(Despite a very mixed audience - and with the exception of Methodist President Dr Heather Morris - the masculine theme of the publication was unfortunately reflected in the people on-stage.)
Update - Gladys Ganiel's report on the lecture also unpacks its implications - well worth reading and digesting. In fact, stop reading this post, and read her one instead!
David Porter picked up on Prof John Brewer's "uncomfortable truth" when he questioned: Are the churches capable of doing anything anymore, even if they wanted to?
Each generation needs to lay aside the lure of our ancestral voices. We "de-story" other people's experiences; we have a "mutual antipathy to each other's stories" that wins out over "our shared story of faith". This contrasts with the "invitation to salvation which is an invitation to re-narate our story and align our story with the upside-down kingdom in which the king rides on a donkey and washes other people's feet.
The audience was reminded that Gordon Wilson's expression of "forgiveness" at the time of the Enniskillen bomb which killed his daughter seemed to some as being what the Gospel was about, yet to other Christians this this forgiveness was publicly questioned.
David Porter also reflected that the vision of Britishness on the streets of Belfast is not the vision he now sees on the streets of Coventry. The respectful raising of the Union flag on the village green - on designated days - in huge contrast to tatty flags on lampposts. He also looked at ways in which Coventry expressed and experienced reconciliation with Dresden. The lecture finished:
"Let the church be the church: the face of forgiveness and mercy. No one else can be, it's our only gift to give."
Heather Morris responded to the fifty minute lecture, picking up on some of the themes and calling out challenges to Northern Ireland faith communities.