Lately I have being posting blogs on what looks to be my dislike or contempt for the English culture. If this looks like I'm anti-patriotic, possibly a traitor, then consider a newspaper report I read while I was on the train home, plus a back-up report on a national online newspaper that had made my blood boil, bringing to focus on exactly what I have been grieving about.
The report from both sources was about a cyclist bring hit by a car, then the driver roared off without stopping to see whether the bicycle rider was hurt as he lay on the ground. Then furthermore, the car driver bragged about the incident on Twitter. "Ah," you may think. The driver was a heavily tattooed working class male who probably had one too many at a local pub. Wrong! The offending driver was a young female in her early twenties, a middle class accountant whose explanation in Court for not stopping was because she had the right of way! On her Twitter account she boasted that she pays road tax, which cyclists don't pay. An astonishing statement for an accountant. The Road Tax was abolished in 1937. The tax paid by all motorists is due to fuel exhaust emissions, and the payment goes towards general taxation - as does VAT on alcohol, etc. Therefore a cyclist doesn't have a tax disc on his bike. So a hit-and-run is okay, then. Why not go all the way and KILL the wretched rider? At least that's one tax-evader less to feed!
She was cleared of the charge of dangerous driving, and she got away with what one would call a slap on the wrist. No doubt, in countries such as Holland, Denmark and France, where bicycle riders are treated with far greater respect on the roads, this arrogant female would have received a tougher penalty, possibly a prison term. To add insult to injury, on the online Daily Mail version of the report, I was rather shocked on the large percentage of comments which were on her side. This sort of attitude reminded me of a national organisation which began to make an appearance in the mid to late 1980s, lobbying for the rights of car drivers against the growing popularity of cyclists in both daily commute and in road racing and training. Unsurprisingly, the car driver's lobby was represented by a silhouetted logo of a group of men wearing business suits and ties. Such is typical of England!
Singer Kate Bush once had a hit Oh England My Lionheart in which she relates with nostalgia the flapping umbrellas filling the lanes, London Bridge in rain again, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Shakespeare, and the English Rose; and pleads that she does not want to go, assuming to mean leaving the country. To be fair, living under a Constitution based on the Bible allows a level of freedom denied in some other nations. For example, the official State Church of England would never impose a ban on alcohol, or for women to cover every inch of her body, or to ban them from further education, as were the cases in many Islamic countries. We enjoy freedom of speech and of the press, and if one wants to crack a joke about the Royal Family or even Jesus Christ himself, nobody would give a hoot. When Author Salman Rushdie wrote The Satanic Verses, he had to find refuge here in the UK to protect himself from Islam persecutors who were after his blood - for insulting the Prophet Mohammad.
Talking about such dismal climate of ours is well known around the world, often such variable weather is a good way to start a conversation, or even to greet someone in the street. Yet a spell of fine weather can make areas such as the Cumbrian Lake District National Park and the Dorset Jurassic Coast such stunning vistas in full glory; natural England at its best. By contrast, areas of South London such as the dilapidated housing estates of Brixton or Wandsworth can look so depressing in the rain, as does London Bridge.
Although steep in history and many ancient and listed buildings to show for it, along with its spectacular scenery offset by the cool temperate climate, these are not the theme of this article. Rather it is to point out the shortcomings of a culture so beloved by many regular church-goers, that speaking out against it most likely would result in isolation. Such were the case of a photographer who is in our church, and his son who attends a church elsewhere, who both blocked their Facebook profiles from my viewing. And a Christian at another church, who I knew since 1978, refused to link friends with me. All three have a ongoing grudge against me for speaking out against their culture, for example, joking that the photographer's grandson should take up window cleaning for a living after leaving school. What an insult! Other believers in Christ who I knew personally for more than thirty years, all graduates by the way, won't link with me on the social website either, simply because I'm not up to their level.
Riding a bicycle on the roads has become a very risky business. The old adage of "the White Van Driver" has been around for a couple of decades. He is the working class male who can get very impatient if a slow cyclist gets in his way. Or feel a deflation of his ego if he struggles to overtake a racing cyclist or triathlete out training. Then there is the rising trend of the ambitious career girl when she gets behind the wheel - like the one mentioned above, adding to the ferocious cultural evil which makes the English the way they are, like another Christian I knew who was, in the 1990s, watching the English Cricket team and urging them to steamroller the opposing foreign side; the England football fan shaking his fist angrily in the air while backing his losing team to bury the opposition; the emphasis on social class, with greater respect for the academic professional, the disdain for the humble labourer, contempt for foreigners, feeling xenophobic - yet without hesitation, to depart for foreign shores to conquer, colonise and rule; racial and ethnic slurs, and mimicking and poking fun at foreign languages and dialects.
Oh yes, mimicking foreign languages. What a superb example of national and ethnic superiority! How our mother language and plum Southern English dialect reflect a flawless, God-blessed culture. Like the BBC Radio 2 Little Englander presenter Sarah Kennedy did often during peak hour morning broadcasting in the 1990s, when she really lay heavy with the Italian language in particular with teasing mockery. Preceding her over quite a few years was a fellow employee whose name was Walter, who was also my supervisor, at the furniture factory where I worked for five years between 1968 and 1973. A keen Englander and Arsenal F.C. supporter, often he made a weird, multi-tone mimic of something I never heard of, as I wasn't bothered to ask what that was all about, as by then I absorbed all his eccentricity as a matter of course during a normal working life.
