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Hallo again to all.

We spent this past week traveling here and there in the south of England before, during, and after the 'Brexit' referendum vote. By now nearly every adult in the Western world is aware of the outcome, but precious few seem to have much of an idea what it means, or even what is this 'EU' thing that the UK just voted to leave.

As we write this, we are sitting in a departure lounge in London's Heathrow Airport, waiting for a flight to another EU country. We chose a seat from which we could see the information board, watching carefully to make sure we don't miss our gate announcement and thus miss our flight. Watching the list of destinations slowly evolve as time passes, we can't help but think that the world is a very big place made smaller by airplanes and internets. The board in front of us monitors flights to Dublin, Geneva, Berlin, Singapore, Houston, Addis Ababa, Oslo, Zagreb, Calgary, and many more cities. Other terminals of this vast airport have other flights on other airlines, perhaps to cities and continents not served from this one.

In most of those places, people have lives to live that are not going to change very much as a result of this unprecedented referendum. But a number of our friends' lives will be utterly upended by its downstream consequences, in ways that no one can even imagine at the moment. It is distressing.

We have spent a lot of time over the years communing with the past in Englands's ancient cathedrals. We have climbed into the attic of Ely Cathedral and been amazed by the Roman-numeral chalk markings made by 11th-century carpenters on wooden beams that are still strong. Salisbury and Ely and Gloucester and Canterbury are among our favourite cathedral buildings. The day after the referendum tallies were completed and the world learned that the 'Leave' side had prevailed, we got up early in the morning and drove several hours to Guildford, to sit inside its twentieth-century cathedral and think about the future. We chose Guildford because its cathedral is very new (not consecrated until 1961). Its modern style with ancient and timeless meaning was for us a perfect setting for the reflection we needed.*

Somewhere along the A3 in Surrey we saw this shocking billboard, which clinched our awareness of just how much callous manipulation had gone into the campaign adver — ah, there's our gate announcement, A25 — tising. We don't understand the motivation of those willing to produce such billboards to scare voters, but we very much understand the fear that has resulted from the outcome of the referendum. The New York Times in this leader noted 'Britain Rattles Postwar Order and Its Place as Pillar of Stability'. Having stability taken away is a path to fear.

There in Guildford Cathedral, surrounded not by gargoyles and flying buttresses but by modern red bricks and by marble hewn in our lifetime, we thought about pillars and stability and pillars of stability. Our Christian faith brought to life in Anglican worship is our pillar of stability. A sense of stability is just faith in the future, isn't it?

We treasure our past and are comforted by it. A visit to an 11th-century cathedral gives us a sense of unity with our heritage. A visit to its churchyard gives us a sense of unity with our forebears. A visit to a new and beautiful 20th-century cathdral such as Guildford cements our sense of stability and helps us absorb a vision of our future. It reminds us that we are not clinging to the past but merely enriched by it, and that the future has every bit as much promise as did the past. Yes we know that parish church attendance is down. Yes we know that parish churches are being closed for lack of money. Yes we know that many churches and cathedrals are rotting away for lack of maintenance. That is tragic but not relevant. If that Brexit billboard is symbolic of the dark parts of human nature, then Guildford Cathedral is powerfully symbolic of the stable present and joyful future of our lives as Anglican Christians.

See you next week.

Our Signatures

All of us at Anglicans Online

26 June 2016

*The University of Surrey, adjacent to Guildford Cathedral, was holding a (well-attended) new-student open house on the day of our visit. There was tremendous joy and optimism in the air, even though it was raining hard.

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