Remembering That It Is Remembrance Sunday

I went to church in my home congregation this morning. I didn’t have to preach anywhere else so I took the opportunity to remind everyone in Maynooth I’m still alive. My old friend Wylie led worship and that giant of an Afrikaner, Dewald, spoke about finances and Dr. Patrick managed to get through a whole sermon without mentioning consumerism. He also missed a chance to wax lyrical about Barth’s Dogmatics but we’ll forgive him for that.

I was grateful for many things. But when I got home from lunch and opened Twitter I was reminded of something else I should be grateful for. On November 11th, my Presbyterian congregation didn’t mention war once. What they remembered was that Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek and on the basis of his indestructible life we have union with God. What they remembered was the grief of the family recently bereaved by cancer, a battle that we never describe as glorious, because death isn’t glorious. What they remembered was that it is better to give than receive. I was grateful for the reminders.

Wife-unit went to mass this morning. She had a phenomenal experience of being chastised/consoled by God (his chastisement is always a consolation, isn’t it?). What was she reminded of? She was reminded that where her heart is, there too her treasure can be found. No one mentioned war, poppies or fallen soldiers.

Such experiences of a calm focus on the Gospel is unlikely to be repeated when we have to move to Belfast. Our friend Richie has warned us this week that in Northern Ireland, this weekend, simple reflection would be rendered impossible for us because we’d be forced into the difficult job of “remembering”. I know I may be preaching to a choir that is really a soloist and the soloist is me and I can’t sing so this may be very untuneful, but I have some more arguments against this practice of conflating church with remembering the war-dead that I have to unfurl. Five new arguments to be precise.

1. The difficulty of remembering British soliders
I am an Irishman. Over the years that identity has evolved. When I say I am an Irishman, I now mean that I am from a particular place, an island off the coast of Europe. I largely couldn’t give two craps about nationhood or sovereignty or any of that nonsense. But I am from this island. The people of this island, regardless of what abstract political jurisdiction they may live under, are my people. And the fact is that the island I call home has been marred by extensive, cruel and pointless violence committed by British soldiers. The acts that I am thinking of are so numerous that all the books in the world couldn’t contain them. But from shooting innocent people dead in Derry in 1972 back to endless small humiliations on the country lanes of Kerry or Roscommon back to genocide committed under Cromwell, the British army has sanctioned actions of terrifying violence against people on this island. And I am not even discussing the barbarity that wasn’t sanctioned.

If we’re going to remember things, let us remember this.

How am I to be welcomed into communities that insist that the deaths of British soldiers in wars is a thing so worthy it should be part of worship? How am I to share the Gospel with my father and his generation, who were raised by men who risked their lives and lost them in battles against British soldiers if the church that embodies that Gospel tells a story of the past that doesn’t include them?

It is bad politics, bad theology and bad history to think you can isolate one strand of people and remember them without remembering their Others. And what that works out as is that it makes us bad neighbours.

In other words: letting the poppy into church violates the Jesus Creed.

2: The difficulty of Paul’s teaching.
Paul has a consistent thread to his teaching about refraining from that which would distract or confuse our “weaker brothers”. I am thinking specifically here of the food sacrificed to idols section of 1 Corinthians 8 and the more famous passage of Romans 14. In both cases Paul suggests that there are plenty of things in this world that Christians are welcome to participate in but we should be considerate in the use of our liberty lest we cause younger or less mature Christians to stumble.

I have no idea how these passages are usually preached in Irish churches. I suspect our application points are about drinking or playing poker or what have you. But a much more cutting application of this text is around nationalism. I have my doubts that I could argue that patriotism is actually wrong. As such, I suspect that we are at liberty to be patriotic as long as it doesn’t spill over into xenophobia. But I have no doubts whatsoever that the use of that liberty must be balanced by our concern for how it impacts our brothers and sisters.

So, If you are British and live in a place with many Irish people, and those Irish people are in your midst, then you should let go of the freedom to be a flag-waver because your common identity and unity in Christ is ontologically more substantial and emotionally more satisfying and fundamentally more real than your allegiance to a nation state.

