That’s fighting talk, that is. Growing up where I did I’ve heard this language a lot. It’s the battle cry of housing estate vigilante justice, “You just tell me where he lives, and I’ll march right round there and see what he has to say for himself. By God, he’ll listen to what I have to say.”
After a while I decided to tell him who I was. Without missing a step in his Wellington boots or looking round, he said only “Ah ken that.” This was an unexpected response that forced me to look back hard to see if I could ever remember meeting an older me. I couldn’t.
We’ve read all about the community in Nebraska, and I have to confess that I read it with some mirth, where a group of Atheists rented out all of the public space months in advance of Christmas to put up a Jesus free Christmas display where the town’s Nativity scene had traditionally been displayed.
In the gap years of the Cold War the European Union has developed apace to become another land of the free on this side of the Atlantic, and by and large we were meant to buy into the whole story of Europe being a stronghold of the Free World.
Now I catch myself wondering about our little rituals of hope; those routine things that we do to invest in the future and safeguard us from the past or our nightmares.
Our destruction, violence, and cruelty in the world we live should shock us and make us anxious. Why would we never consider it on another world? Is it is the case that the grass is always purpler the other side?
From between the crosses, row on row, John McCrae’s blood-spattered blossom has come down to us from on high that we might remember. Remember what? The Fallen! What Fallen? All the Fallen!
It would not be wrong to say that Christianity withers and dies without the ongoing radicalisation of personal and communal faith. It is only such a faith that can be rooted deeply in society and have the intrinsic power to transform both itself and the society.