I've been on the look out for something to read during Advent. I know, I should have been doing this two months ago and been already to go when the season started. But nothing seemed to strike the right chord with me until yesterday when I came across Tony Benn's Letters to My Grandchildren: Thoughts on the Future.
It's an unlikely choice, I know; yet it's a book full of advent themes - hope, justice, peace, a new world order where people are free and there's equality. I was also drawn to it because I wondered what kind of letters would I write to my grandchildren - one already here and another arriving in the New Year.
Benn gets off to a belting start: 'people have always dreamed of a world of peace and plenty but it was beyond man's capacity to secure it,' he says (p2), adding 'I have made many mistakes, and I have also become aware as I have got older how little I know. I am much less sure than I was in my youth that I am right about anything and for these reasons I am reluctant to give advice to you.' (p3).
Hope and humility - those are two great advent themes; recognising our need for a world better than the one we have, but realising that we don't have the resources in and of ourselves to make it happen.
He continues by suggesting that advances in technology raise fundamental moral issues that we have to face, adding that 'the teachings of Jesus are more relevant now because the stakes are higher, and the violent anti-Christian atheists who denounce those who follow Jesus completely fail to appreciate that science and technology offer no moral guidance as to what should be done with them.'
Hope, humility and holding on to the values we find in Jesus - now those are great advent themes worth hearing again.
I'm beginning to wish Tony Benn was my granddad.
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