Paul’s teaching applies directly. No one needs to accuse you of wrongdoing for feeling an attachment to Britain. But you do fall into wrongdoing if you let that attachment be a cause of detachment from your brothers and sisters in Christ.

So point 2: our liberty to be patriotic in any form is bounded by our concern for our weaker brothers and sisters.

3. The engagement in Remembrance Sunday implies an outmoded assumed homogeneity.
If you transplanted my congregation into the North, we still couldn’t have Remembrance Sunday. Sitting around me today there were Germans, Americans, Israelis, Congoloese, Kenyan, Dutch, South African, Scottish, English, French and El Salvadorean people. There is a racial diversity in Dublin that isn’t replicated anywhere in Northern Ireland. The idea of marking Remembrance Sunday in a church service seems to assume something that should no longer be assumed – that we are all from here (wherever here is).

21st Century Christianity in Ireland has already been strengthened hugely by immigrants. Their participation has made a contribution in all parts of our corporate life. And while there may only be 10% of the countries in the world Britain hasn’t invaded, the narrative of fallen British soldiers doesn’t play a significant role in the minds, life or shared stories of Dutch people or Chinese or Nigerians. As we welcome our brothers and sisters from all over the world, one of the lovely gifts God will give us is an appropriate distance from our native culture. The fact is: immigration means that our native culture is no longer the native culture of our church. That has now been alloyed to the cultures of the people who make up our fellowships. This a good thing, all the way down.

It doesn’t mean that we have to pretend we’re from nowhere. But it does mean that we have to stop pretending we’re all from here. And the stories we tell of ourselves can no longer be the narrow stories we grew up with.

So my third point is that practising Remembrance Sunday slows down our participation in the new and lovely thing of global inclusion that God is doing in our churches.

4. Remembrance Sunday gives a priority to war that is inappropriate.
Christians believe that death is a damnable evil. It is for this reason that Jesus came – to put death to death.

It really doesn’t matter how you die. This is an important point that we as Christians must hold on to more firmly than ever in the coming decades. The social mood is shifting strongly towards a pagan concept of the good death. Euthanasia is cast as a compassionate move. Soon, we will rediscover Schopenhauer and people will be arguing that suicide can be noble. The culture we live in is willing to do anything to get out of this life alive. When polled, people want to die quietly, quickly, painlessly and without causing a fuss. That is what we think it means to die well.

In such a culture it is easy to think that if we remember and celebrate the death of soldiers which is often the opposite: loud, slow, painful and with a great deal of inconvenience, then we will successfully oppose the superficial shallowness of the wider world.

But that is a massive mistake. In the face of the fear of death, what is needed is not a thanatos-celebrating glorification of certain kinds of dying. In the face of the fear of death, what is needed is the Gospel.

The Gospel says that everyone is going to die. Between now and then, we are called to live. And we live knowing that death doesn’t have the last word.

So it doesn’t matter if you die fighting bravely against Germans or if you die fighting bravely against cancer or if you die on a wet Tuesday morning in an accident that happens so suddenly you don’t even have a chance to be brave. What matters is that if we live the life we’re given, we won’t be scared to die.

War is a sin. Christians have historically agreed on this. And sin is not real, it has no ontological reality. It is almost literally an absence of being. Christians have historically agreed on this. So there is no theological or liturgical reason to elevate death in war as a special kind of death. It confuses our witness on one of the most crucial things we have to speak about – death and how we live on after it.

The only reasons I can find for letting this happen are political. So just admit you want to make a special space for the particular politics you embrace in the communal worship of fellow Christians who have no obligation to think like you.

Making a deal of the poppy in our worship services, with its celebration of people who die in war, dulls our ability to proclaim the truth about the deaths we all face.

