Tuesday, 13 July 2010

It's not about the money ... it's the principle

When I was a lawyer handling personal injury claims, my boss gave me a helpful piece of advice. She said when someone says to you 'it's not about the money it's the principle' you can be pretty sure its about the money.

Her words were in my mind this week as we sat down to review our Church Constitution, looking at the standard Governing Document for BUGB churches. In the section on 'Belonging to the Church' it talks about members giving financial support to the Church and there is a footnote which says 'Although there may be encouragement to give financially this is a private matter.' Why is this a private matter? Why should a people called together under God keep this information from one another. Why should we shrink from being financially accountable to one another, to those we love adn who love us? I understand the fear of a church developing a 'richest members league table' and the jealousies that may ensue, but surely we are called to be better than that.
Surely we can be better than that.
Why is money to be kept as a private affair in today's churches?
What purpose is achieved by such secrecy?

The poet Alice Walker says:

We alone
can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises

in the market place

Wherever there is gold

there is a chain you know,
and if your chain is gold
so much the worse for you

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones are all as rare

This could be our revolution:
To love what is plentiful
as much as
what's scarce.

This is not about the money ... but it is about the principle.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Feed the World ... what Sir Bob didn't know.

A seminal moment in my experience of music was Bob Geldof's (and of course Midge Ure's) Live Aid Concert. It also was a foundational moment in rekindling my personal determination that politics and faith needed to kiss and make up ... (but not get married).

Bob and Midge and the many musicians at Live Aid encouraged us to 'Feed the World.' But there was something that they didn't know ...
something I discovered this weekend.
Putting aside recent questions as to how successful Band Aid was at actually delivering aid at the point of need, the shift in public consciousness here was undoubtedly immense. But many still went hungry in Africa.
I am pleased to announce that this need happend no more.
Because I have discovered a way to feed the world for free.
I went into a well known shop (it could have been one of so many) to buy and sandwich and a drink.
Total cost 3.49

But if I took a packet of crisps it would become a 'meal deal' and only cost 2.99

'But I don't want the crisps' I explained.
'No, crisps, no meal deal. Its not a meal without crisps', the cashier explained.

'Couldn't we just pretend ...
The shop would be a packet of crisps the richer? I asked
'No,' she said.

So I bought the meal deal and offered the crisps as a present to the cashier.
She declined my offer.
So did the near by security guard who had become curious.
But he did intervene when I went to replace the packet of crisps on the shelf.
Seriously, he stopped me giving them stock.
It would mess with the system he said

'But any system as crazy as this needs to be messed with!' I said.

So folks here's what to do.
Mess with the system.
Go to whatever local shop is offering a meal deal
Save yourself 50p and get your bag of crisps
proclaim to all the world that a meal is a meal without them
and then we can collect them all
and ship them off to Feed the World
The 50ps we save will even cover the cost of shipping.

If only Sir Bob had known.