Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Why I don't like Nativity Plays...

I hate nativity plays. It’s the sweet little story told by excited small children, that I don’t like. And it’s not in this case because I’m a grumpy old man. It’s because that story is a story for children and the Christmas story really isn’t. Oh rather, there is nothing wrong with the children's play except that when that's all people see. That children's story is not relevant to me, or my life, or anyone I know.
The Christmas story, however, as told by Luke and Matthew tells of a baby born of an unmarried mother (who could have been cast out by society or worse), of poverty, of imperial despotic rule by a foreign power, of dangerous geopolitics, of genocide and of refugees. And at the heart of this mess, the ridiculous notion of God himself arriving.

The Christmas story includes much that is worst of humanity and tells that the God behind the Big Bang – the one who wrote the Standard Equation, who devised the genetic code, looked at our world; looked at the incredible ability of human beings to damage the world, to damage fellow human beings and to damage themselves and decided to become part of that world. A God prepared to reach out to us by first becoming helpless and arriving in the midst of human chaos.

This is not a story for children but it is one of Love. Love is beautiful and often at its most beautiful when it’s not pretty. Love is caring for the relative with Alzheimer’s who doesn’t even recognise you. Love is looking after the sick child who just pukes all over you, love is those who work to keep us safe… so many things: And love is God himself getting involved with our world and our brokenness.
I fully appreciate that in a few short years, I shall probably be in the front row and smiling. But I still don’t like the simplistic story. I do however love the 20-centuries old story of how God became human. And when the news today shows the same chaos, the poverty, the dangerous geopolitics, the refugees, I don’t need a children’s story. But I do want to follow the God who saw all that and rolled-up his sleeves and came to be with us.
Mild, he lays his glory by,
Born that man no-more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The Herald Angels sing,
Glory to the new born King!
 Happy Christmas, everyone; may you know something of God’s awesome love this Christmastime.


Thursday, October 12, 2017


So, the ridiculous referendum occurred

There were ludicrous arguments and out-right lies.

Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Well, a slim majority of those who voted, voted to leave - actually only a third of Britain voted to leave.

And then the government activated Article 50, the legal mechanism laid down in EU law for how a country may leave.

The negotiations are on-going but as far as we can tell, are not fruitful.

The thing is, the Leave Campaign promised the UK a Unicorn. A bright sunny future which was all things to all men. Everyone who knows anything about this said it was impossible. The more time goes on the more it becomes clear that it is indeed impossible.

With this current incompetent government we will be very lucky to get a donkey. If they were serious a pony is achievable - not a thoroughbred but a pony. You see a thoroughbred is easy it simply involves revoking Article 50. However there are some outside the EU options that wouldn't be disastrous. However they would be but a pony compared to the thoroughbred of being one of the 'big-3' members of the EU (as we currently are).

And our government continues to promise us a unicorn.

And I despair.


P.S. I appreciate this is all analogy and assertion without the evidence to back it up. That is deliberate but if you want the evidence, watch this.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Is this election May's Waterloo?

Well the short answer is, time will tell.

So much has been written over the past 200 years or so about this most-famous of battles mostly by people far smarter and more learned than me. Waterloo has become synonymous with personal defeat but that's not quite the analogy I am looking for. Indeed the odds and the polls still favour a Conservative / May win. However if May does end up losing her majority (if current polling trends are real and continue) there is an interesting parallel that I think is meaningful.

There is one key aspect to the allied victory at Waterloo that I am alluding to here: Napoleon was fully engaged and withdrawing to fight another day was not an option.

On 18th June 1815 Wellington Offered battle at the Mont-Saint-Jean escarpment, expecting the Prussian Army of Blucher to come to join the fight. As with all such things this is controversial but much has been discussed about how the Prussians were late to the battle such that the English-led army was outnumbered and very nearly defeated by Napoleon's army. However when Blucher's army arrived, the French were broken and fully committed such that they could not withdraw and Napoleon was finally defeated.

It is argued by many that if Blucher's forces had arrived before Napoleon had fully committed his forces, then he would have withdrawn and waited another chance to fight the allies. He only fully committed because he believed the English-led army of Wellington would be fully routed. And they would have been if the Prussians had not arrived when they did. Wellington is recorded as saying "night or the Prussians must come."

The history of the battle and the politics that led to all this - why the Prussians arrived when they did is fascinating and well worth reading about. Of course, this is not the only interpretation of events but it does fit with the facts as far as I know. It is always potentially facile to compare anything to war-fighting - especially when the very experienced soldier, Wellington wished to never see another battlefield after the carnage of Waterloo - the battle he is remembered for (although not his greatest achievement in his own view). However, as I alluded to above, it's not uncommon to use war metaphors for all sorts of things and the concept of one's Waterloo is quite common - there's even an Abba song about it.

Anyway, my point is this, Napoleon was finally defeated because he was fully engaged because he believed he was finally going to defeat Wellington's forces that had pushed him out of Portugal and Spain.

It seems to me, that Mrs May decided to go to the country because Labour could be annihilated and she has gone 'all-in' - to switch to a poker metaphor for a moment. If it wasn't for this belief that she could win decisively then surely she would not have called the election now.

But Labour has had a much better election campaign than the Conservative party and defeating the Conservative party (in the sense of there being no overall majority at least) has become a possibility.

When Theresa May is returned with a majority next week, this will all turn out to be idle wondering but, but, if anything else happens then clearly it will be that choice to fully engage that will prove to be Mrs May's undoing. And surely if it were not for the appearance that Labour were going to be heavily defeated, she would never have countenanced starting this battle in the first place.

So, yes, it could indeed be Mrs May's Waterloo. Indeed if she does not secure a majority, then it surely will be and like Napoleon she must step down from power within a few days of the result.