A world gone mad

I arrived home on Friday evening after having seen a production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park only to switch on the news and hear about what was happening in Turkey. A military coup was underway and the BBC News was showing live pictures of people trying to get on to one of the bridges over the Bosphorus only to be faced with the sound of gun fire.  It followed waking up that morning to find out that 84 people had died in the carnage in Nice and that more were critically ill. It followed the dreadful shooting of police officers in Dallas which in turn followed the shooting of African-American citizens by the police in the south of the USA.

What is happening?  How do I make sense of the world?

All of these violent acts were in addition to the upheavals occurring in our own political system; a leadership race becomes a coronation; a leader without support from colleagues refuses to stand down even though challengers emerge; markets are in turmoil one day and then booming the day after.

In the church we spend even more time talking about who is allowed to love who, whilst hundreds and thousands fall out of love with the church.

What is happening? How do I make sense of the world?


The Beastie Boys


It feels as though the world has gone mad.  I never thought I’d be quoting lyrics from a song by the Beastie Boys, but life is more than surprising.  In March 2003 in the midst of the Bush-Blair war on terror and on Iraq they sang a protest song called ‘In a world gone mad’ the chorus goes

In a world gone mad it’s hard to think right
So much violence hate and spite
Murder going on all day and night
Due time we fight the non-violent fight.

Watching ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ again after so many years I was struck particularly by the message of non-violent resistance in the face of violence which we found in Jesus.  There, on stage, before Pilate, before Herod, Jesus looks like the victim whilst he is the victor. It was such a powerful image, this bleeding tortured man, crowned with thorns and receiving the 40 lashes minus one.  In the staging of that moment in the passion, instead of whipping him, the cast ran up and threw glitter at him which stuck to his sweating bloodied body.  It sounds weird but it worked fantastically well because the more he was beaten the more glorious he became. It sounds like madness and, of course, when the apostles and the early Christians began witnessing to Christ after his resurrection it sounded like madness.


I love the episode in the Acts of the Apostles in which Paul is standing before Festus.  As Paul gives his testimony before King Agrippa, Festus cries out

‘You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!’ But Paul said, ‘I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth.’ (Acts 26.24-15)

The only way of responding to the madness is to witness to Christ, and in a non-violent way, to ‘fight the non-violent fight’ to quote those Beastie Boys and to continually proclaim a better way whether that be in domestic politics, the life of the church, of our communities, of our world, a way that witnesses to the God who embraced the cross, defeated death, that the world may live.

Holy God,
when madness abounds
may love witness strong
and your word be heard
above the world’s clamour.

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