Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Schools are being told they must teach the elements of being British; which our Leader in Downing Street helpfully lists for us. He has not told us where we received them; perhaps we should remind him.
Tolerance towards others. Presumably that means all others, whether they like us or not? Something like "you have heard it said 'Love your neighbour hate your enemies' but I say to you 'Love your enemies'". I am not sure if that appears in the Koran; but it certainly features large in the Christian Scriptures.
Respect for the rule of law is next. What, even if the lawmakers are unjust towards us - like say Nero? In the time of that tyrant it was written "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor".
The third in David Cameron's list is "Equal rights for all" - which seems to echo what was said by S Paul about equality;'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'
The fourth is a little more curious; "A belief in Democracy". That is the rule of the people. Not quite sure how that ties up with number two, the rule of law. The law is not made by all the people, but by those who are elected to represent us. For Christians, indeed for all people 'of faith' (as it is curiously termed today), that law must be coherent with the will of the Creator for his creation. So if the Demos enforces a law which is unnatural, which contravenes the way we were created .... Is that the Democracy our leaders expect us to honour?
At number five is "A respect for British Institutions". Like, I suppose, the MCC and Ascot. No, surely, it must be the institutions which have a longer lineage than those. The Monarchy. Parliament. The Forces of the Crown. And, dare one say it, the Church? Arguably, indeed, the ancient Church of our land That predates those other 'Institutions' - and not the church foisted on us by a power-mad king and underwritten when 150 years later his lawful successor was deposed in favour of some of his very distant relations from Germany.
'Acceptance of all Faiths and Nationalities' comes next. Did we not learn this first from the one who commended the good Samaritan, and sent his followers to tell good news to all nations, who was himself notoriously a friend of outcasts and those labelled as 'sinners'?
At number seven "social and personal responsibility" comes along. Admitting our failings is a large part of personal responsibility; and the Church has the ability of helping people admit to those failings, through the sacrament of reconciliation. In times past, even the nation was encouraged to confess to its corporate failures. Perhaps that is on the agenda for the next Queen's Speech, when we do not say sorry for things our forefathers did centuries ago, but for what our country has done and is doing even now. Or perhaps that is not quite what the Prime Minister has in mind?