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Bank Street Unitarian Chapel

Open Hearts Open Minds


Minister's Message

November 2014

November's Theme: Peace

I was once at an exhibit in Leeds Museum and Art Gallery where there was a sculpture that had the look of both the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion and a human skull. Next to this sculpture was a film playing on a loop, a film used by the US Air Force in the 1950s to train Air Force officers to be able to recognise a nuclear explosion. This film showed nuclear explosion after nuclear explosion while a dispassionate educational voice described how a nuclear explosion looks different from other kinds of explosions: brilliant white light; mushroom cloud.

In front of this film was a young boy, about 3 or 4 years old and his father, watching, transfixed by this sight. They were silent apart from when the boy would ask a question, ‘Dada, when was this big explosion? Dada, where was this? Did it blow up everything, Dada? Did it blow up everything?’ The awkward questions of a child. His father offered no answers, but stood in stony silence, watching the film.  

What answers are there to give? Why do we have nuclear weapons? Why do we go to war? When will there be peace?

One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War are we in any better position to answer those awkward questions? Are we any closer to peace? Have we learnt any lessons from that horrific conflict?

Maybe. Maybe not. But part of what it means to be a Unitarian is to keep asking the questions. We must think for ourselves without necessarily accepting the glib answers we are given about war and peace. We must keep asking those awkward questions of ourselves and of our society, with the tenacity of a curious three year old.

Let’s be tenacious three year olds with our questions and keep asking, “Why? Why war? Why not peace?”


In peace and love.



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