Monday, 26 November 2007

What will you Jimmy Choose

The Bari Bag was created with the help of creative director Sandra Choi. It's a crocodile bag with beautiful Bugatti construction, a bold zipper that allows the bag to expand, and its own fur blanket. Oh, and don't forget the $28,000 price tag.

It might be the fact that i could never afford this 'owt cature' as they say in Sheffield (although I am tempted by that zip that enables it to expand - genius) but 'HOW MUCH'? If Choo's croc bag (croc of $%^?) doesn't get you thinking about what we consume and Tonight's engage session would have.

Mark did a grand job of leading the discussion with some v interesting current and historical perspectives on why we buy what we by and which bits of faith do or perhaps should be 'engaged' as we shop.

I am publicly asking him to post his notes and the questions he had us pondering (come on Mark, you know you want to). This is how Mark set it up on his e-mail - We’ll be thinking about the rights and wrongs of shopping. We all do it, but do we think about the morals of it? Up until the eighteenth century, Christians assumed what they purchased was a central part of what it means to be a Christian. Why has it changed? We will look at a few case studies to discuss the rights and wrongs of buying a Nike pair of trainers etc. We will then explore our Christian heritage for some principles so we can work out what to do.

Here are just a few of the things it triggered for me. It was one of those 'more questions than answers' type chats and I am sure we will be spending more time on it (if others want to?)

  • When we have all we need and advanced capitalism can only survive by desire cultivation (ie wall paper and cushion fashion - come on, 20yrs ago you bought these every 20 yrs now we have seasonal interior decor, who is making me feel guilty for still having an aubergine wall?? Somebody spends billions of pounds a year making me feel inadequate just so they can sell me stuff - seriously leave me and even my kid's TV watching 2 year old brain alone we don't want you Barbie this and pooing dolly that, at least nobody did until you flashed it on our retina surrounded by alpha/apex skinny happy girls with great teeth) the issue of what a realistic level of sufficiency is is really hard to negotiate

  • Is sufficiency / 'simple living' an end in itself? ( I think its more a means of worship and justice - a la Jubilee/Feast of Tabernacles etc in the OT and it's not necessarily about not enjoying the good stuff of life, its about valuing that of real value - could easy go on one about this so will leave it there for further discussions)

  • Communities of people asking these tough questions are vital - I love you guys! Seriously, one monk would not have had the courage to march on Rangoon, but its amazing what people will do/can achieve in communities of action. i'd love engage to be a kind of community of action that gives me courage to do different things.

  • It's no wonder Christianity seems irrelevant to the real stuff of life sometimes when Jesus is removed from economics and politics, both macro and micro versions. Jesus was following in a line of rabbi's and prophets who called for radical choices to be made in every aspect of life to bring justice and mercy (the essential characteristics of God himself). Essentially, among many other things Jesus was a unique, divine movement initiator. A movement that should be impacting coffee pickers and sweatshop sweaters with mercy and equality and exposing the exploitation right now. This would be evidence of the here and now presence of the risen Jesus and a massive call for those of us complicit in the system to 'repent', turn from our ways and let the God who created all this guide us and recreate us as we are designed to live - in fruitful peace. Phew (is this a vision of 'evangelism'? Is this shining as stars and holding out something that offers hope when this polish proverb is observably true even in our lifetimes?

Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true”)

  • Is there a risk that we just get 'sold' the green/ethical thing as more value add on a product or service, thereby following the market logic of supply and demand rather than 'just price' and 'just wage' (see marks notes) and therefore..... just playing ball even more blindly? And... is there any hope of subverting the system this way or do we need to be more radical

  • Can the capitalist system be redeemed or is it evil. What about micro finance (check this to find out more about MF projects in the third world bringing thousands out of poverty - is that wrong?

  • Why do so many mainstream Christians have so little grasp of the swathes of the biblical story that deal with all this stuff (perhaps invidious dualism or the inconvenient truth of what Christianity might actually cost (take up your cross surly cant be just about being a doormat or a martyr) )

  • If it is possible to be in the world but not of the world is it possible to be in the (capitalist) system but not of the system? If so, what does that look sound feel like?

  • Lets talk more, lets listen more on this stuff but what in Gods name am i going to do about it tomorrow? please.....



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