What to do with the statues?

In the wake of black lives matter protests, there’s been a lot of attention given to many statues. What do we do with our lovely statues of less than lovely people?

Firstly, we should acknowledge that statues aren’t merely a historical record, and taking them down is anything but erasing history. It’s insane that people (including the PM) even try to make this argument. Adolf Hitler had a significant effect on our history, but we don’t give him a statue. We use statues to celebrate and immortalise those we hold up as heroes. They’re usually raised up for us to literally look up to.

With that out of the way, what do we do? I think we should obviously remove statues of bad people. People who we don’t want to celebrate any more. People like Bristol’s Edward Colston, merchant, philanthropist, slave trader and Tory MP.

What about, say, Winston Churchill? Churchill was a hero for the British war effort, but also a terrible racist, and arguably responsible for the deaths of millions of Indians. He was incredibly racist, even by the standards of his day (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_views_of_Winston_Churchill). Should we continue to uphold him as a hero?

I think we need to acknowledge that Churchill played two different roles in two different stories. In one he was the hero, and in the other he was the villain. Does one story discount the other? Not entirely, but they can’t be neatly separated either. Was he a hero? I think it’s ok to say, “yes, but…”. Was he a villain? It’s ok to say “yes, despite…”.

In this, I think that Churchill epitomises the ambiguity of the British empire itself. An empire that did do much good, but also much evil. It’s ok to say it was both. I think the empire was more bad than good, but it’s ok to acknowledge and celebrate the good, so long as we also recognise the evil.

So should we take Churchill’s statues down? Would we be throwing out the baby with the bathwater? I don’t know. We’d take them down if he was a pedophile, so maybe we should take them down for him being a horrific racist; it’s maybe just a question of how much it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Can we celebrate him despite his racism and if we can, is that a bad sign about us?

I don’t know. Maybe Churchill doesn’t make the cut, and maybe he does. Maybe we have to learn to accept the contradictions of history and of life, and not be too quick to resolve them. If we have the patience to hold them in tension, we can learn and we can grow. The crucial thing is for us to learn, and learn from, both stories. History is complicated and the world isn’t neatly separated into good people and evil people. We need to grasp this if we are to make any progress.

God bless you!

The Sins of Our Fathers

I believe that we are responsible for crimes and sins committed by those who went before us, and also for those done on our behalf by those in authority.

I know this is contrary to our modern ideas of justice, rooted in an individualistic worldview. But that worldview is incomplete.

I am not merely myself, I am also a member of various societies: my family, my school or workplace, my town, my country, and the Church. And each of these societies has a life of its own, living and acting as one, and so, is capable of both obeying and disobeying God. And as far as I remain a member of these societies, I participate in both its merit and guilt.


This doesn’t mean that I take on all of the guilt of every individual in society. But I do bear the guilt of society acting as a whole, and every association I belong to, even if I wasn’t even alive when its crimes were committed.

What am I to do? How can I be saved from these sins? How can we be saved from them? I must simply repent. Then in me, my society will be repenting, and being brought to repentance member by member. We must repent, do penance, and pray for the salvation of our families, communities, nations and Church, just as we must for ourselves.

I especially think of our national sins, of wars, colonialism, slavery, exploitation, abortion, etc., and of the sins committed by leaders in the Church, especially in the sex abuse scandal. And I believe that actually, this will be crucial to re-evangelising our society.

Thank you for reading, and God bless you!

P.S. I think it would be especially good in this regard, if on the anniversary of national crimes and sins, we took it as a day of fasting and penance, especially those crimes we are persevering in. For example, the 27th of October and 27th of April for the UK’s abortion act (royal assent and commencement, respectively), and the 20th of March for Iraq war. It would be great if the national bishops conferences could promote this too.

P.P.S. I watched a documentary a while ago about the descendants of prominent Nazis, titled ‘Hitler’s Children’, I think. It showed how they were haunted, even decades later, by the guilt of their parents’ and grandparents’ crimes, with many doing penance by working to prevent such atrocities ever being repeated, and one woman moving to the desert and having herself sterilised. It seems to me, that communal and hereditary guilt is a simple psychological fact, that it would be foolish to deny or dismiss.

