“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the blog that searches for convergences between Christianity and socialism (among other things). Last night I went to a public meeting for ‘refreshments and political discussion’ called by Christians on the Left (formerly the Christian Socialist Movement, of which I was a committee member in the 1980s). This is an account of what I can recall of it the next afternoon. Apologies for any misrepresentations. In solidarity, Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.”
Angels gazed down from the ceiling of St John’s church, Hoxton (North London) as the speaker spoke from his white armchair under a stumpy wooden cross at the front. They were splendid elaborate angels with full intricately painted wings that were more interesting to me than what the speaker (a former speech writer for 2 left wing Australian prime Ministers) had to say. The church was build in 1828 and had a pulpit under a gallery that was so low as to render the pulpit unuseable: most bizarre. [london wall art]
On entry I was offered a glass of rich fruity wine from the Western Cape by a young (white) man who claimed to know the vineyards the wine came from. The refreshments were fine too, I think I shall be coming back to more CotL meetings. There were about 25 present, of whom about two thirds were female. All struck me as being articulate, middle class types. Terms which were absent from the talk, and from the questions after, were: class, capitalism, socialism, ‘comrade’, workers, solidarity, trade unions. Terms which were used included: insiders and outsiders, labour party, issue-based campaigns, influence, branding,…..when I recall some more I’ll come back and insert them. Activism was portrayed as a stage through which a young person might pass on their way to a more sensible, practical labour party-based Christian Socialism. The cleric who chaired the meeting (like the speaker, a white well-educated male) started off by nailing his colours to the mast in a most off-putting manner. He quoted St Paul’s letter to the Roman’s chapter 13, the one about obeying the civil authorities because they represent God! (Christoyannopoulos in his excellent book on Christian Anarchism effectively refutes this; see my Post on this topic.) I found the whole experience somewhat alienating. I am left-wing and I don’t think the UK labour party is. It lacks the will to challenge the capitalist neo-liberal system we all live under. The system which is destroying the oceans and the forests, where the rich daily get richer while the poor get poorer. Its MPs (of whom an increasing number, it seems, are Christians) seek compromise not confrontation. That’s not good enough. I for one would rather be outside the tent pissing in, than inside the tent pissing out. After all, isn’t that what Jesus was doing? He wasn’t exactly part of the establishment. I will continue to support non-partisan single issue campaigns for peace and justice, even though they may not influence our elected decision makers.
As a footnote: this is the week in which the dirt was dished about former member of the Christian Socialists, Tony Blair. I noted in an earlier Post that the well-known UK advocate of Christian Socialism, Tony Benn, died leaving £5 million and a mansion in the countryside to his family (not a penny to the labour party). That’s nothing compared to Blair, who, according to the Daily Telegraph, is currently worth £60 million and owns 10 homes in England! He gets paid £200,000 for making a speech and is an advisor to the JP Morgan bank (2 million p.a.) and the Saudi royal family. He visits on average 5 countries a week, staying in 5 star hotels with his security posse, who are paid for by the UK taxpayer at a total cost of £16,000 per week. (D. Tel. 12/6/15) I don’t find anything remotely Christian or even slightly socialist about these 2 hypocrites: what do you angels up there think, eh?
Related Zingcreed Posts:
Christians on the Left (UK)
Christians on the Left (policies)
Still Christian, still socialist, the fate of the UK Christian Socialist Movement
The litmus test of Christian anarchism: Romans 13