Blessings are conditional. However we think of them, and wherever we think they originate, blessings are gifts – special graces – which we can accept and discard. That is in our gift. We have the right of refusal. Blessed with love, we cannot take our lovers and loved ones for granted. We cannot take without giving in return. The gift of love is not a certificate of ownership. Likewise, the blessing and gift of life is conditional. Its continuation and renewal always and everywhere depend on our generous acceptance of the gift and our loving care for the blessing.
England and the entire British political establishment are in for a hell of a shock when they realise just who these “nutters on the backbenches” are. The DUP is the often hilarious hard core of political loyalist, sectarian Ulster unionism in the conflict zone that is Northern Ireland – bearing in mind that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, now in tatters, is only a ceasefire.
Theirs is the faith, when it is set out in plain words, of the zealot and the fanatic. By no means do I intend to suggest that they are zealots, fanatics, or indeed bad people. All that I will say is that their ideas – or some of their ideas – are fanatical and dangerous in the extreme, and in this assessment there is no exaggeration.
Of course there are passages in the Quran that read to the modern reader as primitive, barbaric, and violent. The same is true of all ancient texts – the Bible included, and few demand a revision of the Old Testament on the grounds of Israel’s primitive, barbaric, and violent behaviour in the occupied West Bank or in Gaza.
Since 1948 the State of Israel has existed as a homeland for the Jewish people. On the basis of Zionism, as an ethno-nationalist ideology, this stake in a geographical territory, according to the colonialist conventions of the time, is arguably legitimate.
According to the Pew Research Centre some 52.8 million US white Evangelical Christians identify themselves as Christian Zionists, the most politically influential voter bloc in the United States.
All of this may sound farfetched, but often – especially in US politics – fact is stranger than fiction, and to understand the present behaviour of Israel one ought to pay careful and close attention to the beliefs and influence of Christian Zionism.
True, modern political Zionism, rather than being a Jewish nationalist aspiration, was first the product of English and American Protestantism. English Puritans, from the earliest colonisation of North America, conceptualised their new home as a new Israel, a ‘City on a hill;’ a New Jerusalem.