Monday, November 10, 2008


Unless the agenda changes (and it can) my colleague Jonathan Bartley will be on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme tomorrow morning, discussing how the relationship between church and state impacts on war remembrance. He also has a piece on Ekklesia (The default politics of Remembrance), and one coming up on Guardian Comment-is-Free. My forthcoming book, Threatened with Resurrection: The difficult peace of Christ, has a chapter called 'Remembrance as radical anticipation', which looks at the decisive theological character of re-membering, specifically in terms of Eucharist and our memory of the execution of Jesus and his vindication beyond violence. There is an accompanying seminar on 26 November at the London Mennonite Centre. The problem we need to address is that of partial remembering, fuelled by an often unacknowledged ideology of war as salvific.

On Saturday the Telegraph got a pre-emptive strike in, with an editorial which condemned us - for what we are not saying. Back in 2006 both the Times and the Express reported (wholly inaccurately, and in defiance of very clear statements to the contrary) that Ekklesia was wanting to scrap red poppies. In fact, we were (and are) calling for churches to enlarge remembrance symbolism to include white poppies alongside red ones, so that it is possible to honour the search for non-military means of addressing conflict alongside honouring those who have died as a result of war. Corrections were refused, as were letters from a number of people pointing out the 'mistakes'.

When your cause has to be defended by insistent falsehood, surely something has gone wrong? But this just goes to show what a difficult issue war remembrance is, and how rationality plays second fiddle to emotivism in any attempt to address it in a way that is seen as falling outside an acceptable consensus.


Jane said...

This year has been the first in many that I have so exposed to BRitish remembrance Sunday - mainly through the media - wasn't there a time when the occasional TV presenter didn't wear a poppy - is there not a single, single one to wear a white poppy?
Interesting that some of teh programmes have also focussed on teh other side - the German soldiers who died in the first world war - and on the French ones. but rememebring in both Britian and France is too influenced by the military. What to do if even ASBO Jesus thinks remembrance Sunday brings people togetehr more than Christmas does - it does seem to touch something deep in people. I feel if it is to practised properly then it should really be called peace Sunday or REmember peace Sunday or something. All these announcers with their poppies on - what are they remembering??

janamills said...

A friend of mine wore a white poppy this year. Alas out of fear of my position as an ethnic minority I simply failed to wear any.

But I was surprised to gauge peoples reaction to my friend. Expecting to see disgust or anger, instead wherever we went people seemed to appreciate the thought. Strangers, colleagues and friends alike responded (I'm told) with interest rather than the anger or hurt that I was expecting. Next year I will wear a white poppy.