English religiosity has consistently sought to imbue England with sacredness, and, like Judah’s ancient dominance over the northern kingdom of Israel, this sense of English territorial sacredness is extended to Scotland. Wales (those Edomites) is not factored in – that is just ‘west England.’ The reigning monarch is ‘God’s appointed monarch’ like God’s anointed kings in Jerusalem. The Empire becomes a new Solomonic empire – God’s territory. And this strange thinking, this quasi-religious and nationalist exceptionalism, has never quite disappeared from the Church of England...
Over the past forty-eight hours a great many people on social media reacted to my thoughts on this subject with a great deal of anger and frustration. Many of those who replied to me were perfectly sincere, believing that what I had done endangered the rights of ‘real women.’ Others were more extreme; many of whom branded me a misogynist, as a man who supported violence against women, as someone who would subject women and girls to ‘rapists,’ ‘predators,’ ‘perverts,’ ‘peeping Toms,’ ‘men in dresses,’ and ‘abusers’ in ladies’ toilets and other female-only spaces.
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.
Boris Johnson, our new Prime Minister, is a man who shamelessly stood in front of a bus during the Brexit referendum campaign and told voters that leaving the European Union would return £350 million every week to essential public services like the NHS; all the while knowing this was untrue. Since moving into Number 10 he has repeated over and again that his government is engaged in ongoing negotiations with its European partners, when the European parliament and commission have unequivocally stated this is not the case.
What is evident is that no apology or action on the part of the Church will be accepted by this secularist protest movement. It is apparent from much of the discussion on Irish social media over the weekend that what many within this movement demand is nothing short of the complete destruction of the Catholic Church. Many are quite explicit in this demand, and it is not limited to the clerical institution of the Church but extends to la Comunidad Católica in its widest sense; evinced in the wholesale targeting and abuse of “ordinary Catholics” online.
Opinions are split on much of the goings on reported in the so-called dirty dossier of Tory MPs' antics published by Guido Fawkes – funny that I’m writing this on the 5 November. Some of it is awful, of course. There is no question that getting “handsy” or being otherwise “inappropriate” with women – especially when one is in a position of power – is disgusting. But how bad is it, really, that the Prime Minister's deputy has been allegedly pleasuring himself to pornographic images online?
After decades of anti-Christian violence in Egypt the Coptic Orthodox Christians have once again become the victims of a terrorist attack in Cairo. As people prayed this morning at St. Peter and St. Paul church, adjoining St. Mark’s cathedral, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device killing 24 worshippers – mainly women and children.
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.