Regular readers of this blog will know that I have an affection for ancient monuments, especially those from the earliest periods of our prehistory in Britain. I find the sense of sacred mystery which enfolds such sites really attractive: a good dose of the unfathomable and impenetrable is good for my soul I guess, especially when it is combined with beauty, artistry and a palpable sense of human achievement and expression. These places are precious for they are part of the story of who and how we are; they are waymarks on the spiritual and cultural journey which has led to here, now and today.
It is all the more vexing then when one discovers that such a site has been vandalised - perhaps the word should be desecrated - at some time in the past. One such example is depicted here: the Bryn Cader Faner bronze age ring-cairn in North Wales. Treasure seekers in the nineteenth century and soldiers in the twentieth have all taken their toll on the monument. Clearly each group had another purpose in mind which took precedence over the cairn circle, regardless of its antiquity or archaeological value. Bernie Madoff took a similar approach to the wellbeing of the investors he ripped off and ruined. Short term personal gain so often proves more powerful than long term collective good. Which is why we are frying the planet with human-induced climate change.
The Christian Faith takes a diametrically opposed view to this selfish outlook. We speak and act out of a conviction which prizes interdependence, mutuality and the long view. We seek to uphold the intrinsic value of everything from people to landscapes and complex ecosystems. They all have inherent worth, and should be treated and regarded respectfully and carefully. When everything is seen as sacred one treads gently on one's path through life. Loving-kindness and justice are expressions of this way of looking at and being in the world.
The ever present danger is that we will destroy that which we do not value. The present state of Bryn Cader Faner is a simple and stark warning from history concerning our cavalier attitudes to the planet and the people which are our home. Before a stone was displaced and the cairn disturbed there was a real need for the contrary view to be put and upheld.
In today's world that is our ethical task. And the stakes have never been higher.