From David Baker (Rector)
Our monthly church magazine letter
FROM THE RECTOR
How did you vote in May’s local elections? Political loyalties in general across England seem to be more fluid than they were in the past, with the result that all the parties have to work harder to win our allegiances.
It is not difficult to see why this is the case: the country has yet to recover from the banking crisis of a few years ago, and there seems no easy or quick fix.
More generally, there seems a wider crisis of confidence in all institutions – Parliament, newspapers, the police, the BBC, the church etc. We think not only of the expenses scandal, but of phone-hacking, of the relationship between politicians and newspapers, of the Jimmy Savile affair, the Hillsborough disaster and, tragically, of scandals surrounding local clergy.
In one sense, things are probably no worse now than they have been at many times in the past, as anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of history would be aware: we can think easily of rotten boroughs, Lord Beaverbrook, the Daily Mail / Zinoviev letter scandal, the Borgias and so on. Scandal has surrounded pretty much every human institution in some way, shape or form since time immemorial. But it is likely that the presence of 24-hour rolling news
brings an immediacy and intensity to
many situations that those who lived before us did not have. That, of course, combined with the self-righteously indignant tone of some of the journalism which reports it!
The point is that human institutions make a mess of things because they are made up of fallible human beings. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a recent sermon: “Complexity and humanity are ignored and we end up unreasonably disappointed with every institution, group and policy, from politicians to NHS, education to environment.”
The fact that human beings can achieve wonderful things and yet also make a horrific mess reflects on the one hand our intrinsic value – being made in the image of God – and, on the other, our constant ability to fall short and to miss the mark – which is what the Bible calls sin.
So when we vote, we vote – as wonderful and yet flawed human beings who disappoint others – for candidates who are just the same. Structural changes in society (be they socialist, capitalist, green or liberal) fail to deal with the basic problem of the human heart. The church is not a closed ship for perfect people, but an open life-boat for fallible people who are open enough to see whether God’s grace can make a difference to our brokenness where it counts – inside.
Revd David Baker
This page last modified on: 11 May 2013