Tower poppies2
War

Remembrance Sunday: Sacrifice, Freedom and Peace

 

Who would have thought a hundred years on that we would still be arguing over the shady causes of World War One; debating whether the lions were led by donkeys or the donkeys were really doves whose hopes of peace were crushed in the battle-cries of brotherhood and lingering clouds of mustard gas? As millions of us make the pilgrimage to file past 888,246 ceramic poppies, a part of us is still dying on Passchendaele ridge, and if not there, in Flanders fields or the Somme, where the lives of our bravest and best were snuffed out by snipers and trampled into the mud. Thousands of them still sleep there, encased in unmarked tombs of distant affection.

Wives became weeping widows, inconsolable in the void of grief. We are their children, or their children’s children and their children’s children’s children. They live forever in our DNA. We sing loving hymns of praise, shed tears of pride and give thanks for their glorious sacrifice in an honourable ritual of homage. We make it annually without thinking very much about the gloom of that glory, or the mangled faces moaning in a lingering death we call sacrifice – a noble word with a form of virtue and selflessness.

You’ve probably never been shot by a sniper or blown to bits by hand grenade, but sacrifice is agony. It might sound golden, but it is hours of fear and loneliness garnished by the weeds of an obscure grave. We only hear the valiant tales of detachment and farewell. But hearts bled, limbs writhed and voices groaned in rivers of bitterness choking on the stench of rotting flesh. These boys were once sitting on their mothers’ knees, kissed with the warmth of a loving prayer. Now their cheeks are cold and buried in a foreign land; heart-to-heart, head to toe, waiting for Judgment Day.

The last post or the Last Trumpet? The one echoes solemnly in history; the other promises its fulfilment. We smile at a field of white crosses, and kiss the marble grey monuments to a generation of fallen children. The grass withers, the wind blows and the rain falls. But on this one day, year after year, we feel compelled to remember and watch, transfixed, as thousands of poppies descend from the dome. They were our boys, you see, and we are proud to feel we know them all by name. We forced them to become men a little too early so that we might be victorious. They died to save us. Or something like that. It was and remains their reason for being: their sacrifice was immeasurably valuable to us, if utterly meaningless to most of them. They saw futility: we know the fruits of freedom, worth and hope.

The war to end all wars did no such thing. We commemorate its beginning with a sea of red blood around a tower, but its end soon became another war, and the end of that is fast becoming another. We are besieged by wars and rumours of wars, and each brings grief, pain, and dews of peace. Our freedom is illusory because humanity is imperfect, patiently awaiting a world order restored in Jesus Christ. He died to save us. No doubt about that. It was and remains His reason for being.

Peace is a divine initiative, you see, and God is at work in us and through us. If you listen to His Spirit while you file past the sea of poppies honouring our Glorious Dead, you might just taste His suffering in an echo of their anguish. And if you honour that sacrifice and die to self, you will know the peace that passes understanding, and walk with the saints into Glory.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,
    This must surely be your most poetic piece writing on such a gruesome subject. And yet , many great artists and poets worked in those dismal years and many died.
    I am glad that their has been a resurgence of interest in recent years. I suppose it is as a result of recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The have awakened the conscience of the public into a sympathy with the families of those sent to die. May we always remember them. The glorious fallen but not fallen so gloriously.

  • carl jacobs

    Archbishop Cranmer

    In the four years I have participated on this weblog, I have never seen you write a better post. This post – it honors their memory. For those who come after them, this is good and right to do.

    carl jacobs

  • DanJ0

    The second paragraph captures very well the tone of Remembrance, and we mustn’t let that tone get lost or changed as time goes on, and as other wars and conflicts have their casualties.

  • Martin

    He died to save His people, it isn’t His purpose but points to His purpose and to ours which is His glory.

    I’m afraid the concept of Remembrance Sunday is a struggle for me, when you think of those who died for no other reason than that they were dragged from their homes, either by patriotic fervour or by law, in order to shoot at each other. Wars do not end wars and we have no more freedom because of them. No, their ‘sacrifice’ has no comparison with that of the Son of Man.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      You have echoed my sentiments about Remembrance Sunday Martin. For me it is a sobering reminder of the consequences of turning away from God. It is a day of shame in the sense that man’s sin results in appalling carnage. It should be a day spent seeking God’s forgiveness on a personal and a national level. A day of restitution with our creator. For some reason, we keep leaving God out of the equation when we commemorate this day.

      • DanJ0

        “For some reason, we keep leaving God out of the equation when we commemorate this day.”

