doctor who. protest. forget. abdicate.

12 04 2010

[Warning: Doctor Who plot spoiler from 10/04/10]

which doctor

So the Star Whale takes Starship UK on its own back to lead it from danger. A willing sacrifice made to save the human race (well, the UK) (except Scotland) (no change there) from destruction. The human race does not trust though, does not believe, cannot see a selfless act as just that: a selfless act. It captures the whale, forcing it to power the ship, torturing it in order to force it to do their will.

All the adults know this. They know that they have taken the very last Star Whale, and are torturing it to death, slowly, and feeding it with their own flesh and blood. They know, but they cannot live with it. So they are given a choice. They can protest against the treatment, the murder, the Police-state. But protest leads to their own death. The other option is to forget. Memory is erased, everyone carries on as if everything is normal. Fine.

Protest, or forget.

The Queen gets another option. She also knows. She is the highest authority. She can forget, or abdicate. She forgets, everything carries on. If she abdicates, the Star Whale is freed, the ship loses power, and everyone dies. Everyone. Every 10 years, she chooses to forget.

a different kind of queen

This is of course not real life, but Doctor Who: The Beast Below. There are parallels with the red pill/blue pill in The Matrix. And many parallels with life.

Having recently watched BBC Panorama’s Chocolate: the Bitter Truth, is it about the secret that we know most of our chocolate is produced using child slave labour  but we choose to forget. Because if we remembered, we couldn’t live with it. Children, fed to the monster. Protest? And not eat our favourite chocolate? Fat chance. We choose to forget, every time.

forget

Is it about the fact that our economic system, built on debt and gambling and insatiable greed, is unsustainable, rewarding those at the top of the pile for gambling with someone else‘s money and laying off those at the bottom of the pile at the first sign of trouble. We all know, but we all need it, or we wouldn’t have our mortgages, our credit cards, our overdrafts. Protest, we lose easy credit and our greed is unsatisfied and we have to look inside our own heads and see how unfulfilled we are. Or forget, carry on as before, even after the great crash of 2009.We choose to forget, every time.

Or maybe it is about the one and only of his kind, not a Star Whale but the son of god, who took the world on his back and carried it to safety, but was mistrusted, tortured, and left to die. He who when people looked into his eyes, they could never forget, and ended up protesting too much. We try to forget, every time.

Maybe it is about us, we who know what Jesus has done, but cannot handle it, cannot accept it; who instead of accepting his sacrifice tie him up and want him to do our bidding, to do it our way, with us in charge, not accepting selfless love but making him a slave to our bidding. That, or we forget, we ignore it, we allow our relationship to become a habit to become a religion to become a prison and we ignore the Star Whale that powers the ship that leads us through the asteroid belt and to safety before we even asked it to.

Protest, forget, or abdicate? Abdicate. Hand over the power. Leave the world in the hands of the dying whale, and watch everything die with it. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll be surprised that once you hand your power to the whale, the whale chooses life. Your life. Our life. My life.

To gain your life you must lose it. To hold power you must be prepared to give it up. Long live the Star Whale.

who's smiling?

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gold, mine. neighbour, mine.

18 03 2010

Is there nothing left we can buy without thinking about it? Can we not just be left alone to get on with our lives without lefty Guardian-reading Pharisees looking over their glasses at us and asking if its Fairtrade?

It’s my money, it’s my choice.

It started with coffee, I could handle that. I don’t really drink coffee.
Then it was chocolate. I can handle that, fair trade chocolate tastes better anyway.
It then included cotton, I could handle that. You rarely see fair trade cotton, so I didn’t feel bad for not buying it.
They talked about diamonds, I could handle that. I don’t buy diamonds very often.

Now they are including gold. Fairtrade gold? Is there nothing left? Is there no area of life that is sacred, that we can be left alone to not think, to un-think, to spend our money not think where its come from, who has mined it/packed it/shipped it/sold it/ been stolen and trafficked and beaten and worked 14 hours a day in a cramped overheated factory or dirty dangerous mine so that I can have lovely cheap things to make me feel better about myself?

