Outrageous response…

violence, violins

I have been thinking about the response we make to violence, partly in the wake of the attack on the shopping mall in Kenya, but also because of this on going so-called ‘war’ on terror. We try to fight a handful of extremists using technology- be it spying on a billion peoples banal internet messages, or the use of Raptor pilot-less planes armed with rockets. In the process of this we loose out own humanity and breed a climate of fear and insecurity.

Our response to outrage can not be to cause yet more of the same.

We in the church are complicit in much of this, we tend towards the same language of crisis. We hear people describe how we are ‘under attack’ from the rising forces of evil secularism, and how we have to step forward, using our own Raptors, to ‘defend the faith’.

I am increasingly impressed by the things Pope Francis is saying. The other day, he said this;

“The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is – these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defence. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today. If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing.”

Aghhh. Shopping.

out of town shopping precinct

Now is the time for all good people to make a pilgrimage to an out of town shopping centre.

We will drive to a massive windy car park, and stare wistfully at the beckoning horizon, as we prepare to enter the zone of artificiality.

The temperature will be controlled to allow us to just about keep our coats on. The music will twitter in the distance with some kind of seasonal faux-bonhomie. The walls will be tastefully decorated with carefully designed Christmas blandness.

Each shop you enter will be selling more or less the same thing, with a slightly different labels. The music will be louder, and every step you take will have been carefully planned to maximise your market potential.

Not us though.

Michaela and I made our Christmas shopping trip last week- we took a trip into Glasgow which is not something we do often. Despite our determination to ‘do Christmas differently’ (mentioned ad infinitum on this blog) some shopping is still necessary, so we decided that we might as well have a day out together.

We went to a famous old shopping street called Byers Road- and revealed our country naivete by trying to buy some food from Subway only to then realise that it was actually a subway station.

Byers road is full of vintage clothing and charity shops- which have moved into the spaces left as the major chains have moved out of town into Bland Land. Instead of bemoaning the death of our city streets however (which would be disingenuous as they are clearly nor ‘our’ city streets) Michaela and I visited all of the charity outlets. We immersed ourself in bric-a-brac, delighted in stacks of old LPs, and a strange mechanical pencil sharpener made in the old East German Republic.

We also bought presents for the Kids- and I suddenly felt a deep sense of pride that I was able to be sure both of them will be delighted with what we have bought.

That is not to say that there will not be over consumption in our house at Christmas. It will be full of far too much stuff as we celebrate the coming of Jesus into poverty. We will over eat, over drink and stay up late watching pointless films. But if shopping is required at all, this is my preferred kind…