Faith at Work LVII

April 2009

Some would say that one thing that has caused the current financial difficulties is selfishness and greed: if the banks hadn’t lent money on the basis of assets they didn’t have, we might be better off now. Money (or Matter) is the Matter, as George MacLeod used to say. Workers at the places that I visit as chaplain are clearly worse off than they were. A few months ago, the unions had started to negotiate the latest pay round – that was before the volumes for the products that they make started to be cut drastically. I’ve not heard anything about those pay talks recently; it’s all been about how to maintain the core skills of the workforce whilst losing some and laying off others for days or weeks whilst the production ticks over and pay is eked out over longer and longer periods.

Most often, as I go round, I hear the older members say that they feel keenly for their younger colleagues struggling with higher mortgages and the cost of bringing up young families. They must find it so much harder to make ends meet and there is anxiety about whether their current jobs are secure too. “But everywhere’s the same”, I’m told, and “we’ll just have to grin and bear it” whilst the market recovers, who knows when. The “market” needs to correct itself for the excesses of the last few years, but there is a lesson for society as a whole as the “we want it now” culture reverts to a more realistic approach to life with reduced borrowing commitments.

A friend sent me a little story recently that he felt would be good for a short homily. It went like this:
A student came to the Zen Master and asked,
"Do I have Buddha nature?" 
"But you said all things have Buddha nature even rocks and trees and birds"
"Yes," says the Master "all things have Buddha nature but not you!"
The student got very flustered, "Not me, why not, if everything has Buddha nature why not me too?"
"Because you asked the question, get the you that asked the question out of the way and you will find Buddha nature."

We can learn several things; first, it is worth sharing insights with other faiths – we can usually find they affirm our own [for example, compare the above with the story of the rich young man (Mt.19:16on)]; secondly, it would be good to encourage people to be more concerned for others, all others; thirdly, that our physical existence needs enrichment from the spiritual resources that we can draw on from all around us. The story of Easter clearly shows us the truth of that, and so we pray, with Ruth Burgess:

bless us as we celebrate your rising in us,
closer to us than breathing,
life-giving as fire and bread.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2009-02-28

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