It was when I made the first backpacking trip outside Europe, to Israel in 1976 that I found out where all that mimicking made by my deceased supervisor originated. While I was staying at a private Arab residence in the east Jerusalem district of Silwan, their Arab radio broadcast played their kind of music. When I heard this for the first time, suddenly everything fell into place. I recall Walter relating to me of his serving in the Royal Air Force during the War. What he never told me was that he must have been posted to the Middle East as one serving in the British Mandate, which held control over Palestine until the State of Israel was declared in May, 1948.
With Walter serving in the Middle East has made me wonder whether he visited any of the three principal places which were so tied with the Bible - The Sea of Galilee where Jesus taught much about the Kingdom of Heaven, Jerusalem and Hebron, not to mention the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth, both to do with Jesus' early life. Jerusalem was chosen by King David to be the capital of Israel and the city where God himself has put his name. It was the site of the betrayal, trial, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ, and to this day it's still the City of the great King. But where I have found to be most intriguing was at Hebron, a town several miles south of Jerusalem. Here is the site of the Cave of Machpelah, the burial tomb of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, along with their wives Sarah, Rebekah and Leah. These six people were the founding family of the entire nation of Israel. Had Walter been familiar with the fortress which stands over the Cave of Machpelah? If so, then it looked to me at the time that through his own spiritual blindness, Walter, along with his colleagues, had failed to pick up the message this fortress was conveying.
The building was constructed and completed a few years before the birth of Jesus Christ, by Herod the Great. It withstood the test of time and remained intact while Jerusalem and its Second Temple were razed to the ground by Roman general Titus in AD 70. Today it is used as a combined synagogue and mosque, and in the past it was also used as a church. Yet it appears to me that its main purpose was, and is, to stand as a sentinel to show the rest of the world that this is the land given to the Jews by God himself. This seems to be endorsed by the unscrambled code contained in the name Israel. The Hebrew name for this Middle East country is Erech Yisrael, Erech being Hebrew for Land of, and Yisrael is actually an acronym for -
Yacob, Isaac, Sarah, Rebekah, Abraham, Elohim, Leah.
All six whose initials are buried in the Cave of Machpelah, except Elohim which is, of course, one of the names of God. But even here God is seen to be in the midst of his people, the Jews, and their land, which God specifically calls my land. This is wholly unique, and this is something which neither England or the English can claim, despite many efforts. The English love to fancy themselves as having had the privilege of the feet of the young Jesus Christ walking on England's mountains green, even the fictional idea that the English are the descendants of the lost ten tribes of the Diaspora, therefore proudly singing Rule, Britannia, rule the waves...along with Land of Hope and Glory - assigning to England what actually belongs to Israel, for only God can bring hope and glory to a nation. And according to many Old Testament prophecies, hope and glory will be restored to Israel, leaving England, if God allows it to continue after the return of Jesus Christ, to bow to Israel, bringing its produce and its bounty, honour and glory to Jerusalem, Israel's restored capital.
Believing in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead should put everyone of us into the right perspective. There is nothing in us that can please God. Our fallen natures have separated us from the intimacy God had created us to enjoy with him. Abraham realised this, and referred to himself as dust and ashes. Moses, when he saw that he was talking to God in the burning bush, was afraid, and gasped when he was commissioned with the privilege to face Pharaoh and lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. He asked who was he to face someone as great as the king of Egypt. The then young prince David, when comparing himself to God, referred himself as a flea, the smallest living creature visible to the naked eye, and was subservient to King Saul. Isaiah cries out in the Temple, "Woe is me, for I am undone, a man of unclean lips..." Even the apostle Paul said on one occasion that there is no good thing dwelling naturally in him, except the power of Jesus Christ.
This is the result of true conversion. To know of our unworthiness before God, being grateful and thankful for his goodness, grace and mercy, and to see others as recipient's of this mercy. It is to thank the Lord each day that we wake up in the morning alive, and to be grateful for our health, and to give thanks for every good thing we have - homes, family, jobs, the ability to earn a living. (And this is a big lesson for me in particular, as I tend to suffer morning blues between Monday to Friday inclusive!) To every person to see himself as dust and ashes before God strips himself of all pride, all national and ethnic superiority, the importance of class and social status to melt away. It means the rich or well educated walking arm in arm with the poor, the labourer or the beggar. It means to give willingly to those in need. The Beatitudes, preached by Jesus on the Mount, can only be fulfilled in a person's life after being saved, then realising of his status as dust and ashes and needing to be filled and walk in the Holy Spirit.
The English, who falsely believe that they are Christian through ethnic origin, desperately need the power of the Holy Spirit to convict of their shortcomings, show them who they really are, and their need for God's mercy and grace.
The end result is that, among many other benefits, we cyclists will feel much safer on the roads.
After the publishing of my last couple blogs, one of our church elders who happen to be a good friend of mine, warned me that the content can be conveyed the wrong way by those who have a degree, particular those who attend church regularly, believing that I have an envious grudge against them.
This is not the case. Most of my close friends have studied for a degree, and I have enjoyed good relations with well educated Christians over the years. I now favour an idea, which was in my mind for several years, mainly that it is God who calls many of his own into further education, for the prime purpose of keeping evil under restraint in the office, just by being there and working - the role as salt of the earth.