June 27, 2016

BREXIT for Breakfast: Where were you on 24-6?

by Clint Archer

The reason we all remember where we were on 9/11 is because the events were undeniably dramatic, dastardly, and devastating. We knew we were witnessing something historic and horrifying. Brexit is not that.

A lot of people on Twitter are getting the words “historic” and “histrionics” confused.

EU Referendum

If/when you heard that Britain voted to exit the European Union on Friday, you would have been excused for greeting the news with a nonchalant, meh.Nobody died. No laws were broken. And nothing was lost (if you don’t count the $2,100,000,000,000 that evaporated from the world markets in a puff of panic). In one sense it was just the Brits being British and the world will keep turning. And yet, therein lies the rub. The Brits were being British instead of European, which is what got them on a sticky wicket. (If you’re not in the mood for obscure British idioms, you should stop reading).

If you’re anything like me or millions of other geographically estranged observers, far removed from the epicenter of the fray, you may have these two simple questions: Who cares, and why?

I’m not going to give you the bacon, eggs, Welsh rarebit and Earl Gray version; I’ll give you the pop-tart and black coffee version. For a more satisfying and mentally nourishing explanation of the implications for Western civilization, I refer you to Dr. Al Mohler.

What happened?

For centuries Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) enjoyed expanding her influence into every nook and cranny of the globe. It’s no accident that you and I can share English as a mother tongue although I live in Africa and you live in North America, or India, or Hong Kong, or Australia. This imperial expansion made our petite mother island very, very wealthy and powerful.

One by one British colonies gained independence. Sad for Britain.

World War I and II happened. And the Brits and their out-the-house children (commonwealth colonies and yes, the USA) saved the world from some scary and nasty Europeans.
brexit_wall

Skip scene to June 23, 2016. Everyone on that side of the pond had long since kissed and made up and linked arms to form the European Union, a political and economic union of 28 countries. So for a while now Britons have been lumped in as just another card in the EU deck. But young Brits, who don’t long for the days of world domination and who just enjoy moving to Amsterdam and back at will, don’t miss economic independence.

The EU makes it easier to pursue happiness; i.e. the American Dream, Eurostyle. Europeans and Brits can relocate, open businesses, sell their stuff, work, and go to school wherever they choose. Now people can find a good croissant in Stradford-upon-Avon and a mean figgy pudding in Tuscany.

However, older folk in Yorkshire don’t quite like how their grandkid’s classroom is jam-packed with greasy foreigners and how he struggles to get a spot on the school cricket team. Not really, but kinda.

Then, on June 24 everyone got narked because of the shambolic dog’s dinner, thanks to the gormless PM who was off his trolley when he caused some barney. Translation: the Prime Minister messed up royally.

The PM is like a President except he can be summoned for a chiding by his lady boss, and also he knows that making a massive error in judgment means he should probably resign on the spot, not run for re-election.

I’m fuzzy on why this is David Cameron’s fault, but my British friends can’t stop cursing him long enough to articulate any specifics. But he somehow clumsily caused a referendum (a yes/no type vote), which he was sure everyone would use to remain in the EU. Scotland did vote to remain, Northern Ireland did vote to remain, and even the majority of London voted to remain. But the shires (think Downton Abbey, Hobbiton, and the Yorkshire kid’s grandparents) outvoted them all and said “Pip pip TTFN” or “exit.”

So, now the British are British again, and not European. And Bob’s your uncle.

What it means?

Good things: Brits can now make all their laws for themselves instead of having an unelected German lady tell them how much to charge for an orange and how many oranges have to be in marmalade before it can be called marmalade. Also, they can buy oranges from Canada again, which the EU had made taboo because of a spat the Portuguese had with the Canucks about orange exports. So, things like that.

Bad things that some people think are good: Brits can now limit how many Czechs and Dutchmen can be in their country, which makes cricket tryouts easier for the Yorkshire kids. Not really, but kinda.

big ben down

Bad things: Well, there’s the whole $2.1 trillion loss of value on the world markets thing. Everyone who knows how to preserve wealth decided it’s no longer safe to keep money in, say, your pension investment anymore. You probably got the memo too late and just lost a ton of money. So there’s that.

