Christian Persecution Review

Geoff Daplyn sent me this email about the report on Christian persecution chaired by the Bishop of Truro.

Some will remember that the UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP set up a review of Christian persecution with the Bishop of Truro as chair. Release International was one of the NGOs involved in submitting evidence.

The interim report was released on Saturday May 4th, in the middle of a UK bank holiday, so had virtually no media take-up whatsoever. The following is an extract from the overview with many examples of what Christians face around the world……and not just Christians!

Despite the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is foundational to the UN Charter which is binding on member states, and that ‘the denial of religious liberty is almost everywhere viewed as morally and legally invalid’, in today’s world religious freedom is far from being an existential reality.

Research consistently indicates that Christians are “the most widely targeted religious community.” The evidence suggests that acts of violence and other intimidation against Christians are becoming more widespread, revealing an increase in the severity of anti-Christian persecution. In parts of the Middle East and Africa, the “vast scale” of the violence and its perpetrators’ declared intent to eradicate the Christian community has led to several Parliamentary declarations in recent years that the faith group has suffered genocides according to the definition adopted by the UN.

Against this backdrop, academics, journalists and religious leaders (both Christian and non-Christian) have stated that, as Cambridge University Press puts it, the global persecution of Christians is “an urgent human rights issue that remains under reported”. An op-ed piece in the Washington Post stated: “Persecution of Christians continues… but it rarely gets much attention in the Western media. Even many churchmen in the West turn a blind eye.” Journalist John L Allen wrote in The Spectator: “[The] global war on Christians remains the greatest story never told of the early 21st century.” While government leaders, such as UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have publicly acknowledged the scale of persecution, concerns have centred on whether their public pronouncements and policies have given insufficient weight to the topic. Baroness Warsi told BBC Radio 4 that politicians should set “legal parameters as to what will and will not be tolerated. There is much more we can do.” Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said western governments have been “strangely and inexplicably reluctant to confront” persecution of Christians in the Middle East. UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “not convinced” that Britain’s response to Christian persecution was adequate.

Judaeo-Christian ‘values’

I subscribe to Jeff Fountain’s ‘weekly word’, director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, affiliated with the University of the Nations. Originally from New Zealand, he lives in the Netherlands and writes passionately about Europe. The views expressed are of course his, but they flag up the challenge of these days. Here are a few excerpts from the letter:

However, nationalist anti-Europeanists have now changed their tactics to ‘Europeanise’ their anti-Europe strategies. When the much-heralded Brexit-domino effect did not materialise, in which other nations would have followed the British to the exit, the anti-Europeanists went quiet on leaving the EU and the Euro and are now calling for a “Europe of the Nations”.

This ‘Europeanised’ anti-European strategy was apparent last weekend when Matteo Salvini, the Italian Interior Minister, leader of the far-right Lega, declared in Milan that the ‘European elite’ had betrayed the founding fathers. On stage with Holland’s Geert Wilders and France’s Marina le Pen, he then called for a ‘Europe of the Nations’, meaning a Europe of sovereign nations, as if he and his allies were restoring the founding fathers’ vision!! This was anything but what the founding fathers – Schuman, Adenauer, de Gasperi and Monnet – had in mind. Such a vision is a recipe in the long-run for ongoing conflicts as it means a return to the prewar status quo of competing nation-states.

The effect could be paralysing. Just when Europe needs to step up to more global leadership, its capacity to defend EU citizens from external threats would be put at risk. Europeans already have enough external worries with Donald Trump deconstructing the international order, Vladimir Putin trying to undermine European political systems through a large-scale misinformation campaign and the Chinese muscling in on the telecommunications market with potential spy-network capacities.

There is certainly a case to be made that the founding fathers’ vision of ‘a community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values’ has not been faithfully followed, as I wrote in Deeply Rooted. That was a project which prioritised seeking the common good of the whole, not each nation seeking its own self-interest. It was to be a process that was gradual, transparent and democratic.

What is beguiling for many Christians is that politicians like Salvini, Orban and Wilders talk of restoring judeo-christian foundations, but they mean old political and cultural identities. They do not mean the values of inclusion, forgiveness and reconciliation, of caring for the stranger, the poor and the vulnerable, of dignity and rights for each person.


