Odysseues and the Sirens

It’s been four months since the UK voted to leave the European Union on 23rd June 2016. Many of the political pre-vote threats and promises (on both sides) have failed to materialise, but one thing is sure, we’re setting our course for new and unchartered seas.

I think the real reason the UK is leaving the European Union is that we can’t win the Eurovision Song Contest anymore. The last time we won it was in 1997 and every year since has been a travesty... Perhaps if they’d let us win just once or twice in the last 20 years things may have been different.

Of course I’m only joking, but there’s a grain of truth behind the banter. Britain’s identity has always been divided between European and non European (we perhaps identify more with the many English speaking nations than we do with our closer European neighbours). The telling thing is that when British people talk about ‘Europe’ they don’t include the UK, they usually mean ‘all the other European countries’.

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Do you feel like you are in a time of transition? Does it seem that circumstances are changing and shaking all around you, relationships are being tested and things are happening so fast that it seems hard to keep up with it all?

If you are nodding your head or saying "yes" to one or more of the above you are not alone. In fact you are amongst many, not just in the UK, but around the globe.

For some this is happening in more than one area. Family, friendships, work situations and churches; it can seem quite unsettling to say the least. So what can we hold onto during these times and what should we look out for?

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The meeting is on a Sunday within a church building in London, England. There is a small band on the stage leading corporate songs and a presentation screen with lyrics. During the service there is an inspiring talk, a moment of silence and reflection and even an offering. But this is not church as we know it, this is church without God. Since its launch three years ago Sunday Assembly has grown to around 70 hubs all over the world – each running weekly meetings.

This may sound puzzling to Christians or even shocking at first. The Sunday Assembly’s original motif in 2013 of 'atheist church' was designed to do just that and maximise media interest (it worked). The Sunday Assembly (SA) aspiration was – ‘We don't do God or religion but we do 100% celebration of life’. They wanted to provide a place of positive social connection that was fun, aspirational and inspiring.

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After the murder of a priest in France by jihadist killers, the Pope said that 'the world is at war' (28th July 2016). He linked the escalating terrorism attacks in Europe with the first and second world wars. He was basically saying that Europe has entered the third world war.

In our times horrific killings in the name of ‘so called Islamic State’ (IS)are appearing in the news with incredible regularity. If not directly linked to this particular terrorist group they are often perpetrated by vulnerable, mentally unstable individuals who have certainly been influenced by IS. Ideologically they crave a totalitarian Islamic State, their method is to destroy and terrorise all that oppose them. These acts of murder are all the more heinous because they are randomly targeted at defenceless civilians; families on the beach, or watching a fireworks display. But that’s the point, they want secular European society and government to know that we are all the enemy.

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