What you believe does matter

By , 14 May 2010 6:28 pm

First of all a quick alert or ‘heads up’, as the Americans say. Tyndale are planning to let the digital version (for Kindle ) of Shadow and Night be a free download for a short period (Monday the 17th to May 31). It should be on Amazon.com. This is a fantastic opportunity to get the series kickstarted by alerting your friends, neighbours, etc. If you could get a Kindle in the UK I would almost be tempted to buy one just to get my free download.

And now back to politics. As most of the world probably knows by now the UK has a coalition government. The bulk of it – and the Prime Minister David Cameron – comes from the Conservatives; the remainder – and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – comes from the Liberal Democrats. The authors and supporters of such an unlikely deal claim that a blended government is what we want in Britain and my limited soundings suggest that they are probably right.

On balance I am in favour of coalitions. I tend to agree with the theory that the natural tendency to excess within one party is balanced by the restraint of the other party and vice versa. Certainly Dave and Nick seem to get on very well and the fact that the chill economic winds continue to blow very strongly outside is a strong discouragement to either party to storm out into the night. And has been widely pointed out, much of Europe operates on a coalition basis.

Well I wish our coalition well and its make-up is close to what I had vaguely hoped for. Nevertheless, despite enjoying a national politics in which peace seems to have broken out, deep down I find myself uneasy about coalitions. It seems to me that there is something slightly troubling about the effortlessness with which modern politicians find themselves in coalitions. We have all seen the pattern. First we get an election campaign marked by politicians uttering loud proclamations of the unshakeable principled rightness of their own policies and angry denunciations of the vacuous folly of their opponent’s. Then, after the election, they suddenly kiss and make up and serve together in the same cabinet. Is it that the desire for peace has overridden animosity? Or is it possible that, in this postmodern world, principles aren’t quite as eternal and inflexible as they used to be? After all, if there is no ultimate truth, sharing a ministry with your enemy is hardly the worst of crimes. You cannot be damned for compromise; if there is no damnation. If this is at all true it is yet another reminder of the great principle that what you believe really does make a difference how you live.

On a second European point, my attention was drawn this week to the existence of a group of countries termed by economists PIIGS. This is Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. Some people attempt to link the UK with the PIIGS but I understand there is the recognition that we are slightly different; we may be financial sinners too but our sin is of a different nature. The PIIGS are increasingly worrying leading economists who they think are in danger of triggering a collapse within the Eurozone due to their poor fiscal policies, endemic financial disarray and – say it not too loudly – culture of dishonesty, at least as regards paying taxes. Now in the definition of the PIIGS no one can fail to notice the fascinating resurgence of the old Catholic-Protestant faultline that goes back at least 500 years to the Reformation. Cultures run deep, history matters and, let me repeat, what you believe does make a difference.

3 Responses to “What you believe does matter”

  1. Terry says:

    Since you inserted a paragraph about the free digital edition of “Shadow and Night” in your blog post, may I comment on the book instead of on the post?

    Amazon recently seems to have deleted all the free books from their list of top Kindle sellers. I found your book by searching for free digital books from Tyndale. Giving away the first of a series is extremely effective. Surely obscurity is a greater problem than piracy.

    I’m about half-way through “Shadow and Night” (reading on my iPhone, not a Kindle) and love it. I especially appreciate your imagining how the effects of the fall would return to a world that has been protected for so long. It makes me think about my relationship with my wife, family, and others and how sin affects us in ways we overlook.

    I went looking for your website, found your new blog and read some stuff on your old blog. Puritan writings are highly valued among my circle of acquaintances, so I just might engender some interest in your series based on the thought of “Puritans in Space.” Likely describing your series as a post-mil response to “Left Behind” will encourage even more to take a look.

    Thanks for writing and caring.

  2. ChrisW says:

    Hi Terry,

    Thanks for your kind words. I’d love to be the author of the Neo-Puritan ‘Left Behind’ equivalent(‘Not Left Behind?’). Actually, this is more of a tale based around a theological premise than fictionalised theology . (Actually I have never read ‘Left Behind’ even though it is also published by Tyndale.)
    Anyway I hope you enjoy the series. I shall try your software too!

    Chris

  3. Júlio Reis says:

    PIIGS member here!

    Something’s wrong in those countries all right. Maybe not the same things. I have no knowledge of the other countries to give a sweeping statement and encompass all. I have a number of opinions about what’s wrong in Portugal, basically lack of principles, greed, lack of accountability–but perhaps it’s the same with the UK? I don’t know.

    I distrust “simple” explanations that link Southern European issues with a lack of a Protestant work ethics there. English imperialism, German totalitarianism, Dutch personal indifference, Swedish levels of suicide, Finnish alcoholism, Icelandic bankruptcy. All above the Reformation line. Drug use, abortion, violent crime, homosexuality. So, if we’re in the business of drawing fault lines, we perhaps need to draw them carefully–and not all would coincide with the divide between the Catholic and the Protestant. Much as this Southern European Protestant would like it to be so.

    As to coalitions… perhaps what makes it weird is the campaigning? Mud-slinging, talking of differences which… perhaps aren’t really there? What you believe matters, but I have a mind that for politicians being in cabinet and all that it entails (financial rewards, public recognition, escaping death through fame) matters more than their particular views on welfare and the economy.

    And your books are great, Kindle owners shouldn’t pass the chance of reading one for free!

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