the only word that comes anywhere near the terrible events of Friday in Norway. The trauma of all must be devastating and deep. Even from a distance the brutal nature of the horror is hard to think about so I appreciate the truth in the words of the Norwegians who have described these things as of hell or a nightmare. Prayers and thoughts of sympathy and condolence are small gestures, but I hope that nevertheless the certainty that people of goodwill feel for those touched by this evil is some consolation, however small. I’m sure my prayers joined the prayers of millions of others this morning.

The news website News and Views from Norway particularly touched me. You can find it here Its combination of steadfast professionalism and common humanity seems to me just what we need in our commentators and journalists. Thank you Nina and colleagues, you’re an inspiration, and particularly so after so much recent jaundiced criticism of journalism here in the UK.

Domkirchen, Oslo on BBC on 24 July
Thirdly, the sight of so many Norwegians gathering at Oslo Cathedral and other churches tells me something about the collective memory that is this blog’s primary concern. In this time of such devastating hurt, churches seem the right place to be. In radio interviews this morning, people of no faith and of non-Christian faiths spoke of the cathedral as the place to show their immediate concern and solidarity. In this highly secularized nation, those of Christian heritage, if not regular practice, obviously shared the thought. Somehow a long memory of faith provides a way of gathering together that everyone feels to be important and safe. Although we may wish it otherwise, it seems to me that guarding that memory so it is available in such terrible times is a godly and gospel thing to do.

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