Europe is dying?

Flew back to Spain a few days ago and with a few hours to spare in the airport I went for a quick peruse through the book store. I saw this book ‘The Strange Death of Europe’ which caught my eye, but quickly moved on. At the other side of the shop I had this strong impression – go back and buy that book. So I picked it up and bought it. If I had skimmed through it I probably would not have done so, it is not exactly on my page!! Glad though I have read it, and if one follows the trajectory laid out, the destination does seem to be ‘the death of Europe’. Of course, I am of a different persuasion (and biased) that Europe is being privileged and carrying a responsibility to open a whole new path regarding the kingdom of God. I with faith / optimism / delusion hold to the rebirth of not simply Europe but of the globe with the seeds sown from the first Century truly coming to fruit… a ‘reformation’ (not sure that is the right word) beyond that of the 16th Century. Also given that reading is a challenge for me, let me get in to it!

Why will Europe die? Murray draws the three strands together that are in the sub-title: immigration, identity and Islam. We cannot afford to allow immigration as is happening to continue, for the identity of ‘who / what is Europe?’ will be radically altered. Europe will no longer be Europe, compounded by the incredible increase of Islam eroding the shaping foundation of the Judaeo-Christian values and faith will further mean that no longer will Europe be connected to its roots and in an embrace / appeasement of Islam Europe as Europe will simply no longer exist. This death of Europe has started and the final outcome is in sight. Facts, figures and stories abound in the book, and I suggest if we project from here to the not-too-distant future his thesis is indeed compelling.

I could argue of course that what we have is a far-right perspective and so say ‘typical’ (OK maybe I cut the post short now and simply say that!), but what really provoked me was what might a faith response look like? Murray is a ‘Christian’ atheist, one who does not believe in God but in the core values of the Judeo-Christian tradition (as he sees them), hence the projection from the past is important, and the only framework he has. Across the pond the same appeal seems to be being made, hence the trajectory there can be seen in what takes place here. Re-birth becomes possible if faith is involved, otherwise we should simply begin to write the obituaries now, and write them without hope. We could slow the death, and really make re-birth difficult with (my opinion) the ‘between the lines’ appeal by Murray. Stop the immigration, restore sovereignty to the nation-state, legislate from the centre…

He is no fan of any form of identificional repentance, nor sees the validity of Imperial seed sown and the reaping of that later. Confessing guilt for the past, for colonisation, trampling over cultures has no place and only adds guilt and the accommodation of foreign cultures and values. He does not accept that what has been sown is coming back to be reaped. And of course on Christendom, this is where he as a ‘Christian’ atheist and myself part company. This is not to suggest that society has no benefits from that era of dominance, much like the fall involved in the monarchial institution in Israel was not without its benefits, but those benefits being due to God being willing to go where we go, and certainly not due to God’s approval of either monarchy nor Christendom.

But a vision?

If anyone is in Christ… sight changes. I understand that when one looks at where we are, and draws the graphs forward there is little of good cheer involved. But what if we were to be crazy. What if we thought there was ‘new creation’? What if we did not despair, but any looking to the past drew great hope from the context that the small Jewish sect (followers of the way) that grew up in an obscure Roman province, and who carried a message that was offensive to their own people (crucified Messiah) and foolish to the wider audience (one crucified of countless thousands) that was not simply being branded about in evangelistic settings (raise your hand) or in revival settings (I will put my hand on you), but in the darkest, occultic, multi-faith, politically oppressive scenarios… Hope and then… a huge big ‘forget that, for I do a new thing’. Hope from the past but not shaped from the past. WOW.

Immigration. Always a sign of new stewardship coming. Multi-faith – I don’t like that – but do we have to learn about true faith. If we start with faith defined in a box it will be very difficult to find faith. This is the biggest days of opportunity, amidst chaos, and the ‘dust of death’ to see something birthed that will be incredible. Maybe ‘The Sure start of something to get on board with in Europe’ might be a good title (yes I know a little too long, but we can work on it).

The book is sobering, but it is not the content of the book that is depressing. It is for me how much we as the body of Christ just long for a return to where things were. That might be understandable for a ‘Christian atheist’. The challenge for us as believers is whether the ‘god’ we have believed in, the ‘god’ we have commanded the Scriptures to confirm, is truly the God who makes all things new or not. Maybe not ‘atheism’, but…

7 thoughts on “Europe is dying?