God bless you!

Great article from Veterans for Peace

Here’s an excellent article from
Veterans for Peace UK on the confusion between the false religion of militarism and the religion of Jesus Christ, and what this looks like in military chapels and religious rituals.

Veterans for peace is an excellent and important organisation that works towards peace from the perspective of those who have experience of war.

Britain faces charges for hundreds of abuses in Iraq war


Britain is going to court over the widespread claims of illegal torture and abuse by British soldiers in Iraq.

‘The court will rule on whether the abuses were isolated incidents of which commanders, senior ministry officials and politicians were unaware, as the government insists, or “systemic” and authorised as policy.’

I’m not sure which idea is more disturbing; that from the top down this was endorsed and hidden from the public; or that soldiers do this independently, as a result of their nature, their training, or their job.
One law professor

‘will present five so-called “state practices” they claim were “unlawful, right to the top”, including illegal interrogation techniques taught at the army intelligence facility at Chicksands, north of London, unlawful detention and unlawful use of lethal force.’

It’s deeply disturbing.

‘Most of the alleged incidents took place while prisoners were in custody, though some occurred during “strike operations” on people’s homes, with suspects and their families allegedly subjected to abuse and crude violence. Prisoners who died in custody were invariably said to have done so due to “natural causes”, despite beatings and kickings.’

But here, I need to get philosophical, and look into the morality of torture. I suppose, it could be defended from two sides. Firstly, justice/punishment. Secondly, the greater good.
Essentially, those who speak of justice these days, already mean torture. That’s what they want prison to be. Just, very mild and protracted, and chiefly mental torture.
And the greater good is a very common argument for war. What about the civilians maimed, killed, widowed, or orphaned? “Collateral damage for the greater good.” So if knowingly allowed and acccepted, why not endorsed?

‘All’s fair in war.’

But I do not accept either of these ideas. War is evil. The “Justice” system does more harm than good. The only hope I see against evil is to

‘Be not overcome by the evil, but overcome, in the good, the evil’

Romans 12:21

I strongly recommend reading the entire article at the top of the page. If you don’t want to scroll up,  here’s another link to it.

God bless you.


People died for me. Not personally, which makes it perhaps bigger. People gave everything for the thought of people like me.
I don’t like the talk of dying for our country. I feel it empties the love from their actions. I suppose some do die for flags, ideas, governments etc., but this doesn’t seem any good unless they serve these out of love for someone. Flags, governments and ideas are no good in themselves, and often do little good to people.
I‘m a pacifist, so don’t agree with killing, but it would be wrong not to remember anyone who gave their life for me. But it’s also important to remember all who died for my sake, including the unwilling.
War is nothing but tragedy from beginning to end. Politicians send others to kill and to die. People are trained to hate. Soldiers, enemies, and innocents die. There are more widows, orphans, and coffins every day. Politicians call the majority of the tragedy “collateral damage“. Soldiers abuse their power. Soldiers return and are worshipped for killing. Soldiers, enemies and innocents are scarred for life. Love for enemies is rejected.
I want no soldiers to die. I want no innocents to die. I don’t want my enemies to die.
Here are some very important Jesus quotes on enemies.

‘Ye heard that it was said: Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth; but I—I say to you, not to resist the evil, but whoever shall slap thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other;‘
Matthew 5:38-39

‘Ye heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and shalt hate thine enemy; but I—I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely, and persecuting you, that ye may be sons of your Father in the heavens, because His sun He doth cause to rise on evil and good, and He doth send rain on righteous and unrighteous.‘
Matthew 5:43-45

I need to be both thankful and mourning of those who gave their lives for me, often even expecting that people like me wouldn’t appreciate how they gave their lives.

Here’s an important article from Veterans for Peace UK to do with Remembrance Sunday. I recommend it highly.

God bless you.