- Written by: Kamran Mofid
- Hits: 389
Paul Oestreicher examines the contract between the monarch
and the public in the UK and the Commonwealth*
Members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace watch the Royal Air Force flypast during
the Trooping the Colour parade on June 2, 2022, in London.-Chris Jackson / Getty Images
‘THE Firm needs a balcony from which to wave, and a people to return the compliment, and maybe even cheer. The sun may shine.
From the unthinkable moment when the longest and most popular reign in British history comes to a peaceful end, King Charles, if he chooses to, and his consort will reign — but not rule. That is of the essence of our polity. The citizens, no longer subjects, will peacefully go their own way and think their own thoughts. Some may even wonder: how long will this circus survive?
Come the next reign, which may still be quite some way off, one thing is clear: revolution is not in the air. My guess is that the next monarch may choose to continue to share his private passions and convictions with the people. That will neither frighten the royal horses nor destabilise the status quo. It may simply add some spice to life at the Palace. Changes are as natural as the hitherto moderate climate of these isles.
These reflections are clearly no more than my uncertain predictions. Nothing beyond the present moment is ever certain.
I have said all this with equanimity, even though my much-respected training vicar, Stanley Evans, long since promoted to higher realms, would be angry — very angry.
A leading light in the Christian Socialism of the East End of London, he would say: “It is none of your business to reflect on what will be. You must state in no uncertain terms what should and shall be. The inherited privilege of the few is wrong, wrong, wrong. Challenge it!”
I have to confess that, even while I was his curate, Stanley was right never to quite trust me. Marxist fundamentalism is as foreign to me as are its Christian varieties. Nevertheless, he was right in siding with Wat Tyler’s priest, John Ball, proclaiming to the peasants on Blackheath in June 1381, before they marched on Westminster, that “Under God, all shall be equal.”
That is why the economy, the just distribution of our common wealth, matters more than our mode of national management. For challenging the rich, Tyler and Ball were hanged, drawn, and quartered. The Archbishop concurred (but then, the rebels had beheaded his predecessor).
WITH a New Zealand degree in politics, two books on Christian-Marxist dialogue, and a lifetime as a church diplomat based in England but ministering far beyond, I was always on the frontiers of non-party politics.
My first seven years were lived in Nazi Germany. New Zealand then gave my family refuge. Europe, Western and Eastern, of which England (Brexit be damned) will always be a part, became my workshop. At 90, I am back in the South Pacific. My three passports sit lightly together.
These are my credentials for this reflection on what good governance might look like in years to come.
So, back to my start. Ceremonials do matter. The English love it — even our flag. But never, never, “My country right or wrong.” That’s pernicious. Traditions go deep. The kings and queens of this sceptred isle, to whom Shakespeare gave character and meaning, frame our history. Yet the people made it.
Charles and Camilla will need a new framework. To crown them surrounded by the hierarchy of the Church of England would be an anachronism, faintly ridiculous, far away from where the great majority of the people are.
Solemnity, yes, given our history; even Christian solemnity, with the assurance of freedom of religion and conscience for all. Goodbye to “protecting the Protestant Religion” of Elizabeth l. Welcome to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Jews, Muslims, and those of other faiths should be made to feel part of this realm, as well as those whose faith is known to God alone.
The post-Elizabethan age, when it arrives, will trigger a debate. Do we really want a monarchy? The question needs to be asked, although I shudder at one more referendum. The issue might well engender massive heat and division at the expense of what really matters: the maintenance of a just and open society — the very thing that is in the process of being lost, both in the barely United Kingdom and in the rest of Europe.
LET me explain by using the example of the erstwhile British colony of New Zealand, which is gradually adopting its much more poetic Maori name of Aotearoa: Land of the Long White Cloud. It has kept the Union flag beside the Southern Cross on its flag, and this by popular choice. There was no need, given the almost universal love of the Queen, to put the monarchy question to the people. Post-Elizabeth, that is very likely to happen.’
*This article was first published in Church Times on 27 May 2022.
Read the original publication HERE
Paul Oestreicher – an inspirational peace campaigner. Photo:vaincrelaviolence.org
…’In 1986, just after the birth of our second son, Paul, I was awarded my PhD and soon after I was given a full time post as senior lecturer at the Department of Economics at Coventry Polytechnic (now University).