History – repeats or rhymes

A couple of nights ago we were in a part of the city where we do not normally frequent – the other side and not a place that pulls us. However, it was the third time in four days we had been there (circumstantially), and again in the next few days we will be there. Gayle said – must be something there that is pulling us and we had better do some research. Well no need to do research as the people we met with told us that this was where the tanks finally rolled in during the Civil War. Not sure how but being there pushed me to think about something we had not touched on before – the atrocities committed, not by the Franco side but, by the Republican side in the Civil War within Madrid. An early morning and – in brief – a few things kicked in:

  • A place to the north of Madrid just the other side of the airport where between 2000 – 10000 prisoners were taken and killed who were supporters of / sympathetic to the nationalist side (Franco). Civilians and clergy among them.
  • The government in Madrid that sought to defend Madrid at the time of the Civil War was made up of (pretty much) the same make up as the government that had supported Pedro Sanchez: socialists, a few communists, other left wing parties, Basque and Catalan members. That government eventually could not hold together and fought against each other thus being weakened Franco was eventually able to take Madrid. (This part will be very important to us in the next few weeks with the outcome of this recent election and the forthcoming elections for the city and communidad governments.)

There were so many parallels in what we read… We went this morning to the place (Paracuellos) where the assassinations took place. I wrote our friend in Calpe, Noë about our thoughts. He replied: ‘Just yesterday I was thinking to share with you on the Paracuellos slaughter.’ Nice confirmation.

When we met the couple the other side of the city a few nights ago they prayed for us. ‘You are not coming with a bright light, you are coming with salt, and it is going deep.’ We live in Salitre street – because there was a salt factory here in the past and the type of salt produced, one use was to extract old roots that were embedded deep in the land. So bags of salt and off we went to Paracuellos de Jarama.

Apart from a great view of Madrid the area had many dead burnt out trees. Gayle said let’s go over the ridge, I am sure there will be some poppies there as a sign. (Clever woman that one!)

Two poppies just where they needed to be!

There were no other poppies in that area. Later when we went down from the ridge to the river a rainbow appeared through the white clouds. Sweet!!

Hopefully a small contribution so that history does not continue to repeat or rhyme.

Dreams can help

The above image is of the ‘Toros de Guisando’. They are ancient statues of bulls or possibly wild boars. There are a number of these in north west Spain – these ones are 70kms from Madrid and we recently paid them a visit. They are also located at a very historic site in Spain where a treaty shaped the future of the peninsula.

Gayle had two dreams about wild boars and in the first one she was being pushed around by one of them. In previous dreams concerning animals she has known that they represented something coming against her and also she has known what the strategy was to deal with those animals but this was the first with boars and in the dream she did not know how to respond. (Animals in dreams can be a challenge, for they are even that within Scripture. The serpent is on a spectrum from the devil, to a symbol of healing, wisdom right through to symbolically containing eschatological hope!) She then had a second dream concerning wild boars. The dreams were either side of a very significant women’s march in Spain, and we knew that whatever the boars represented they were at least connected with patriarchy, misogyny and the domesticating of the feminine. I was reading a book on Madrid in between the dreams and came across the many statues of bulls and/or boars that are mainly in the north of Spain. The book focused on the well known ‘Toros de Guisando’, some 70 kms to the West of Madrid. Connecting the dots we knew this was a place we had to go to and pray. They are located in the place where a Treaty was signed in 1468 that is arguably the treaty that opened the way for the unification of Spain under the ‘Catholic monarchs’, resulting in the driving out of the Muslims (1492 the last kingdom in Granada to surrender that year), the expulsion of the Jews and the sending out of Columbus (1492) to discover the new world / destroy an existing civilisation.

In these last years there has been a real battle on for the soul of Spain. At a time when there is potential for change there are two possibilities. If history is not dealt with there is a pull back and old entrenchments in the land are re-established. We have listened to language in these past months that is shocking, language literally pulling on ‘the spirit of Columbus’. A party leader recently went to these bulls of Guisando. He has taken his party much further to the right. These public figures might not know what they are pulling on but pull on it they do. Our responsibility is to be awake enough to ensure that old dangerous ‘spirits’ are not reactivated. I suspect many places are like this at this time. It indicates a time of change is here, and warns us that we could equally lose ground that has been gained thus far.

Many aspects came together in and through these recent days – we have prayed into Columbus Day and have almost certainly been on camera when we planted on the eve of that celebration some subversive art. Interestingly since the year we did that the day itself has been challenged and for the first time boycotted by certain officials. We prayed of course into the ReConquista and the subsequent events for almost a whole year.

We have had a Spanish flag for 10 years and we have known for some time that we needed to bury the flag somewhere at the right time. We have had no further discussion on this, but we both came to the conclusion that it needed to be at ‘Toros de Guisando’. Whoever said it first, the other said – that’s what I have had in my thinking for a few days… Anyway this is what we did at that place.

