Report on Brexit Workshop at GC AMM

Andrew Norman, a CofE minister in Guidlford attended GC Annual Members Meeting and Workshop on Brexit on November 5th 2016. He writes:


Following the business, Paul Bodenham introduced a workshop in which we considered the aftermath of Brexit. What did we think a ‘good Brexit’ would look like?


Straight after the result of the referendum realising: “We are not after all living in the sort of country we thought we were.”


“The church has done little obvious theological reflection on this.” But Paul referred us to some very perceptive thoughts in a lecture given recently at St Martin-in-the-Fields by the American theologian Stanley Hauerwas:


“In his beautifully written memoir, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern dispatches from an ancient landscape (Flatiron Books, 2015), James Rebanks helps me and others who similarly know nothing about sheep to have some sense of what it means to be a shepherd. Rebanks is well prepared to perform this task, since he comes from a line of shepherds in the Lake District in Cumbria.” He went back to this himself rather than pursuing a successful career. Rebanks tells how he now sometimes “imitates his flock’s sense that all is as it should be by lying down in the grass to drink sweet and pure water from a stream. He rolls on his back to watch the clouds racing by. His well-trained sheepdogs, Floss and Tan, who have never seen him so relaxed, come and lie next to him. He breathes in the cool mountain air; he listens to the ewes calling to the lambs to follow them through the rocky crags; and he thinks: “This is my life. I want for no other.”


Hauerwas then reflected: “This is my life. I want for no other” — this is an extraordinary declaration that one rarely hears anyone make. As odd as it may seem, I want to suggest that the scarcity of this declaration in contemporary life is a clue to understanding our cultural moment. That many people feel forced to live lives that they do not want helps to explain the politics … the sense of outrage that currently grips so many … is, I think, an indication that people are profoundly unhappy with the lives that they are living or have lived. If what I am suggesting has merit, it is hard to know where even to begin.” Yet, “surely, however, as Christians, we have at our disposal language that can help us say to one another why it is so important that we live lives that can be called good. A people so constituted, I think, would be the first line of defence against the politics of resentment which defines our times.”


[And does this not now connect with what has happened in the United States? Andrew]


Another member of the Green Christian steering group then spoke: If many of us now felt “we are in an ‘alien land’ as disciples of Jesus Christ … still discipleship involves our commitment to care for the environment.” And if all the maelstrom stirred up by Brexit “reveals the divisions, greed, phobias and delusions in a world without the servant-love of Jesus”, yet, “our task is to live now as if the kingdom of God was present” – and, in practice, “nothing less than a new model of the economy is called for.”


Jonathan Essex Green councillor for Redhill and also Surrey County Council, then made an invited presentation: Back in the summer “I felt we’d lost” – though also that the referendum had presented us all with the wrong sort of choice” because various specific issues were concerning people, e.g. “limiting the population size/ reform of the EU democratic process/ issues of inequality and of basically feeling left out”.


Jonathan Essex noted “the hate reflected in the media these last few weeks – on both sides of the debate” and asked, “how now to move on from the politics of alienation?”


He suggested that a progressive political alliance would be the best way forward. Challenging the attitude that “power must be lost to globalization”, he invited us instead, to “love our way into localization”.


It was a  good day – I came away with more hope – and looking forward to especially helping with the Joy in Enough project exploring how our economic system must evolve.



Author: Editor 1 | Date: 14 November, 2016 | Category: JiE | Comments: 1

Comments on "Report on Brexit Workshop at GC AMM"

Chris Polhill:

November 15, 2016

Thankyou for writing up some of the discussion, I like the idea of the contentment of the shepherd with his life as it is. Had hoped to be at this meeting but a bug you wouldn't want got in the way, so good to hear something of the day. Joy in enough sounds great, I have an enough comment as a reminder next to my credit card.

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