British exceptionalism and attitudes to Europe

Britain votes again today, for Members of the European Parliament – to the dismay of people who hoped to have left the EU by now.

This post is mainly about identity and British exceptionalism. Is being British a way of being European, or is it different? How do we identify ourselves? Do we identify ourselves in helpful or harmful ways? I conclude with a reflection from a liberal Christian perspective.

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Myths, facts and values

The British Government has produced a standard response to opponents of fracking. It takes the form of ten pairs of ‘myths’ and ‘facts’. You can read them here. Friends of the Earth has produced a rebuttal.

I have written on fracking before. This post looks at how the rhetorical use of words like ‘myth’ and ‘fact’ is used to suppress major questions of priorities and divert attention to minor details. I focus on this particular document because it is a clear example of an all-too-common tendency in our superficial society. We spend our time tightening up a few nuts and bolts when we should be asking whether we bought the wrong machine.

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Power, responsibility and voting

Local elections today, and in a few weeks we are, after all, to elect members of the European Parliament. Is this anti-democratic, in view of the 2016 referendum, or is it very democratic as it uses a better voting system than the UK’s biased First Past the Post system?

And we may yet get a second referendum on membership of the EU. Would that be a betrayal of the clearly expressed will of the people, or an opportunity for the people to express their will now that we know more about it? Does the welter of conflicting claims about what is, or is not, fair reveal an underlying awareness that our democracy isn’t democratic? Are there better ways for decisions to be made?

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In Praise of Nukes?

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 we ceased to be scared by the prospects of a nuclear war and serious Christian reflection about nukes ceased accordingly. But that doesn’t mean that the nuclear powers ceased planning for new generations of weapons each more lethal than the last, and that despite treaties promising to work towards their elimination.

To its credit, even the General Synod of the Church of England gave the impression of hoping for their elimination when it passed the motion in July 2018 stating that “nuclear weapons, through their indiscriminate and destructive potential, present a distinct category of weaponry that requires Christians to work tirelessly for their elimination”.

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Give a dog a bad name and hang him: Two cheers for Judas

Judas at Bethany

In St John’s Gospel (John 12:1-8) there is a description of the scene at Bethany when Mary anoints Jesus with costly perfume.

The narrator comments that Judas who is going to betray Jesus complains that the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor, but that he didn’t really care about the poor but wanted to steal the money.

So Judas is not only a traitor, but a thief and insincere – and as we know after Jesus crucifixion he even commits suicide. On what basis can we cheer him?

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