Encouraged by Remembrance Sunday

By Jonathan Bartley
November 10, 2008

I am feeling really encouraged by what's been happening over the last 24 hours around Remembrance Sunday.

Last night I preached at the evensong at Christ's College Cambridge, but it wasn't just the generous hospitality in the beautiful hall afterwards which gave me a lift :) Wearing my white poppy, and talking about the way we remember who and why people have died, I expected to get at least a few angry comments - but none were forthcoming. In fact, quite the opposite.

Earlier in the day too, at my own Anglican church in Streatham, South London, the focus of remembrance was also very much on the obscenity of war, and the resolve to work for peace - sentiments that I think the vast majority who have fought in wars would agree with.

Then this morning I heard Ian Hislop talking about tonight's Channel 4 programme on the bravery of conscientious objectors, along with a relative of a conscientious objector from World War One. He articulated very clearly how his Christian faith had influenced the decision not to fight, but also the huge price he paid.

The only potential negative was the Daily Telegraph's agitated editorial on Saturday which included some amusing name calling (of Ekklesia). They suddenly dragged up the 'white poppy' story from two years ago (which they are still misreporting!).

But even that I think is actually a positive, because it exposes quite clearly their intolerance for any alternative viewpoint about how we should remember. But as the British Legion itself pointed out two years ago (another thing the Telegraph missed!) if you believe that people fought and died for our freedom, that includes the freedom to choose how we remember.

Another huge irony they also seemed to have missed, is that whilst they laid into white poppies they simultaneously reported the Hislop story about the intolerance shown to conscientious objectors. In fact, the more I think about it, the Telegraph has made my week :)

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