Saturday, November 10, 2007


As we approach Remembrance Day (11 November), I can't but recall that last year Ekklesia inadvertently found itself at the centre of a media storm. Our crime? Suggesting that churches might like to make White as well as Red Poppies available. This was because, we argued, working for alternatives to war is as important and respectful as recalling those who died in it. We also questioned some of the narratives of victory and blood sacrifice which often accompany these events, additionally pointing out that from a Christian perspective violence is not salvific - rather, God's absorrption and defeat of it as embodied in the Passion is. We were slightly taken aback by the storm these points created, in the secular and religious press respectively. And of course we were misrepresented as calling for the replacement of red poppies; something we never said. This year we have kept a lower profile, but my colleague Jonathan Bartley has been doing some interviews on the political nature of remembrance, and we have continued to encourage the use of white poppies, also supporting an important new resource from the Movement for the Abolition of War - with a foreword from a general, incidentally, lest it be said that principled nonviolence has to be sectarian or self-righteous. The MAW collection brings remembrance and peacemaking together. It includes readings and reflections on issues of war, conflict and peace, alongside prayers, liturgies, poems, hymns and songs. Since 1933 people have also worn White Poppies alongside (as I do), or as an alternative to, Red ones, to symbolise their commitment to 'no more war'. All the money raised goes toward peace education.

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