The Future of Christian Socialism - Ed Rennie

A Mercy that is Deepest Crimson and Hope of Eternity that is Emerald Green.

We live in distressing times of anxiety, fear and conflict. Disparities of every kind tear at the fabric of our sense of community and solidarity. Sometimes the only thing that is clear is the abundance of confusion about our future.

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In this time more than ever we need a reappraisal of our most deeply held beliefs. At the core these are firstly the radical equal dignity of all human persons most profoundly manifested in God’s mercy and secondly in the need to conserve all that is good, true and beautiful in this other Eden that is our country and world. An egalitarian understanding of the human condition and a cultivation of all that humanity has cherished over the centuries, not least the natural world upon which all human life is sustained.

As Christians of the political left we must dig deeper into our Christian social roots. For a compassionate account of our problems and a Christ like approach to our suffering and pain, with this we all need a hope for a future made present that is both just and merciful.

‘Without a vision the people perish’ Where is our prophetic vision? Is it not needed in this time more than ever? No doubt practical policy development is essential too, but people need hope. Christians on the Left have a unique position within the political spectrum, to represent both compassionate love and an unwavering commitment to the truth. The often squalid materialism of this time requires us to be the voice that calls out to a society that too often has defaulted to an ethical relativism and an individualist consumerism.  The Labour movement remains far too disconnected from its working class roots, too often our approach is to do policy to and for people rather than to be with them and formed by them. A bureaucratic managerialism that is distant from the everyday lives of the poor and the struggling suffocates our democratic accountability. We need a radicalism that seeks policy development from the ground up, rooted in communities that too often no longer listen to us, because we stopped listening to them.    

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To resist the commodification of all that is valuable, the hallmark of capitalism which the state all too often reinforces, we need to listen to the stories of struggle that come out of religious communities, who so often are at the heart of the relationships of love and mutual reciprocity that are typically absent from the workings of even local government. After all the idea of the living wage campaign came from an ecumenical retreat on family life. Likewise faith communities developed the anti-usury campaigns. Both these have led to limited but significant change in policy even when Labour is not at the helm of central government.

Crimson red is the colour of Christ’s mercy manifested in his ultimate sacrifice and deepest emerald green the colour of hope, the hope of the eternal. We can both treasure the past and realise it in the present and hope for a future where the richest support the poorest, kneeling by the side of those in intense poverty accompanying them in their return to dignity. Together we must have courage to see this vision fulfilled, upholding and defending the common bonds of humanity, with a spirit of cooperation and vigorous perseverance. ‘Come let us reason together’ and in the light of divine virtue we will fulfil our destiny.   

 

 

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