        The cenotaph was deliberately an undedicated memorial because of the diversely religious people being commemorated. The fallen include Commonwealth citizens. The ceremony follows loosely along those lines albeit led by a Church of England clergyman presumably because of the establishment of that church as part of the State.

        • Politically__Incorrect

          I mentioned nothing about the Cenotaph. I am saying that those of us who consider ourselves Christian should look beyond the human carnage. Other religions and atheists can deal with it in their own way.

          • DanJ0

            Fairy nuff, if your ‘we’ refers to Christians. The country at large commemorates it in that undedicated way.

      • Martin

        PI

        The fact of uniforms worn & medals displayed gives the lie to it not being about glorifying war.

        • CliveM

          No it isn’t. It’s brave men remembering who was lost and reminding people of what was sacrificed. As too the medals, they earned them, why should they be hidden.

          • Martin

            Brave they may be, but it is still glorifying war.

    • carl jacobs

      Martin

      No analogy is truly acceptable when it comes to God. They will all fall short of the mark. We use what we have. You could just as easily complain about the inadequacy of Shepherd to describe Christ, for what were shepherds really like. And yet Paul himself used martial imagery to describe the work of Christ.

      But that you would put ‘sacrifice’ in scare quotes is truly astonishing to me. Whatever measure of eternal freedom they did not purchase for you, they certainly did purchase something on your behalf. You have spoken as one who has never known defeat in war and so takes for granted what he has. You have never seen foreign soldiers outside your house in the morning. That’s the necessary precondition for this fashionable contempt of war and those who fight it. And you had better own that word ‘contempt.’ For that is what you expressed by those scare quotes.

      Last night I watched a two hour documentary on the Falklands War. I wasn’t a history of the war so much as a collection of personal experiences of those who fought and lived and died. Of those who were maimed and those who were left behind by the dead. And of course those citizens of the Islands who works up one morning to find their streets occupied by Argentinian soldiers. Ask them about the British soldiers who died in that war. What did that sacrifice purchase for them? They understand quite well what you manifestly do not.

      You have spoken like a foolish old woman. Like the fools in the 30s who said “Better defeat than another war like the last.” They only said that because they had no conception of what defeat would mean. But those who have been conquered know quite well. And they comprehend the nature of the sacrifice expended on their behalf.

      • The Inspector General

        A superb response.

      • Phil R

        “Like the fools in the 30s who said “Better defeat than another war
        like the last.” They only said that because they had no conception of
        what defeat would mean.”

        My grandfather as a young boy in the 1920s helped treat many of the gassed and injured from WW1 at a private medical facility. (These were the lucky ones who could afford to pay)

        He talked with many and he said that many had wondered whether life under the Kaiser really would have made that much of a difference.

        For the average squaddie and their family, I doubt if it would have made any real difference at all. For the vast majority that fought, it would certainly have been better than the outcome of going to war, even though we won.

        You do them a disservice. They were not fools Carl. Just angry.

        • carl jacobs

          Phil

          It’s never better for the soldier to go to war – neither for himself or his family. There is no benefit to having your face splattered with blood and brains of the man standing best to you. There is no benefit to learning the unique sound that a bullet makes when it impacts flesh and bone. There is no benefit to experiencing the omnipresent smell of death. There is no benefit to having an artillery shell detonate above your head (as happened to my father) or having machine gun bullets rip through your body (as happened to my brother.) There is a band of men who have experienced these things, and only they truly understand it. They share a close bond because of it, but none of them wanted it. Their interests were sacrificed for the greater good. The interest of their families were sacrificed for the greater good. That’s the nature of the service. You know that when you take the oath.

          It is obvious, but it needs saying. I wasn’t talking about life under the Kaiser. I was talking about life under Hitler. But life under the dominance of another power is bad enough. This weblog is littered from one end to the other with people complaining about EU intrusions on UK sovereignty. But life under the heel of the Kaiser wouldn’t be so bad? For whom? Measured when? And how many dead are worth the benefit of not becoming part of Hitler’s New World Order for generations to come? I don’t care how angry they were. A fool is still a fool even if he has legitimate reason to be angry.

          • Phil R

            Now the 11th is past I feel I can speak freely

            They were there and we were not.

            We cannot judge if they were fools.

            Would we have been worse under the Kaiser?

            Probably not

            For most of the families who fought, the war was far worse than life under the Kaiser

            Since we are doing personal memories. Mr father’s uncle fought in WW1. When WW2 was declared, he (The fool?) did not give his blessing to his two sons joining up. Both were killed within months at Tobruk

            70+ years later we were still tending the memorial in the Churchyard South of Nottingham where their only two children are remembered with an inscription on the grave of their parents.

