Lately I have found myself becoming more impatient, forever searching for an item I have just used, and instantly forgetting where I have left it. Along with this feeling of frustration and memory-loss, comes swearing - uttering words I would never say in public, let alone in a church meeting, along with quick bouts of anger. In the gym I tended to tire more quickly as well, which led me to the incentive to stay away, cutting my normal schedule of three-sessions-in-a-week to just one session attended this week. This cutting down of gym left a feeling of emptiness within, a lack of personal fulfilment which was an addition to the already low moods I've been feeling already. As I sat there, browsing through the Internet, my wife asked what has come over me, with an explanation for asking that she has seen a change of personality lately. Or in short, according to her, I have become a different man, and not the guy she married.
And this includes my prayer life, which has dried up at the same time, even if I continue to read the Bible each morning. After Alex had brought all this to my attention, I had to sit and think. Because after being confronted with my new self, I had to search my subconscious to what has been the cause of it. It wasn't until the News bulletin began its TV broadcasting that the penny dropped. It was about Brexit. What else could it have been?
This was the week that our Prime Minister Theresa May launched Article 50 to the European Union president Donald Tusk in Brussels, paving a way for a two-year negotiation route to what is hoped for a trouble-free exit. Personally I was getting sick of it all - day after day, bulletin after bulletin, newspaper after newspaper - updates of the Brexit move keeps pouring into my soul until they spill out of my ears and vomiting out of my mouth. Then to read about and to hear about the constant gloating, the smugness, and the sneering from Leave-supporting politicians and journalists towards those who wanted to remain. And then we both wonder why I have experienced a personality change!
As one journalist for The Guardian newspaper wrote; it will be the return of the dreaded Rule Britannia mentality. Whether he was being duly pessimistic or facing a possible future reality, that is a matter of the reader's opinion. As I have mentioned in last week's blog post, the right-wing newspaper The Daily Mail journalist Katie Hopkins, a very devout Brexit supporter to the point of fanaticism, she would gladly lift a gun to shoot some sense into a city of blind, deaf, and dumb monkeys whose majority had voted to remain, and to kick out all the immigrants. As The Guardian had pointed out, the future of Britain would be encapsulated to a gang of white boys leaving the pub at closing time, laughing and guffawing, and ready to beat into pulp anyone who doesn't match their nationalistic ideals.
Stephen Lawrence was such an example, making this case one of the century's most iconic of all racially motivated crimes. During the evening of 22 April 1993, a black student and a budding architect was murdered by six white youths after leaving a nearby pub. Although dressed in a tee-shirt, Lawrence had more intelligence than all six of the English white men combined. But during the Court hearing which followed, all six defendants were dressed in smart suit and tie, enough to impress the Judge to dismiss the case due to lack of Police evidence. Afterwards, BBC Panorama investigated key officers of the Metropolitan Police by sending one of their journalists as an undercover reporter, to expose the truth that the majority of officers involved with the case were on the defendants' side, a tragic truth behind the dismissal of the Court case, which led to several Police officers losing their jobs at the Met. No doubt, all six of these murderers would have been keen Brexit voters.
Then the story of BBC motoring programme Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson punching a colleague for failing to serve a roast beef dinner after a day's work, a dispute which took place 12 March 2015. Clarkson was praised by Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn for his bullish masculinity which encapsulates what it is to be British. No doubt, both Clarkson and Littlejohn would be keen Brexit supporters. But how is it that just two newspaper reporters can have such an influence on me, and to my opinion, the UK as a whole? Could it be that the paper's daily UK circulation averaged 1,510,824 during November 2016, together with 100,000,000 online visits during a typical month. So I assume that both Hopkins and Littlejohn must be close to being household names.
And so the prominently right-wing Media portrays the patriotic British and Brexit voters as having inherited a savage Viking mentality, which would not be out of place with the like of Hopkins picking up a gun. But not just to defend the country, but to invade another, subjugate its indigenous inhabitants and to set up a colony on behalf of Monarch and Country. Ah, the British Bulldog has woken up, and it has let out a resounding growl at last year's Referendum.
And I can just hear the rustling of the pages in the Bible. For King David wrote an astonishing prophecy found in Psalm 22, which is most striking from the King James Version, from which a part reads:
Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and roaring lion.
