Selling Our Souls

Contract, Consultation, Pen, Signature, Paper

There is a major online real estate company in the UK that is currently running an ad on radio which I find disturbing. In this commercial an empty nest couple are discussing the kids having left, but their rooms and childhood belongings remain in place for their eventual visits. It is then that there is a message ringtone and they shift their stance and say “after all its only a bunch of old junk.” The indication is that they just saw how much money they could make by selling their home. What makes it worse in my view is the company spokesperson then over dubs saying that said company “knows the real value of your home.”

Of your home? Of your house maybe, the harsh impersonal sale price of the bricks and mortar, but the property in and of itself is not what makes a home! Home is an intangible full of relationships, emotions, and memories. A house might be only a house, but a home is so much more.

We are bombarded by such messages. Advertising and “social influencers” strive to indoctrinate us into the lie of image. Life, however, isn’t about the number of your followers. It isn’t about sexualising our toddlers with “mini make-up” and “sexy clothes.” Yes, the stuff is for sale online, not to mention preteen pageants and the like. Films and game have gratuitous sex and violence, and television is awash with swearing – all in the name of ratings and advertising revenue.

We as a society have gotten so tied up in “what’s in it for me,” and the “bottom lines,” that we are beginning to miss the real values of life. Even our “altruistic” politicing is often reduced to the image we produce. It isn’t, if we are honest, always about social justice, but rather that WE seem to be champions of the cause. Worse still these are fluid. Global warming is eclipsed by race relations, that is eclipsed by gender politics, that is eclipsed . . . .

I am not saying that all well meaning people are just going through the motions, most probably aren’t, but when our own reputations, wealth, etc., dictate our “bottom lines” we need to pause and take stock. Just like the message in the real estate ad. Have we missed something when “home” just means a house, or justice means just making some noise about something?

These are just some things to ponder.


Padre

Precious

Treasure Chest, Chest, Jewellery, Open, Lighting

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay 

Precious – the things we hold dear

Precious – the views to which we adhere

What’s precious to you might not be

A thing that’s held as precious – at all by me

You might object and say “What about jewels?”

But they are oft but commercial tools

When was the last time that you ate

A serving of diamonds on your dinner plate?

So is it life’s luxuries that you covet?

Or are necessities  – what you see as above it?

And what about someone – with these things to share?

Now that’s really precious – what you have there!

 

Padre

 

FOWC with Fandango — Precious

Decisions

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image: freepik

Each day we have choices to face –

Yet, oft we just do what we haft –

But we need to remember

That decisions are more than math

Zero gain balances may sound good

But that ignores what’s wrong or right

It’s not a utilitarian game

Where individuals can be given a slight

What is good or bad is not opinion

What is truth is always true

Ponder this next choice you make

Giving integrity its due

 

Padre

 

 

The Treason of the Season

Image result for christmas decorations shop windows

image: Funky Sunflower

It’s early November.  McDonald’s has just released its festive menu including drinks in reindeer antler motif cups.  Three shops I passed on my way to college today had window displays with Christmas themes.  Sainsbury’s Supermarkets have been selling fruitcakes and other “seasonal foods” since late September or early October. Last year they had started selling hot cross buns in February which had use by dates a full fortnight before the actual day of Easter.

When I was a kid, “Christmas season” began after Thanksgiving, with Santa finishing off Macy’s parade.  But since then the season of “peace on earth, and good will to men,” has come to be more and more about selling.  It is the treason of the season, where conspicuous consumption eclipses the nativity story.

This “money” obsession has really figured in this year’s radio campaign for bonds.  It’s plug is that kids won’t play with their presents for more than a week or so, therefore you should give them bonds that keep on giving.  Yes, the average six year old goes around saying “I want an investment for Christmas.”   See the point, even fun, much less the true Christmas story is overshadowed by “wealth” and profit.

Now I will get off my soap box and try to ignore the upcoming Black Friday.

Padre

 

Life and Death

Image result for here and now 2014

imdb

“I wish you could see the irony,” the teacher said to the film class. “Did you notice in the bridge scene from Here and Now, that Grace verbally wounds SAY when she drops her phone and then claims that her ‘ whole life was on that’?  Why might that have been an issue?”

“Well Sir,” Neve responded, “He had just caught her, keeping her from falling from the bridge.  But she seemed more concerned about the iPhone.”

“And why is that important?” the teacher asked.

“Because he was carrying the burden of watching his dad fall to his death.  He saved her when he couldn’t save his dad.  Yet, she was worried about the phone, and didn’t know how comparatively unimportant it was – compared to a life (3),” Emily said.

“Exactly,” the teacher agreed.  “Why do you think SAY didn’t tell her about his dad’s death?”

“Maybe because he wasn’t ready to yet,” Tom suggested.

“No, I think it was because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings by showing how shallow she was being,” Neve interrupted.  “The two falls were similar (4) but the significance of them are so different.  Her loss was so unimportant compared to his.  He didn’t want to be cruel by pointing it out.  It really fits his character.  Throughout the entire film he shows nothing but gentleness (5).”

“That’s a really good take,” the teacher said.

“Here’s a question for you.  I know I am old, and ancient, and stuff,” the teacher began.  “But when I was your age we had one land line in the house.  We didn’t use it constantly, and if we ‘had an emergency’ when we were out, we used a phone box.  Yet we survived.  But, your ‘safety’ phones cause you to walk into traffic without looking, to ignore each other when sitting face to face, and even bring death – texting while driving.  Is your phone really indispensable?”

“I see what you are saying, Sir,”  Emily reflected.  “It’s not like my phone is like air or water (1).  I can live without it. But it is kind of like ice cream (2).  Really nice to have when you want it.”

