Andy Flannagan - Those Who Show Up
Muddy Pearl 2015 ISBN 978 1 910012 19 2 £9.99
Whenever a General Election comes around Christians ask the same question: “How should I vote?” This is a complex question: do we vote for the person, the policy, the principle or the party?
In many ways the “How should I vote?” question can be an exercise in missing the point. By contrast Andy Flannagan has written an engaging book about how a General Election can be an excellent opportunity to reflect on how we can be more intentional and effective in our political engagement.
Flannagan weaves a fascinating narrative from the stories of various people who are attached to all the major parties. Here are accounts of people who have shown up and been willing to get involved in the political process. What I particularly liked was that alongside some fairly spectacular stories of Christians being involved in politics there are also stories of people who have made a difference to their community without actually getting elected.
The point is active political engagement; the willingness of people to get actively involved in the process of thinking through and shaping politics in our nation. Flannagan seeks to root this narrative in two chapters of biblical and theological reflection.
For me this was the least compelling part of the book. Rather than a sweep through every book of the Bible it might have been better to home in on characters like Joseph and Daniel, and look at the Book of Proverbs in more detail. The chapter on the New Testament is a bit thin and does not do sufficient justice to the Church as a truly counter-cultural movement.
I also felt that Flannagan appeared to place too much confidence in politics and the political process as an agent of change. When the Church becomes too cosy with the establishment, it is often the Church that loses its distinctiveness. With this warning, read the book and pray about how you can show up.
John Woods is pastor of Lancing Tabernacle in West Sussex