Tuesday 9 December 2014

History Lesson

Today, Liverpool play Basel in the UEFA Champions League. We (I use the first person plural when talking of the Reds) have to win to go through to the last 16. Lose, and we could be concentrating on the League Cup

10 years ago yesterday, we met Olympiakos (who play merry hell with my spell checker) at the same stage. We had to score three goals in the second half to go through. We did just that, including a screamer from Steven Gerrard. The rest is history.

Unfortunately, history is all that it now is. Liverpool fans sing about the club's history. We tell the stories of Istanbul. Those of us who are old enough remember that smashing header by Tommy Smith to win our first one. But it's only history.

I reckon tradition just becomes history when it's no longer relived for real. Why do Labour supporters bang on about Attlee, Tories (and UKIP members, for that matter) about Maggie Thatcher? Because their modern successors are standing on the toenails of giants, squabbling over their minor differences in how to deal with the modern world. Why is the SNP able to invoke the spirit of Wallace? Because they've picked up his fight and run with it.

So the Kop will roar them on today. The commentators will refer to the special atmosphere of a "night of European football". But for our history to be more than just that, the players need have the spirit of '04-5, the spirit of Istanbul, the spirit of Shankly and Kenny and Bob Paisley, the heart of Tommy Smith or Emlyn Hughes. That's when history will be tradition.

When the Church calls up the stories of Jesus - is it history or living tradition? Are we bringing the life of the One who loved the outsider into our place? Are we retelling events, or re-calling them? There's Christians around the world living his life of sacrifice, even to the end. But we - are we standing in the tradition of the ones who broke the slave trade? The ones who inspired the early English socialists? The ones who contributed to the Enlightenment - whether it was a good idea or not - through humanism combined with the belief in a rational God?

Do we live the sharing of the early Church, or just tell the story as a matter of history? Does the Spirit fall in tongues of fire in our hearts, or in our Bibles?

Are we living with history, or tradition?

And for what it's worth, I reckon Liverpool will let an early goal in, get over - anxious, and lose - heroically - 2-1.

1 comment :

  1. Welcome to the "Europa League" - where thin squads go to die.


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl