July 2017 From the Minister’s Wireless
“See how these politicians love one another” may be the best title for this article. We have all heard that phrase about Christians. No doubt we have heard it said with some sarcasm for the latter. It seems that the world is less given to civility; in politics and even in Church.
In the UK people from different parties used to have banter in the House and high tea on the terrace with each other. Yes, there was name calling, gossip, even leadership challenges but nothing compared to the bear pit we see today. As I say it is not simply a British disease. CCTV footage has shown MP’s fighting in the chamber around the world and we often hear of the contempt people hold for others in the American political parties.
And if they are not having abuse one another then the journalists are waiting to tear them to pieces. The tone and the aggression of some interviewers is in excess of what should be permitted.
Dire and terrible as the event was (and someone is responsible) the Grenfell Tower brought out a true hatred of the political classes. A Newsnight interview with the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, Nicholas Paget-Brown was unacceptable. I am no friend of those who may have compromised safety but the facts are sparse even at the time of writing this piece. Who failed those people was surely something for another day. Last Thursday the Nation was shocked and appalled; we didn’t need someone to rage for us.
Our expectations for those in public service has to find a reality check; they cannot be good at everything. They will make mistakes like the rest of us; they are human. Humans are famous for getting their sums wrong, using the wrong phrases and shedding a tear or having a tantrum. They can also make terrible errors of judgment for which there is due process. However, we cannot continue this dangerous atmosphere in the land. We need facts not witch hunts in a studio.
It is possible to have high regard for politicians, by some terrible coincidence last week was the first anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox. She was well regarded in life. Her death at the hands of a man who had become inflamed about the Referendum shocked us all. The man had a history of psychiatric illness but his cries of ‘Britain First’ caused much reflection. Stoking divisive political debate can have terrible consequences. Such a thought needs to be heard by politicians and the media alike.
The phrase ‘see how these Christians love each other’ doesn’t come from the bible but from Tertullian, a second century author. He was so moved by the Christians who lived in Carthage that he gave this quote. We all know we are human and make mistakes or say the wrong things but Christ brings healing and forgiveness to all who seek him. We can make a real difference if we show a positive way of living and being more real with people.
Martin Copenhaven in one of his lectures said this:
“While our times call for passion and conviction, they also summon us to civility. . . . Civility is a simple concept. We are civil with each other when we respect each other’s basic right to hold a position that differs from our own. . . . The original purpose of manners in society as a whole was to provide such safe places. When two warriors came together, they shook hands to demonstrate that they did not bear weapons. . . . Even in today’s world, we frequently rely on the habits of civility to keep life human and humane. Without the protocols of the law court, for instance, how often might tempers overcome justice?”
That last two sentences are very much for the moment; we do not want insurrection.
Christians can offer a better life to those who despair at the State and for the World; the secular forces and Social Media are ruining life for everyone.
So rejoice in the community support and charity we have seen in recent events and keep praying. Demonstrate love.
Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). That may be a work in progress in some parts of the Church but it is something to work towards. It is something even the State and the Media will have to grasp.