Every Christmas is a renewal of God’s invitation to turn away from pessimism and despair and embrace the Christian virtue of hope. God has not given up on us. The inner conviction that things could be better can be revived and nurtured. It has tremendous potential for good. Or, alas, for evil.
Among the European volunteers for Daesh (ISIS), were hundreds from the UK, all of them young. Obsessed by an ideal, they were and are willing to sacrifice everything to make it happen. Youthful enthusiasm was also the driving force in 1930’s Germany, when millions of disaffected young people were enticed by the promise that National Socialism would deliver a proud, pure, reinvigorated nation. Newsreel pictures of those days recorded hordes of adulatory teenagers screaming their support for Hitler’s cavalcades. The recently republished book, “Darkness Over Germany” by E. Amy Buller, recounts how that sophisticated nation succumbed to a malevolent force masquerading as righteous. The book’s message is “spiritual bankruptcy finds expression in political upheaval”. It is sub-titled “A Warning from History”.
I don’t think many British people today realise that by casually distancing themselves from their Christian heritage, they have become ripe for a political or religious takeover. Neil McGregor, the former director of the National Gallery and British Museum, has just completed the marathon series of broadcasts on Radio 4, “Living with the gods”. He comments on the state of the UK today, “In a sense, we are a very unusual society. We are trying to do something that no society has really done. We are trying to live without an agreed narrative of our communal place in the cosmos and in time.”
Gordon Brown, in his reflections on his time in office as Chancellor and then Prime Minister, writes “… some argue that we should banish religious arguments from the public square altogether… without such a national conversation it is difficult… to find a solid basis for national unity”.
Read it all (my emphasis).