Go back to normal view


Vicar's Bit November 2018

The Gathering Storm – prophetic voices Vicar’s bit Revd John Longuet-Higgins


I guess more of us have seen the movie than read the book. In 2002 the HBO film “The Gathering Storm” was out. Albert Finney was Winston Churchill and Vanessa Redgrave was his wife Clementine Churchill. Churchill himself wrote the book “the Gathering Storm” about his “wilderness years”, the period in the 1930s when he protested prophetically about the rise of Adolf Hitler. Appeasement was popular then.


As I write, one of the worst US storms ever, storm “Michael”, hit the Florida Coast. (Yesterday Olive and I came back from our holiday in Maine). Storm damage, especially the flattened trees and mashed up houses, reminds one of the absolute destructions of “total war”. 100 years on from the end of WW1 we are reminded of the trenches, the tree stumps, the barbed wire; as if a mighty and cruel storm had swept across the land.


Unlike before Word War 2, in WW1 there was precious little warning of the “Gathering Storm”. The death of an Austrian royal heir in Sarajevo set the conflagration off. Europe, their colonies too, and then after 1917, the whole world was at war. 100 years on from WW1, do we have prophetic voices, like Winston Churchill’s voice in the 1930s, for us to listen to?


Recently, John Simpson of the BBC, spoke about the temperature this year in Southern Iraq. During the summer it has been consistently over 50 degrees. The Euphrates River dried up (it did not snow upstream). There was no drinking water in the city of Basra. The electricity was erratic. No air conditioning. There were riots. John Simpson suggested that if the weather repeated itself next year (quite likely) the people would rise-up.


This week scientists told us that global warming is likely to rise by 2 degrees rather than 1.5 degrees. A 2 degrees rise in global temperature will not feel good in a hundred years from now. The “Gathering Storm” will be unleashed across the world.  Coastal areas will be inundated, all coral reefs gone, there will be massive movements of people. And the thin veneer of “civilisation” will go. The world will be a much more threatening place.


How we live now impacts on the future peace of the world. Can we be that bit more environmentally friendly; think more sustainably? And can we plan ahead for others’ sake? Can we picture the world of our children’s children? For this world is God’s gift to us, and to our children’s children too. There is no Plan(et) B.


As Churchill did in the 1930s, let us try to live prophetically. We can talk amongst ourselves, in 2018, of the evidence we see, saying ‘here is the Gathering Storm’; this storm and the next one and next one too.