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Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Maverick in Oxford.

As I walked into a newsagent, I could not miss the page-size photo of Prince Philip occupying the front page of each newspaper stacked on the shelves. And not just one newspaper but at least three: The Sun, The Daily Express, and The Daily Mail, three of Britain's highest selling media. These newspapers, all of them supporting the Conservative Party holding the keys to 10 Downing Street, just poured heaps of praise to this elderly gentleman, the Duke of Edinburgh, husband to her Majesty the Queen. Just think of it: the national applause for seven decades of hard work with loyalty to his wife. Men and women across the land doffing their hats, so to speak, and taking a curtsey bow, "Well done, Sir. Your retirement is well deserved."

No doubt, at age 95, he deserves a restful retirement. True enough, in 1939 aged 18, he joined the Royal Navy and served through World War II, and remained in the Navy after the War ended in 1945. He then wound up his active service after thirteen years of military action in 1952, then aged 31, after marrying Princess Elizabeth in 1947. After this, his work consisted mainly of shaking hands with dignitaries and keeping a few paces behind his wife wherever the couple were out together in public. Not for him would "hard work" consist of lifting heavy boulders, bricklaying, cement mixing, pushing a wheelbarrow of concrete, pneumatic drilling of a hole or trench across the road, nor for that matter, rewiring a house or installing plumbing. Perhaps this could be the key to his longevity, by contrast to many labourers in the past who stepped off this planet before ever reaching seventy. Then to add to this, it takes only an infection within part of the Prince's anatomy, and the whole nation would seem to be in a grip of panic! But good for him, he has reached the middle of his tenth decade of life. A very good achievement, may I say. After all, if it wasn't for the skills of a cardiac surgeon just over two years ago, I would have considered myself very fortunate ever to reach seventy years of age, and at this time of writing, I still have over five years to go before my seventieth birthday.

Philip during his days in the Navy

The Duke of Edinburgh about to retire.

I see something of an phenomenon here. Here is a mortal who is held in very high respect, if not actually worshipped by much of the nation. So it is not much of a surprise that news of his retirement is splashed across the front pages of newspapers, such an announcement has gone far and wide across the globe. In the meantime, an unseen, anonymous luggage handler, who spent his working life ensuring that all your departing airport baggage are safely stored within the hull of the correct airline, finally reaches his moment of retirement, and yet not a single passenger would ever be aware of his special day. Elsewhere, someone may indeed bow in obeisance to the Prince, then once alone behind the wheel, inwardly curses the workman with his noisy pneumatic drill for being the cause for crawling traffic and journey delays. And just to add here, if I was present before the Prince or even the Queen herself, I would willingly bow in obeisance, as instructed by the Apostle Peter in his letter:

Show proper respect for everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.
1 Peter 2:17.

But as the apostle himself has instructed, the honour given to the king should never be at the expense of disrespecting men of all other social standing, or not loving fellow believers.

Yet there is this uniqueness about the human heart. After all, we may have a high regard for the Royal Family, as well as contrasting opinions for Government ministers. And as politics go, there are those who love the Tory Party and its leader and despise the Labour Party and its leader, accusing them all of incompetence. And there are those who feel totally opposite, having a preference for the Labour Party. And there are devoted Labour voters who are at present disillusioned with its leader. The same can be said about the Conservatives. Then again there is nothing new about all this. It is said that ancient Egypt, for one, exalted their Pharaoh to deification, and the divine ruler ordered his people to build a pyramid as a lasting memorial to his reign. The men who built the Pyramids were not slaves, as once thought, but paid workers. And I wouldn't put it past any of them that while Pharaoh was alive, many of the builders adored him, whilst others actually despised him, accusing him of being an equivalent of what we call a nerd or a prat today with his cruel, bullying dictatorship, as they scorned at any idea of him being divine. But these dissenters had to keep all this to themselves whilst carrying on with their work, in order to stay out of trouble.

Yet despite the mixed feelings among the ancient Egyptians, the work put in towards the king's tomb was felt generally by Egypt as a source of national security, taking in social coherence, military strength and economical stability. The presence of the king was their salvation, especially among the Pyramid builders, but also for everyone else too. As the Egyptian Pharaoh was the intermediary between the people and the heavenly realm, so it was with the Roman Caesar who was regarded as divine as well, the Emperor of Rome being the mediator between the Romans and the heavenly realm. Therefore as I see it, it cannot be a mere consequence that the Queen holds a threefold role of Head of State, Head of the Church of England, and Defender of the Faith. With being the head of the national church, history books tell us that she is the replacement of the Roman Pope as intercessor between her people and heaven. Little wonder that I have heard churchgoers say that our God is the God of England. Indeed, from Ancient Egypt, through to Rome, and onwards towards modern Britain, the need for an intercessor between the human heart and the divine realm has never seemed to have changed over the millennia.

And here lies the rub, with just a few active, church-going Christians of both past and present, fortunately not many. I am strongly disliked by them for debunking the value of Englishness, including the social class system and culture, and saying that all members of the Royal Family, along with all celebrities, and people of distinction are all mere mortals, and fulfilling all natural body functions as all humans and beasts alike do. And talking about the animal kingdom, I had to smile a couple of years back when our former Prime Minister David Cameron ignored the advice of his associates and went out to swim in the sea infested with jellyfish. Sure enough, he was stung, and he came out of the water looking and feeling like a right fool. The offending marine creature ought to have known that this particular human was the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and should have regarded him with the same respect we fellow humans had for him! But no. When threatened, the jellyfish had no alternative.

