Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Difficult Questions With Simple Answers

by Tom Fairman

The hung parliament that resulted from last week’s election presented many more questions than it did answers. Unlike a referendum when the question is supposedly very simple, an election does not pose any specific question besides who do you want to represent your constituency in the House of Commons. The answer to that question depends upon how you frame the question in your head.
Invariably your MP will vote with their party so they are merely a part of something bigger and yet some MPs have differing records when it comes to free votes or which committees they sit on. Some MPs are brilliant at raising issues and speaking to their constituents; others have the responsibility of being part of the Cabinet. It is this uniqueness and yet solidarity that makes the British first past the post system work.
If proportional representation or a French-style presidential system is used, the voting would be solely for a leader of a party and their vision for the country. This leads to a strange paradox as a common question people answer when they vote is who is best to lead the country rather than which MP do I feel would best represent me. It means when PMs come under pressure as leaders of their parties, previous mandates can become invalid as Theresa May has found out.
Our governmental party system does offer some reflection on our society though. The aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks have shown the true beauty of our country. The stories of people sacrificing their own safety to help others; the kindness of local businesses in helping those in need; the incredible emergency services’ dedication to serving those wounded and hurt; the politicians who do put aside their differences to come together to try and form counter terrorism solutions. These have been summed up as solidarity.
The many varied responses of the different parts of society come together to become one response to the question of how we deal with terrorism. Each response was different and served a different purpose, but together they made a whole response and yet the whole did not replace each individual action. To borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, each action was like the edge of a cube; each unique in and of itself but part of something different, something of another dimension, reliant on its parts.
This analogy for oneness is used by C.S.Lewis to answer another very different question; what is the Trinity? The Trinity is the mystery that three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God with no hierarchy or separation, three persons who are God and yet together are one God. This presents a real challenge when running Children’s liturgy on Trinity Sunday. However the key is in the oneness.

Jesus prayed that we will be one like He and the Father are one. We are called to enter into this mystery and share in it. Sometimes our language lets us down as Father can have many connotations. The book “The Shack” depicts God the Father as an African- American woman as a way of getting the reader out of their prejudices. The Trinitarian relationship is one of mutual love and self-service, rendering to the other the glory and working in humble admiration with each other. It is life giving and builds others up; it is the ultimate relationship, an example of how all our relationships should be.
We are called to be one like this, to live with each other in solidarity, to build one another up. We are called to use the differences we have to create a whole that celebrates the differences and yet allows others to flourish in its presence. The Trinity as three in one provides strength as a triangle does and provides the shelter and safety for us to grow, no matter what storms are blowing around us. This Trinitarian oneness was on show after the terrorist attacks and hopefully can be there as the difficult questions of forming a government and exiting the EU are answered as well as in our lives when we answer how we will live each day with one another.

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