Sunday, December 10, 2006

Conservatism, compassion, and the EU

Cranmer’s sermon this morning was drawn from a variety of biblical texts, and the theme was caring for poor, the oppressed, and the outcasts. From Deuteronomy, he expounded to his flock that God ‘executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows his love for the alien by giving him food and clothing’ (10:17). God is the helper of the fatherless, and he demands justice for them, and mercy, and generosity, in order that Israel may be humble and perpetually reminded that they too were once helpless and homeless, and God in his mercy chose to redeem them.

The command to help the poor and needy is carried into the New Testament, where compassion became the Church’s principal raison d’être. While man does not live by bread alone, he is certainly far more receptive to spiritual nourishment when the belly is full. And so the Early Church supplied the needs of the poor out of its own resources (Acts 4:36f), and took it upon itself to respond to national disasters (11:27ff). There was no state provision, no welfare, no notion of relative poverty; the Church encouraged individuals to show compassion, and thus to reflect something of the heart of God, restoring hope in an era of hopelessness.

If politicians have any task, it is to show compassion; to ensure provision for those who are unable to lead their lives unaided; to restore a sense of community and responsibility in an era that deifies individuality and rights; to inject hope in a world beset by loneliness and isolation. David Cameron identified these concerns in Brussels this week, criticising the European Union for its ‘culture of hopelessness’, the immorality of the Common Agricultural Policy which yields ‘economic and humanitarian disaster’, and its financial system that is ‘wide open to fraud’. He concluded: ‘It’s not good enough and it’s got to change.’

He might just ponder the legacy of the ERM, and the present situation on the Continent as a result of the single currency. In many EU countries, companies are being condemned to closure, workers to unemployment, families to homelessness, and their national governments can do little to alleviate their suffering. There is a real human cost in terms of suicides, heart attacks, divorces and mental breakdowns. Mr Cameron has called for action, for relevance, yet he has not uttered a word of policy. How will he succeed where Margaret Thatcher failed? What will he try that John Major did not? Whence comes his authority which Tony Blair does not already possess?

It is one thing to boast that his engagement with the EU will be somehow ‘better than Gordon Brown’s’, but this was also the boast of Blair against Major in 1997. Nothing changed. Mr Cameron was elected leader of his party with a ‘cast iron’ pledge to divorce Conservative MEPs from the EPP ‘within weeks not months’. This has been kicked into the long grass, and is now to be fulfilled within years. And perhaps most revealing is his directive that any Conservative MP who advocates withdrawal from the EU will be permanently barred from serving on his Front Bench. This does not sound like a strategy to critically engage with the profound flaws inherent in the European Union project.

How can the abdication to unaccountable, immovable, foreign control of the responsibility for fundamental human needs ever be justified from a Christian perspective? God manifestly cares for the poor, the oppressed, and the underdogs in society. He pours his wrath upon those who corrupt justice or create economic machines designed to provide more wealth for the wealthy and deprive the poor. The story of Naboth’s vineyard (1Kings 21) establishes that authorities are not free to pursue any policy they please or to ride roughshod over the rights of the poor. These same concerns are vehemently expressed by the prophets Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, writing in the 8th century BC.

God demands political conviction seared by conscience. If Mr Cameron is serious about his EU reformation, he needs to nail his 95 theses to the door of the Commission in Brussels, whatever the political fallout. Only then will he communicate to the rest of Europe that he means business, and that he will address the root causes of EU corruption. And like Luther, he must reluctantly prepare for possible schism. Only then will people believe his promise to bring the redemption of Compassionate Conservatism to those who long for liberation from the yokes of loneliness, poverty, and oppression.


Anonymous Colin said...

Erm, some of Cranmer's communicants might be very unhappy with His Grace's doubts about Mr. Cameron's abilities as national saviour. Should a shepherd disturb his flock without avail?

10 December 2006 at 14:51  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Rather a good posting Your Grace..........I like the bit about Naboth;s Vineyard. The simple fact that has eluded Young Cameron is that the EU was conceived to sideline political leadership. The very conception of Jean Monnet's pre-war dream was to eliminate political leadership in favour of a Platonic Rule of the Guardians - the eternal Rulers of The Republic.

A system so structured as to inhibit leadership is hardly like to be cowed by someone as jejune as David Cameron. THe simple fact is that the British do not even know what they want in their own country. Their politicians cannot articulate the popular wish for no more immigration, for a society which is contrary to the one the politicians are creating.

It is impossible to do anything about the EU if the British don't know if they want a population of 61 million or 90 million; whether they really want full free movement of people and regionalisation, or whether they want fishing policy repatriated.

