Michael Heseltine, the 86 year old ex-Deputy Prime minister, as a pro-European (project) writes a passionate article in the Guardian. He bemoans that:
£350m a week for the NHS has become a £39bn severance cost to leave the EU, every penny of it to be borrowed by the current political generation, but to be repaid by the young people coming after them.
And pulling on one of the central desires for the EU to continue he writes:
Now, I look back over the years: 70 years of peace in Europe, 50 years of partnership between the UK and the rest of the EU. The fascists have gone from Spain and Portugal, the colonels from Greece. Now we have 28 democracies working together on a basis of shared sovereignty, achieving far in excess of what any one of us could individually. Never forget that it was the memories of Europe’s war that laid the foundations of the European Union today.
Enough of Michael for now, as I need to recover a little never having quoted someone from those political persuasions for some time! I have been, and remain, hopeful that somehow in the Brexit mess there can be some sort of reformation of the EU. Maybe this is hypocritical of me as I (in theory) see a Jubilee principle of tear it all back down otherwise we simply give a mandate to the Babylonian tower building that promises to make us great (again). So in my hope that there might even yet be a reversal of the Brexit (personal hope) I realise that my bigger hope for Europe might only come through what could well be a much larger collapse.
There are tensions we live with. Once we know what we believe we are responsible for we look for signs that indicate the direction we are moving in is right. We look to make sure certain things do not happen on ‘our watch’. I look at certain things in Spain where there are huge potential backward steps and at times am mentally preparing an apology speech. That is very genuine – and one of the reasons I am typing in the night hours this post – and yet I realise that God is not finished when I want to resign!
I am of the opinion that we should be able to hold certain things back, and in that sense am very happy to accept failure, for after all failure is not all it is cracked up to be, and certainly comes nowhere close to being at the same level as the sin of prideful success. Yet if we ‘fail’ it is certainly helpful to acknowledge that and to re-align oneself to whatever God is doing. He does not abandon passions like I can!
Indeed it could be argued that failure was one of the best gifts God dished out!
In Spain we have rejoiced in the government passing the rule that they will exhume Franco from the Valley of the Fallen. Another sign of dealing with the past, and recently a book has just been published documenting the 296 concentration camps in Spain, active post-Civil war, for those who were not pro-Franco. We watched last night a 99 year old man with such a sweet spirit who had been within one of those camps from age 19. Great signs of uncovering and bringing things to the light. We also watched one of the main party leaders who has a good chance of taking the reigns post-April 28 say that if that takes place and they win that they will ensure that Franco’s remains are not removed. If that happens my hands will be up in apology. We will have failed. But God will still be active, and some failure is only to show us we have to go deeper.
So much is taking place in Europe. Heseltine writes that the Fascists have gone from Spain. ‘Ojala!’ But Michael there is such a rapid rising of that in Spain and elsewhere and Steve Bannon who is active in Europe comments on the rise of Vox noting that not only have they become visible but have shifted the other parties that claim the ‘centre-right’. They have had to change their language and position, in other words they have shifted to the right appealing to the popular vote. They have adopted language (and policies?) that echo language and policies that former Fascists would resonate with.
Vox, I am sure is pulling in the Christian vote and support, the language of ‘family values’ and ‘anti-abortion’ seems to be enough at times to ensure that. But the policies of automatic expulsion of all those who are illegal immigrants, with anyone entering the country never being eligible for papers; the right of citizens to bear arms; certain parties being made illegal! What kind of country develops from soil that is tilled in that way?
The Brexit. We should have been 3 days away from the big leave, but as the debates continue who knows where it will end. There are crises all around and even if the ‘B’ word is sorted out it will not herald the end of crisis. Surely that is one of the primary reasons for the church to be present – salt hindering evil growth and promoting good growth. And if it all ends badly it is not the end. We will be able to find a God of hope amidst the dust of death.
Keeping alert on the watch is important. There is no ‘ideal’ we are aiming for, but there are directions we are pushing for. It is great to know – and a very important hermeneutic – that the law never claimed to get it right. The laws were helpful pointers in the direction to go. The law could be summed up in ‘love’, but the full set of laws could not spell ‘love’. Only the deep incarnational commitment of God can ever spell ‘love’. Love for God and for neighbour was Jesus summary. The incarnation closes the gap between God and neighbour, for God moved into the neighbourhood. Further the NT refuses to credit to us a love for God when we do not love our neighbour, and when neighbourly connections are redefined along the Jew – Samaritan divide we are truly challenged. So if I am to love God with all heart, soul, mind and strength there really must be a very big horizontal pull on me. And that horizontal pull also calls for a watchfulness.