We first cut the flag up into 17 pieces, one for each of the governmental communidades of Spain. We did not burn the flag but symbolically cut it up, buried it soaked in oil in the ground where the treaty was made, calling for a Spain to rise up that will be a true reflection of convivencia (co-habiting of space that allows for diversity, difference, dialogue in the spirit of fraternity – which we see as the heart of Paul’s Gospel).

Part of the key response Gayle had to make in respect of the wild boars has been to hold her position and not give way to patriarchal closing down of space. This seems key at this time. There is a spirit of intimidation loosed… time to hold our ground.

Stick with the plan!

The above house is for sale. It does have a history. We are not so interested in the sale of it but the history of the previous occupants… oh yes!

These next few posts will be adapted from an irregular newsletter that we send out in which we try to keep people up to date with our journey, both in terms of the practical side (what we have done) and how our thoughts are developing. In reality all theology / understanding should develop in a response to practice. We see this very clearly in Acts 15, the ‘first church council’, where those immersed in the biblical narrative needed to hear what the Holy Spirit was doing. They did not proof text their theology but found how the work of the Spirit was resonating with the texts of Scripture. Their understanding of what was taking place had to resonate with Scripture, but their Scripture had to be critiqued by what they had heard was taking place.

When I sensed the Lord was originally speaking (left of field) about relocating to Mallorca in the early months of 2008 I eventually called Michael Schiffmann to see if this at all resonated with him. He was incredibly helpful and outlined what he understood as three spiritual powers that would need to be confronted. The first was a spirit of piracy that was focused in on the banking world; this spirit had opened the door to betrayal and once betrayal was loosed a spirit of destruction and murder came forth.

We held this for the first two years while there, always looking to see what this would mean and eventually in the Autumn / Fall of 2010 in the early hours of the morning I found something that had evaded our research to that point in time. Crazy as the research did not have to go deep, yet it is usual to only find what is needed when the time is right. I discovered that a certain Juan March had engaged in all kinds of irregular financial dealings, eventually forming a bank called Banca March. The most definitive biography on his life was called ‘the Last Pirate of the Mediterranean’. I could, and others have, filled a book with his dealings, but right there as I discovered this I realised we had a connection to what Michael had informed us about. Piracy… and at work in the banks. I read on that morning and very soon I discovered that he had a business colleague, his cousin, who he believed both was cheating him financially and with respect to a relationship with his own wife. Betrayal. It was not long after these suspicions took root that the cousin was murdered. All three manifestations in one family. A family who have been termed highly secretive, and whose bank has been twice declared as a result of the ‘stress tests’ the most secure bank in all of Europe (in 2011 and 2017).

We had an amazing connection one Saturday morning in the middle of Mallorca. Having gone to a deserted graveyard we had this expectation of meeting someone. Amazingly in this deserted location we met the nephew of Juan March’s cousin who had been murdered! He then introduced us to the nephew of Juan March. This man was the historian of the family and showed us, amongst many other items, a copy of ‘The Last Pirate of the Mediterranean’ in Russian as it had been used by the KGB to show them the evils of capitalism.

Over the years we have often wondered what was the result of that connection and have been very happy to leave it in the hands of God, as we were not focused on simply one bank but on the shaking of all economic systems that oppress. We have also seen that there is a pattern of piracy (call it greed, crossing boundaries etc.) leading to betrayal and then death. Jesus’ death certainly reversed that pattern.

Moving to mainland of Spain we have focused of course much more into the political arena and the ongoing spiritual presence of Francoism. Currently we are facing a practical issue of seeing the remains of Franco moved from its current location with the results of the current election (April 28) either seeing this accomplished or revoked; and an ongoing issue of the public rise of Fascism. This takes our energy and focus.

There are ongoing watchfulness that we are all involved in and then there are times of focused activity when there seems to be the moment of seeing something shift forward. Roger and Sue Mitchell were with us for a few days and during those days of course we focused on some dreams and insights that we had. Interestingly into this context Roger gave us this Scripture:

It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them (Eccles. 7:18).

We had been grasping for years the issues surrounding the Civil War, Franco and the shifts needed as a result and, although not quite neglecting, close to letting go of the Banca March focus. Here then was a Scripture helping us to lay hold of one and not let go of the other.

