The observations we are looking for do not concern Britain’s status as a world super-power or economic prowess. From end to end of those hundred years, Britain was the acknowledged world super-power and a financial and economic powerhouse. What we are really looking for is a sea-change, a paradigm shift, in society itself – its general tenor and temperament.
Few things were harder than watching the wasting away of a human life as the bodies of the disease’s victims literally disintegrated. Medications and supplies were in short supply for a long time. Gradually, as the sufferers died and the disease was contained, the leper communities were scaled back and eventually closed.
For the early disciples, things were much more difficult than anything we face here in the post-Christian West where the name of Jesus still has significant recognition. The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness many western believers have are the result of centuries of holding a privileged position in society and a preponderance of cultural influence for over a millennium. Now that is largely gone and we don’t know how to cope. We’ve forgotten how to begin again.
The post-Christian cultural revolution in the West I have been describing in its Canadian context is the same which has swept Europe, the United States, and Western outliers such as Australia and New Zealand. Many of the European states have a barely breathing remembrance of Christendom, despite the appearance of oddities such as political parties calling themselves “Christian Democrats”. Churches are largely museums and cultural artefacts, even those still kept open for religious functions among the remnant of Christians. Such ceremonies are seen as living lessons in sociology and anthropology by their State benefactors.
But what if that is really a small part, an atom or molecule, of the great story of meaning that is bound up in the great Whole, what we are meant to portray – the Story of Love and Bonding and Creating?
Why? What do these masses of the underclasses see in him that we of the rich and self-sufficient Western uber-class cannot or choose to no longer see? Jesus identified most profoundly with the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the down-trodden, the forgotten, those of no account. He challenged the mighty and powerful of the elites of whatever sort. The oppressed and hopeless and least esteemed are still those that flock to him, just as it was two thousand years ago. And, just as it was two thousand years ago, the rich despise him, mock him, and seek to kill him/get rid of him.
Contrary to those “bad old days” of the early and mid-sixties, it is not only bullying which is now frowned upon, but, in our inimitable ultra-progressive fashion, anyone who resorts to violence for any reason, even self-defense, must become a project for reform, a misguided soul. Thus, self-defense is just another form of violence to be lumped in with the bully aggressor’s.
Elephants can blend into forest almost seamlessly, camouflaged by their grey-brown colour and the propensity to mistake their legs for tree-trunks when glimpsed through the foliage. Suddenly, the rogue surged upon them bellowing and in full battle-array. The hunter fired both barrels of his .577 calibre gun. The elephant was still coming. Blinded by rage, it headed for his bearer. The hunter managed to scramble up a large tree, adrenalin carrying him quickly aloft among its huge limbs.
… there is no doubt that true bullying should not be tolerated and everyone must be recognized as equally human and worthy of respect and equal treatment under the law. As long as the law is not – as Clarence Darrow so eloquently put it a century ago “an ass”.
When I walk among the trees, down a path, over a field, through a garden; when I stand on a mountain- or hill-side, when I feel the gentle summer breeze and the cold snap of the winter wind on my face, when I plunge into the rushing water of the river or the rolling waves of the sea, when I gaze enrapt into the eyes of a newborn, or those of the one I specially love, when I stand awestruck under the starlit vault of the heavens, everywhere and in everything, from the least blade of grass to the most awesome, lofty white pine back of my home, from the weary face of the commuter on the bus to the happiest child with the best surprise in her hands, I see the Creator! (The Holy Spirit in both the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible is feminine, if you didn’t know!)