What Happens When Zoomy Is Truly Stumped

Old fashioned correspondence is a rare thing for me to be engaged in but thanks to a Corkonian clown I had the joy of reading a letter written in pen yesterday. Sadly the manky bastard went and got me thinking. In a letter filled with questions he posed a couple of dillys that are even harder, more pressing and more fun than that question which plagues my mind most: will there ever be a boy born who can swim faster than a shark?

I love a blog written by a brainiac theologian called Scot McKnight. He has a feature often where young questioning spirits come and ask him for advice with various theological or pastoral concerns they might be having. I know it might amaze you but no one except my three year old nephew thinks I am an expert at anything in particular so I don’t get emails like the ones McKnight shares on Jesus Creed. And that nephew of mine thinks I am an expert in aviation because I can make a helicopter noise more convincing than he can.

So pardon me while I verbally process something so complicated that I am at a loss to know how to respond.

I gush about how great my job is about as often as I make cynical comments about the nature of organised Christianity and my role as a minor brainwasher therein. But I had an amazing time one morning last week with a guy in our church who dropped into the office while I was stacking papers into piles or scribbling Ezekiel 23:20 out of all our pew Bibles or something. We had coffee. We watched a Nooma. Then we somehow got into a conversation about the nature of pacifism and whether there was a just war Christians could engage in. Then we drank more coffee and watched Rob Newman’s History Of Oil (which you need to watch if you haven’t seen it already) and then we got down to the serious business of talking about how Christians should buy food.

Seriously, at that moment, our little Presbyterian church was definitely functional as this mystical communio that us Christians talk about. It was brilliant, exhilarating and utterly confusing. Cos what we were talking about was integrity, authenticity, all the stuff that really matters. When oil starts to run out, us rich boys and girls in the West are going to have walk everywhere, or pay immigrants to cycle us places. “Here Pole!”, the bankers of Dublin will cry, “Give me a backser and I’ll pay you some Euromoney so you can buy potato vodka!” We’re also going to struggle to grow enough food to feed us because we have technologised farming to such a stunning extent that it is hardly conceivable for Peader Feirmeoir to grow any crops without oil to make fertiliser, plastic and well, petrol for the combine harvester.

The Chief Corkonian Clown asked a similar set of questions. He has intimate knowledge of the wine industry (we should all have friends who are wine traders I think!) and he was telling me that an average bottle of plonk that we buy in a small supermarket in Ireland for about €6 breaks down to about 50c for the producer at the start of the chain. We all know how bad our very clothes are but there is no real alternative. [RED] is a joke too obvious for me to waste time telling. Edun is only a little bit less unreal. All the other Fair Trade clothes are made by the vast Hippy conspiracy that controls all the tie-dyeing in the world.

So sustainable living is not actually a concept that was invented by the lads who set up Greenpeace. Right at the beginning of Genesis humanity is given the job of tending the garden, naming the animals and generally taking care of things. Down through the centuries Christians called this “stewardship”. It now just so happens that the “Stewardship” party is in government today. They just don’t realise it and call themselves the “Greens“. (If only I could bring myself to emoticon here).

But how do we as Christians deal with the vast and utterly mind boggling flaws in the system that engulfs us. To get all Biblical for a moment, the rulers and authorities of the world are utterly anti-Yahweh in their creation of a global power system totally defined by cash transactions, the bottom line and the decisions of investor share-holders. The actual share-holders in the global community are people and the majority of people don’t have access to the very basics of what we consider necessary. I can’t stand up and preach that we shouldn’t buy from Tesco and Dunnes but we shouldn’t be buying food out of season in huge supermarkets that have the fiscal power to shut down whole societies if they felt like. We shouldn’t be participating in a system where our clothes are made by slaves, shipped by air and sold to us for our convenience. We need to secede but we have no alternative.

Here is where this whole post is going. In this generation we have a real opportunity to, for the first time since the Enlightenment really, to carve out a way of being a Christian that is authentically “Other” from the society around us. It is an opportunity to transcend mere “difference” based on shallow prohibitions and irrelevant rituals. A real counter culture is what we are called to mount and I sense the path to it leads through these huge rocks- the consumption of disposable, slave made products, and the pressing need to craft some sort of environmentally ethical life that is sustainable and not just another lifestyle accessory for easily distracted consumers pursuing their elusive true sense of who they are.

But how do we do that and keep the doors open to everyone? Or let’s be honest, how can we do this and somehow push the doors of the church wide open so they truly are a realistic option for everyone? How can we do this without making more law? How can we do this without distracting us from the main thing? It must always grow from the bottom up, as a natural, organic, holistic expression of the Gospel of grace. But something this big makes me think it has to be built top-down.

I am sorry if what I have written is complete gibberish. I am striving to express ideas that I don’t understand fully enough, don’t have a vocabulary for and don’t really have a practical response to. Yet. But who doesn’t want to have the conversation? I have been reading this blog called Wondering and thinking about how there must be loads of people thinking the same way as me and no doubt thinking better about it.

If it is gibberish, pass it off as the insane ramblings of a maniac. I think I medically qualify for that status now. I ate my last full meal on Saturday evening. Then I got a bad stomach bug and well, I won’t go into it here. It got messy. So today I am back on solids and this is my meal plan for the next 48 hours.

Your Correspondent, Wouldn’t be able to say if ignorance is bliss

2 Responses to “What Happens When Zoomy Is Truly Stumped”

  1. jimlad says:

    I will give up my job in the financial services industry and go plant some hemp, which I will use to build my house, make my clothes, fill my stomach and experience revelations, whereupon I will come back and tell you God’s solution, though you mightn’t understand how the giant horny dog with ten tails shaking the sea out its fur has any bearing on your question.

    I suspect that if the current situation we’ve gotten ourselves didn’t take away all of our time on top of everything else, we might find a way out more quickly. Mind you, I don’t earn much for two people and we get by (sometimes with an element of the miraculous mind you when we needed it) so maybe if we (me included) weren’t so focussed on our financial security and discretionary expenses we would find the time to develop some solution? Then again, maybe not.

    As always though, the answer can come through prayer. When I am stumped, sometimes with no understanding whatsoever, it is only when I am forced to give up and ask God that answers start flowing in, sometimes immediately as if spoken in my brain and sometimes, more usually of late through other people (eg D who can quote relevant bible verses) or someone like you who has it figured out already.

    So lets pray and see what happens?

  2. zoomtard says:

    Good first step. And good critique. The one thing I don’t want is to end up with utopian stupidity.

    THANKS JIMLARR!