In then pursuing the current Franco issues we had tracked down where the family home was, not surprisingly in the same vicinity as the Banca March Foiundation. Then… we found a well guarded piece of news. The day, the exact day, we moved to Madrid to sign the papers and part with the money to purchase this apartment, the most secure bank in Europe entered a major crisis. This crisis blew on the same day, and perhaps even the same hour, that we faced the possible (legal) betrayal where we would have parted with in excess of 100k and lost the apartment with no recourse to the finances. We certainly prayed but knew that if we were to make any entry into Madrid we had to face a possible betrayal in the eye. Maybe – and I will pick this principle up in a future post – our possible small betrayal made a contribution into the shake up in the bank. Currently they are trying to keep the lid on it and manage it, but it seems this will change the shape of the bank significantly. We are not saying what will happen, we do not know what needs to happen, but we pull on the sign. What is stable and solid can be shaken and the purpose of shaking is to release what cannot be shaken.

In those days with Roger and Sue we went to the family home – currently on the market for a cool 50m and from there to the USA embassy, simply to cut the pull on the soul of Spain from within the USA, and from there to the Banca March foundation. Our tools? Our feeble attempts to stay with whatever plan God had given and some bread crumbs soaked in wine – the act of Jesus at the last supper. All betrayal is swallowed up at the cross, thankfully humanity’s betrayal of their privileged calling.

Catalans in Madrid

Supreme Court, Madrid

Yesterday Gayle and I were out and about. First a visit to the Supreme Court, though the security is high and we were unable to get right to the building. It has been this way ever since the beginning of the trial of 12 Catalans for their role in the ‘illegal’ referendum concerning independence. We have been there before on two separate occasions and were there to pray into two aspects – the trial and also the delay on the removal of Franco’s remains from the Valley of the Fallen. A June date has been set for the latter but there still is an appeal lodged in the Supreme Court. The judiciary has been a focus for us as it is vital a judiciary is not bought nor controlled by a political wing, and here in Spain there is long way to go on that issue.

Of course I have an opinion on Catalan independence but being neither Spanish nor living in the Catalan comunidad it has to remain as an opinion without weight. Our huge respect is for those who are seeking to be a bridge and call for open dialogue. The experience of those who are bridges is they are then trodden on from both sides, that being what a bridge offers. To help us pray Michael Schiffmann sent us some direction that we had to release three groups of people so that what needs to take place will flow in a healthy direction. (This is a joy to us. For those following these posts will realise that our theology is that the church has the responsibility to ensure that the shape in which things can be expressed in society is a healthy space where hostile powers have limited access. This does not mean only good things will happen – free will see to that! – but it does ensure a healthy space.)

The three groups at this time we see, and this will have a wider application than just Spain are: women, students and pensioners. This is a day for women… and again I have to be careful what I write for obvious reasons. I am slowly becoming aware that ignorant pontificating is not wise! Let me simply say women when embodying the feminine aspects of God; students, whether in formal education or not, but who are seeking to learn about their world and how to pull for the future; and pensioners, who in Spain have lived through and seen so much; those three groups are vital – and I think in that order. Those three we called for and for the Supreme Court to hear the threefold testimony of wisdom calling out from the street.

From the Supreme Court we dropped in a cafe and found ourselves sitting among a group of right wing extremists. Not our normal habitat, but both in need of a toilet and a refreshment having been out for a while already this was the place where we happened to drop in! Dressed in semi-militaristic style clothing the atmosphere was interesting to say the least. Then we went and stood in and by the Catalan demonstration. Incredibly moving as the songs were sung and banners that appealed for justice for the non-violent prisoners facing up to 25 years for rebellion and insurrection in organising the referendum.

Crowd in both direction beyond what the eye could see
The Poster is asking for the political prisoners to be released

The demonstration itself, brave as it was with many from Cataluña in the capital, might not move things forward. It might even push people further away. We certainly saw some blatant antagonism to the march, including a very well dressed older woman walking the other way to the marchers and giving them the finger while sneering at them. The march itself had people of all ages and estimates of numbers vary, but I would suggest in excess of 50,000 and perhaps as many as 80,000. It might not make a difference but we were both so happy to stand in it and get a feel for it. The card in the image that follows was given to us by an older woman (pensioner?) and the spirit of it embodied in the last words ‘a hug’ is what is needed from and to all ‘sides’.

The text written in Castellano and not Catalan says:

Hello friends. We invite you to know Cataluña and Catalans with your own eyes. I am sure that many prejudices will drop away and you will discover that the majority is not what you have believed. You will be well received. An embrace.

