Everytime I take stuff out to the bins I am horrified by the amount of waste we go through, even as a couple who are trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
There is so much waste in our lives from packaging, so much that seems beyond our control. We need to eat and with lack of quality and variety in our local foods we need to buy whatever the shops supply, in whatever way the shops and suppliers package it.

There is another thing that worries me. What are we going to do when we’ve exhausted all our oil, or whenever oil becomes much scarcer especially when our homes are mostly heated by oil? We could us wood burning stoves except we live on island with no trees. Does nobody else worry about our lack of trees here in Ireland?

What are we going to use to keep old people warm when the oil is all gone?

At this time of the year charities who are doing good work to make the world a better place send out letters asking for money, with the paper piling up on the hall floor.

This morning we had a church breakfast this morning and our cereal was all packed in individual little cereal boxes and wrapped in individual plastic wrapping with the minimum amount of highly processed cereal possible inside each of those cardboard boxes and plastic bags
It’s a sin. But who do we blame for life getting this way?

Or is it OK?

Maybe even good?

There was an interesting and disturbing programme on BBC2 a week or so ago about the bottled water industry,an industry that has made it perfectly normal for water to be bottled in France and exported round the world, say to a store in Nashville, then kept cool in a fridge for  few weeks until some customer comes in to quench his thirst,
to say nothing of the plastic bottles that the water is kept in that is made from oil to say nothing of the fact that most of us have water piped directly into our homes and workplaces.

I’ve never been to Africa but in my minds eye I see a lady with a large water jar on her head trudging for miles to get a source of clean water every single day to water crops or to cook with or to drink.

Is that right?

Then we have large multi-national companies like Nestle and Danone, Coca Cola and Pepsi fighting wars over branding and sales, selling  a basic human right for profit, buts thats OK because the customer is king and wants it.

Last year we had a chance to holiday in Switzerland and one day we walked along Lake Geneva, past the Nestle Headquarters. I think it was a national holiday, which may have explained why it was so quiet for the headquarters of such a major multi-national company. It was weird. I had all this anger towards the company then walked past the building and just felt empty, that we are all locked in a runaway train that nobody seems to be in control of.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world is incredibly complex in its problems and I don’t know what to focus on sometimes. ‘

And its doing my nut in a bit.


Dobbies Lisburn World

I’ve had a bit of a hump recently about the new Dobbie’s Garden World on the outskirts of Lisburn, which then turned into an even bigger hump about Dobbie’s Garden World when I discovered via a tip off from an elderly lady in the church craft group that Dobbie’s was actually owned by Tesco.

Is that the same Tesco that are going to make their already big store on the other side of town even bigger?

There at least 3-4 small garden centres close to my house that seem to have been serving the local community pretty well for the time I have lived here.
Suddenly a huge multiple garden chain opens on the outskirts of town, with a big car park and the people flock to it.

I’d be rightly pissed off if I worked at one of those garden centres, especially if (when?)business starts slowing down.

The same way I’d be pissed off if I owned a shop in Lisburn town centre. You can park for free at Sprucefield without fear of getting a parking ticket but in Lisburn you have to pay to park the car worried that a traffic warden is about to ticket you.

Tesco, Sainsbury, Marks & Spencers. Dobbies, B&Q, possibly a John Lewis, what is the story? Are we determined to make every medium sized town in Ireland and the Uk the same as the next?

A few months ago I listed all the shops on Lisburn Main St. There are so many stores that you can now get in any town in the UK or Ireland. Why do council’s not do more to encourage local business?
You don’t encourage local business by building a John Lewis on the outskirts of town, here or in Belfast.


domination systems

I randomly picked up a book  called ‘Beyond Empire’  by Jonathan Ingleby at this year’s Greenbelt and brought it home with me. Its a challenging read but I’m nodding my head in agreement so often that I wanted to share a big quote out of it. I hope thats OK.

‘It’s time that we read our Bibles more and read them more carefully. Perhaps we could try and get some serious help in thinking about the circumstances of those to whom the Bible messages were addressed, the people of the Bible. They were people who lived in a country which was always liable to invasion by ruthless and powerful enemies. (The history of Israel might be better to compared to that of Poland in modern times rather than that of Britian or the United States.) They were people in exile (‘By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept.’). They were living in a country side by side  with a pemanent occupying force as was true in Jesus’ day. They belonged to a ‘minority religious group’ like the Christians in the Roman Empire. There is hardly a book in the Bible that is not coloured by these massive political realities. Some, like Daniel and the book of Revelation, were written precisely to confront them. So how do we read the Bible? As if it had nothing to say about invasion, exile, occupation and resistance, about  injustice and the abuse of power. Even more worringly, what if we can see no connection between the Bible and the arms industry, Third World poverty and debt, neo-colonialism, and the plight of refugees?
What if we could not even see the imperialistic forces of today despite the fact that the Bible provides a magnifying glass which displays, even to the partially sighted, the text of Domination System?”

p231, Beyond Empire – Jonathan Ingleby

unemployment/stick to your guns?

If I said that I didn’t want to join the Army due to some Christian belief that we shouldn’t engage in violent behaviour against our fellow human that would probably be respected.

If however I say that I don’t want to work for Tesco’s, HMV etc. due to some Christian belief that we shouldn’t fight for over-consumption and PROFIT at cost to the planet Earth and my neighbours who live on that planet then that may be less respected. Some might think I’m being lazy and avoiding work.

There might be a way in which my opinion  might be respected but at the end of the day you need a job to earn money and they are scarce on the ground, you can’t afford to be picky so you should take anything you can get.Right?

Yet we know that our Western lifestyles are deeply unsustainable, and if people don’t know that they either haven’t been told, are living  a fantasy world or just don’t really care.
We know that we are greedy with too many of the worlds resources (fossil fuels,fresh water,soil,food) and because of that this good (but fallen) planet that God made is being destroyed.  From things we’ve heard we know that our present greedy economic system keeps many people poor, but thats a good thing for us as we shop in Asda and it keeps things cheap.

Yet if as Christians we believe in resurrection/New Creation, and that is where we are journeying to in life how could we justify going along with things that ultimately destroy and wreck the place as we go along?

We  may know that we should repent/change  our wasteful lifestyles yet when push comes to shove you need to get a job, any job and it doesn’t seem to matter what that job is.
“Sure could you not work for _______, earn money and use that money to study for what you really want to do?’
Well I could, but  would that be a bit hypocritical and two-faced?

Funnily enough I don’t enjoy the shame of being unemployed or being broke all the time but for me this Christianity business has to add up all week, not just  ‘holy’ bits that are relatively easy to tack on.Either there is a Kingdom here,(but not here) or there isn’t. What’s it to be? I can’t just work for things I don’t believe in now to get to closer to where I want to be later on because the now matters.

And surely the world hasn’t changed completely since Biblical times?
Surely there are still empires and kingdoms, emperors and kings out there who demand/expect us to worship them and hang on their every word, to not question their authority and just get on doing what they expect us to do?

How much do we go along with them knowing full well that a different king is on the throne? Do we just face up to the reality that you need a job, any job to look after your loved ones? I don’t know, its hard.
But surely Christians should be subversive and not just go merrily along hand in hand with what those emperors and kings want/expect, whatever that means?

36 views of Samson & Goliath -No 8, IKEA

after having the dullest July on record here in Northern Ireland its no wonder that people have to get out and experience sublime pure colours, so into IKEA they walk (30,000 a week according to the IKEA floor propaganda) and soak up the blue and yellow, lime green and red that are missing from the skyline, architecture and hedgerows.
Perhaps that is Tesco’s greatest assest, the sheer colours on offer…