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Seeing Yellow

Seeing Yellow

Bishop Pierre Whalon

27 March 2019 10:37AM

The leader of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, Bishop Pierre Whalon, on the “Yellow Vest” protests

Ce blog est également disponible en français
This blog is also available in French

Ayiti lòk – “Haiti is locked”. The “lock” is the violent demonstrations that have shaken the country in February and that are not finished. “Lafrans lòk” as well, after these months of Saturdays of the “Yellow Vests”. Many countries have also seen demonstrations expressed an almost-incoherent rage.

Where does this anger come from, burning kiosks and restaurants on the Champs-Elysees? What do the Yellow Vests really want? The Brexiteers? The fans of President Trump’s “Wall”? The middle-class members of Alternatif für Deutschland? How is it possible that Italy has a coalition government of two populist parties, one extreme right, the other extreme left? And the very young Austrian chancellor, also coming from the extreme right? And Poland? And Hungary? Not to mention Venezuela…

The Haitian demonstrators have reason to be furious. Their currency, the gourd, has dropped precipitously in recent months. This has further impoverished the most impoverished country in the world, whose government is manifestly in the grip of corruption.

But the Yellow Vests? It is difficult to summarise their demands, as they are manifold and contradictory – other than that President Emmanuel Macron resign. They have no replacement to offer, however, other than that he go. When someone is angry, it is said that “he sees red”, the color that the matador waves in front of the bull. But we could say that the Yellow Vests “see yellow.” Their demands are not truly political. They are the French version of a global frustration that does not have clear expression. Yellow is the color not of anger but of bile.

Where is the Church in this moment? We are lying low, for the most part, although the Church of England did invite the faithful to five days of prayer concerning the calamitous decision to leave the European Union. The Roman Church is consumed with paedophilia scandals, American evangelicals continue to support President Trump, and human and natural disasters keep Christians preoccupied in Africa, the Middle East, South America…

Well, Saint Paul exhorts his disciple Timothy in these words:

… proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully (2 Tim. 4: 2-5).

I think these verses trace the path for us Christians to follow, in these days of being lòk and “seeing yellow.”