Thursday 26 January 2012

A turn of the tide? What to watch for, pray for



I've said it before, and here it is again.

It is self-deluding to scan our environments, comb the mass media, for signs of hope, for a turn of the tide - if we neglect to watch for repentance.

For a spiritual renewal of society (a Great Awakening) repentance must be the first step.


There must be a recognition and repudiation of wrongness - then there must be a recognition of our own implication.

(Not, for example, a primary focus on blaming.)

To say: This is wrong, we were wrong.


You think you see a glimmer of hope? A leader speaks of Christ? But have they repented? When our leaders begin by repentance and tell us just what it is they repent; then we will know they may be serious

(Repentance is necessary, not of course sufficient, deception is possible. Antichrist will surely repent - partially. But piety without repentance is bogus.)

If they repent their own role in the collapse of our society then they may be serious, they may represent a turn of the tide.

Otherwise not.


(And this is not something subtle - a leader who repents... that is not something one sees every day.

(But I have seen it - Margaret Thatcher publicly repented socialism; the entire US political class repented racism - and has never stopped doing so, even when it became clear that un-religious, unilateral, specific and immoderate repentance had led to evil.

(Whether repentance led to good or not, because of repentance, these were deep, lasting 'religious' movements, not merely political expediency.)


And that is a thing we should pray for, when asked to pray for The Queen, The President, all those in authority. We should repent our own collusion, we should pray that our leaders also repent. Only then may God have mercy on us (until then it can only be a stay of execution in hope of repentance).


The Queen gave a strong Christian message in her speech to the Commonwealth this year -

- but the focus was unclear: it was perhaps coded.

I await repentance.



JP said...

the entire US political class repented racism - and has never stopped doing so

I am not sure it counts as repentance when the intent of the statement is not to repudiate wrongness, but to use it as a club to beat political enemies into submission. The US elite's repudiation of racism is not "we are sorry we were wrong" but "we are sorry YOU were wrong" (spoken to the white middle and lower classes - the elites consider themselves pure of the odious sin of racism). Moreover, the goal of the repentance is not to repudiate evil, but to perpetuate evil, i.e. the racial grievance system, the pitting of blacks against whites, and the transfer of wealth from whites to blacks in exchange for black votes.

What possible meaning can it have for a member of the white elite in 2012 to repent for slavery and Jim Crow? The repenter did not perpetuate these evils, indeed nobody alive perpetuated those evils, and few people alive were even victims of those evils. Such "repentance" is merely self-righteous halo polishing.

Evelyn M. said...

Thank you very much Dr. Charlton for bringing the Queen's remarkable Christmas message to the attention of your readers. Her speeches generally sound as if they are written by a committee of politicians (I guess they are). This particular talk was personal, and the Queen appeared to be speaking directly from her heart and expressing the point of view of the majority of people in her kingdom.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - I think that for many people - misguided, narrow and misunderstood as it is, harmful as its effects are - the repentance of slave-holding racism is absolutely genuine - as evidenced by the widespread acceptance (even embrace) of suffering from affirmative action policies.

I was highly impressed by the psychological account of this in White Guilt by Shelby Steele - his perspective having been a young black radical beneficiary of the sudden change in attitude; and the moment when he realized he could 'get away with' any bad behaviour, and that White Guilt meant that whites would indeed feel guilty for Steele's bad behavior.


Evelyn M - The evangelical Anglican church which I attend (I go to three 'orthodox' Anglican churches at present - Anglo Catholic, traditional BCP and evangelical) - showed the Queen's speech on the video system as part of a sermon. I was impressed and moved, and have examined it in some detail since.

My hope is that the Queen may have had a change of heart and repented the modernization of the monarchy, in line with societal change; and may make further such statements in this Diamond Jubilee Year. What would make me much surer is explicit repentance.