Por Fin (Finally)

This will not be a huge update on our little journey to the city of Madrid, but yesterday we finally had the property deeds in our name. We purchased the apartment on Dec. 27th, paid the property tax on Jan. 24th and that day the deeds should have had our name on it at the registry office… however having paid all the debts off on the property and gone through the whole legal process with the notary, we were informed that the title deeds could not be registered in our name due to a missing document. But the second visit to the rather impressive registry office (some 30 minutes on metro from the centre) secured the final piece of an interesting journey.

Property Registry Office

So a final copy of the escritura in our name photographed on top of the ‘magic carpet’ that we bought a while back:

The magic carpet is something we bought a while back as someone prophesied to us that our entrance to Madrid would be on a magic carpet. We would not be in control… and that certainly has been true.

Another vision that was sent us was we were entering Madrid climbing up the inside of a sewer pipe, and in the course of our journey we have certainly had to contend with all kinds of interesting aspects.

But here we are!! I walked a little last night – Madrid you can be transformed was in my heart. One day – we will all shout ‘por fin’ when the small vision we have carried becomes visible in the ‘new heavens and new earth’.

If anyone would like a more detailed aspect to our journey to Madrid, from the initial drive on November 25th, offer accepted Nov. 28th through to today I have written it up – just email me and I will get it to you.

A road block

One of our first purchases in the supermarket was a bag of salt. We are / are called to be the salt of the earth. My understanding that the common salt of the middle east was the salt from the dead sea – full of phosphates it had fertilising properties and was also thrown on the effluence to help stop the advance of disease and such like. Salt – to accelerate and feed healthy growth and prevent the negative. Disciples of Jesus have a privileged calling. So salt was on the list to buy, and salt has been used – a little trail already at Congress with more to come.

Toledo arch in Background – road to the south

Yesterday we went to the arch at the Toledo gate into Madrid. The road sign points to Badajoz and ‘all routes’. It was the southern gate and Napoleon was very interested in that geography. Underneath the arch he had buried a constitution that effectively made Spain subject to France; later the radical 1812 Constitution of Cadiz was placed there. That short-lived constitution has shaped so much within Europe and beyond. Once the monarchy returned the constitution of Cadiz was removed and replaced by a monarchy-friendly one! The power of locating things in the land.

Badajoz – we had some history there and were deeply impacted by the depth of the forgetfulness that the city has been subjected to. Where there is the place of deep forgetfulness it is the place that holds the memory most powerfully. The memory remains unhealed hence the power is not dissipated. This is one of the reasons why Spain in this next period has to go to a deeper level over the Civil War – and Cataluña’s memory is much deeper than the Civil War but there has to be a starting point there.

The building behind has an appropriate sign: ‘Monumental’!

We began at the statue honouring the lawyers murdered in their office in 1977. That event had a strong impact on the shift from dictatorship to democracy and the current mayoress of Madrid was part of that group of lawyers. Vengeance was not called for, and the funerals that resulted drew huge crowds but they held both their peace and their voices.A great place to start our prayer. From there we walked the ancient path to the Toledo gate / arch. Avoiding both the traffic and the police we got ourselves into the middle of the arch.

When we followed the path from the north to the south we followed the geography of the ReConquista. That is part of Spain’s past that still is fuel for the radical side of Islam. Since our journey there has been a resurgence of ReConquista language, and in the most recent aspect of it, a ReConquista of Spain starting in the South and going all the way to the north. This has to be the starting point as this was where we finished. We stood in the gate to ‘say no… and salt on the ground. Signs point to the reality… and they pull the reality to themselves. Salt that stops the growth of what should not be present.

A new Europe?

At this time there seems to be so much fear of the ‘other’, expressing itself in xenophobia and centring in on a response to issue of immigration. There are real issues involved, and certainly there might be many good reasons for having voted ‘Brexit’ and a vote to leave cannot be blamed for what is rising negatively in Europe. Maybe though it has inadvertently made a contribution to what we are witnessing in many places of separation from and exclusion of the ‘other’.

The rise in the extreme right is not limited to the European context. Leaders have used rhetoric that has not helped and I think that there are three aspects that has resulted:

  • what has been present there already has been revealed. It is not as if the negative aspects I mentioned above have suddenly appeared from nowhere. They were there prior to Brexit and prior to the rhetoric of leaders.
  • what was there has been fed. This is a serious situation. Leadership rhetoric has permissioned what was there, and once permissioned there has been a growth.
  • it has hidden another narrative. This is an encouraging aspect and one that I had not considered prior to these days of discussion and prayer. There is another narrative, one of recognising that there is a shift to the identity of our world, that the future is going to look different, that those seeking to Europe for safety will be among those shaping the future. This narrative seeks to look at the situation with faith rather than self protection.