No.

one (gold) ring to bind them


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2 fingers to the inheritance of vipers

15 12 2009

No babes in mangers but broods of vipers. No chestnuts roasting on an open fire but the rotten fruit of the children of Abraham. No royalty privilege but repentance.

brood of vipers

The set reading for this Sunday was a bit of surprise for those who think Christmas has already started. According to the Church of Retail and Commerce, it begins in September when the suntan lotion is replaced by tinsel and baubles. But according to the Church of England lectionary (like Pictionary only without the giggles), we are still firmly in advent. So, for us this week there were no shepherds or kings, no stables or donkeys. Instead, some fiery John the Baptist having a pop at his own followers.

The crowds follow him, as he preaches his message of repentance. He spots a bit of hypocrisy. Some people coming who are in it for the ride, going through the motions, don’t fully get it. He doesn’t have a quiet word. “You brood of vipers!” Wow. These are the people who are coming to him; not the classic scary street preacher having at go at those who don’t come. Why does he do this? Because repentance is a serious business. There is no room for elitism. And definitely no room for hereditary holiness: “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our Father’”. To a nation and belief system based on the assumption that they were the chosen ones and therefore were ok, this is big stuff.

We, of course, would never fall into that trap. We, the Church of England, the ‘proper’ church. We would never be arrogant enough to assume that we had it right. That all others were a pale reflection of proper worship, proper repentance, proper priesthood. Would we? We, the nation of the United Kingdom, a ‘proper’ country, would never assume we have a right to be healthy, wealthy, rich and comfortable at the expense of any others. We are the good people.  Aren’t we?

christmas crunch

When questioned, John goes on to give examples of living out true repentance, rather than paying it lip service. “Anyone who has two shirts should give to one who has none. Anyone who has food should do the same.” Here comes the Christmas crunch. In a time of excess of things and food, we are called to share. Our food our clothes our presents our chocolate our families our wealth. Not just some loose change as an after-thought.

This is bigger than you, me and our next-door neighbours. A global economy means global consequences. Who makes the clothes we wear? Who makes the chocolate we eat? If we close our ears to those difficult, very un-festive questions we are no better than a brood of hypocritical vipers looking for a salve to our conscience without a change to our lifestyle.

know this logo

Did you know that if your chocolate isn’t marked as fair-trade, then there is no guarantee the farmer was adequately paid? Or that slaves were not used in its production? Slaves! Often children. Most of our cheap chocolate comes from the Cote d’Ivoire, where use of chocolate slaves is rife. Now, thankfully there have been some significant victories in the world of chocolate production recently. Some of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bars are now Fairtrade. Nestle have recently announced that their 4-finger Kit Kat bars will be Fairtrade from January. These are big hitters and this is big news. It is an encouragement to people who have been campaigning for years. But it is still a tiny proportion of the market.

christmas crunch

If we want to take seriously John the Baptist’s challenge; if we want to take seriously the true, raw, honest and painful meaning of Christmas; if we want to be followers of Christ and not the crowd, then we must act differently. It may make us unpopular. Our families may not like us only buying fair-trade chocolate as presents. It is more expensive, so we buy less. (Why is it more expensive? Ask Tescos why they cannot absorb the extra cost into their vast profits.)  Our families and friends may not like us turning our lives around to fit Jesus in rather than just turning the lounge around to fit the tree in.  Tell them why.  And tell Cadbury’s, tell Nestle. Thank them for the fair-trade 4-finger Kit Kat, then give them 2 fingers, and ask them why not that bar too. Because we have no inherited right to chocolate produced in the dark, underbelly of slavery. We have no inherited right to have 2 shirts when others have only 1. We have no inherited right to speak of repentance if it does not impact us where it hurts.

Now that is a Christmas message. And John ended up dead for it. Nice.

For more information on these issues go to the Stop the Traffik campaign, the Fairtrade Foundation, visit your local Oxfam shop, and remember to always ask for Fairtrade coffee in in your local coffee shop. Contact Cadbury’sNestle and Mars here to thank them and ask them for more Fairtrade products.








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