Thursday, December 20, 2007

O clavis David - the poverty of consumerism

After the Eucharist today there were a few tasks to perform around church, and some more garden clearing up to do. I'm determined to make all our five church yards look clean and decent, free of rubbish for the festal season, knowing full well that day after day shoppers and revellers will continue dumping stuff over the railings. It makes me angry to think of how careless consumers are, just as it makes me angry that no amount of appealing to the council will secure additional litter bins for the area, or bicycle rack - so bikes get chained to the railings and across entrances even, ruining the paintwork and causing a nuisance as a result. It's been like this ever since I've been in office and probably for many year before.

It was cold out in the chuchyard, and I came into church every now and then to thaw out a little. On one occasion I saw a young girl in her late teens praying aloud in the side aisle. After a while she noticed me and accosted me, to ask for advice.

She said she was a new Christian and had been helped to come off heroin by a Teen Challenge evangelist and was now learning from scratch how to walk the walk of faith in Christ. She was struggling over asking God's advice about what to buy as Christmas presents for people - sure she should ask, but unclear about what to expect. A voice in the ear maybe? I told her not to expect anything like that, but to rely on the sense of God's love she already had to guide her whenever she thought about people she wanted to buy for. Trust common sense, trust love, be open to new ideas. That was the best I could do. I prayed with her, and she went off happy, admitting before she did that she was still on methadone and still resorted to the odd alcopop and a couple of valium to cheer her along. But going in the right direction, learning to trust in something she could not consume or control.

How many young people are there around like her, whose knowledge of drugs and intoxicants of all kinds far exceeds their knowledge of God's Word and Wisdom? Thankfully there are evangelists around who are able to work with those who've been failed by their families, the church and civil society in not educating and protecting them against the mortal dangers of this age. But is there sufficient concern? Each night this week the streets of Cardiff will be awash with drunken revellers celebrating Christmas 'their way'. It yields nothing constructive apart from profits for brewers and distillers and tax for the government. How much longer can it go on? I almost makes me want to pray for recession and a return of the time of shortages and poor wages I grew up with. We just don't seem to know what to do with excess wealth apart from over consume unwisely.

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