Welcome to the EastEnders 30th Anniversary edition of Wesley News! I know, I don’t watch it either, but even EastEndersphobes such as you and I have had great difficulty escaping the unmasking of the perpetrator who murdered Lucy Beale…cue dramatic drums!
The fictional Albert Square around which EastEnders is set, is based, we are told, on Fassett Square in the London Borough of Hackney. In 1985 Fassett Square was a rather run down square of houses facing on to a community garden, unremarkable but representative of a reasonably typical East End neighbourhood. In the 30 years since Fassett Square has gone significantly up market. Now every house in the square is valued at over £1m. How things change!
I would be amazed (and concerned) if you had never heard of EastEnders. I would also be amazed (though not concerned) if you had heard of Georg Jellinek. Georg was a 19th Century Austrian lawyer. In his book ‘System of Subjective Laws’ he analyses what he calls, ‘the normative power of the factual’….. Stay with me dear reader, we will get to the point in a moment!....By this he meant the tendency among human beings to assign normative authority to actually existing states of affairs *. In other words Georg had observed the tendency of human beings to say, ‘things have always been like this, therefore this must be the way things should be.’ He also went on to say that when a major upheaval or disruption occurs people soon adapt to their new, changed circumstances and begin to think of that as normal.
To apply the Jellinek theory to Fassett Square; in 1985, it was assumed that it was quite normal for this part of London to be tired and rundown, just as now after 3 decades of rapidly escalating house prices in the capital it is accepted as normal that living in this square is the preserve of millionaires.
This led me to reflect on how easily we accept the status quo. Of course much of your present reality will be good and worthy not only of acceptance but also of celebration. But not all of it, there may well be some things that you just accept as being normal that really need changing. And then, beyond our personal sphere, in our communities and across the globe what are the things we simplyaccept as having always been like that and yet know in our hearts are plain wrong? Lent is a time for reflection, a time to contemplate change and a time to dream of a new normal called the kingdom of God where justice and righteousness and peace are a reality for all.Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared….God’s home is now among his people!.....He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
* As quoted in ‘The Sleepwalkers’ by Christopher Clark 2012 Pengui