5. Remembrance Sunday is actually parasitical on ancient Biblical practice.
You’ll sometimes find written, in a certain kind of journalism, the claim that the Hebrews invented history. There is some merit in the suggestion. For thousands of years now, Jewish people have been remembering the events that brought them into existence. Their calendar is in fact structured as a commemorative memory device. Their year is centered around the Pesach meal where they gather in families to remember. What do they remember on this Remembrance day?

They remember the deliverance of God from the slavery inflicted by Pharaoh.

It is a small leap from there to the secularised narrative of passover that you see re-enacted in the plot of every war movie where the hero just manages to achieve his mission in the last gasp, against insane odds, thus freeing us from the Kaiser, or the Nazis, or the Soviets, or the Taliban…

Anamnesis, meaning recollection, is the word that the early Christians used to describe the particular act of remembrance that they gathered for each and every week. At their Thanksgiving, which they called Eucharist, they broke bread and drank wine in remembrance of their Lord. We don’t need to get into a deep discussion of whether these early Christians believed in transubstantiation or consubstantiation or just loved to eat meals together. What matters is that this is what remembrance meant: that a sacrifice was made to end all sacrifice.

From that, I hope it is a small leap to see the travesty that we have before us because the Nation state and its armed forces occupy this sacred language of anamnesis and manipulate it to their own ends. When they speak of how men who die because pieces of disintegrating metal are fired at great speeds into their stomachs or because of the explosive force of unstable chemical materials unleashed in their vicinity or because the jeep they were driving in crashes one day after a tyre blow-out, when they speak of that as a sacrifice they are piggy-backing on the church’s language.

What is a travesty becomes a farce when we let them bring that language into our worship.

The Bible commands us to remember in a specific way that reminds us that no sacrifice is needed because sacrifice is finished. Remembrance Sunday being celebrated in church approaches heresy in the way it occludes this.

I have many more arguments. I want to win you all to peace, not for the sake of having made a good argument but for the sake of remembering rightly who we are. We are not men and women who fight wars. We are not men and women who start wars. We have forgotten that we are sons and daughters of God and therefore are peacemakers. If the Prince of Peace is our Lord, may we ever be distant from war.

Your Correspondent, A poet said that poppies are like a yawn of fire; so too is war.

[ssba]

14 thoughts on “Remembering That It Is Remembrance Sunday”

  1. Kevin

    I don’t want this to become an annual spat – and your absence from FB means I unfortunately don’t usually see your ponderings unless someone forwards them to me. Nevertheless

    Some brief points.
    For those who may not know me let me lay my cards on the table, so that what I say later will not be misunderstood as being pro-British unreconstructed war-glorification;

    Firstly, Politically I am an Irish nationalist (if that matters);
    Secondly, I have made a stand on this issue in the past to some little cost: declining to have the British National Anthem played on a Remembrance Day service of worship that I was leading as I believed it was not a song of worship (at least not the right kind of worship). I got vitriolic correspondence, incandescently vein-bulging parishioners in my face and even some negative national press coverage, as a result. I don’t want a medal- just letting people know some of what to expect if you attempt something as mild as that

    Thirdly, I have preached against the use of language such as “supreme sacrifice” and anything that seeks to equate death in war with the atonement of Christ, or see death in war as a short-cut to heaven, bypassing conversion to the Prince of Peace

    Fourthly, in my “act of remembrance” yesterday, I asked that we have a moment’s silence to ‘remember’ (as we would in all of our services if a member of the congregation had passed away that week) those who had died in conflict in Ireland and abroad both recently and in the past, for those serving in Irish forces and the forces of other countries. We also ‘remembered’ one family in the congregation whose son is in Afghanistan (the way we would also ‘remember’ from time to time those who known to us who serve overseas in other capacities). I concluded by saying something along the lines of: “As we remember those who have died in war and as a result of fallen man’s inhumanity to man (sorry about the sexist language but it is a literary quote), we pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace to be extended throughout our earth, that war would cease and swords would be beaten in to ploughshares.” Glorifying war?

