We were sitting chatting in the pub last night. It was the monthly meeting of our A&E group. A&E standing for both Accident and Emergency and Ale and Exegesis.The name came out of the idea of a casualty department which deals with crises because there was a feeling that the church is in crisis, needing some interventions fast. Plus the idea of good beer and good conversation out of which might come some ideas for local interventions. That, then, is the history of the group. At some point we began to talk about the state of the world- as one often does after a few beers. We looked at the ebb and flow of power and influence held by different groups at different times in history. It seems hard to grasp the ways in which power shifts. (This is one of the drawbacks of living with 24 hour news. Something happens in one part of the world and the rest of us are bombarded with images, opinions and commentary with so little time to think.) Groups appear for a time, hit the headlines and then disappear from the media because something more exciting has happened.
The conversation moved on and we began to talk about justice, leadership, power, democracy etc. The big ideas. The question was asked about how God fitted into this process. “Well” said someone “the bible says that rulers are appointed by God. One way of saying that is to write ‘ History’ as ‘His Story’.God is in control.” I have numerous problems with this view. I love in the UK in a parliamentary democracy. I have work, a house, a circle of friends. I am not persecuted because I belong to the wrong tribe. Or because someone else wants my land. When the General Election finally arrives I shall not have to worry about armed soldiers implicitly threatening me. On this basis the idea of the government etc being appointed by God seems fine. Move me a few thousand miles East and my world looks very different. I could be living in a refugee camp with 10,000 others. If I was a woman in this context I would fear being raped. My children would not go to school each day. My husband would not have work. Why? Because God has appointed ruler who despises my tribe. Or my race. Or my religion. Or all three. I’m not sure I find that kind of God very appealing. Still less His appointed representatives.
In part 2 I will link this to the personal, inner world.