I'm poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted within the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
In this incredible prophecy of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ which was to take place a thousand years later, the people surrounding the Cross were depicted as three voracious beasts - the bull, the lion and the dog, all three looking to emulate the culture of the British, particularly the English. It is as if the whole country is influenced by a spirit in the air, bent on keeping the majority blinded to the Gospel of Christ. By reading Old Testament history, it looks to me that the prevailing enemy of ancient Israel were the Philistines. These people were the bane of Israel particularly during Samson's day, as were in the days of King Saul, and finally defeated by King David. Even to this day, any barbaric tribe or group of people are sometimes likened to the Philistines.
But the bulls with lion-like characteristics during the time of the Crucifixion were the Roman soldiers, who were directly responsible for the crucifixion, and immediately afterwards the throwing of the dice to determine who will get his clothing. John's Gospel details this well, letting us know that four soldiers were involved with the dividing of the Lord's clothing, all of them Roman (John 19:23-24). But mingled in the crowd, among the Roman soldiers were the Jews, mainly of the Pharisees, and other less hostile Jews, including the disciple John, along with women who also following him. As the spirit in the air had influence particularly over the Romans, as it did over the Philistines before them, so I can see the influence this spirit has over the British at present.
And its purpose has always been the same - to keep the inhabitants from knowing God through faith. The Philistines might have worshipped Dagon the fish god, the Romans bowing the knee to Jupiter, and the British having their own religion - Evolution, with its messiah Charles Robert Darwin. But these three are no different from the snake lying to Eve in the Garden of Eden. In order to turn our first parents away from God, he had to offer something which had appeal. To Adam and Eve, it was power towards divinity through knowledge and wisdom. To the Philistines, it was power through national conquest and empire, as were with the Romans. The British too has always wanted to conquer other nations to achieve supremacy, and the concept of Empire suited their desire to make their king divine, and so identify with him. And as for the new religion, disguised as Science, this was specifically designed to nullify the truth of the Gospel - allowing a great many to live their whole lives without God and ending in a lost eternity. So contrary to myth, the Snake is very much alive at present, and it is delivering a message almost identical to that delivered at the Garden of Eden - supremacy and a quest for (national) power, together with a godless knowledge and wisdom, all of these preferred above to that of faith and submission to God's love and sovereignty.
And so in the days gone past I felt my own faith in God stall and my prayer life drying up, as more news about Brexit continue to pour in. With my mood low and subject to short bursts of anger, frustration and strong language, I sat in our lounge browsing the Internet when my wife uttered a distress call from the kitchen. When I answered her call, I found her lying on the floor in extreme pain along her spine and down to her leg. Her pain became intense enough for her to scream the house down. I immediately found some strong Codeine pills which temporally eased the pain, and she soon fell unconscious. I had no other option but to make an emergency call for the ambulance. It was a while later, at an Accident & Emergency ward of a major hospital that she came round, and as the morphine administered inside the ambulance began to wear off, she again began to moan loudly. A doctor who was accessing her gave her another shot of morphine, which dulled the pain. It was at this occasion, whilst lying down on the hospital bed, that she clasped my shoulders to pull me close to her.
"Don't be afraid, you could have a heart attack. Please trust in the Trinity. He is Sovereign."
(Alex always refers to God as the Trinity.)
She began to pray, using words approximate to these:
"Please Lord Jesus, reassure my beloved husband. I don't want him to be frightened and have a heart attack. Please strengthen him, and please assure him that between us everything will be all right."
I was quite astonished at her concern for my welfare eclipsing that of her own. She kept reassuring me of her love and devotion to me, alongside God himself, and what a wonderful husband I am and have always been to her. At this point she became more firm and you can say, more authoritative.
"Don't ever say that you are fat, or you are ugly, or that you are not very intelligent. You are absolutely gorgeous, and I adore you."
Sometime later, a doctor assessed her and new medicines were prescribed, with repeated prescriptions to follow. We took a taxi home, and so far I'm happy to say that her pain has not returned.
But one thing that does come to mind. What was it that had set my teeth on edge? Was it the constant flow of news about Brexit? Or was it really to do with putting myself down and comparing myself unfavourably with others, especially in the church? I guess I can't be too sure either way, but one thing I can be assured of - and that I'm loved by God who gave his only begotten Son, I'm loved by my wife who thinks the world of me, and it was God who drew us both to spend the rest of our lives together. With such a threefold assurance, what need is there to be angry at insignificant things if we are destined to spend eternity together in a righteous and glorious new world, a new city built by God himself.