            Who are the fools Carl?

          • carl jacobs

            Phil

            So what then is the argument? Would you have burned to ashes the sacrifice of 888,000 plus souls by surrendering to the very same country they died fighting? Would you have found the yoke of Hitler acceptable to avoid the second war? Could you even write those words without choking on them?

            If you are going to measure the benefit of a war, you are going to have to expand your scope of observation beyond those who fought and died. You’re going to have to look beyond parents whose entire family was cut off. In this case, you might consider the fate every single person who lived or was born or would have been born in the UK after say 1945. Don’t they count? I told you that it is not necessarily to the benefit of a soldier or his family when a soldier goes to war. That’s not relevant. In the aggregate, that unfairly apportioned cost is judged essential. What falls heavily on your father’s uncle lifts up tens of thousands of others.

            The fate of two men at Tobruk is unfortunate in the particular and catastrophic for the family. It is also irrelevant compared to the fate of a nation. There are tens of thousands who didn’t die because of the war in which they died. Minimal comfort to your father’s uncle. But ultimately the cost he was forced to bear must be subordinated to the greater good.

            You know this to be a fact.

            And for the record, I won’t withdraw the charge. Only a fool would counsel surrender to the malignancy that was Hitler’s Germany. Good God, do you not realize that England’s stand saved Western civilization?

          • Phil R

            Lets be clear here. The sacrifice that these men made and continue to make in the defense of our country allows us the freedom we enjoy today.

            We started the conversation talking about WW1 and whether some of the men who fought were fools for saying that it was not worth it. The price was not worth paying.

            I suggested that looking back that they might well have been right. That for them personally there would have been little difference being Governed by the Kaiser or the British Government.

            These men saw no benefit in winning the war. Not for them personally, or for their families and certainly not for the families that lost their fathers and sons in a war we should not have got involved in in the first place.

            Whether they would say the same thing about Hitler I don’t know. There was a survey done around 1935 that worried the British Government. Only around 30% of men said that they were willing to fight another war. In the event it seems attitudes changed.

            We did not fight in the trenches, we did not live their lives, only they can tell us if it was worth it and I don’t think we can from the comfort of our armchairs, dismiss these men as fools for coming to the conclusion that they did.

            What concerns me now is whether we are throwing away what they died for, but this is another matter.

          • carl jacobs

            Phil

            There are two separate subjects, and you are confusing them.

            1. Should Britain have fought the First World War?

            2. Given the reality of the First World War, should Britain have fought the Second World War?

            We have been talking about the second.

            You introduced your father’s uncle and his personal tragedy. You said this man “did not give his blessing to his two sons joining up” to fight Hitler. You stated that this man lost both his sons in the Battle of Tobruk. You said 70 years later their Memorial was still being tended. And you said all of this in the context of the personal cost imposed on a soldier and his family as being an adequate measure for the value of the war. Having recounted this story you concluded with

            Still want to call my relative a fool for wanting to spare his sons?

            And let’s be perfectly clear. You were asking about this man wanting to spare his sons from the fight against Hitler. Spare them for what? The answer to your question is “Yes.” There isn’t any doubt about it.

            You do not measure a war by its impact on those who fight it. That measure would always lead to surrender. You measure a war by the counter-factuals. “But for the war, what would have happened?” I am amazed how easily you toss off dominance by a foreign power as if it is a little thing. What is slavery for a nation compared to the Somme? The question answers itself.

          • Phil R

            Carl

            We started talking about WW1 and it was veterans of this war you called fools.

            You brought in WW2 because I assume you wished to move the argument because the choice to fight or not was far more clear cut in WW2 than WW1.

            “What is slavery for a nation compared to the Somme” was that the real choice in WW1?

            We did not fight in the Somme so I at least respect the opinions of those that did.

            Whether we agree with them or not is actually irrelevant. What is important is the implied disrespect shown by you calling them fools when they were there doing the fighting and we were not.

            Call them fools if you like then Carl, for serving their country faithfully and seeing first hand the horrors of WW1,

            But now wanting to try a different way.

      • Martin

        Carl

        Do you really not understand the difference? Do you really value the death and resurrection of Christ so little.

        • carl jacobs

          Martin

          Your response does not logically follow. I am aware for instance that slavery to the Romans is not comparable to slavery to sin in either type or severity. And yet Paul has no trouble making the analogy. He did not thereby diminish the reality of Roman slavery by making the analogy. The sacrifice of a soldier is no more comparable to the sacrifice of Christ than a Roman slave master is comparable to sin. That doesn’t mean the soldier doesn’t offer a legitimate sacrifice, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean you get to frame that sacrifice with scare quotes.