    Fifthly, by way of context we have, as I said, one family whose son is in Afghanistan, and at least one other Irish Catholic family who served in the British Navy, as well as those who served in the Irish forces of law and order who lost colleagues to republican violence.

    Last week, having checked what she was going to say, I allowed one lady to speak briefly about the sale of poppies and outline the charitable work done by the fund for Irish families who had lost sons and daughters in world conflict.

    Was I wrong? I decided our concern for the poor, the widow and the childless could not be confined to those whose politics we may or may not share- I’m sure you would agree!

    Now, to the substance of your rant. I’m sorry, but today the poppy does not signify either the glorification of war, nor an exclusive remembrance of the British, no matter how much revisionist republican symbolism you want to attach to it. One of the things that has gratified me most in post-peace-process Ireland, and which is a clear sign of our maturing, is the recognition that remembering those who lost their lives senselessly in conflict belongs to us all, along with the rehabilitation of those Irish war-dead whose families were never allowed to grieve their passing because of the reactionary hostility in the community and the totalitarian attitude of their fellow-Irish, post-Independence.

    You seem to make a big thing of “war not being mentioned” Ah- so there is something that dare not breathe its name in modern Irish churches? Is excluding war from discussion when the rest of the world is remembering it, not classic head-in-the-sand avoidance. What better time to speak about or conduct a worship service around the reality and the tragedy and barbarism of war and the implications of the Peace of Christ? Is ignoring it not tantamount to what many northern churches did for 30 years and avoided anything to do with sectarianism, because it is ‘too political’?

    Your point on homogeneity is strange. The day of remembrance surely is becoming a global opportunity to remember (they were “world wars” after all). If Premiership football grounds with over 50 nationalities represented can have a moment’s silence, surely that is an indictment on any church that chooses not to remember on the basis of some misplaced understanding of remembering, or some quasi-pacifist agenda- (in which case, who is actually imposing a political position on the gospel? Those who inclusively remember all the fallen and mourn their loss of whatever tribe or tongue, or those who will make dogmatic pacifism an article of faith?)

    I hesitate to get into “what-aboutery” but you make your anti-British comments so strongly in your opening point, that I think any discussion will be incomplete without the gentle reminder that in contemporary Irish churches, the vast majority of members who have died in conflict within living memory will have done so cruelly at the hands of republican terrorists. The fact that this has happened again in the last two weeks makes the focus of your polemic rather anachronistic. I hope your home church prayed for the family of the prison officer so cruelly murdered in the name of our country.

    So, do we remember in our worship all who die in other ways, yes we do; does that mean we shouldn’t remember those fallen in war- no, it does not.

    Do we remember those serving in British forces- if relevant to our community, yes we do; does it mean that we exclude other nationalities or think that a German, or Irish, or Iraqi death is worth less than a British one- God forbid, No it doesn’t.

    Do we pray for those who have chosen that as a career- yes we do, just as our prayers of intercessions cover all professions over a given year; does it mean that we agree with everything a given government or army does- no it does not;

    Do we mention the reality of war and take into consideration the cultural reality that a certain weekend has been set aside to remember that reality- yes we do. Does it mean that we glorify war in so doing- No it cannot!

    Do we allow people to contribute to a fund that helps the dependents of young Irish fathers and mothers whose lives were cruelly cut short, and wear a symbol that says they care- yes we do. Should we limit that to cancer support- No.

    Yesterday, post-peace-process; post-Queen’s visit; I rejoiced in the new maturity present on my island today by, possibly for the first time, feeling comfortable wearing my poppy out and about town; not just in church, but in the street and even at the bar as I watched the boys in blue (eventually) beat Spurs.

    If no-one in the local pub looked disapprovingly at me for wearing a poppy, then I would hope any who chose to wear one in your local church would have been granted the same courtesy.

  2. Monty, I don’t think that in a face to face conversation you’d characterise what I have shared here as a “rant”. I think that is so disingenuous it borders on uncharitable. Whatever you may think of my conclusions, I am patently not trading in “revisionist republican symbolism”.

