Thursday, January 17, 2013
Like the Monks of Egypt
The European Court has ruled against Christians practising their faith in public by doing anything more than wearing pieces of decorative jewelry. When the Deputy Prime Minster's speech writers brand those who oppose David Cameron's social engineering policies as "bigots", meaning basically Christians, and increasingly politicians and the media present Christianity as something alien, even harmful to human dignity, to the point where not only are Christians becoming increasingly unappointable to national and EU governments, probably they are becoming unelectable too because of secular opposition. When it seems that many professions, especially those controlled by the state such as social work, education, areas of medicine and care, are becoming no-go zones for Christians. When the faith that formed the culture and values of Europe and Britain is rejected, we must ask: what place will be left for us?
Today (OF) is the memoria of St Anthony of Egypt, his life covered the transition from the age of martyrs to the Council of Nicea and beyond. It was the age when vast numbers of young Christians seem to have left the cities, especially Alexandria, and fled to find God in the desert. It seems that the peace brought about by Constantine's conversion and the toleration that it brought about broke down the walls of the Christian ghetto but Christians chose rather than living alongside the rest of the Empires citizenry they would live apart.
It seems that in many parts of Europe, there is often visceral hatred and intolerance of Christianity, Nick Clegg is the tip of an iceberg, behind him lies the bitter little asides on the BBC, the anti-Christian distemper of Guardian journalists, the contempt of Dawkins, the keeping at arms length of religion by the younger Royals, the continuous pushing of Christianity to edge of our society. The French are setting up the frighteningly entitled ‘the National Observatory of Secularism’, to keep "religious pathology" under surveillance, this is a mark of our brave new world but is doubtless the beginning of other similar committees throughout the West.
The hatred for Christianity will grow as our societies become increasingly divided and polarised, what will happen as unemployment and poverty rise? There is growing evidence of attacks on religious monuments and symbols, not just through the courts but acts of destruction and vandalism, presumably the next stage are attacks on people and Christians banding together for defence both intellectual and moral but also physical, after that presumably Christians living apart, like the monks of Egypt.
In today's Gospel, Jesus touches the leper, and then seems to take the lepers place having to dwell in places where no-one lived, is that our fate?
Posted by Fr Ray Blake