St Bride's: Sermons

Four Years On

The Twin TowersThis Sunday, September 11th 2005, is the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America which have come to be known as 9/11. Four years on the world seems a dangerous and divided place, and Britain, especially London, exists in a nervous state of alertness against further attacks by Islamic militant groups. We have woken up to the fact that we are not the carefree, multi-culturally integrated society to which we are supposed to aspire. We are a divided nation made up of a diversity of ethnic groups, some of whom are completely un-integrated and whose young people are dangerously disillusioned and disconnected from mainstream society and culture. So what to do?

There are practical things we can do, and fairly quickly. First, we can take steps to understand and appreciate each others culture and religious traditions. Ignorance breeds prejudice and contempt, and there is far too much of that around. Second, we can make positive steps to value our own indigenous culture and traditions much more than we do. There are still elements of a shared cultural identity in Britain, based on language, community lore and customs, the Christian religion, the monarchy and our political and legal systems. Those settling on our shores must be encouraged to buy into this sense of identity as a prerequisite for settling here permanently. Thirdly we must deal promptly and robustly, through the appropriate legal channels, with those who abuse our hospitality and take advantage of our tolerant and free society to promote hatred, division and violence. And if necessary in the process call the bluff of the worst distortions of human rights legislation.

Of these three steps, I believe the most important is to rediscover our cultural and spiritual roots within the Christian tradition. In order to feel at home and confident in our diverse society we need a clear idea of where we have come from. We must know where we are and be comfortable with it. That suggests to me that the teaching of those cinderella subjects, history and religion, in our schools is of paramount importance for the future well-being of society.

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