, ,

For my many American friends:

For the end of the world was long ago,
And all we dwell to-day
As children of some second birth,
Like a strange people left on earth
After a judgment day.

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

My dearest friend NeoΒ has reminded us of Tom Paine’s words that ‘these are the times which try men’s souls’. But we might remind ourselves that in democratic elections, defeats are never as bad as we fear, just as victories are never as good as you think they will be.

One of the most distressing aspect of some parts of modern democratic politics is the attempt by some ‘attack dogs’ to pretend that the other side is our ‘enemy’. In a democracy we have opponents, men and women who do not believe as we do; but they are not our enemy, any more than we are their enemy. Those who treat democratic politics as though it was a battle-ground forget that the analogy is not complete.

So, President Obama has won, and as good democrats all will say that is the way the game went; the analysts will mull it over. But they cannot mull away the fact that nearly half those who voted did not trust the President; his opponents, if they are wise, will recall that more than half of those who did vote, voted for him. A healthy democracy will learn lessons from that.

I am not a terribly political animal, indeed this is the first time I have mentioned politics on this blog and may well be the last. But I have so many American readers that it felt wrong to ignore the great contest which gave forth its result today.

My quotation is from the ‘Ballad of the White Horse’ by Chesterton, which tells the story of King Alfred’s triumph against the Danes, and for me it is an ever-resent help in times when despair presses. How dire was Alfred’s plight early in his reign, and how the more glorious was his triumph against such odds.

However tempting it is for good Republicans to fall into despair, they should not. They should follow Kipling’s maxim of meeting triumph and disaster just the same. The former, after all, is, in this world, never complete; the same is true of the last.

Christians are citizens of another country, our sojourn here is that of strangers in a strange land, and we are like the children of Israel in Psalm 137:1. Our Kingdom is not this world, and it, and its lusts are passing away. If we put our faith in anything in this world, we build on sand – our hope lies elsewhere. However much we may sometimes think that politics is the way to achieve what we want as Christians, it never works out that way – Mammon’s agenda will always prevail – in this world.