June 2024 – don’t mention the war

Do you remember that old Fawlty Towers episode when Basil tells everyone in the hotel not to mention the war because they have some German guests as residents? The problem is that none of them, Basil especially, can then get the war out of their heads. Comedy ensues. Ministers of churches are often told to be political but not party-political. So, it’s bad practice to support one party from the pulpit. Don’t mention the vote! But that’s not to say that the church and people of Christian faith and other faiths are not political. It could be argued that religion is, at its core, about caring for our neighbours and seeking to live in harmony both with them and with the world in which we live. Religion is about us reaching out beyond ourselves to make connections with others, to support those in need, to bring healing into our broken world.

Across that world, we have seen a gradual shift away from that concept with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, alongside China’s aggression in Hong Kong and the South China Sea, and the Houthi aggression in Yemen. War has made a come back – although did it ever disappear. The horrors which have followed on from Hamas’ atrocious attack on Israeli citizens last October have horrified the whole world. The tensions and disruptions caused by such wars ripple out across the world, causing economic deprivation and hardship and yet more political upheaval. Indeed, the shift in European politics a harder line against those in need, against the neighbour, against refugees, could all be seen as a defence mechanism in the face of war.

Religion is at its core about love for our neighbours, care for those in need, living in harmony with the world around us. Such concepts reach beyond political party designations and reach deeper into who we are as human beings. Perhaps it gives us a guide about who or what to vote for in our own general election. But it needs to act as a guide for how to be better humans, here in Maidenhead.

Revd Dr Peter Phillips

High St Methodist Church, Maidenhead

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