BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day
© John Denney 7 February 2005
I was intrigued by a story in yesterday’s papers about a new history book that challenges a lot of accepted views about American history. It claims, for instance, that the early English settlers bought land from the native Americans, rather than stealing it. And President Franklin D Roosevelt deepened the economic misery of the 1930s rather than relieving it; and President Abraham Lincoln held decidedly racist views. Whether or not there is any truth in these claims, I can’t say, ‘cause I haven’t read the book, and I don’t know enough about the subject.
However, it made me wonder what received views of British history we ought to re-examine. Did King Alfred really burn the cakes, or was he the scapegoat for an incompetent housewife? Was Dunkirk a disastrous defeat rather than a glorious rearguard retreat? And might we claim that the British Empire was on the whole a good thing, bringing social & economic benefits and honest & efficient government to impoverished peasants and alleviating oppression? Not to mention cricket.
When was the last time you heard someone say, “It’s not cricket!” when there has been unfairness or injustice, or bigotry, or something underhand. We’re so used to all of these things nowadays, what with spin-doctors; and being economical with the truth; and the thin end of the wedge levering ever more open the door behind which indecency and immorality lie. Sadly, even the game of cricket itself isn’t what it used to be. You know: playing a straight bat, walking when you know the ball snicked your bat, and applauding the other team for a fine performance. Not winning at all costs.
Hutber’s Law states “Improvement equals deterioration”. The “new, improved” product on the supermarket shelf is usually more expensive, has cheaper ingredients and tastes worse than its predecessors. The Post Office improved its service by cutting down on its deliveries and making them later in the day. Business rationalisation usually means people out of work and less effective output. “No new taxes” means higher existing taxes. I could go on.
There is, though, I’m glad to say, one unchanging constant. The Bible says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. And his love endures for ever. So, whatever unexpected event happens today, whether it’s an improvement or a deterioration, you can always look to God to help you through it.