It was the same when I noticed the V.I.P. entrance to London Zoo as I walked by. This was separate from the main entrance, where the rank and file have to queue up at the ticket booths. Then I imagined the celebrity, or "very important person" - including the Queen herself, standing at the Primate cage, and watching the monkeys swinging from one branch to another in complete oblivion to her presence. Despite being our closest cousins, according to the Evolutionist, I doubt very much whether the presence of Royalty would have made any difference in the primate's behaviour. The same applies to all the animals in captivity.

To tell the truth, I find the concept of England being God's country very malodorous. There seems to be a bad smell to it. Perhaps its culture with its fanaticism for the class structure is far more tuned into the theory of Evolution, a concept borne out more from denial of God's existence, his creation and judgement, rather than from verified scientific research. Maybe as I see it, Her Majesty is more advanced in her evolution towards godhood than all of her subjects. This has allowed her to advance to the level of divinity where she can be the suitable representative on behalf of her country and its Commonwealth, by being head of the Church of England. And how parallel is all this to the lie in Eden, where the serpent offered a form of divinity to Adam and Eve if they disregard God and follow him instead?

And so as I was born into a family close if not at the bottom of the social ladder, I grew up with an independent mind, rather like my late Italian father, a Republican and devoted Labour supporter and voter, and who possibly had never properly understood why the English were so devoted to their beloved Queen. But he did have a deep respect for university graduates, especially those at Oxford and Cambridge. Maybe in those days of my boyhood, these were the only true institutions recognised for higher learning, and only a small percentage of the student population made it in. And so my father looked upon these venues with the greatest of respect.

And so as I pushed my wife Alex's wheelchair through the streets of Oxford, primarily for a combination of clothes shopping and a day out, I could not help feel somewhat intimidated by such beautiful architecture of these limestone-built colleges. But what has always struck me was that it was difficult for me to see these buildings as colleges. Instead they looked more like churches, or better still, cathedrals. And this brings me back to the Natural History Museum in the London borough of South Kensington. This is one of the most popular museums in the UK, and its architecture is not unlike one of many colleges in Oxford. But walk inside the main hall, and its interior has a striking similarity to that of any cathedral. And enthroned at one end is the statue of Charles Darwin, you could say, literally replacing the Cross of Christ.

As I stand in awe of these magnificent college buildings in Oxford, I can't help feeling small and insignificant compared to the students who are deep into their studies inside. When I was a boy, I had a longing to be a medical doctor or a journalist. Unfortunately, my slow learning at school has forever extinguished such dreams. Nowadays, as I look upon such buildings, my sense of unfulfilled dreams became more acute, and the feeling of weakness in my knees whenever a student is seen entering or exiting the college. How speechless would I have felt if one of these students, say a promising NHS surgeon or a rising writer and journalist, was to extend his hand in a friendly greeting?
Many Oxford Colleges resemble Cathedrals.

Today I had attended a men's half-day conference at a local church in my home town of Bracknell. The three sermons were excellent, Spirit-inspired discourses, but I wonder just how much these preaches would really be life-changing, or merely mulled over before slowly passing out of memory as the daily issues of life continues. Because in reality, it was the two breaks between sessions which held the real clue about what life in Christ is really about. Whilst most of the other men formed cliques suited to their interests, I sat alone at a nearby armchair, contemplating the street view outside. This made me think just how would I have been perceived as an individual if I held a degree. Because for some, I was no stranger, but someone well known for years, decades even, but without ever attending Grammar School and gaining a degree at university, there was little to talk about, having practically nothing in common. One Grammar School-educated graduate even felt reluctant to talk to me because, as he puts it, "We are in different circles." And I knew this English guy for as far back as 1978.

But a stranger did approach me with a genuine interest of who I am. When he mentioned his occupation relating to outdoor activities, by mentioning my hiking experiences at the Grand Canyon, we had stirred quite a conversation between us. Suddenly I felt a sense of belonging, even if he admitted that he is from South Africa. It's through this interpersonal uplift which gave fulfilment to the whole conference, rather than the preaching.

One of the sermons was about not allowing anyone to label us, except by God himself. Thus being a maverick is a good thing, a virtue. A maverick is someone with an independent mind. As I wrote I Stand Alone at Easter, I will always believe in a Thursday Crucifixion rather than on Good Friday. I will always confess the death, burial, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins, defeat death, and to give eternal life to every believer. I will always believe in Once Saved Always Saved. I will also stand up and insist that traditional Englishness is not allied with the Scriptures, neither is our national culture a mirror of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, going by what I have read and heard in the Media over the past twelve months, our national culture has a tendency to lean towards the occult - parallel to the Lie in Eden, where a false hope of deification was offered to our first parents, as such deception, at present, sending countless numbers into a lost eternity. Furthermore, I will declare the 6 x 24 hour days of supernatural Creation as historical fact, in opposition to the general held belief in Evolution as a theory. I don't care if everyone else thinks I'm a Creationist nerd and not to be taken seriously. I will always stand up for Jesus Christ and the historicity of Holy Scripture.

And I always will insist that there is nothing wrong with a man crying in public. Jesus himself did it at least twice during his ministry, and both incidents are recorded. And there is nothing wrong with two men greeting one another with a hug. Not British? Sure, but it's very beneficial to health and well-being. Yes, the preach I listened to earlier today was a confirmation of what I have suspected over the years - that I am a maverick, an independent thinker, and the consequence of this is that I have made a few enemies within the church as well as a greater number of friends.


  1. Isn't it amazing how often people allow their culture to determine what they believe, while ignoring God and his word.

  2. Dear Frank,
    Praise God that He does not judge us by prestige, education, social standing, or any standard other than whether we have trusted or rejected His Son.
    Thanks as always for the excellent post, and God bless,