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2004: Year of Destiny?

'Every 500 years or so it would seem that English history reaches a turning-point. Thus, in the first century, these islands received the Christian Faith, then in 597 Christianity was brought to the Anglo-Saxons. In 1066 the Norman Invasion took place and the feudal system was introduced with all that went with it. Some nineteen generations later, in 1535, the Act of Supremacy was passed and Henry VIII became the Head of the Church of England, bringing the country out of Roman Catholicism and the Medieval system into the Protestant and ultimately Modem Age. And now today, a similar period of time afterwards, the country seems to have come to a similar time of trouble, with a crisis that is national and economic, moral and spiritual. Three dates, 597, 1066 and 1535, which are all separated by the same length of time, 469 years, seem to be suggesting that great changes lie ahead'.

Such were the words I wrote ten years ago in 1993 in the article 'The Disintegration of the Church of England', in 'Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition'. In 1999 in the Channel 4 programme 'White Tribe', I repeated these words to the journalist Darcus Howe and was duly labelled 'mildly eccentric' in a review by the leftist newspaper 'The Guardian'.

Eccentric or not, I cannot alter the facts of history. Christianity did come to Roman Britain in the early years of the Christian Era, St Augustine did come to this country in exactly 597, the Normans did invade (and have stayed ever since) in exactly 1066, and the Reformation was prepared in 1535 (though some would put forward 1534 and others 1536 as the key date). And the fact is that the United Kingdom, founded in 1921, has been going through enormous changes in the last few decades. Whether the exact figure is 469 or not, there still seems to be some sort of historic change going on in this country every 500 years or so.

Lecturing on this theme at the ESSEC Graduate School in France some ten years ago, I said to students that if there was any truth in my hypothesis, then they should expect something to happen 469 years after 1535 and I invited them to reflect on what that event might be. The mathematically-minded will realise that I was talking about the year 2004 (1535 + 469). And the speculatively-minded will reflect on it, for curiously enough, now on the eve of 2004, some significant events are looming before us:

- The Anglican Communion is on the point of disintegrating, following the consecration of an active homosexual to its episcopate last November. Schism is threatened and dire warnings have been heard.

- The stability of the British monarchy has been threatened, with quite unproven allegations concerning the heir to the throne and the possible release of a 'secret cassette', disclosing a terrible scandal which will 'rock the monarchy to its foundations'. Meanwhile, others have voiced doubts about the health of the recently hospitalised Queen Elizabeth II.

- The present British government is proposing to sign a European Union Constitution, without first holding a referendum which it would undoubtedly lose. The opponents of this Constitution mention it as 'the end of 1,000 years of history', the end of Great Britain and indeed the end of England. For England would be divided by EU diktat into a series of 'Euroregions', which the present, illiberal, identity-card government is attempting to impose. At present no government has signed, let alone ratified, this Constitution about which there was great disagreement in Brussels in December 2003, but future events could unfold quite rapidly.

- As one of the nations which was forced to invade Iraq earlier this year, the government and authorities have consistently warned of a major terrorist attack against the country, perhaps: multiple assassinations of key figures; a hijacked airliner crashing into Buckingham Palace or the Houses of Parliament; a poison gas attack in the London Tube; a huge bomb in a vital oil refinery or chemical plant…

Let us hope that our suggestion that this country may undergo a terrible crisis in 2004, or immediately after, is totally false. Let us hope that we are utterly wrong. Let us pray.

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