Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Poppys and Peace

Good morning God,

I am troubled by the news of the deaths of five British servicemen in Afghanistan - especially, if I'm honest , this close to remembrance day. I struggle with the idea of remembrance Sun day - with its mixed up messages of faith and nationalism giving people the mistaken impression that
  1. this is a Christian country and
  2. that only Christians fought in the war
and when we are effectively still at war in a country that is a Muslim country, participating in what is clearly for some a predominantly religious war (even if we don't see the Talaban in that way) - then my unease multiplies. Islamaphobia is a sin - Jesus taught us to love our neighbour.

I have bought a poppy - but this year I have chosen not to wear it when I am wearing a clerical collar, I just can't bring myself to reinforce the association of Christianity with nationalism, or war.. especially not when I am so conscious of the rise of fascism, racism and religious intolerance.
I also can't, as a minister, bring myself to only pray for 'our' fallen heroes. You have taught us that we should pray for our enemies, not those we love.
When we are prepared to remember the lives we have taken, as well as those we have lost, and remember the cost in terms of religious, economic and political freedoms won and lost - I will be a lot happier about 'remembrance' day. But I think I would still want to break the link between remembrance day and the Lord's day.

Only one, in all of history, gave his life and died that I might truly live - and I want people to remember that.


  1. "But I think I would still want to break the link between remembrance day and the Lord's day."

    "The world and its desire pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." - 1 john 2:17

    Amen! May it be severed completely!

  2. I've also posted on this

  3. I too have posted on this issue:

  4. Thank you. There are plenty of charities worthy of our support, and plenty of ways to serve our country without signing up for the military. I am uncomfortable with the national pressure for everyone who is public and visible to wear a poppy, and the less pressure applied in church the better. There seems to be no other charitable cause for which people are expected (and perhaps even bullied) to show public support in this way.

    I'm a local preacher and I'll be leading worship on Sunday morning. If I had things my way, I'd abandon the silence and leave it to those who want to commerorate it as a national (rather than Christian) event at some other time. I'm not brave enough to suggest that to the church, though. When I give the dates I'm available to preach to my superintendent minister, I don't block Remembrance Sunday, but my heart sinks when I discover I'm planned to preach then. I'm totally fed up of the endless commemorations of anniversaries of this and that and everything from the two world wars, as if nothing earlier mattered. I happen to think there might be a time to forget. After all, we've forgotten all the wars pre-1914, haven't we. Time has passed. If those who lived through it wish to set aside time to remember friends or colleagues, then fine. But I feel bullied into taking part in a ceremony which is irrelevant for me.

    I thought we were supposed to be against showy demonstrations of what we've given, so I won't say whether I've given money to the Royal British Legion as part of my charitable giving (and I'm not saying anything about what I think of their work). And I won't be wearing a poppy to show that I've given them money. It is quite some years now since I last wore a poppy and it cheers me no end that nobody in the church has made it an issue. If I was a television presenter or a politician, I'd have a harder time.

  5. Thanks Paul,
    see todays post for a comment on the silence and the real need for a civic ceremony