I was doing some research on one of my upcoming books - with a background of the Troubles in Northern Ireland - when I started to get a sneaky feeling that some more of my long-cherished beliefs were going to summarily tipped out onto the floor.
I'd always thought of the conflict as Protestants versus Catholics, with a background of sectarianism that goes back for centuries. (And yes, many of the fighters on both sides could quote chapter and verse on the conflict's history. Better than any professor.)
But it's not about that at all. It's about belonging. It's about being in a group - belonging. And the ultimate evidence of membership. or being 'in' is the willingness to die, or to kill.
There's really no other motivation. The differences were not so great, and the benefits of peace so high...and yest, for what seemed like an age, the War continued.
We are social creatures, made that way be God - who, it may be inferred, made man because he was lonely Himself. And there is something deep within us that wants a blood connection, one based on the visceral ultima thule of blood and bone. A connection that can only be forget and maintained by violence.
And perhaps that is why our God chose to die on the Cross, to offer us that blood brotherhood, to be taken permanently into Family.
And like the idiots we tend to be, we've taken the divine meal offered us, and started yet another food fight.
I suspect that God's about ready to take off his belt for a trip to the woodshed.
It ain't gonna be pretty.