I remember quite clearly the moment I came up with Declining to Fall. I had just finished writing my first novel, The Book Of Niv, which is, at it’s heart, about the search for meaning in the midst of a world filled with suffering. The book had been written almost entirely on pure instinct, intuition; every morning I’d take the dog for a walk and allow my mind to wander, and that would turn in to that day’s writing.
But the book posed a problem for me: the central character is about a Jewish man and his quest to find the God of the Torah, the Old Testament, yet when I handed it over to a friend to proof read, his comment was: ‘That’s the most Jewish book I’ve ever read, right up until the part when it becomes Christian.’
He was correct and I knew it, yet the logic within the philosophy laid out was also correct. No matter how hard I tried to unChristianise the conclusion, I couldn’t get away from it.
The heart of the conflict was this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
The Book Of Niv affirms this teaching, without ever making recourse to Jesus or the sermon on the mount. Yet, it is correct.
At around the same time, I had made an effort to read Edward Gibbons’ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. If it wasn’t obvious in 2019 when all this was taking place, it has become painfully so in 2020 that we are living through an epoch-defining moment. The old world order is crumbling, a new one must take its place, and we are at the crossroads, deciding among ourselves in a typically chaotic and fractured manner what form that new order will take. This is what is meant by an apocalypse.
The trick, if we can pull it off, is to bring the best of what we had with us in to the new, and leave the worst of the old behind. The only way we can do that is if we refuse to adopt the baser methods displayed by humanity at its worst, otherwise we, ourselves, carry forward what we seek to leave behind.
And as I lay on my bed one morning in 2019, contemplating all of this, the name came to me: Declining to Fall.
It is the voice of the man who, when struck on the cheek by way of threat, replies “I will not do as you say,” and lifts no finger of his own in retaliation but presents the other to be struck also.
Declining to Fall, then aims to show how that can be done. There is a wealth of knowledge from every age and every culture on how to stand firm against tyranny — on how good can overcome evil — because in truth the apocalypse happens in every age and in every culture. Old is always giving way to new. The Kingdom of Heaven is always at hand, if only we know how to find it.
Declining to Fall is written by me, Donna Rachel Edmunds. My background is in politics, having worked as a political advisor / MP’s assistant in both the European Parliament and Westminster. I then moved into journalism, and doing this!
I do take guest posts if they align with the intentions of the site, that is, if they present solutions first and foremost. If you are interested in contributing, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org