Cameron is merely blowing smoke.............nothing will change........and the direction will continue to emerge from elsewhere and the British will acquiesce. Today someone on GMTV mentioned that of 3600 pieces of legislation implemented this year only 24 had been debated in Parliament.

Martin Luther was ex-Communicated and risked being murdered to state his case in Wittenberg and Augsburg and Worms..............British politicians risk nothing, do nothing, and so it continues with the committee men and those in Sam Rayburn's words who go along to get along

10 December 2006 at 15:58  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Cameron is not jejune; he is chubby.

10 December 2006 at 20:10  
Anonymous Tejus said...

Cameron.. The name seems to be courting a lot of controversy of late..

Platos Republic is a most excellent read I must say..

10 December 2006 at 21:15  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Platos Republic is a most excellent read I must say..

Maybe so, but it is a manifesto for government and does not believe in deomcracy or democratic has provided a template for the CPSU and the NSDAP and the EU and the WTO and the UN and NAFTA and the North American Union

11 December 2006 at 07:34  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

Great post Cranmer. I just don't know why we can see what others can't! Divine insight?

11 December 2006 at 10:54  
Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said...

Compile your theses, Your Grace. It's there to be done.

Then nail them to your blog. I'm sure your congregation will offer helpful suggestions.

11 December 2006 at 15:51  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Sir Henry Morgan,

His Grace has been pondering this. He shall ferment things in his brain a little while. He is not sure he shall come up with 95, since one may suffice...

11 December 2006 at 15:59  
Anonymous The Devil's Rectum said...

Surely it is not for the likes of us to claim "divine insight" Mr Ulsterman.

11 December 2006 at 17:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely, TYour Grace, we should not involve ourselves in any way with the antichrist EU ? An organisation whose roots are not in any way Godly, and showing it's self to be a child of the enlightenment (publically funding from the EU coffers and publically parading the Gay Community, Feminists, and gnostic cultists such as Islamists and extoling the virues thereof) and therefore antichrist?

12 December 2006 at 00:07  
Blogger Sir Henry Morgan said...


I suspect you have just summed up His Grace's one thesis.

12 December 2006 at 01:41  
Anonymous Colin said...

"divine insight"

That's too modest.

Why shouldn't we assume that the almighty and all knowing Christian God also knows how to use the contemporary technology of the internet. We no longer need visions and signs from heaven for the communication of God's truth. He is able to reach us via His Grace's blog.

12 December 2006 at 14:37  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Christian God

There is but ONE God.........the God of The Jews

12 December 2006 at 15:43  
Anonymous Colin said...

"There is but ONE God.........the God of The Jews"

Thas was his writing on the wall (blog).

12 December 2006 at 18:45  
Anonymous newmania said...

All this god bothering leaves a bit chilly but as far as EU is concerned I will join your prayers. How ashamed I am to admit it but until fairly recently I had assumed the working of the Europoean Parliament were much as parliaments I have understood .
Au contraire tghe legislation emanates only form the Commissioners eek . This explains a lot (to me)

12 December 2006 at 23:13  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Remember the Parliament as such was appointed until 1981 when elections first started to select candidates from Lists drawn up by political parties...........

Since it is the ruling party in each country which staffs The Council of Ministers; usually provides the Commissioner; and which selects the candidates on The List to staff the "Parliament" can see how the powers of patronage have increased.

Did I hear someone say of 3600 laws introduced in the UK last year only 24 had been debated in the Westminister Parliament, the rest being EU Regulations and UK Statutory Instruments issued by Ministers ?

13 December 2006 at 07:41  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

The Brussels 'parliament' is not what any Brit would understand by the term. Its members can't initiate legislation, and it doesn't control taxation. What kind of a 'parliament' is that??!
It's more of a debating house, on a par with the Oxford Union. And because all its major groupings have to be pro-EU to get the big funding, there is no 'opposition' as such. It's just a club, a facade to give the appearance of democracy, a bit like Stormont at the moment.

13 December 2006 at 09:18  
Anonymous Voyager said...

It's more of a debating house, on a par with the Oxford Union.

No....nothing is on a par with 'The Onion' which has a character all of its own and incapable of reproduction even at that redbrick Cambridge "University"

13 December 2006 at 11:32  
Anonymous vikki said...

Your Grace,

If my memory serves me right.....I do not recall you formally welcoming me to your blog. I guess you are reserving it for when you start the chit-chat institute for women and the intellectually challenged mens blog......or for when I indeed contribute to the intelligence and erudition of your blog......if Canterbury will not welcome me perhaps Mecca will.....

