One of the downsides with Christmas is that in just one day it's all over. That is after a build-up commencing from mid-November until Christmas Eve, that part of the year when independent TV channel adverts constantly pushing items that would make ideal presents to our faces. This alongside Christmas carols sang at churches and cathedrals - especially at King's College in Cambridge, which appeared daily on Facebook since the start of December. Then, of course, the putting up of the decorations - and it wasn't difficult to tell who was better off - such houses were adorned with decorative lighting from the roof to the front garden. A demonstration on their affordability with high energy bills, I guess. Suddenly, from after Boxing Day, all those gaudy and glittering paraphernalia had suddenly taken on a tired look, spent, having had its day.
But for many, the highlight of Christmas day begins at three in the afternoon, the Queen's Speech on the BBC. But I'll be honest with you, we did not watch it. But before you gasp in horror and turn your computer off, please read on.
With my late father being a Republican, Royalty had never scored high on his agenda. But Mum was more keen on it, or at least with its rather colourful history. However, the boyfriend of my niece was keen to watch it, and I guess Alex my wife would have too, as she is a keen monarchist, more so than I am. However, it was afterwards on Boxing Day when the Daily Mail online had posted the full transcript, allowing me to absorb exactly what she said.
Her content included her plea not to let tribalism take over the culture of our nation. Indeed, it indicates a subtle way of looking at Brexit. The Queen has got it right. Those who voted to leave the EU had tribalism in their hearts and weren't too concerned about the direction of the Economy or its consequences. That was endorsed by the devaluation of the Pound on the day after the 2016 Referendum when compared to both the Dollar and the Euro currencies. Hardly a whimper was heard, especially among Brexiteers who saw, and still sees, a bright future of an Anglican nirvana.
As Her Majesty pleaded against national tribalism, protests against this plea began to appear on the forum thread beneath the online article. There were a large number of similar comments, but one in particular read:
She treats tribalism as if a bad thing! Without tribalism, mankind would not have survived to our day.
And the username of that particular writer indicated a keen Brexiteer.
Other forum comments also condemned her negative outlook on such a worldview along with the hypocrisy of showing compassion to the poor and the unfortunate while displaying her "solid gold piano" in the background. What amazes me was that the vast majority of comments centred on these two main issues: Tribalism and her "solid gold" piano. And there were not a few comments on that thread, but hundreds, nearly all on the same theme - accusing her of blatant hypocrisy as both Head of State and her lavish wealth. Yet I knew that had I watched the broadcast, I would have hardly noticed the piano. Even if I did, it would have had no effect on how I was feeling.
About the piano, as any qualified wood finisher or antiquarian would straight away point out, that a piece of furniture of that size made of solid gold would be an impossibility. For a start, it would be so expensive, that the price would be out of reach from even the richest of billionaires. Furthermore, that amount of solid gold would make the piano so heavy, that to move it would require a crane! Then I wonder how the floorboards of the Drawing Room of the Palace, where it is located, can support such a heavy artefact without eventually giving way beneath it. In reality, the piano is of wood finished with gold gilt. And it wasn't recently bought by the Firm, as these comments imply. Rather it was a gift to Queen Victoria from her husband Albert, and it stood there for the last couple of centuries.
When a later online article appeared revealing this rather sobering truth, the forum thread beneath changed altogether from being a rebuke to the Queen for being so anti-tribal and hypocritical, to be the best gift providence has ever given to the nation. Wow! I'm amazed by this. All of a sudden she is the nation's darling! According to them, everything she said during her speech was right after all.
And I agree. Her stance against tribalism seems to be an endorsement to the book I have recently read, Hitler, Darwinism and the Nazi Worldview by Jerry Bergman, which I bought at Creation Ministries International Conference, 2018. As I see it, tribalism is intrinsically linked with warfare. History is so filled with one tribe going to war with another. Even the historic section of the Old Testament is filled with records of Israel constantly fighting with the Philistines, with the Midianites, with the Amorites and other ancient tribes. Then again, World War II was about a contest for superiority. First, the Jews, considered unfit for their struggle for survival, had to be eliminated from our planet, then the contest for world supremacy. Who of the two leaders was the most advanced on Darwin's evolutional scale? Adolf Hitler or Winston Churchill?
As pop band, Frankie Goes to Hollywood released a hit in June 1984, Two Tribes, which features a video of two world leaders: American president Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Konstantin Chernenko, both fighting each other in an arena, thus emphasising a nuclear holocaust which would have desecrated the entire planet and wiped out the whole of mankind.
Pretty grim, this in-group/out-group attitude. Little wonder that the Queen was unhappy about it in the country where she is Head-of-State. Surely, tribalism goes contrary to the Gospel, doesn't it?