  1. Oh my heart leapt to hear this! I need hope and I need to regather some momentum. I need to believe there is a future and it’s worth investing in. I see that in my students. Thanks for that Martin.

    1. Yes we need to keep hope alive. Is it a battle? Much bigger than let’s get some people to the church and they can put their hand up… I trust if the battle is bigger the outcome is bigger.

  2. Just finished my final(?) class in climate change adaptation at a Toronto university. My last because I now live in the eastern part of the country. Not sure if there will be any openings here but I hope. . . That said, I nursed 25 students through Covid and family issues and the discovery that climate change is here and we are not really, really ready for it. They researched small cities and towns, settler communities and indigenous. They looked for gaps in planning, for failure to implement aspirational documents and an inattention to the basics, like educating young people about their future. And through it all they found hope. They put together reports that informed and reflected their research. They made recommendations. And now, off they go. I hope some will become leaders where ever they end up.
    So what is the future? Are immigration and Islam and loss of some sort of historical identity that was always provisional and contested, the end of Europe? Or of any of us? How ridiculous. The identity that author hearkens back to is about 100 years old and is cemented in all the revivals by the Victorians and folks in the 19th century. In terms of this planet and habitation by humans in Europe (prior to us modern ones) that is pretty short time span and essentially meaningless. Nothing to hang an argument on at all. Piffle.
    Is there hope? Of course, as long as we choose it. And we elders must choose it. We must model it, live it, act on it. We owe the future and those generations to come at least that. Especially when we allowed the current state of affairs to come to be. I’ll place myself with the younger generation. They love diversity, celebrate difference, affirm provisional identities and are ready to get on with the work they know they will have to do. Let’s stop throwing boulders in their path. If we can’t affirm them then we just need to get off the road and get out of the way. And that includes all those who long for some mythical, never happened Christian/European past. Please.
    Glad you read it. Always good to know the nonsense people are spreading. We must and will counter it. Immigration? Yes!! We need it so old geezers like me have social supports as we age. Islam? Not my thing but so what, most religions aren’t either. Most people I know who practice Islam are good, upright and caring people. I have no arguments there. Identity? Always in flux. That’s just the way we humans are built. Done. Time to grab some hands, build a community, grow good food, care for one another and the earth. Make a way for the next generations. A way of hope.

  3. Interesting. During this time of shaking, the veils that have hidden much are being torn off. Much is exposed. If you fear immigration, I see racist tendencies for “the other” will undoubtedly enrich and enlarge us with what they carry and bring in. If you fear identity changes, I see colonialism. We have ruined enough lives and peoples with our tendency to see “the other” as less than human or less than us. If you fear Islam, I see a fear that our Creator is too small to show themselves in many different ways. How pompous that we are the ones who always have to stand on guard to keep things from changing. The trajectory of the old ways has led us into quite a mess. May we have such a creatively new imagination that can catch the glimpses of the new ways of living that are beginning to break through. The power of love shown in the death and resurrection of “the Lamb” has to mean something for all of the groaning creation to be renewed.

  4. I agree that repentance is so important where cultures have been trampled on. However I don’t think that everything beneficial that came through the British Empire or activists like Wilberforce particularly are merely ‘by-products’ of God’s redemptive work within a faulty framework. Wilberforce and others like him were groundbreaking transformers under an absolute conviction from God that all people are made equal before God and were acting in a truly self giving and genuine way when he/they fought for 20 years to abolish the slave trade and also to bring some reforms elsewhere. This whole thing started in the Reformation particularly. I don’t think they were merely a few good people that happened to arise by accident in the context of Christendom, but that they were working in partnership with the trajectory of the gospel under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and what Paul was working towards in those early years. Such work was utterly transformative and made way for movements and legislation that have come in later years (thinking of Britain particularly) which emphasise the divine worth and dignity of the individual. At the moment this is being lost especially under the present government who are obsessed with national interests above generosity to the world etc. hence cutting the foreign aid budget which is obscene in my opinion and restricting immigration to a draconian degree. Yes Christendom as a religious system caused a lot of harm but I would perhaps suggest that maybe people like Wilberforce (as my example) were not a part of this at all but flowing along an entirely different stream – parallel maybe but definitely distinct. I don’t know if I’m right though?

    1. Joanna, I am sure your are right. A different spirit than the system. God uses what is given, or goes where we go to work redemptively, but I think your example of Wilberforce goes beyond that with such a desire for liberation being birthed from the Gospel itself.

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