So, my return to regular blogging all went a bit surreal yesterday – although, actually, it wasn’t my blogging so much as my tweeting that seemed to go a little (and I really do mean ‘little’, we’re not talking anything near Stephen Fry levels of attention here) viral. You see, as well as blogging about yesterday’s political activity I also tweeted this:
And while my tweeted link to my blog post got retweeted once, it was this tweet that got retweeted a fair amount (again, a fair amount for me, not the world in general). I would imagine, though I don’t have the statistics, that it being retweeted means it was seen by even more people. It was clear that, for some, the opportunity to retweet was an opportunity to not only point out a problem for a particular political party, but to use it as a positive for their own, differing and opposing, party. Well, that’s their prerogative, but it isn’t what I meant.
Yesterday evening I attended the monthly meeting of the Plymouth Rugby Referees Society. Starting refereeing has been a wonderful experience, and has given me as many opportunities for missional conversations with folk as almost anything else I’ve done since moving down here. Last night was no exception, as I had conversation with the Society’s Training Officer after the meeting over a pint, chatting about how the leading of worship can be seen through the metaphor of reffing a rugby match. (As it happens, he knows a little about church as his wife is a Senior Church Steward in a church in the Plymouth Circuit.)
I think the metaphor of refereeing can be applied to my decision yesterday as well. There are those who chose, rightly or wrongly, to interpret my decision against one party as a decision for theirs. As a referee, when I make a call to penalise a player and their team for foul play it is solely a decision against them. It makes no judgement on the other side. All I am doing is declaring that according to the Laws of Rugby this particular side has committed an offence. I’m not saying they’re better or worse than their opposition. The same is true in the opposite direction – when I blow my whistle and signal to indicate that a team has scored points, it is not a judgement on the team scored against, just a statement that, at this moment in time, one particular team has scored a try or a goal.
What I did yesterday was declare a penalty against one particular political party. I judged that, according to the Laws I follow as a follower and minister of Christ, the Laws of love, mercy, justice and humility, the party I once belonged to were no longer playing fairly and I blew the whistle on my membership. It was not a judgement on whether other teams are playing any more fairly. Just as being a ref has led to me committing not to join the local rugby club and to treat the Referees Society as my club so as to ensure I maintain visible neutrality, so relinquishing my membership of the LibDems gives the proper freedom to make a call on the actions of all political parties free from any commitments other than to those required of me by God and by the Church – so for those who were celebrating yesterday at my decision against the LibDems, please be aware I am equally able to make a call against your party of preference too!
Wherever you’re standing on the pitch, travel well.