Thinking Aloud about Society

Yesterday, as our Silence Days were coming to an end, three subjects dominated British media headlines: George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, the prospect of public sector strikes today and the attack on the British Embassy in Tehran. Only time will tell which will have the most lasting effects on society. I am probably in a minority in thinking that the attack on the embassy could have the most disastrous long-term consequences, not just for Britain but for the west in general. Why? Because I think that, irrespective of what the Chancellor does or does not do, we are in for a prolonged period of economic stringency, which no amount of striking is going to change. The attack on the embassy, however, and the anger which fed it mark a departure from the standard of behaviour and practice on which modern diplomacy relies; and if it be true, as many suppose, that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, that anger and that refusal to observe diplomatic conventions is troubling. Those old enough to remember the Cold War will recall what it was  like to live with the ever-present idea of nuclear annihilation. Does that shadow begin to loom over us again, and if it does, how do we reconcile it with what Advent is about?

The only way in which I can begin to answer that question for myself is to say that it is bound up with trust. Advent reminds us of the trust God placed in his Chosen People. Despite the misunderstandings and the backslidings, the Covenant remained firm and the promise of a Messiah was indeed fulfilled in Jesus. But if God’s trust in humanity remained unshaken, how much more was human trust in God tested to the uttermost? Mary’s acceptance of her role as Mother of God expressed an unequalled  faith in God, a faith that we can only marvel at and be grateful for. The present situation also calls for trust and faith. That is something we all need to work at this Advent.

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2 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud about Society”

  1. The situation demands trust and faith indeed. But our actions are also important. The government has little control over what will happen to the economy. But it – and we – can always choose how to respond to what we don’t control. Do we act justly, in the interest of others? Do we maintain our standards of integrity and decency – for example, in keeping promises made to poorly-paid people – when doing so becomes a bit more demanding? My theology is weak but it seems to me that God also acts through us, if we accept it.

  2. I absolutely agree with you (and your theology is not weak but very sound). The real test of our integrity, generosity, compassion or whatever is whether we will continue to live by those standards when the going gets tough. If we do, we allow God to work in and through us.

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