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13 May 2016

Eurovision: it's not about the music

Eurovision: it's not about the music

Alexandra Davis is communications assistant at the Evangelical Alliance.

Eurovision is pretty divisive. Like Marmite, there are the lovers, and there are the haters

Personally, I'm on the love side of things. I don't know why people kick up such a stink about a singing competition. I'm a believer in connecting people, being better together, building bridges not walls, and other such soundbites.

I'm not saying that Eurovision is a high class showcase for supreme musical talent, but I do think it's just not as awful as some people make out. It's just singing, isn't it? The haters need to chill out.

Every year across Europe – with those other ancient European countries, Russia and Israel, plus of course last year's special guest, Australia – we sit around and vote for our friends, regardless of the music. Or if not our friends, then probably our least worst enemy. Because Eurovision is not about the music.

Eurovision is about peace.

There is a significant difference between European history before and after the middle of the last century. Before 1945 Britain was basically in a state of war or almost-war with one of our near neighbours most of the time. A hundred years before the world wars pitted Britain and France against Germany, Britain was allied with Austria and Russia slogging it out at Waterloo against the French. We were really, really good at fighting each other.

So why did the second half of the 20th century see such a change in perspective towards our European neighbours?

Yep, you're right: Eurovision.

I'm serious. Since we've been subjecting each other to national musical humiliation, we just seem to be less inclined to have a violent fight. The Bible makes a link between joy and strength, and maybe our politicians have underestimated the power of fun? Like all other neighbouring countries in human history, Britain, France and Germany have a torrid, bloody history, but each year, on the second weekend of May, we come together in solidarity while all of Europe ignores us and votes for someone – anyone – else. We are united in neglect.

My all-time favourite Bible passage is Micah 4:3-4: "The Lord will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away. They will hammer their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear. The Lord of heaven's armies has made this promise!"

We might as well add on the end: "And every year they will have a singing competition and everyone will have a nice time." But we won't - biblical inerrancy and all that.

The point of this passage is not only that eventually wars will end, but that we will have security and we will flourish – because when everyone's enjoying living in peace and prosperity with their own grapevines and fig trees, they are unafraid, confident and secure in their own place.

And there's a little something of Eurovision in that: when we are at peace, when we begin to flourish in our own security, our sorrow turns to joy, our joy into dancing, and dancing inevitably leads to a cross-continental singing competition. Right?

So when it's all over and heaven has become our home, there will be no more war. But there will be singing, possibly competitively, in which case you'll find me down the front, handing out the scorecards.

Image: CC Wikimedia Commons