We met on Armistice Day, November 11th. In the news was the continuing situation of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran, her husband’s hunger strike outside the Foreign Office, and the possibility of meetings between UK and Iranian diplomats. Since then, however, there has been little or no progress about her release or that of others detained in Iran.
One member of our group had recently visited relatives in Sweden and Denmark, and remarked on the difference joining the “other” passport queue, wondering if Brexit would in the end prove worth it all in any way.
The Guardian Long Read for November 11th argued that Climate Change “Resistors” were no longer claiming that Climate Change was “Fake News” (that line appears to have finally been consigned to the dustbin of political debate), but that the economic changes needed will harm the poor and therefore cannot be undertaken: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/11/inactivists-tangling-up-the-climate-crisis-in-culture-wars-manston-airport-kent
Our readings were from Isaiah chapter 7, verses 1 to 17 and Matthew chapter 5, verses 38 to 48. We noted that the Isaiah verses were not “predictions” for a distant future, but a prophecy (warning) for that time. Judah (the Southern Kingdom) was urged not to be afraid of Syria (Aram) and Israel (the Northern Kingdom), because they would both soon be destroyed by an Assyrian invasion (not that that was ultimately good news for Judah!). It was much later that Matthew picks up the verse “the young woman (virgin) is with child” and sees it as a prediction of the birth of Jesus, taking the words out of their original context (a very common way of understanding Scripture at the time).
Matthew 5:39 (“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also”) has often been understood as applying only to individuals- but peace demands that governments also find ways to do that (present tensions between China and the USA are perhaps a good example).
Someone who had worked in the Saudi oil industry in the early 1990s said that Saudis regularly prayed “May Allah bless Saddam Hussein, and keep him- far from us”. But we seem to be unable to learn from our past mistakes, and repeatedly allow ourselves to be stirred up by clever propaganda into supporting wars that only prove destructive. Perhaps the task of the Church is to challenge all such propaganda, and ask questions about its real basis in truth.
St Philip’s Inter-faith Centre in Leicester was often able to bring valuable insights from other faiths to understand the ministry of Jesus- for example how the Jewish elders in Capernaum regarded the local centurion as their friend, although he was the local representative of the occupying Roman Empire (see Luke chapter 7, verses 1 to 10).
Seen on Facebook:
You know what’s patriotic?
Loving your country enough to care for its poor, fund its institutions, unite its communities, educate its children, restore its environment, plan for its future, build its alliances, and tell it the truth.
You know what’s not patriotic?