          • Martin

            Carl

            Of course the slavery of sin is comparable to Roman slavery. As to ‘scare’ quotes, I’m not familiar with that term.

    • There’s so much wrong with this comment, Martin. It’s mean spirited and overlooks God’s Providential guidance and His ways. It also takes something away from Christ’s sacrifice.

      “They died to save us … It was and remains their reason for being: their sacrifice was immeasurably valuable to us, if utterly meaningless to most of them. They saw futility: we know the fruits of freedom, worth and hope.”
      Yes, they contributing to saving us from tyranny and are part of an endless stream of men and women who down the ages, whether knowingly or unknowingly, whether voluntarily of not, have done so.

      “He died to save us. No doubt about that. It was and remains His reason for being.”
      Join the dots, Martin.

      Jesus died for the redemption of mankind and to offer us all salvation and through it participation in God’s eternal Glory. Christ did not live his life for Himself but for us. He not die for His own Glory but that we might share it with Him.

      • Martin

        HJ

        We are always under one tyranny or another. Indeed God often introduces us to a tyranny in order to get us to look to Him. But to equate their deaths, even in the slightest way, with the death of the Lamb of God, who died for His people, is an act of idolatry.

        • Who is equating them? Do you see no resemblance between them?

          • Martin

            HJ

            No, there is no resemblance. On the one hand you have soldiers fighting for their country, on the other the Son of God saving His enemies.

          • Join the dots ….

          • Martin

            HJ

            Indeed you should.

          • Ah, so you acknowledge these exist?

          • Martin

            You left 4 at the end of your previous post.

          • Lol …….(there’s 7 more)

          • Martin

            HJ

            What similarity has one dying (assuming he had the choice) for his friends with one dying for His enemies?

  • IanCad

    To comment would be to detract. I will merely endorse – and thank you – for one of the most thoughtful and sensitive writings yet to grace this blog.

  • Dreadnaught

    A most moving and worthy piece of of prose YG. Always uncomfortable with the word ‘Glorious’ preceding the word ‘Dead’, hate it as spin for the enduring absolution of political and military failures.

    • carl jacobs

      You are right, Dreadnaught. There is nothing glorious about it. My Dad told the story of a group of American soldiers sheltering in the relative safety of a defiladed position in France. A random German artillery shell hit a branch directly above them and detonated. They were all killed instantly. It was an 88. Flat trajectory. It should have detonated far to the rear of them. But it hit a branch. Nothing glorious. Just a collection of guys eating lunch, and then in one violent moment, they are dead.

      • Dreadnaught

        I don’t know if its different in the US cj but here the government are quick laud the ‘sacrifice’ of the dead but leave the welfare of the maimed and traumatised to Charity. Asylum seekers get better treatment here than discharged vets.

        • carl jacobs

          Dreadnaught

          My brother is a Disabled American Veteran. He has received a stipend from the US government every month since he was medically retired from the Army in 1970. I don’t know how much. It’s not my business to ask. The amount is dependent upon the extent of the disability. The real problem American Vets have is the VA health care system. It’s a travesty. My brother hasn’t had to deal with it. His disability is his right arm. The surgeons did as much as they could to repair it and after awhile there was nothing more they could do. But he was treated inside the military health care system.

          • Dreadnaught

            Not so long back we had the case of a MoD secretary receiving over £300k for RSI while guys dying of cancer from DU fallout from Iraq 1 couldn’t even get an admission of culpability from them. Whatever your brother gets he earned it, and good luck to him.

      • There are a number of meanings to the word “Glorious”.

        It can mean having or deserving of honour and entitled to great renown. It can also mean brilliantly beautiful, delightful or enjoyable.
        Those men killed while eating their lunch may not have died a glorious death but for all that they are members of the ‘Glorious Dead’.

        • carl jacobs

          Jack

          Yes, I see where you are coming from, but it’s hard for me to accept it. I can’t see a combat vet actually using it. I would never use it to describe them. There is a sense about it that conveys an idea that the death of the dead was a good thing. Noble. Sterile. Clean. Easy. Worthy of emulation. Especially that last. I would use the phrase ‘honored dead’ and then only in more formal circumstances.

          Vets serve the country. They fight for each other. That distinction is important, and ‘Glorious dead’ just doesn’t seem to respect it. At least not to me.

  • F.A.B – 1689

    Beautifully expressed, YG.

  • The Inspector General

    Indeed Cranmer. Let us also not forget the evil men who started these wars, and the comfort we receive when they meet their end plunging through a trap door with a rope around their necks. The way it should be – our earthly revenge on their wickedness.

