Hello again everyone.
Well, more about Tesco Clubcard points this week…
About 25 years ago, the Tesco’s reward system made a mistake. If the customer bought such and such a quantity of bananas, the points were worth more than the bananas, and thus a profit could be made!
Only a few worked this out.
One man, reported in the national news, bought the bananas, made a profit, and tried to give them away on a street corner. Not surprisingly, everyone treated him with suspicion, and few accept this free offer. British reserve? Streetwise caution? Or something deeper?
Our passage for next Sunday says – something deeper. For God Himself stands on the street corner, as it were, offering free, no charge, everlasting, soul-quenching waters, and food which satisfies the deepest recesses of the human heart and soul. But once again, tragically, there are few takers.
Contrast that, if you will, with a story from Confucius, who describes a man taking his melons to market in his hand-drawn cart. The cart overturns, and the melons are scattered. “Those who stopped to help gather the melons were few, but those who ate the melons were many.”
Free food on offer on the street corner – from Isaiah 55 and Tesco’s to ancient Chinese street-market. Those who accept the free gifts are few – but those who steal what is not freely given – are many. Why?
Well, because – and I repeat – there is something deeper going on here. And that, alas, is the nature of evil which crouches at our door, and all too often, gains admittance.
Augustine formulated the doctrine of ‘original sin’ – that a new-born baby not only has the propensity for sin woven into their very soul, but actually is born a living, committing, sinner. That may be too much for some to accept. But surely, he is, at least, on the right lines, when it comes to the folly of underestimating human capacity for evil at worst, or wrong choices at best.
On the news we have the horrible, evil, senseless stabbing of an MP, and the usual public reaction: which is that the good wring their hands and offer the usual platitudes, like ‘hate won’t win’ for example, as if by the sheer force of the human will of those of us who don’t go around inflicting senseless violence, we can somehow change the behaviour of those who do.
I believe both the evil, and the remedy lie deeper. Changing the law may help a little. Changing public opinion in terms of what is tolerated and what is not may also help. But it is unlikely to solve the problem of what one Christian psychiatrist calls ‘the beast in the basement’.
Enter Marianna Spring, a BBC journalist, who in this week’s Panorama, tracks down and confronts some of those hate-filled, misogynistic, racist, anti-everything internet ‘trolls’ – to their shame. It won’t stop all of them – but you have to admire her courage in making such a stand, even in a small way. So, there is still hope in doing the right thing.
But there is a much more deep-seated solution in Isaiah 55. Let’s find out more on Sunday! And may God keep us all safe.