Most of the tangible repercussions will indeed be economic. The EU greased the slide for normal people to become well-off, so they could buy iPhones and Kindles and the stuff your wife sells on Etsy.com and tickets to visit America. Now, not so much. Eventually we will all feel that pinch.

Also, it’s a bit bad for British missionaries wanting to plant churches in Stockholm or Antwerp who now need to get visas and permits.

And it might get quite bad for the EU if other countries follow suit. A Grexit would be a blessed subtraction, but the Italeave, Czechout, and Departugal would shred the fabric of the EU.

And it might get really bad for England and Wales if Scotland and maybe even Northern Ireland vote to cede from the United Kingdom and go back to the EU (think Braveheart and Patriot Games bad). The Union Jack might look quite different a few Olympics from now.  Our kids will surely grow up in a dystopian post 24/6 world. Sniff.

What it means for Christians?

Nothing.

I mean, sure, there was a tectonic shift in the globalization trend that might warrant a page or two in the next edition of Western Civilization textbooks.

And if the actual anti-christ is alive and gearing up for a one world government, he’s probably scratching his head at this setback. But then again, he’s got the US elections to keep him busy.

still friends

But in reality, the worst thing that can happen from the collapse of the EU and the UK (or for that matter the Clintonization/Trumpification of America or the great degeneration of wherever it is that you live), is that the uphill grind of making a comfortable living, sending our kids to college, and retiring before we’re dead will become steeper and longer than what we are used to. The reality is that this could still have been the case if Britain had chosen to remain in the EU.

Is that sad? Sure. Is it catastrophic? Hardly.

The post 24/6 austerity will feel unpleasant…in this life. But this life is not where we as Christians have our treasures stashed. Most people in most places in most periods of history have slogged a harder graft than us anyway. And the united kingdom of God is still spreading swimmingly. The Church is still steadily being built, the gates of Hades and the exits of empires are still no closer to prevailing against the cause of Christ than they were last Thursday.

I think that if Habakkuk were here, quietly awaiting the fallout of this news, he’d assure us that though the figgy pudding should not blossom, and there be no marmalade on the shelves, though the tax on olive oil becomes prohibitive, and the fields yield no oranges, though the bangers and mash become scarce and the Earl Grey be cut off from Starbucks, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord and I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab 3:18).

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Helk

    Good point Clint- it means nothing in essence for Christians. Disclaimer- I voted to leave not because I am a bigot (as far as I can work out) but for sovereignty. Either way, what’s been appalling has been the behaviour of Christians who should know better. My brothers and sisters in Christ have been moping in despair, if not posting angry tirades about the result on social media, such that my wife and I have had to have a break from social media. If only we were as passionate about the the gospel and discipleship as we were about the referendum

    • Every nation reels at their political upheaval from time to time. I think November will test US Christians. South Africans recently had a dose when the president fired the finance minister over a personal spat and replaced him with a buddy who had no experience and then fired the buddy 2 days later. But that’s where being a Calvinist comes in real handy! God is in control.

  • Ant

    My Daughter who is London at the moment says the English are behaving very badly, telling Pakkies (born in London) to pack their bags and go home. I am not surprised by their selfish behaviour. I have seen it first hand myself. The only people I can relate to was a small church in Abingdon. What a great church tucked away in the back roads.

    • Now is a good time for Christians to be a shining witness.

    • Kofi Adu-Boahen

      Not all the English… (Southeast Londoner in a heavily mixed community)

  • Andrew Henricks

    Can somebody write a book on all of the world events that were supposed to usher in the end-times but never did? When I was a teen, late 90’s to 00’s, and the EU was surging in power, Romano Prodi was supposed to usher in the one world government. Now we are here…

    • That would make a great book.

    • Still Waters

      That would make a very long book – basically a history of the world since about 30 A.D. Even the Thessalonians got their end-times signals mixed and Paul had to straighten them out. Then there was 70 A.D., and the sacking of Rome, and the year 666 (or was it 616?), etc. etc.

  • Hohn Cho

    I’ve been following this closely for some time, and this is the best article I’ve found (by a significant margin) that explains the situation.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/brexit-a-very-british-revolution-1466800383

    Cameron is being blamed because he called the referendum primarily to settle an internal political issue (the growing Tory conflict on the EU, which was getting worse due to the rising influence of UKIP) and didn’t really seem to grasp the enormity of the stakes when he did, which is arguably part of a pattern of tactical brinksmanship by Cameron.