    • The Inspector General

      …and perhaps the conchies can stay away from here today and spare us their watery tributes…

    • carl jacobs

      Do not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, Inspector. God does not. Neither should we. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. We are all ‘the wicked’ after all. The difference between us and them is the Cross and nothing more.

      • The Inspector General

        They chose their path Carl. Besides, one doesn’t take pleasure, not in the gratuitous sense. It’s like ridding your shed of rats. It has to be done, and you can be pleased with your work when it’s done.

  • carl jacobs

    Our modern secular society has taken to observing ‘moments of silence’ for the purpose of remembering the dead. Nothing is done. Nothing is said. We create a momentary void in our lives to express what can no longer be publicly acknowledged as anything but a void. The emptiness of that silence captures perfectly our attendent inability to remember them in any more meaningful way. The dead cannot truly remember the dead.

    In the absence of God, everything is emptiness and void. And darkness covers the face of the Earth.

    • DanJ0

      Lovely sunny day over here in the UK, and for one I’m full of the joys of life. 🙂

      • “The dead cannot truly remember the dead.”

        • DanJ0

          The brain-dead, in your case.

          If anything then a-theists arguably have a more poignant sense of death, given that we think when life ends physically it ends for good. The significance of their deaths is all the greater for it.

          • Better that than spiritual death … “everything is emptiness and void.”

          • DanJ0

            Between your ears, perhaps.

          • Good one … That made Jack chuckle.

          • carl jacobs

            The point of my comment (for those who might have missed it) was that man in himself is utterly powerless to do anything about death but stare at it. To which fact he gives clear and convincing testimony by these vacuous and empty ‘moments of silence.’

          • Royinsouthwest

            Perhaps war could have been avoided in 1914 but what would have happened afterwards? We avoided war in 1938 through the Munich agreement and a fat lot of good it did us then.

            In one sense all wars are needless. There would have been no need for us to fight in 1939 if Hitler had not been bent on aggression.

  • len

    Let us not surrender our freedoms so carelessly that have been bought at such a cost.
    It is significant perhaps that after a century of wars countless lives
    lost families devastated cities laid to ruin that on the day that we
    remember the lives lost that Germany celebrates their reunification and
    return to power.
    Is the EU truly a ‘brotherhood of nations’
    united in a common cause or is it being used as just another means of
    obtaining the same objective?.
    That said this is a time
    to remember those who gave their lives to preserve what they held good
    much of which has been lost today or given away by politicians.

    • The Berlin Wall was torn down on 9 November 1989. This day is also the anniversary of the first Nazi-led pogroms against Jews in 1938 – ‘Kristallnacht’.

      The German national holiday celebrating reunification is held on 3 October, the date of formal reunification in 1990.

      • dannybhoy

        “This day is also the anniversary of the first Nazi-led pogroms against Jews in 1938 – ‘Kristallnacht’. It marked the beginning of the Nazi’s industrialised murder of millions.”

        Which is yet another reason why although all decent people deplore the idea of war, there are times when we have to stand and fight against a tangible evil.

  • CliveM

    A 100 years ago a war started that led to the death of 880000 mainly men of the United Kingdom and Empire. Whether they were Believers, Atheists it Agnostics, they were all some mothers son. Most of the will have had Fathers, sisters and brothers and most will have been loved and grieved over. Some will have left behind wives, sweethearts and children.

    Let’s leave our battles to one side today at and just remember them and honour them. They all died for the same cause of freedom, never mind what their faith.

    • dannybhoy

      “Wrapped up together in the bundle of life…”
      ! Samuel 25:29
      I remember hearing that phrase from my earliest Open Brethren days, when these lovely old boys (with their be-hatted wives!) would preach the Gospel.
      All have now gone home to be with the Lord of course, and all had served in the forces during ww2 and a few even served in both.
      The point of course being that the only reason we can discuss this issue is because in both wars conscripted men and volunteers lost their lives in defending our nation..
      We are dual citizens, and we cannot really escape our obligations and responsibilities to both our Lord and the society in which we live..

      • CliveM

        Dannybhoy

        The WWI generation has gone and the WW2 generation is passing. When you read the lives and obituaries of these men who fought and often died ‘for our tomorrow’ it is impossible not to feel shame at how inadequate has been our response to their sacrifice. And I am not talking Poppies or memorials. I am talking about lives selflessly liven as they were selfless.

        Please dear God let it be that our Children do better then we have.