    That you claim the poppy is not a symbol of war-glorification seems “strange” to me on the afternoon we have found out that for the third time in twelve months, someone has been arrested in Britain for protesting it. This continuous line of “Relax. It’s not what it used to be!” is especially galling when the conduct of the military forces of the Allies is arguably more fiendish than at any time in the past. You don’t need to be committed to non-violence to agree that the use of extra-judicial killings, torture and drones render any concept of Just War meaningless.

    I feel like we’re passing each other by in this conversation. I think the points that I’ve raised, however strongly misguided you think they may be, deserve a better response than describing them as “strange” and raising a host of tangents (which while interesting and surely important, have scant relevance to the question I am actually raising).

    I’m probably fulfilling the stereotype of a “dogmatic” pacifist by being unwilling to engage while such assumptions are in play but so be it. You have suggested, echoing every other more experienced leader in our church, that I should get used to riling people and confusing people if I continue to harp on about this. But for me, the fact that a non-Christian symbol elicits such passion is a pretty strong clue that our desires have been misplaced.

    *edited for forgotten ironic quotation marks*

  3. Kevin I apologise if my use of ‘rant’ was injudicious- as I think it was in retrospect. However, if I am dismissive of your points by calling them ‘strange’ then you (deliberately or unconsciously) have done the same to one of my points above.

    My response has elicited a bit of feedback on FBook so, in case you are no longer using that, I add below the thoughts of one colleague. Not sure it adds much to the debate, except to remind us that the thinking and motivation behind some of those who protest the poppy still appears to be far more offensive to the vulnerable, ill and bereaved, than any offense engendered by the wearing of “a non-Christian symbol”.
    While I don’t wish to offend anyone unnecessarily, I will put the grieving war-widow and orphan before the armchair pacifist.

    He writes:

    “The Poppy is NOT a British symbol of war glorification, it isn’t even an exclusive British symbol of remembrance. It originally was used as a symbol of remembranace (different from glorifying) and was sold to raise support for veterans of WW1 in the USA and from there the practice later spread to the UK, Ireland (which was not a Republic then), Canada, Australia and New Zealand (amongst other locations).

    In the UK if you buy a Poppy you are helping men and women who have been injured in war. You are also helping families who have lost a member or now need to provide care in a ongoing way that can be traumatising for even those who never were on the battlefield but battle everyday with wheelchairs, bedpans, medicines etc. This is not supporting war but it is being civilised to help those who have had horror portioned out to them. I for one am happy to help such people just as much as the family with cancer.

    I agree with Monty’s points and thank him for the helpful way he has put them together. I for one would rather see my churches love and support people who are today living with the fearful consequences of war and I certainly would not say to the people I know to stop remembering the dreadful loss of life in wars of all kinds. We did this on Sunday, it was not glorious. It was moving and it was right to remember. It would have been wrong to insult, ridicule or snub people in my congregations who were remembering people they knew who died in conflict.”

  4. Hey Monty,

    I am no longer using Facebook. Your colleague thoughts are welcomed but I don’t actually think he read any of my postings on this topic. I feel like I dealt with the objection of “NOT a British symbol” last year.
    http://www.hargaden.com/kevin/?p=212

    I am up-to-speed on the historical development of the poppy commemoration. Rather than a defeater, my argument has been shaped by that historical knowledge. Regardless, that the funds raised go to support the British Legion suggests it has become a British symbol (I am not questioning the validity of that charity or its work, simply asserting the fact that it is a British charity).

    But more basically than that, my problem IS NOT that it is a symbol that is British. I am not a nationalist. My argument from mission and Pauline interpretation demands that I let go of any narrow nationalist narratives.

    My problem is that it is a symbol that is used to support a militarist culture. The reaction to James McClean on Twitter testifies to the truth of this characterisation. It makes no difference to me that it is British as against a hypothetical Italian or Belgian symbol. If the Easter Lily was welcomed in our churches I would rail as fiercely against it!