Indeed, the Gospel does not advocate the in-group/out-group attitude of tribalism. Rather, what the Bible recommend is that we all change our minds and believe that this Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Jewish Messiah and the risen Son of God (eg Acts 8:37 AV; 1 John 4:15; 5:1, 5). We call this change of mind Repentance. And on one occasion the apostles of Jesus Christ command that all men everywhere should repent (Acts 17:30). And Peter, in one of his letters, writes that the Lord is not slack concerning his promise as men count as slackness, but is not willing that anyone should perish, but all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
I suppose that the entire population is divided into just two groups: Believers and unbelievers. But according to the Scriptures, God does not want it to be this way. Rather he wants all men (and women) everywhere to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). If God loves everyone who is born universally (John 3:16), then there is no room for tribalism. Indeed, John says that the light of Christ shines into every person who is born into this world (John 1:4 and 9).
This universal desire for God to have all men and women come to him for salvation, to be reconciled to him and receive eternal life, looks to all the world why we are here. Maybe that is the bedrock on which my political views rests upon - and therefore voted to remain in the European Union. I am not ashamed of my decision but admit this openly. With the mixing of peoples from different nationalities, maybe the Gospel will spread further. Such a good case of this is found in the second chapter of Acts. Here up to fifteen locations are named, all with their own tongue, yet all understood the universal language of Aramaic and of them, three thousand believed. Sure enough, they were all Jews and even their converts (proselytes) worshipping at the Hebrew feast of Pentecost, yet each was able to receive and believe the Gospel.
True enough, Europe does not consist of Jews, even if they may be quite a number living there. But one thing which I consider to be very important. That every single person born is in Adam, Jew and non-Jew alike. And that remains true regardless of nationality. That is why I see Creationism as a fundamental bedrock for the Gospel. If Darwinism is true instead, then the Gospel is a lie and should be discarded, for our faith would be in vain. We are naturally born in Adam and we need to be regenerated to be in Christ, with his righteousness imputed into us. That is far, far more important for every individual than tribal nationalism or patriotism.
Oh, what a shame it is when my fellow brothers in Christ keeps on harping about Brexit, and to support a no-deal exit from the EU rather than risk becoming a vassal State. Supposing that the UK ends up as a vassal State of the European Union. So what? Will we become ill more frequently? Would we even die earlier? Or looking at the economic side, would we be poorer? Or for argument's sake, will dragons start flying across the sky? Er, I don't think so! Instead, we will carry on living on a day-by-day basis with a wounded pride until we are each called to meet our Maker.
Being reconciled to God before drawing our last breath is much more important than worrying about our national fate, whether it's for Leave or Remain. And that takes love rather than political division. Since it's the end of another year, I wish that every true believer in Christ would resolve to love and respect his brother rather than argue about politics.
How I long for Christians to put away their political differences and start loving each other! That is a good New Year's Resolution! On this point, I wish to share an incident which took place two weeks before Christmas. I had to take my wife to the hospital after an appointment with our GP. Whilst there, she suffered a severe episode of an acute backache which made her howl loudly in A&E. The doctor decided that she should be seen by a neurologist. Therefore instead of a discharge and a trip back home I was expecting, she was transferred into a ward to spend the night there. Fearing that she could be detained for weeks on end, as was the case in 2013, I burst into tears at her bedside and a nurse had to draw the curtains around our bed to lessen the distress my weeping would cause to the other patients.
A little later, after alighting from the train at Bracknell Station, I called at the apartment of my good friend Dr Andrew Milnthorpe. He invited me in and together we watched The Apprentice. Andrew and I have opposing political views. He voted to leave the EU and he is happy to leave without a deal. I voted to remain and having lost the vote, I was happy with the proposed deal. We were as different as chalk is to cheese. But during the programme, he placed his arm around my shoulder and I rested my head sidewards on his chest. It was a sign of compassion he felt for me, allowing his love for God to cover all differences, to be one in Christ while I was going through intense distress.
I have not forgotten such a gesture, and I won't allow myself to forget it. It meant much more to me than any political issue. Therefore for this year's Christmas blog, last week I wrote a fictional story based on my real-life visits to the Church of the Nativity with the Star of Bethlehem in its crypt. The story was borrowed from the 1985 American movie Back to the Future. Having travelled back in time over two millennia, I found myself comforting a distressed mother named Rachel, whose baby son was slain by one of Herod's soldiers. In it, I had my arm around her shoulders, her head was on my chest while I spoke gentle, comforting words. As such, her faith in God was restored despite her terrible loss.
And so this should be our New Year's Resolution for all us Christians.
I wish you all a happy New Year. God bless.