        • dannybhoy

          Amen Brother!
          “All it takes for evil to triumph is that good men (and women) do nothing,”

          • Its the women good men have to keep the closest on.

          • dannybhoy

            Very witty!
            You mean women are more prone to going astray?
            I don’t think so…
            Proverbs chapter 7
            Solomon got it wrong…

          • CliveM

            Ahem……………!

          • dannybhoy

            Hit me, Clive!

          • CliveM

            No more needs to be said!

  • Owl

    YG, Thank you.

  • David

    YG, thank you, a moving article.

    Truly we must remember and honour their memory.
    They were a better people.

    Could we truly look them in the eye ?

    But why have we so badly abused the precious peace,
    the precious freedoms that their sacrifice bought ?

    Selfishness grows, freedom dies and God himself is mocked.

    No ! God mocked ? No, but briefly !
    Rebellion sows seeds of our destruction.

    In the coming judgement, will be our salvation,
    as at the Cross of Calvary.

  • “The Glorious Dead”

    A glimpse into a time past when we were no so scornful of bravery and sacrifice:

    http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=AG19191031.2.44

    Men and women from Britain and across the Commonwealth visited and lay flowers at the four-sided, wooden, white monument to pay their respects. One child wrote: “To dear Daddy, from Little Charles.” A mother wrote: “My two dear sons.”

    “For us the glorious dead have striven,
    They battled that we might be free.
    We to their living cause are given;
    We arm for men that are to be.”

    (Robert Laurence Binyon)

  • Graham Goldsmith

    Thank you a very moving piece. We see the violence and carnage of totalitarian regimes and religious ideology across the world right now and know that they are opposite to the peace and freedom that we enjoy. It brings that freedom sharply into focus and affords it greater value and harder to take it for granted because without that sacrifice and the undeniable fact that justice has had to be fought for and defended and will have to be in the future. The tyranny is not going away any time soon and only through Christ will complete peace and justice eventually come. We should and will remember and revere them

  • Phil R

    A great post and this makes it twice as hard

    I would not post this yesterday, but during the service I could not hep wondering how many would be happy with the Britain that we have a created. How many of the fallen would consider what we have done with the freedom they purchased worth the sacrifice?

    Nevertheless, our freedom was purchased for us at great cost to themselves and their families.

    It seems to me that we then threw away much that they died for, by pretending they did it all for us and we need to do nothing.

    We were not prepared, when the fight started from within, with an insidious new enemy, that may in the end prove just as destructive.

    Freedom you see, has to be constantly fought for.

    We have relaxed in their sacrifice for too long and if we do not wake up soon we will get a new “freedom” that those who are willing to fight, will impose on us through the state.

    For most of us that will be no freedom at all.

  • SidneyDeane

    I’m not sure why religious people are bothered about death, whether of their loved ones or anyone else.
    What is a Christian grieving about when their child dies?
    I mean, a) God wanted your child to die and b) Your child is now in heaven eating chocolate all day, having loads of sex and orgies and generally having the time of its life and c) you’ll see them soon enough whether it be 50 or 60 years and whats that compared to an eternity of seeing them every day cuddling God with a smile on their face?
    After giving it a bit of thought I imagine it’s simply because Christians forget themselves. For that moment, however long it may be, they know in their heart of hearts that they are never going to see their child again. That moment of clarity where those nagging doubts (like those in Welby) are allowed to briefly seep to the surface before their irrational mind, with a little help from a softly spoken vicar holding a collection plate, restores the shroud and reminds you that eternal pleasure exists and no one really dies, there there it will all be better soon.

    • CliveM

      Your an offensive idiot, indeed based on this post you are a boring offensive idiot. If this is what passes for thought with you, you need to practice harder.

      I take it you’ve been drinking again.

      • SidneyDeane

        Ad hom. Yawn. And calling someone a name whilst calling them offensive. Priceless.

        • CliveM

          Sidney

          Frankly you have shown yourself to be a person whose opinion is not worth knowing. If you don’t understand why your post was offensive or you are claiming it was asking legitimate questions in a serious manner, I flattered you.

          • SidneyDeane

            It is a legitimate question. Idiot isn’t offensive?

          • CliveM

            The question is legitimate, the manner of how you put it isn’t. It was offensive, as you intended it to be.

          • SidneyDeane

            I disagree. I genuinely don’t understand what’s to be upset about death given Christian’s beliefs. If you do find what I said ‘offensive’, that’s your problem.

          • Pubcrawler

            “If you do find what I said ‘offensive’, that’s your problem.”

