Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

25 December 2010

A sideways look at Christmas

I have had a couple of near misses with poet laureate Carol-Ann Duffy. First a colleague hosted the post-funeral party for the local and much-loved poet U. A. Fanthorpe. A bevvy (could that be the word for a collection of female poets) arrived at the house and drank their way through the contents of the wine cellar, which given the nature of the occasion was entirely understandable. The further activities of her eminence are best kept under wraps.

Then my son was part of the winning University Challenge team last year (I think this is the first time I have mentioned this?!) and who else should be booked to present the rather kitsch prize than Ms Duffy herself?

Carol Ann Duffy's most famous colleciton is The World's Wife, a wry look at the world from the perspective of famous men's spouses. Shortly before being given the top job she wrote a poem from Mrs Scrooge for the Guardian. She turns out to be a role-model for our times and the poem a gift. The ghost of Christmas Past has a message that is an appropriate one for this blog:

'But then she heard a cracking, rumbling groan
and saw huge icebergs calving from the floe
into the sea;
then, further out, a polar bear, floating,
on a raft of ice.
"The Polar Ice Cap melting," said the Ghost,
"Can mankind save it?"
"Yes, we can!" cried Mrs Scrooge. "We must!"
"I bring encouragement from Scrooge's dust," replied the Ghost.
"Never give up. Don't think one ordinary human life
can make no difference - for it can!"'

22 December 2008

The indifferent children of the earth

For those who no longer sign up to the official Christian faith this time of year can be rather tiresome. The desperation of prelates has reached such a pitch that they will resort to almost anything to fill their churches. A few years ago I went to a service where the vicar was performing a conjuring trick on the high altar with a children's ball and three plastic buckets.

But there is something at the heart of the myth of Christmas that can speak to green economics. This is the myth of God made flesh. It seems to me that this is an attempt to explore the tension that we feel between our spiritual and corporeal being. Something that sets green economics apart from other variants is its willingness to encompass the spiritual. The ecofeminists suggest that re-embedding ourselves in our bodies and in our environment is the first step on a journey that leads to living in harmony.

It is a commonplace of green critiques that the dualism between mind and matter that is usually attributed to Descartes is one of the sources of our current predicament. We call instead for holism--for the reuniting of man and woman, of spirit and flesh, or people and planet. Our spirit is not a ghost in the machine of our body; neither are we born of the stars and destined to return there. If we could learn to celebrate our fleshly inheritance and our earthly destiny we might make a better fist of our short span on earth.

Obscene over-consumption is no more acceptable than hair-shirt asceticism: what we should seek instead is balance and integration. The sort of integration we need is not the sort we learned in maths classes but the bringing together of all aspects of ourselves. There's a challenge for 2009!