I thought quite early on that the claim that there were WMD in large numbers in Iraq which could be easily deployed within 45 minutes was a myth. That seems to have been confirmed in the Chilcot report which makes pretty uncomfortable reading for the Prime Minister and the Government at the time of the Iraq war. I felt a sadness that Robin Cook and Charles Kennedy were not around for its publication.
I believe that George Bush and Tony Blair changed the world and its nations as we knew it to the world as it now is and the tragedies its nations are experiencing in terms of displaced peoples and lack of peace and security. I believe that is fact, just to underscore the point. Only they ultimately know whether they were following facts or knowingly following something that was less than fact for less then honourable motives.
What interested me tonight on the 6 0’clock news was hearing the reporter John Simpson say that he felt that the Iraq war and its now discredited justification has had a lasting effect. By that he meant not just what is happening in Iraq and surrounding nations, not just the spread of terrorism to nations far beyond that region, but a cynicism as to what governments and leaders and experts tell us. He believes that is partly what lay behind the Brexit vote. He may be right or wrong in his opinions about the Referendum vote, however I don’t think this is simply opinion: people do not trust leaders or governments, or for that matter experts any more. Perhaps that is the cynical aftermath of the decision Blair made to back Bush “whatever.”
Truth was the first casualty of the war, and perhaps has never recovered the place it should have in our national life or in the government or political leadership of our nation. Spin, myth, fear, exaggeration and lie are common place, and we know it. How this must hamper MP’s and MSP’s who possess integrity and principle. Of course the same type of thing , happened long before Bush and Blair. I am not being political in the narrow sense here in this blog. I have voted in various ways over the years and will continue to do so. Frankly I cannot understand those who always vote the same way, regardless or “whatever,” to borrow Blair’s most tragic word. Long before Blair and Bush became unlikely pals, I remember thinking “Was the Belgrano turning?” If you are too young to understand that reference, Google it, to save me making this blog too long to fit its title.
Well, my blogs are about faith matters. So what is there to learn from this? Hugh Black used to say,”I encourage you to be a realist.” Mature faith is one that can keep pace with an expanding body of facts encountered in life. I think Henry Nouwen said that about faith or about the process towards maturity in general. The faith in Christ crucified that was awakened in me 45 years ago or thereabouts has had to keep pace with the facts of death of loved ones, world poverty, seeing the hell of the suffering of mental illness in others, hearing of the child abuse of a large number of people, the ordinary problems and strains of being alive for my 58 years and now my own ill health and early retirement and the struggle to come to terms with that, which of course is nothing if not less than that compared with earlier facts mentioned in this long sentence.
Sometimes when I listen to folk expounding what they think about spiritual things, there seems to be a commitment to a theology or reasoning that may be based on well meaning but ultimately non mature faith or just general immaturity, which treats factual truth as an enemy to be suppressed, ignored or even scorned. Sadly some of the current Christian Apologetics scene can seem like this too but by no means all of it. Too often though it seems to me to be based on catching out an opponent in a debate rather than addressing any facts or claimed facts an opponent may have presented. Looking merely “smart” rarely looks good. It is more for adolescent debating halls. I am embarrassed looking back, how smart I thought I was as a teenager and how humorous I thought I was in making my points and rubbishing others. Well, as I say, sometimes I feel the same listening to some apologetic type presentations; sad and embarrassing jingoism for the benefit of the faithful but worried and insecure which rarely causes anything but anger or returned scorn beyond that narrow circle; it is the law of sowing and reaping at work. If my faith does not keep pace with facts as I meet them, as they actually exist, we will probably wreak destruction upon ourselves or others. Now of course we need to remember that not everything presented as fact is fact as the Chilcot report makes clear. However many facts are facts, and faith needs to live with them.
Our faith is actually based on true facts: the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Don’t use faith to clobber any type of fact old or newly discovered that is part of the reality of life. If your faith survives such an approach, it won’t commend itself to others who perhaps more than we realise are desperately looking for something trustworthy to base their lives on that fits how they are experiencing life in fact and not in myth or theory.
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Most interesting! Remembered Belgrano, however had to check up on facts. I am an optimist. Not too politically minded but my faith is amazingly strong! My leader is my Lord and Saviour. Your blog made excellent reading. Thank you!
In March 2003 I was invited to the House of Commons to meet Tony Blair at a reception for Headteachers. The Lord gave me a scripture for him. Well, he didn’t turn up as he was presenting his arguments to the commons. I gave the word to his close aid who promised Tony would get it. Don’t know if he ever did. That word came back to me yesterday.
Ecclesiastes 12.14. ” for God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil ”
Lord, I pray that all those involved will turn to You for forgiveness and mercy. You say, pray for your leaders, forgive me for not doing that often enough.
That is a refreshingly honest post, Kenny. ‘Facts are chiels that winnae ding’ is an old Scots saying, as you probably know. They can be uncomfortable bedfellows with blind faith, whether that is religious faith or philosophical/political. As you say, our faith has to be robust enough to face up to facts – once we are sure they ARE facts – and weigh our beliefs against them wisely. Otherwise, we’ll get swept away with the first factual disaster and resort to the old ‘how could God . . .’ repining.