    That we need charity to support the families of men who have died while in combat only reinforces my point Monty! The poor (an emerging urban underclass are the massive majority of military recruits in the Western world) are being unjustly shepherded into a dangerous and arguably unwise career and then when the bullets hit flesh- they and their families are not adequately supported! This is yet another travesty!

    I have no problem with us giving money to support the poor. If anyone thinks I have a problem with that, they have read me very unsympathetically. I have a problem with doing that in a way that supports the very mechanisms that continues poverty and human destruction.

    I have no problem with remembering people who have died. Contrary to your assumptions I don’t even have a problem with remembering them as those who died in wars. But it is less than they deserve if we remember in a way that stops us from analysing if their deaths were wasted.

    That this offends people speaks neither to my rightness or wrongness. It speaks to the grip that the powers and principalities hold over us. It is your job and my job to articulate that grip and describe liberation.

    That I have to say this is disappointing to me but I have not sought to, nor have I actually ended up unintentionally causing “insult, ridicule or snub[s to] people”. Neither have I objected to remembering. My point is to remember rightly.

    By the way, “armchair pacifist” is an insult so transparent that is unlikely to seduce the non-violent to embrace violence.

  5. Kevin

    In case I need to clarify, I was referring to armchair pacifists generically, not casting you as one. Similarly, I am not sure how you can say “Nor have I actually ended up unintentionally causing “insult, ridicule or snub[s to] people”.” The problem with unintentional insults is precisely that we don’t know when we have done it. I am willing to accept that my wearing of the poppy may be offensive to some people, just as those who protest it need to acknowledge that, intentional or not, they too are being offensive to others. We then get to dialogue about the offense in question and decide whether in the circumstances it is best to honour one group’s sensitivities or the other’s.

    At the end of it all. I am left confused and unsure as to what you are promoting, because there is much of what you say that I don’t disagree with- I just fail to see the Remembrance Day/Poppy connection and feel that you are choosing the wring battle (if I can use that metaphor) What would your response be to, for example, my ‘Act of Remembrance’ as outlined in my first post? Or is the problem just that I was wearing a poppy while I was doing it?

  6. Egad this is tiring!

    Armchair pacifism describes Christian pacifism quite well, since the practice of Christological non-violence is grounded on the belief that prayer is more determinative than battle… 🙂

    I have actually spoken in the last week with explicit care not to cause offence. Ridicule implies intent. And snubbing people is an action and it is an action I have explicitly not engaged in. In fact, I’ve put myself on the line and let other people put me on the line in fora that I can’t engage in. So I’ve done the opposite of snubbing. It would hearten me if anyone who thinks that I am insulting, ridiculing or snubbing those participant in the Remembrance events would hear my sincerity on that.

    I am very clear in what I am promoting Monty and that is why you are spending all this time engaging me.

    Let me lay it out in bullet points, cos us evangelicals like things clear:

    – Christians should avoid any symbols that can be seen as supporting the culture of violence that the nation states of the West call armies.

    – Christians should definitely not make space for such symbols in their worship.

    – Those who die in war are in no theological sense, different from those who die more pedestrian deaths. Christians should avoid suggesting that death in war is more meaningful.

    – Those who fight wars are engaged in a job that endangers their souls. Our pastoral care cannot be blithely dismissive of the shadow cast over the good and noble things individuals in the army do by the larger mechanisms that they are participating in. Hence, we as church leaders need to handle talk of war in a fashion closer to the way we talk of other treacherous (yet permissible) paths in life.

    – It is one thing to enjoy your identity as a citizen of the abstract concept, the nation state. But we modify that liberty for the sake of our weaker brothers and hence we let go of divisive symbols, imageries and rituals wherever they cause consternation.

    – More generally, although I haven’t made these points explicitly in any of these posts, our confusion on this issue is grounded in our forgetting of the actual power of the symbols that the Scriptures provide us. Our remembrance day is every time we gather at the Communion Table. In place of a secular tradition that may potentially be benign but has certainly been co-opted by nationalism and militarism, we should embrace more fully baptism and Eucharist.