This narrative that is hidden has to be the shaping narrative for the church. It is the resistance to fear and an openness to the future. Prior to these days I had not seen that this narrative is present, rising from the grass roots. This is what gives hope for the future. Stories such as those from Germany of many finding faith when they have relocated should encourage the church enormously. Surely in the move from their homelands God is at work to reveal himself.

Another aspect of our praying was to see a shift from an over-Western orientation. This would impact on a shift from a male-dominated / masculine-bias to a more female / feminine approach to issues and relationships. A further shift in the economic base.

One of the aspects that we can see visibly, certainly in Spain, is that there are changes already taking place where there is a greater femininity in politics that promotes a third way beyond conflict and opposition to that of dialogue.

One of the participants read from a book reflecting on native north Americans’ experience of the Europeans who came with their different cultural values. That colonial encroachment and domination is always a provocation, but it prompted a new language. Rather than ‘then the Europeans came…’ to the concept of in the current scenario that the new Europeans ‘arrived’. There has to be a new Europe and that is more than the reshaping of an institution (EU) but is with all those who are committed to the geography, that means all of us, all of us who are arriving now – even if we have been present before. Again the concept of the body of Christ modelling this is the challenge before us.

The final aspect that I will reflect on here is that – and this is a push theologically – that we should be expecting people to rise up who are committed to doing an ‘apostolic’ job in and through society. It seems

  • our responsibility to hold the shape so that they can emerge;
  • that it is immaterial whether they are believers or not;
  • that when they get in place we need to pray for their protection. It is easy for us believers to be alert to spiritual attack (mainly in the form of betrayal in these settings) but someone who does not believe in spiritual realities is not going to be alert to this.

The photo above the article is of the parliament building in Strasbourg. The building is modelled on Bruegel’s painting of the tower of Babel.

The Tower of Babel

The similarity can be read as a clear sign that the EU is simply Babel… and it is in as much as there is Babel within all institutions, or as seems to be symbolism, the EU is a project that will never be finished, and if the attempt is simply to raise it up from the earth it is doomed for failure. A place therefore to contribute I consider.

Where to Europe?

The final four days we spent in the UK was with 20 other people from England, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Germany, France and Sweden to consider how to pray into the future of Europe with the ‘Brexit’ somewhat as a background. A very good and trusted prophetic friend had emailed most of those in the above group with a vision that she had very soon after there was an announcement that there would be a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. The summary of that vision was that the UK would be removed and in that time light and colour would drain out of the European continent, but at a later stage there would be a re-connection and a corresponding shift in the continent. An obvious, and possible, interpretation to the former part was that the referendum would be a vote ‘out’. And given that this vision preceded any referendum we have given it a lot of weight. The context though that our friend said was that this next season was more about the future of Europe than of the future of the UK.

Our days were less focused on the Brexit than on where to Europe. However, it was interesting that although the dates were set months ago the context of the debate and total lack of clarity was the context for our gathering.

(Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor)

We met in Ashburnham Place, a most remarkable centre, given the geography of an event that shaped England with the Norman Invasion of 1066. An event that only left the city of London free – and the origins to this day of its status that allows it to be one of the ‘treasure islands’ that can defy taxation laws. Ashburnham Place as a land is also most interesting in that it was originally part of land that was apportioned by William’s conquest but had been given away freely. The sense of the land being free was tangible and gave a real leverage point.

With reference to the loss of light and colour for some time we have considered that this loss is embodied in the rise of xeno- and other phobias, the demonisation of ‘immigrants’, the rise of fascism and the like in almost all European nations. This suggests that there has to be a shift in the UK if there is to any level of re-plugging to bring about a change in Europe. Prior to meeting I would have been very negative about any such change being possible, but having been in England for these past two weeks. But I am convinced that there is a real (and maybe still hidden) shift taking place as I sensed the biggest spiritual change in England in the 10 years we have been in Spain.

Whether the Brexit is abandoned or not is not the key issue. The EU has evolved and has many flaws for sure, though with the vision of being together to avoid the horrors of war, my strong preference would be to see it reformed from the inside. The primary aspect of the future is not reversing the Brexit but for something to rise that is inclusive of the ‘alien, widow and orphan’ so that a new Europe can arise.

Rather than prolonging this post I will post again tomorrow…

Perspectives