    He then went to the EU to negotiate a better deal for the UK, and was basically sent away with a pat on the head and some scraps. A man of greater integrity would have admitted this and taken some time for reflection before deciding what to do, but instead he tried to sell the negotiations as a victory. The UK press rightly called him on it, and Cameron was pretty much pilloried in the court of public opinion.

    There were also some dodgy actions taken by Cameron’s Remain campaign (including a large quantity of expenditures in favor of Remain that were front-loaded before the official campaign started, thus exempting them from the campaign budgets), and a performance in the campaign and especially debates that were reviewed as generally lackluster at best, to quite pathetic at worst.

    The main opposition party, Labour, didn’t exactly acquit itself well, either, and the radical left-wing head of that party, Jeremy Corbyn, was accused of lukewarm support for Remain, and he even refused to campaign with Cameron. Many traditionally Labour strongholds ended up voting in favor of Leave, and that could have turned the difference.

    Anyway, all that to say that there is plenty of blame to go around. Personally, I think this is going to cause some short-medium term economic hardship, but in the long run I believe the UK will appreciate having some national sovereignty instead of signing over a large amount of power to unelected EU bureaucrats in Brussels.

    The thing that boggles my mind are the (unconfirmed, to be fair) reports that there was no real contingency planning for a Leave vote in either the UK or EU governments. If true, that is somewhat shocking negligence.

    • So, to summarize: a politician did something for political reasons instead of what was wise and humble, and it lead to two trillion dollars going missing. Sounds about right.

      • Hohn

        tldr; yes. 🙂

    • John

      “… in the long run I believe the UK will appreciate having some national sovereignty instead of signing over a large amount of power to unelected EU bureaucrats in Brussels.” Exactly!!

    • John Dunning

      I know Cameron is being blamed for this whole thing by many people, but I do think that’s more than a little unfair. Personally I wouldn’t trust him or any other politician that comes immediately to mind, and I most definitely place no hope in politics. But the whole thing about an EU referendum goes way before Cameron ever picked up the baton. I seem to remember Tony Blair promising the UK a referendum as far back as about 2004 if I remember rightly, but he managed to weasle his way out of allowing it to happen. At least Cameron had the backbone to deliver on his promise, whether it went according to his plan or not. How can he be blamed for allowing a supposed democratic nation’s citizens their say in deciding something so momentously important?

      • Hohn

        As I said, I think Leave will be better for the UK in the longer-term, and if I’d had a vote, I would have voted Leave. So I’m not blaming Cameron for the end result. I’m simply explaining why Cameron is being blamed by so many in the UK, especially his fellow Remain supporters. On that level, can you see why many believe the specific process Cameron orchestrated and oversaw was a bit, well, shambolic?

  • Jason

    Czechout was my favorite.

    I don’t really see any eschatological significance in these events. However, I do see it as a bit of a blessing the the whole world isn’t marching to the same beat just yet.

    In this case, I suspect Britain may find that their membership fees may have been more like protection money.

    • I was most excited when there were ten member states. Maybe the Czechout and other exits will get the number back in line with the ten horns prophecy. 🙂

      • Jason

        We need to get word out. The people demand more grounds for idle speculation!

      • Still Waters

        I actually saw that prediction – that now the EU would dwindle again to ten countries, leading to the rise of the Anti-Christ. Since it was an acquaintance, I had to bite my tongues and not snarkily reply that one Hal Lindsay had already made that prediction several decades ago, when the EU was about to acquire their tenth country, and nothing happened that time.

  • 4Commencefiring4

    Ah, those Brits. Got to love them:

    “I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Who lives in that castle, my good man?”
    “King of the who?”
    “The Britons.”
    “Who are the Britons?”
    “All of us. We’re all Britons. And I am your king!”
    “I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we had an autonomous collective.”
    “Well, I didn’t vote for you.”
    “You don’t vote for the king.”
    “Well how’d you become king, then?”
    etc……..

  • Darrin

    I don’t think anyone from Prague or Ghent would have challenged for the 1st 12 in Richmond, Clint. I always enjoy your tongue in cheek ways of expressing important truths.