This blog is written on the wake of the massive earthquake just off the Japanese coast on Friday March 11th, 2011 - and the resulting tsunamis which killed thousands of inhabitants and wiped towns off the map. This is just another show of Nature's anger, after the earthquake which flattened Christchurch in New Zealand just a few weeks earlier, and another earthquake which caused the tsunami disaster at the Indian Ocean which killed an estimated 230,000 people in 14 nations, on Boxing Day, 2004.
Among many reports of the latest disaster, one in particular really struck me above the rather monotonous stream of newspaper journalism.
Daily Mail Robert Hardman wrote an article on page 11 of Saturday's (12th March)issue of the paper with the headline screaming out -
What fools we are to think we can tame the wrath of nature.
This at first looks to be a humbling article, with setting our human achievements in their rightful place, subservient to nature, no matter how dizzying high our achievements have reached, whether they meant building a skyscraper over a piece of ground once inhabited by a few animals, communication wizardry, or sending someone into space. Hardman says that when nature unleashes its forces, everything we are and our attainments goes flat like a house of cards. So far, so good.
But it was how the article opened which caused me to gasp, "Wow!"
This is what he wrote:
How we chuckle at those primitive civilisations with their sun-worshipping superstitions, their pagan ways. How we pooh-pooh those Creationist Bible-bashers clinging steadfastly to their crackpot beliefs in Noah and his Ark. The only real threat to the world, we are always told, is the human race itself. Because we are the ones in charge.
This statement seems to me that the author is at worst, an atheist, at best an agnostic, but certainly not a Bible-believing Christian whose beliefs in Divine Creation and the Flood were the foundations of British society throughout its history, simply because Jesus Christ and his apostles upheld these two Old Testament events as historic, not fable, and was the conviction held by many throughout English history which even cost them their lives.
Robert Hardman seems to me, to be one of a growing number of journalists and reporters who totally refute any historicity to the Bible, because to them, all truth in Scripture has been refuted by science. And that despite that the laws and constitution which formed the basis of English society was founded on principles based on the veracity of the Bible.
Yet even to this day, journalists cry out over the watering down of traditional Englishness. One time Daily Mail political columnist Simon Heffer, a self-confessed atheist, once wrote,
What defines a British gentleman is that even while just out shopping on a Saturday afternoon, he'll go out in public wearing a suit and tie.
And he described himself as a "radical Englishman". His quote also means, in reality, that "the British Gentleman" is extremely far and few between, "as rare as an oasis in a desert", being my pet expression, particular on a warm summers day, where his definition of a gentleman would be totally non-existent, unless on duty whether in the Forces or in Retail.
Heffer's statement leads me to his replacement after he left the newspaper post some years ago. His replacement was, and is, Amanda Platell, who on a Daily Mail online article, she criticised Prince William for touring Australia with an open neck shirt during one of their hot summer days. The number of comments she received disagreeing with her might have been the reason why her article was scrapped before the paper went to print.
But she, along with fellow journalist Melanie Phillips, lashed out at the "emotional, sentimental and mawkish attitude" of the British since the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. This weakening of the stiff upper lip to a trembling lower lip is the diluting of the spirit of the British Bulldog, which to them, made Britain unique.
Platell also wrote a complete page long article on how stoicism not only made Britain unique and head of a mighty worldwide empire, but as an Australian backpacker, decided to settle in London permanently some 26 or 27 years ago.
I once watched a clip based on a movie about an airline in distress mid-flight. On one side of the central aisle was a crowd of panicking Italians shouting and screaming. On the other side a crowd of English passengers, in business suits, in total stoic silence, some even reading a newspaper, as if nothing out of the usual was happening.
In reality, only last year 33 Chilean miners were trapped in an underground cavern after the roof of an access shaft collapsed, blocking the exit. If ever there was stoicism displayed by these guys, all of Spanish descent, it was by these miners who were trapped underground for six weeks. Some became ill, but none panicked. Their secret of survival was hope in prayer. In the cave they built a makeshift chapel, where daily prayers kept their hopes alive. And amazingly, Amanda Platell was away the week such a spectacular and successful rescue operation was completed, with no fatalities.
And according to TV news reports, at present the Japanese seem to show stoicism while coping with the recent tsunamis catastrophe. Instead of screaming and panicking, engineers have got to work in making safe the nuclear power plant which was threatening to leak radiation, risking their own lives in doing so.
And so I could go on. The point is that the British are not unique in stoicism as these journalists would like us to think.
And added to this, journalists such as Hardman had added insult to injury to many who are devoted to the Bible as historical.
People have died for the cause of Biblical truth, reverence and historicity. The best examples are the three Oxford Martyrs, who set the course for the rise of the Church of England. They were bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. They were burnt alive on the stake outside Balliol College on the 16th October 1555, for insisting that the bread and wine of the Body of Christ was meant to be spiritual not literal, as taught by Rome. Five months later, on 21st March 1556, Thomas Cramner was burned at the stake at the same spot as the other two, for similar convictions. Cramner composed the Book of Common Prayer in 1548-49, a liturgy read in churches throughout the land of centuries afterwards.
Which gave to the rise of the Church of England, headquartered in Canterbury, Kent.
Belief in the historicity of the Bible did not turn a nation into savages but an ordered civilisation. Basically, such convictions and belief in a Triune God who Created everything, the Noachian Deluge, the birth, Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ and belief in the resulting afterlife kept evil under check.
True enough, there were some appalling stuff within British history, such as the slums, the workhouse, poverty, disease, capitalist greed and extortion using child labour in deep underground mines and grim factories and mills, and a strong and rigid class system. All these things were very bad in those days.
But belief in the Bible was the underlying cause of social reform. One good example of this was the rise of the Trade Unions, originally a Christian organisation for the welfare of manual workers, along with the rise of the NHS, and societies for fairer trading, etc.
And most important, as Robert Hardman pointed out, perhaps unwittingly, the Bible plays an important role against pagan child sacrifice and cannibalism.
Then there is the most important truth in the Bible - our salvation.
And salvation is the free gift of God, given to all who trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Nothing pooh-pooh about that.