Europe, Elections and Esther (@darrenrhill)

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If there is one thing that lights up a social network it’s an election. The past week has seen twitter, Facebook and news feeds awash with stats, opinions and abuse. Local and European elections have taken part in the United Kingdom and across Europe, and, it would seem, if you take the media at face value, changes are taking place.

Meanwhile, we’ve been taking a look at the book of Esther. Hey Darren, that’s a bit of a jump! Bear with me. Esther is well-known as the only book in the Bible not to mention God. However, any book, passage or even verse, that concerns God’s people, really should be about God.

Esther tells the story of the attempted genocide of the Jews as they live in exile in Persia. The events give rise to the festival of Purim, celebrated by Jews around the world. A celebration of the nation’s survival and a nationalistic shout and celebration. as I reread the book, I wondered what was the overarching theme, what was the big picture of Esther.

  • Is it about nationalism, or Zionism?
  • Is it a feminist manifesto, extolling the power of women?
  • Is it about being in the right place at the right time?
  • Does it show that all politicians are out for their own gain?
  • Does it show us that fear of others leads to racism and potentially genocide?

… ah yes, elections

Nationalism and UKIP

The recent local and European elections have highlighted some interesting trends both in the UK and across Europe. There has been a surge of support for both nationalistic and anti-European parties. In the United Kingdom UKIP’s support rose, and although the party leadership and the BBC, may have over-stated things, there was a definite swing.

The question is whether the rise in support for these parties was a protest vote against the EU, the incumbent government or a rise in nationalism. Nationalism always worries me, well I am a born worrier, but nationalism can so easily move on to racism and we know what that entails.

Reading Esther I had a chilling reminder of what racism can lead to. Events throughout history have shown us that when nationalism and fear go together, people groups suffer. As Europe once again rides a wave of popular nationalistic support, we need skilled politicians to be in the right place at the right time. They need to say the right words and to guard against extremism.

Of course, I may just be overreacting. God isn’t explicitly mentioned in Esther, nor has God been explicitly mentioned during the European Elections. That doesn’t meant that God isn’t implicitly involved. I think I’ll pray.

About Darren Hill