Today is St George’s Day. Cue articles about how we know almost nothing about St George and bewilderment as to how he became patron saint of England.
Instead of that, here’s a few dragons that I like to see expertly slayed in our own day.
1 – Foodbanks in the UK.
When I went to the USA a few years ago on sabbatical I was filled with both admiration and horror at the amount of food that the churches were giving away in foodbank operations. Wonder at the sheer commitment and horror at the need. I proudly said that this kind of thing would never become a reality in the UK as we had a good social security system in place and if anyone ever tried to change that then the population would rise up against whoever was being so foolish. Sadly I was wrong – I came back to foodbank Britain not the Britain I’d left some months before. It isn’t nationalism or unionism that will stop foodbanks either. To kill this dragon we need a St George to rise up in the political world and bring an end to benefit sanctions and and ensure the timely processing of benefit claims.
2 – Xenophobia, anglophobia, islamophobia, anti-Semitism etc
The dragon of racism is stalking us again. Oh for a St George who could kill it once and for all instead of merely maiming it. People are just people.
It is difficult to believe that we are now having to tackle a real threat from the political right to the progress that we had made in freeing Europe from the tyranny of war. It is equally hard to believe that Jewish communities in the UK complain about insecurity. It grieves me greatly that my Muslim neighbours are often presumed to be complicit in terror.
3 – Same-sex marriage
This was a baby dragon that we adopted as a pet but the truth is, it has now grown up and become a little frightening. Whereas once same-sex marriage was a rallying cry for the cause, now the very words are being used against those who want equality, particularly in the church. We don’t want same-sex marriage in church, we want marriage to be open to straight couples and same-sex couples alike. One institution, one blessing, one God, one sacrament. It is time for same-sex marriage to die.