            No. If your ‘genuine enquiry’ is wrapped up in a juvenile caricature of what we believe, and you reject the responses of those that can be bothered to address them because they don’t match your notion of what it is that we believe, then you’re not likely to get a calm and thoughtful response that you might find educational, as this thread has demonstrated. So the ‘problem’ is yours.

          • Hi Sidney

            The question of yours wasn’t put to people as a line of enquiry, because you answered your own question to your own satisfaction in the last paragraph. It wasn’t designed to provide a gateway to discussion on grief and belief, but as a way of using hyperbolic language to attack a particular faith at an unnecessary time and in the wrong thread. Describing children who’ve died as having sex in heaven and eating sweats , whilst their parents should for some reason be happy at this outcome, was clearly designed to provoke, if not upset.

            You ask why a Christian grieves given a loss of a child. I’m not a Christian, but even I know why. Simply put it is because Christians are members of the human race and are therefore not emotionally inhibited from all that entails. And human beings have emotions, can feel pain, tenderness, love, loss, joy, hope, form familiar bonds & know happiness as well as deep sorrow. Being a member of a religion doesn’t make one a higher being or make one without emotional responses. It is therefore entirely natural to grieve loss.

            In respect of the “blink of an eye” stuff. That may well be the way God sees time (I don’t know). But imagine if you were put into a dark room,without light, food or water. And you do this for a day. I bet it would feel a lot longer. That’s how people who’ve grieved the loss of loved ones feel. Especially over the loss of a child. Every day, even if the passage of time might make things slightly easier, that feeling of being in a room, without anything but emptiness remains.And that is true of those whose belief is in Gan Eden (heaven) & God. Perhaps rays of light may penetrate through this dark veil of people’s grief, for God’s faithfulness endures forever, his love is eternal (Psalm chapter 136).

    • carl jacobs

      You know, Sidney. I read Clive’s post before I read your post (because when Clive of all people calls someone an offensive idiot, it is going to grab your eyes) and I thought “That was harsh, Clive.” And then I read your post. When you make a post, and people legitimately wonder if you made it under the influence, you maybe should have thought better about making the post. Or was it made under the influence? Hard to tell.

      You also should really learn what we believe before you try and tell us what we believe. Here, go and ponder this before you try again: “We grieve but not as those who have no hope.”

      • SidneyDeane

        It’s a legitimate question for the reasons given.

        • carl jacobs

          Sidney

          What, and we were just supposed to look past the nonsense about chocolates and sex and orgies? We were just supposed to look past the assertion that death isn’t supposed to be painful for us? If you want to ask a legitimate question, then ask it. Don’t dress it up in all the unnecessary polemics.

          Death is painful because it involves separation and loss. That impact is real despite the eternal context in which it might be set. For a Christian, it is the difference between happiness and joy. The concept of joy is objective. It is independent of transient circumstances. It finds its roots in the eternal. Happiness is transient. It comes and goes depending upon circumstances. It is rooted in the temporal. That is why I can suffer and still say “Count it all joy.” The suffering still hurts but the temporal pain is mitigated by the eternal context. Unhappiness and joy are not mutually exclusive.

          If someone you love dies, you lose that relationship. If it is your child, you lose all the expectations that have attended their life with you. It tears at you and leaves a gaping hole. That tearing HURTS. You can still set it in an eternal context. But the wound will still be there That is why I said to you “We grieve but not as those who have no hope.” The hope in God means that death is defeated. It doesn’t mean that death can’t inflict pain.

          • CliveM

            Carl

            To be honest Sidney knows he crossed a line and where he crossed. But like a spoilt child he tries to pretend that we misunderstood and his question was meant in all sincerity. He simply isn’t ‘man’ enough to admit it and backdown.

          • SidneyDeane

            I dont understand why you have an issue with my reference to loads of sex and chocolate in heaven. Please do explain.
            “Death is painful because it involves separation and loss” If someone you love dies, you lose that relationship” …for a literal BLINK of an eye! In an eternal context the degree to which it HURTS is negligible to the point of ridiculousness.
            Imagine weeping because your wife left you for 2 minutes to go to the local newsagent in circumstances where you know full well that once those 2 minutes are up you will see her continually for the next 20 years.
            How does weeping in such circumstances make any sense whatsoever?
            “Hope in God”. Well at least we agree thats all it boils down to.

          • carl jacobs

            Sidney

            It is so painfully obvious you have no children…

            But it’s not the blink of an eye, is it? A woman I know named Gina lost her first child to fetal wastage. The child died two days before it’s due date. She didn’t lose a few minutes. She lost the expectation of a lifetime together. Even two years after the fact, she would dissolve into tears upon the occurrence of certain triggering sights and sounds.

