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The Exit. A few honest thoughts.
Sunday 26th June 2016 @ 1:53 am

I’m getting over it. I really am.

So before I get over it totally, let me share, personally, why the UK leaving the EU upsets me. I am currently taking part in a wonderful weekend with Fusion Australia in the bush–lands of New South Wales. The people, the setting, the experience is wonderful. And internet access is limited (so I know nothing of the punditry and commentary going on ck home). Hence my thoughts are from far away … delivered late.

That’s my first thought – it’s been hard to be far away today. Never before have I been in Australia when something momentous has happened at home. I now know what people mean when they tell me that living away from home is wonderful, until something massive happens at home. Being far away, without real communication has created a particular edge to my experience. It has meant that this is not a shared experience – people here have been wonderful, and have shown compassionate understanding of how I am feeling. God bless them. But that’s what separation does. It makes you feel far away – more anxious, more unaware, a little more hopeless. Humanity was not created for separation.

And I feel shame. I feel shame because when I went to apply for my postal vote, I was a day late. I didn’t even get to vote. I am embarrassed and ashamed to feel devastated, about an election that I could not even manage my time well enough to vote in. Shame on me. I know me – and I know that this particular guilt will sit deep within me for some time.

My biggest sadness, is that the brexit debate and vote showed me sides of British character that I wanted to ignore. I am optimistic person – as a minister of the Christian Gospel, my hope is in things unseen, how could I not be an optimist?! 

What I can see is an illegitimate response to legitimate questions.

The biggest example of this is the insecurity around immigration – over–crowded towns and cities, with a lack of resources to care for those present, has provided legitimate angst. The cries have gone out, ‘there’s no room for anyone else,’ ‘they’re using up resources I need for my family,’ ‘they’re taking our jobs.’ Legitimate concern. But the response does not meet the concern. The response, ‘Ok, let’s just look after ourselves now, let’s sort out our own corner of western Europe by not letting anyone else in unless they prove they are safe and of worth to our economy,’ only goes to meet the felt need of insecurity. It does nothing to address the circumstances of globalization that have led to mass people movement, it does nothing to address the global economic issues that have destabilised Europe, and it does nothing to address the realities of an inter–connected world.

The world as was, (the Modern World of the last 300 years), was top down. The boss at the top articulated the ‘truth’ (be it religious, economic, social) and the people obeyed (or acquiesced) to the authority from on high. But that is the world as was … the world as is, is horizontal. Authority, truth, communication, economics – these realities are networked and held in a diagram more akin to a spiders web than a top–down command control pyramid.

The world has changed.

It’s scary.

It’s a crisis.

And people are engaging in a crisis fight or flight response.

And they have fled.

It’s a legitimate response to crisis.

But it’s an illegitimate response to this crisis.

This crisis – of a change of Age in world history – demands togetherness and understanding more than ever. It demands space to evolve and experimentation to discover. It requires a new imagination of the possible, and it requires the articulation of hope in all circumstances.

‘Ourselves alone’ has never cut it. Not in Ireland. Not anywhere. We’re simply not built for it.

So here’s to the continual reforming of the western imagination and civilization. That is what we’re doing now. We are creating the world we want to see for the next 300 years. When we voted ‘out’ we voted identity over industry and imagination, we voted safe–in–my–corner over can–I–try–to–stand–in–your–shoes, we voted keep–me–safe over keep–us–safe.

And to the, ‘God is still God, don’t get upset over it all’ idea … God has no hands and feet but mine and yours. God is not to be found in platitudes or a nice ethereal idea  – God (as incarnation establishes) is found in concrete and earthed reality. It’s what Lesslie Newbiggin called the ‘scandal of the particular.’ God is experienced in the actual. The love, the mercy, the compassion, the kindness, the sacrifice, the generous, the forgiveness, and the actions of every day.


God cares little for national patriotism. But God is absolutely committed to justice love and humility … and throughout the narratives of Scripture those things are witnessed to by a call to love your neighbour. It’s done by looking after the widows and orphans, by not laying claim to everything that is legitimately yours but rather setting things aside for wider social good, and it’s done by choosing ‘we’ instead of ‘me’, and ‘us’ instead of ‘I’.

I don’t think that the 52% of people who voted to leave the EU are selfish who only think of themselves. But I do think that is a sad consequence of the road chosen.

Protectionism is an illegitimate response, to the legitimate problems posed by the collapse of Christendom and the Modern World. We have a choice. We can barricade ourselves into a safe corner, or choose to re–imagine all that western Europe can be.

Please, let us not allow separation to turn into segregation and sectarianism. Please – let us use this new circumstance to create innovative ways of being together in the struggle for a better world. Let it fuel your imagination.

It’s a new world, and it needs co–operation, partnership and the breaking of boundaries more than ever.

Let it be so.


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