13 December 2006 at 19:12  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Miss/Mrs/Ms Vikki,

It is rare for His Grace to make such an omission, but if indeed he did, he apologises, and cordially welcomes you, in this season of goodwill, into genuine and sincere fellowship. However, he is disappointed by the not-so-veiled threat that his continuing failure to do so would result in your embrace things mohammedan, which is not merely the perpetual and somewhat childish threat of Turkey in case of further EU rejection, but also a slight indication that, as you observe, your intelligence is in need of further enlightenment which he trusts his more faithful communicants will provide for you.

13 December 2006 at 20:11  
Anonymous Colin said...

His Grace supposedly said: "your intelligence is in need of further enlightenment"


Take care not to anger Cranmer because he could be an Islamist or ... hiding behind an Holy blog claiming to be written by an Anglican priest but who really knows ... Lock the doors if you are living in Ipswich.

His Grace,

My silly and stupid comment above is the consequence of feeling bored. When may we, your faithful admirers and communicants, hope for another one of your excellent articles?

13 December 2006 at 21:37  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Colin,

His Grace hopes that you will appreciate that this is the time of celebration of the dear Saviour's birth, and he is somewhat preoccupied with a host of pastoral matters therewith associated.

His Grace is constantly fermenting issues of religio-political importance, but Advent demands real human interraction, and communicants on the cyber blogosphere must be patient while His Grace performs that for which he is properly and materially remunerated.

13 December 2006 at 22:24  
Anonymous vikki said...

Alas my Lord Archbishop!

You are unable to tell the difference between humour and threat....? I despair!

"Your intelligence is in need of further enlightenment"

It surely must not have stood to reason.....that recantation was not going to save you from... Mary. So much for intelligence and erudition!

"Embrace things Mohammedan"

Thats very rich....coming from someone who recanted many times! I cant assure you I am not about to follow suit. Courage is the backbone of a conqueror.....I am sure Your Grace has.....plenty. You are very courageous indeed...?

13 December 2006 at 22:39  
Anonymous vikki said...

Colin, bored?

I hear the Taliban are still recruiting..... perhaps you might want to give them a call....

13 December 2006 at 22:43  
Anonymous Colin said...

"communicants on the cyber blogosphere must be patient while His Grace performs that for which he is properly and materially remunerated."

Father forgive me, how could I forget that His Grace must be very busy at Christmas with his flock. I guess that I will have to combat boredom with going downtown and searching for more Christmas gifts.

Alternatively, I could follow Vikki's advice but unfortunately I seem to have lost the number. Can you help me out, Vikki, with a Tali number?

Where is Vovager when I need him to relieve my boredom with his fervent accusations of my ignorance. Moreover, no topic is available for pressing his debating buttons. He seems to be voyaging to Königstein or shopping in London?

13 December 2006 at 23:33  
Anonymous vikki said... the man you need if not try......Croydonian. Lastly.....Voyager

13 December 2006 at 23:58  
Blogger Rigger Mortice said...

DC does mnot have the is aman whose ideea of an end to punch and judy politics is to errr..have no policies of any philosophical weight,to emulate the mechanisms and ways of the ruling elite, and to partake in the shafting of the taxpayers as a vacuous political class seek to force the peasants to pay offtheir debts.fine example he's setting

leader my arse

14 December 2006 at 00:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cranmer said...this is the time of celebration of the dear Saviour's birth,
uh...i don't think so. it's a celebration for the son god, not the son of god. just comes to show how contaminaed christianity has become with pagan rituals.

14 December 2006 at 16:34  
Anonymous Voyager said...

anonymous...............Chacun a son gout

14 December 2006 at 18:16  
Anonymous Colin said...

"show how contaminaed christianity has become with pagan rituals"

From Wikipedia:

"It is unknown exactly when or why December 25 was originally associated with Jesus' birth; the New Testament does not name a specific date.

Pre-Christian winter festivals

A winter festival was traditionally the most popular festival of the year in many cultures,..

The Romans held a festival on December 25 called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun." ..

December 25 was also considered to be the date of the winter solstice, ..

Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule,.. In pagan greater Germany, the equivalent holiday was called Mitwinternacht (mid-winter night), Wintersonnenwende (winter solstice) and there were twelve Rauhnächte (harsh or wild nights), filled with eating, drinking and partying.As Northern Europe was the last part to Christianize, its pagan celebrations had a major influence on Christmas. Scandinavians still call Christmas Jul. In English, the Germanic word Yule is synonymous with Christmas.."

Merry Xmas, altogether.

14 December 2006 at 22:12  

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