            Do you know that … no, of course you don’t. Parents spend their time as parents preparing their children to leave. When they finally do leave, it is incredibly traumatic. This person who had been a integral part of your life for twenty odd years is gone. That day to day contact is no more. That is hard to lose. If parents suffer the fact that a child leaves home to begin his own life, how much more do you think they suffer a death? We don’t live in eternity yet. We live in this present age where the separation of death is real and biting.

            Look, I know what you are doing. You are trying to say that grief is implicit evidence that we really don’t believe what we say we do. It’s a cruel and thoughtless assertion. It proves just how little you understand what we believe. You should think twice about who you say this stuff to. You say it to the wrong person at the wrong time, and you are going to get your head removed at the neck.

          • Pubcrawler

            “It proves just how little you understand what we believe.”

            This. (And the rest of it, but this especially.)

    • Graham Goldsmith

      Hello Sidney We are bothered about death because we like everybody else miss the person who is taken from us. I think you are being provocative with your portrayal of heaven because none of us know its exact nature but the thought of it allows us hope and gives us an optimistic backdrop to living although we probably don’t think about it overly often. Doubt is ok too and its covered quite well in the bible.Even better the doubt of your doubt. Justin Welby is just being honest. Quite happy to admit to a vulnerable mind to go along with a deteriorating mortal body. After all we all have our limitations. Its great though if a person can be super strong and never require any kind of comfort or help. Alternatively Mockery can be a useful way of masking the fear of death.

      • SidneyDeane

        Seems pretty stupid to grieve in any real way given you won’t see them for a blink of an eye and since you know they are currently having an brilliant time in heaven.

    • Dreadnaught

      That was one sick post Sid.

      • SidneyDeane

        It’s a legitimate question. For the reasons stated.

        • Dreadnaught

          I doubt if you have ever experienced the loss of a child or seen active military service otherwise you wouldn’t make such crass statements as you have. There’s a time and place for grieving and that is something beyond human control. We are free to employ whatever methods choose to make sense of the senseless. It’s not for you to challenge others on the subject of personal grief no matter how legitimate you think your questions are; even more so, given the nature of the OP and at this time of national reflection. I take deep exception to your tone and timing.

          • SidneyDeane

            Timing may be off ill grant you that but grief is a closed subject for inquiry?? Nope. And Clive agrees with me.

          • Inspector General

            You are a blaggard.

          • SidneyDeane

            i wish instead i was a t**t who referred to myself in the third person.

          • CliveM

            Please read what I actually said. I said questions about grief are legitimate but I said your post was deliberately offensive. Don’t pretend I support your point.

          • SidneyDeane

            Yes, you agree grief is not a closed subject for inquiry. Which is what I actually said.

    • Inspector General

      One longs for some quality atheists to post on this site…

  • avi barzel

    Simply superb, Your Grace….

  • Manfarang

    “How to Die”

    Dark clouds are smouldering into red
    While down the craters morning burns.
    The dying soldier shifts his head
    To watch the glory that returns;
    He lifts his fingers toward the skies
    Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
    Radiance reflected in his eyes,
    And on his lips a whispered name.

    You’d think, to hear some people talk,
    That lads go West with sobs and curses,
    And sullen faces white as chalk,
    Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
    But they’ve been taught the way to do it
    Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
    And shuddering groans; but passing through it
    With due regard for decent taste.

    Siegfried Sassoon

    • CliveM

      Thank you for posting this.

  • asteroller

    Has this picture reminded anyone else of Blake’s poem “London”?

    London

    BY WILLIAM BLAKE

    I wander thro’ each charter’d street,

    Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.

    And mark in every face I meet

    Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

    In every cry of every Man,

    In every Infants cry of fear,

    In every voice: in every ban,

    The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

    How the Chimney-sweepers cry

    Every blackning Church appalls,

    And the hapless Soldiers sigh

    Runs in blood down Palace walls

    But most thro’ midnight streets I hear

    How the youthful Harlots curse

    Blasts the new-born Infants tear

    And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse

  • Phil R

    I saw this today and thought some of you might like to read it.

    Phil

    A sacred moment of history.

    To me, the Christmas truce between
    British and German soldiers in 1914 is, literally, sacred. It was the
    last hour of Christian Europe, a tragic failure.

    If only they had continued it by
    throwing down their guns and walking away in their thousands to their
    homes and families, their proper work and their peaceful, happy lives,
    we would have been spared so much loss and ruin.

    The more I study that war, the more I
    am convinced we should not have taken part in it, and that it destroyed
    European civilisation, which has never recovered and never will.

    Peter Hitchens