dry wells

I am  tired despite returning  from a holiday at the beginning of the week.
We have family that live near Almeria and I had never been out to see them and where they live. So this year (and thanks to a kind Christmas present) we flew over to the south of Spain on the new, improved, nice and caring Ryanair for a week. Which is how we ended up spending a few nights in a nice Spanish village

This time last week I was walking around the beautiful Spanish village of Mojacar on a holiday.
If that sounds lovely you should also know that a fight with your wife is still a fight with your wife no matter if it’s a lovely village and knowing that you’re spending money in something that you don’t do very often but having a fight instead of making the most of it can make you pretty miserable.

So although it was nice to be away I’m knackered and didn’t find the holiday relaxing. Heat tires me and my inner Presbyterian couldn’t get the hang of the resting in the afternoon business.  I never got the hang of when you are supposed to eat lunch and dinner. The language as well.

That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Spain and seeing where my nephew and niece live because I like seeing new places. Some might think that the endless acres of plastic greenhouses that supply Europe with tomatoes and watermelons are an eyesore but I find them interesting:-
Where are the getting the water to grow watermelons in the driest part of Europe? Are they going to desalinate seawater and use it? How is climate change going to effect this area and how is that going to effect my sister and brother-in-law. my nephew and niece?

Then  it starts boiling over into the problems with the world:-
How do people work inside those greenhouses in what must be phenomenal heat? Are the migrant workers treated fairly? Do you realise that flying on your Ryanair flight on holidays is contributing to climate change here in Almeria? 

The one thing I really wanted to do over in Spain was to see new colours and draw new things, to feel a surge of inspiration surging and to be creative again. I feel like any wells of creativity that I had have dried up, a bit like the countryside and river beds around Almeria. But I felt uninspired and too awkward to create. No paints, no markers, no skill.

On the way home from the airport I was complaining to H about the way people act on Ryanair flights. ‘There are schoolgirls having to walk miles each day to get clean drinking water and then there are 50 yr old men who throw their dummies out of the pram when an air hostess moves their hand luggage a few metres away to section 29A’
 I said ‘People are so fortunate to be able to go on holidays, they should recognise this and stop acting like they….etc etc.’

Of course I was doing the exact same the whole holiday, moaning about the heat and my lack of ability to order a tapas without embarrassment. There a kids sleeping in refugee camps tonight and I’m having a meltdown because I have to sit under a sun shade and it’s making me sweat. Saying that out loud seems to make perfect sense. I need to get a grip.

Yet I’m tired as well. And I also think that saying things like ‘We should get a grip because we have it pretty good compared to so many in the world’ is a bit arrogant (?) in a way or perhaps untrue. It sounds as if we’re not really that sick or needy and screwed up and under the thumb of oppressive systems which as a Christian I don’t believe. ‘The World’ or Kingdom of Death or however you want to phrase the way Satan works against us is an ever present reality. Just because I don’t live in a country that persecutes or oppresses Christians by throwing them in jail doesn’t meant that we’re not oppressed. Like the sense of hopelessness that I get from absorbing the ways of the world does a pretty good job of robbing me of vitality for life or for serving.

I was thinking about this sense of hopelessness  or why we complain in the face of so much privilege while reading Jacques Ellul.

‘One can prove to the members of our modern societies that our ancestors never enjoyed this much means, freedom, happiness, well-being, available opportunities, long life, culture, pleasure, leisure, communication, and dialogue, but one will never convince the person in our modern society that he is living in a little paradise’


‘In the most pacified and guaranteed society which has ever existed, man is living in uncertainty and growing fear. In the most scientific of societies, man is living in the irrational. In the most liberal of societies, man is living ‘repression,’ and even hyper-repression. In a society in which the means of communication are the most highly developed, man is living a sort of phantasmagoria. In a society in which everything is done to establish relationships, man is living in solitude…’



for thine’s the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, coca cola

After yesterday’s post about corporations/companies I was walking up the road to church wondering if I’d been talking crap about things I don’t really understand. I’m not an expert or business person, just someone who has gotten a bee in his bonnet about something or other and there are bigger fish to fry such as planting some vegetables and herbs, or having a pint with a friend etc. etc. Then again maybe thats the way companies and governments and bad institutions like things where people don’t ask questions and accept them as reality.

There was a strange moment in the church  this morning when our minister held aloft a huge Coca Cola bottle in front of the congregation and placed it in front of the communion table.

It was one of those giant coke bottle piggy banks, and the reason was so that the church could put money in for a project we are supporting in Zimbabwe.  But still there was something about seeing a brand like Coca Cola in front of the church that got me thinking about brands, mini-empires, mini kingdoms, domination systems or whatever you want to call them.

The area I live used to have a Coca Cola bottling plant, not far from my house actually. It has mostly, if not completely shut down and moved to the other side of Lisburn at a new state of the art bottling plant.

The book I was talking about yesterday (The Corporation) has just had a chapter on the new caring face of companies, the face that says ‘We’re not bad, we care as well!’.

As Joel Bakan writes in the book

‘Corporations are now often expected to deliver the good, not just the goods;to pursue values, not just value;and to help make the world a better place’

But as he later mentions

corporate decision makers always [have] to act in the best interests of the corporation , and hence its owners. The law forbids any other motivation for their actions, whether to assist workers, improve the environment, or help consumers save money. They  can do these things with their own money, as private citizens. As corporate officials, however, stewards of other people’s money, they have no legal authority to pursue such goals as ends in themselves – only as means to serve the corporation’s own interests, which generally means to maximize the wealth of its shareholders’

This always came home to me while  lugging porcelain tiles about the flooring department of B&Q listening to the boasts of the ‘One Planet Home’ advertising campaign over the sound system.

It always seemed very obvious that it was more about B&Q the company than caring for the environment, because by caring for the environment and making a big deal about it there was a chance to take a bigger share of the market. Any benefit to the environment was only a by-product of the desire to grow the company.

We should probably stick the phrase ‘but only if it helps the company to grow and make more money’ on the end of any ethical commitment made by a company because by law (well if I’ve got this right) that is the only concern that matters.

The world is a strange place mind you. After my minister had set up the plastic bottle in church, I was wondering what type of church would a Coca Cola church be? So I went to their version of the Apostle’s Creed.

The mission of the church of Coca Cola (and any disciples of Coca Cola) would be
To refresh the world…
To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…
To create value and make a difference.

So that’s the mission. To give you a refeshing lift, to make you happy and optimistic all from a bottle of sugary (or Nutrasweet-y) of water. And somehow they’ve built a huge kingdom in over 200 countries on this mission statement