    These are off the top of my head while I wait for my carrot cake to bake. But to answer your last question:

    I think, with due respect, that our liturgies at this time of year are compromised and confused. Silence is one of the loudest ways Christians have of speaking! My problem isn’t remembering the dead, my problem is that you do that at a time in the year when those who died in battle are given pre-eminence and in a fashion that sublimates support for the state’s “sacrifice” “for our way of life” into a space that ought to be full to the brim with the actual sacrifice that changed history, the actual sacrifice that made peace between men, the actual sacrifice that forged our way of life and critically, the sacrifice that ended sacrifice.

  7. Kevin,
    Please check our Remembrance Day litrurgy. http://stocki.typepad.com/soulsurmise/2012/11/fitzroys-remembrance-day-liturgy-2012.html
    It is another Northern minister trying to deal with the sensitivities that Richie has suggested to you. My hope is that he listened as we tried to widen a day that is very much a part of Northern life and Church to take in God’s Kingdom and not just a British one. OUrs is very personal, particular of place but I hope cosmic in its remembering! It is tricky and alot of what you say I agree with and if I could avoid it I would BUT we need to take people with us as we bring change. Like Monty getting rid of flags was a difficult issue for Ken before me and our session after a ltter from a member of the congregation dropped the Anthem last year. My intro in the liturgy above says all I want to do with the day and I hope it was senstive but not over subtle. I will chase Richie up on it!
    Love your blog and can’t wait to have you and the “wife unit” (now that phrase would cause war in my home!!!!) in Belfast
    Steve

  8. this stuff gets me so down because how could I have ever invited someone like James McClean to a Presbyterian Church yesterday morning?
    Or more to the point, how could we have ever we have invited our real life nationalist friends from Derry to a church yesterday?
    But if someone tries to bring up their issues with this it seems to a case of ‘don’t rock the warship’ and people get annoyed. Because it’s sensitive and tricky. So

    I wouldn’t blame you and C if you didn’t feel like you could do it. I know church is difficult everywhere and there are no perfect churches but whenever you don’t feel like you would want to bring your neighbour to church because it excludes them for some reason that feels far from a good news reason it makes me want to pack it in. I’m not saying we shouldn’t grieve with those who have suffered but a national anthem or Union Jack in church…like, why?

    And there is David Cameron flying round the Gulf trying to sell arms to undemocratic leaders just so they can grow the British economy, talking about our heroes while proudly wearing his poppy. That is maybe the most offensive thing I’ve seen this year. With one hand he is remembering the horror of war murdering by weapons and on the other hand he is swanning around the Gulf trying to sell weapons.

    Like you said, I can’t believe that a country would ask you to die for it but wouldn’t pay for those who are injured by war. Instead of having to get someone like Alesha Dixon doing a celebrity launch for ‘Our Heroes’ the nation should be paying for it if they’re asking young men and women to die.

  9. If anything this proves that you and her should get back onto facebook… and don’t give me that free’s up time crap- i’ve seen how much your twittering has increased exponentially. 😉

  10. Stocki I appreciate the comment and I don’t in any way want to disparage your liturgy. I have no doubt that if I was there I would have been moved by it. And if I lived in Belfast, I would be there!

    But I hope you can see that while I’m not some incendiary droning monotopical know-it-all, I still think we’d be wise to find a different way to do the good things that are done on this weekend every year. I’ll have a post about it later in the week, thinking about it in comparison to the Catholic liturgical calendar.

    And Dave I appreciate that you resonate so strongly with me on this (and many of the other issues that make us feel altogether undone). I suppose the trick is to keep worshipping and let relationships shift things over time.

    And Richie, Twitter’s brevity, user-base and my circle there being largely non-Christian makes it infinitely better than Facebook (for me). I don’t think we’ll be back on Facebook ever, even if we move to Scotland next year. Our lives are much better without it.

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