 

Padre

 

Iphone, Smartphone, Apps, Apple Inc

Pixabay

 

*Based on a composite of real classroom discussions

 

Sunday Writing Prompt “5 by 5”

Include the answers to these questions in a story or poem
1. An item you just can’t live without
2. Your favorite snack
3. A bit of wisdom for the youths of today
4. A coincidence that unites two people
5. Your favorite word

 

For the Love of It

Team, Grass, Cheer, Field, Game, Sport

Pixabay

Why do we do this?

Is it just for the pay?

Can’t we do it for love?

It’s the only true way.

 

“Amateur” – now an insult or taunt –

Meaning few skills you hold or possess,

They say talent must be rewarded for profit –

True masters get paid for what they profess

 

Padre

 

How sad is it in our society that everything is monetised?  Doing things for enjoyment, or just to pass time with friends is “wasteful.”  These unpaid activities must therefore be “second best.”  It is not too long ego that “professionals” were not allowed in the Olympics.  We the athletes of the 1970 or 80s “second rate?”   Who has not seen a memorable AmDram production, or fallen in love with a sketch that someone made just to capture a moment?   As in sport, drama, or art; so too with politics or social action – we are told to forget the amateurs, and  “leave it to the professionals.”

 

Weekend Writing Prompt #116 – Amateur

Here and Now (2014): A Review

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Wrapt Films

I have done a few film reviews in the past on movies with basically Christian themes. This film is not religious in nature, but presents a wide range of themes which bear considering. This is an incredibly under rated British movie, but one that addresses the very idea of what it means to be British, and sub-themes of bullying, death, and love.

A inner city girl, Grace (Lauren Johns) is taken on holiday by her parents to the rural west country, where she encounters culture shock, a lack of phone signal, and the emotional ride of her parents failing marriage. She discovers SAY, Sidney Arthur Young (Andy Rush) a local boy with country interests, and a very different outlook than her East Ham lifestyle.

This movie develops very slowly, but I don’t think there is a single wasted scene. Everything builds to the climax, and a reveal.  The sub-themes create a tapestry which is completed in the final scenes. There is also some wonderful camera work accenting the majestic landscapes of late summer.

This can be seen as a coming of age film, but not strictly so.  Grace develops and the changes in her are more a matter of quality than of maturing.  There is a fair amount of word play with her name throughout the film, all centering upon the hymn Amazing Grace, it is subtle and has much sub-text as well.

The developing romance of the two central characters is also in contrast with Graces’ previous West Ham boyfriend, which is based on sex and a lack of commitment.  Even the opening scene hints to the shallowness of modern relationship.  This is wonderfully contrasted with the simple sharing of Say’s experiences, interests, and controlled affection.

This is a great film, and one to make us take stock of modern life, our values, and our relationships.  It brings “what really matters” into focus.

Padre

Ephemeral

money

Ecclesiastes 1: 14 ” I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Solomon’s words are a summing up of the life “here below.” With our final goal, not being this life, but the one of promise shared with God, this life is indeed a “chasing after the wind.”

Twenty-first Century life is the epitome of this.  In the West we spend 12-20 years in education in order to prepare us for “the career path” on which we will focus our attention for the next 40 or so years.  Its purpose is to “make a living” based on the concept of pay.

Fair enough, work to live.  But we do not work for our “daily bread” but rather for money.  In the UK this is the Pound Sterling. But a pound is not a measure of capital, but of weight, 16 ounces to be exact.  But the present monetary “pound” is a mere 9.5 grams or 1/3 of and ounce.  What’s more is the fact that sterling is defined as silver of at least 92 1/2 percent purity.  Our “Pound Sterling” is made of nickle and brass.  It falls far short of the value of its title.

But even in the casual economy of garage sales, and babysitting the coins seldom change hands.  Instead a promissory note in denominations of £5, £10, or £20 change hands.  This until recently were made of paper, and outside of exchange rate agreements were worthless outside of the UK, except as paper.  I suppose one could use it to blow their nose, or to take care of other bodily functions. But now even these have been replaced by a plastic polymer. So much for nose blowing.

But even these notes in our labour situations are seldom used.  We instead have been paid with cheques.  The pieces of paper at times were “valued” at thousands of pounds.  But in our ever changing ephemeral world, these are more often electronic transfers with no tangible reality beyond a series of 1s and 0s.  Even the “pay slips” which inform us of the transfers are now being presented as online statements.

So where is the reality?  We spend a life learning to work, or working to earn money which is an electronic pulse – an illusion.  Is that not a “chasing after the wind?” Okay, you may object that as long as we have a social, and institutional agreement this system of barter is “real.”  Yes it is, “As long as we agree.”  But look at the “wheel barrel” money of inter-war Germany or of 1990s Zimbabwe.  The agreement is itself ephemeral.

As a blogger I exist in a similar illusion.  No longer do I write with ink and paper, but with those same electronic pulses, which with an extended power outage, a magnetic flux, or the unlikely “fire sale” event make even blogs an ephemeral act.

The modern obsession with fame, similarly is a “chasing after the wind.”  Solomon noted this in Ecclesiastes.  Yes, “fifteen minutes of fame” has become a watch word, and it is a true capturing of Solomon’s meaning.  It does not last, and may not even exist.  Bloggers with 10,000 followers or more, still have 7 billion people unaware of their efforts.  Big screen “stars” and pop idols are still unknown in the rain forests of the Amazon, or even in much of North Korea.

What then should we hold to?  Solomon answered this clearly, “Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, or this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12: 13 – 14).”

This world and its “reality” need to be seen in context.  This world is only a place of journey.  It is temporary.

This hymn sums it all up:

Padre