Soon after my appointment, a dear friend of mine from New Zealand, Prof. Kevin Clements, visited me at Coventry. I had organised a dinner at a small, cosy restaurant near the cathedral. He asked me if a dear friend of his from New Zealand, who lived in Coventry, could join us too.
I did not know at the time that I was going to meet a globally known and respected person, a man that was going to have a major impact on my life in years to come.
They arrived at the restaurant where I was waiting for them. Kevin introduced me to Canon Paul Oestreicher, a residentiary canon of Coventry Cathedral and director of the Cathedral's Centre for International Reconciliation, a member of the General Synod of the Church of England, Chair of Amnesty International UK from 1975-1979; Vice President, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND); and a lifetime worker for peace and social Justice.
Paul and I became very good friends. I shared many wonderful and enriching times with him at his office at the cathedral, listening to his stories, learning from his wisdom and insight. A truly wonderful man. We also had many wonderful times, sharing food and drinks at our respective homes, alongside our families…’: Coventry and I: The story of a boy from Iran who became a man in Coventry
More articles by Canon Oestreicher from the GCGI Archive:
And finally, my heartfelt congratulations to Paul for his award of OBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours “for services to Peace, Human Rights and Reconciliation”. …Jubilee honours for Paul Oestreicher, lifelong peace activist
With our best wishes to Paul from all of us in Coventry.
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
- Hits: 450
June 1st is the 13th anniversary of Fr. Thomas Berry’s passing in 2009. We need him now more than ever.
His visionary ideas continue to inspire so many people all over the world.
“Thomas Berry was the earliest and most important voice to describe the profound importance of the disconnection between humans and the natural world, and what that could mean for the future of our species.” -Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods"
“While this humble tribute can’t approach the eloquence of Thomas Berry, whose prose was “more akin to that of poetry, art, myth, or storytelling,” it can help to introduce those who don’t know Thomas Berry to his life and work, and can serve to remind those who knew him of what made him so special. “Beloved friend and companion,” “priest, prophet and seer,” “renowned scholar,” “thinker,” “Brother”; “he was the truest man I ever knew.” -Patrick Tolan, Earth Jurisprudence and Environmental Justice Journal. (These testimonies at Thomas’s funeral in Greensboro, Vermont, tell volumes about a man who epitomised hope, truth and love.)
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
- Hits: 334
The modern world has become an anxiety machine
Photo: Aarón Blanco Tejedor/Unsplash
‘The modern world has brought us a range of extraordinary benefits and joys, including technology, medicine and transport. But it can also feel as though modern times have plunged us ever deeper into greed, despair and agitation. Seldom has the world felt more privileged and resource-rich yet also worried, blinkered, furious, panicked and self-absorbed.’
A Must-read book
How to Survive the Modern World
‘How to Survive the Modern World is the ultimate guide to navigating our unusual times. It identifies a range of themes that present acute challenges to our mental wellbeing. The book tackles our relationship to the news media, our ideas of love and sex, our assumptions about money and our careers, our attitudes to animals and the natural world, our admiration for science and technology, our belief in individualism and secularism – and our suspicion of quiet and solitude. In all cases, the book helps us to understand how we got to where we are, digging deeply and fascinatingly into the history of ideas, while pointing us towards a saner individual and collective future.
‘The emphasis isn’t just on understanding modern times but also on knowing how we can best relate to the difficulties these present. The book helps us to form a calmer, more authentic, more resilient and sometimes more light-hearted relationship to the follies and obsessions of our age. If modern times are (in part) something of a disease, this is both the diagnostic and the soothing, hope-filled cure.’
Read An Extract HERE
Photo: Via TelegraphIndia
The relevance of Chaplin's 'Modern Times'
‘…According to the opening title, the film narrates a “story of industry, of individual enterprise — humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness.” The machine is projected as the most outstanding achievement of human beings. However, Chaplin presents a contrasting picture of the devastating effects of industrialization on human beings. The brutal nature of the work at the factory leads to Chaplin’s character suffering a breakdown and being sent to an asylum. After his recovery and release from the hospital, he is arrested mistakenly and sent to jail. His presence at a mental asylum and a prison is, therefore, the direct consequence of working at the factory…’- Continue to read
How To Survive The Modern World
A pick from our GCGI archive
How to lead our lives, function and prosper in an increasingly polarised world?
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