A system perfected by prosperity

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The place we love to go in Turkey has a “strip”.  That pedestrianised promenade with the sand and sea on one side – an array of bars and restaurants on the other.  Enjoy the tranquillity on one side – be hustled and bustled on the other.  And just like the sea and sand on this side with endless-eye-candy – so too the strip on the other side.

Every bar sells drinks (and ambience and “experience”).  Every restaurant sells food (and ambience and “experience”).  And every night we ponder which combination to enjoy.  It’s part of the holiday-fun: “Where are we eating tonight?”   It makes a change from the “normal living” question: “What are we eating tonight?”

It is a dilemma of prosperity: “On what shall we spend our income tonight?”

Nothing wrong with that.  The poor will always be with you, allegedly.

Maybe that’s why we have so many religions and denominations and divisions within  denominations and faiths.  Maybe that is why each religion or denomination regards itself as the true religion – the true faith.

It is a system perfected by prosperity.

I know religions who spend everything they have in order to be dependent on God through “just in time” gifts from those who have money here on earth.  I know religions who store up vast bank accounts in order to select those it feels are worthy of financial support through a year.  I know religions who have immense property portfolios – who play the stock market – who have vast overheads that require vast incomes to just stay afloat.  Religion is big business!

And bums on seats (literal or figurative) play a massive part in keeping the money flowing.  Accountants are a necessary part of all religions.  The money-men and women.  And – just like those rows of restaurants and bars we so enjoy on holiday – each has to stay in business to be in business.  Each has to offer a Unique Selling Point, USP, to differentiate itself from others …

We are a broad-church … We are the true-church …  We are the church-with-roots-right-back-to-God … We are the modern-church … We are the free-church …We are the mega-church … We are the micro-church …  We are the independent-church … We are the church-not-aligned-to-church church …  and (surprise surprise) …

All Are Welcome!

And the sand and sea on the other side keep drawing-in and drawing-out, keep that wonderful “shushing” sound of sea breaking onto sand every hour of every day whether anyone is there to appreciate and enjoy or not.

The reason this “strip” exists at all is because of the sand and sea.  The sand and sea are the source of all this prosperity.  Take away the sand and sea and there is no reason for the strip.  Indeed, the strip never existed years ago.  Not in the place we go.   It was marshy and wet and not really any use to anyone.  Not until someone began to dig and build.  And then another and another.  And then politics took over and saw an opportunity.  And now we have a tourist-friendly haven where people flock to enjoy the location and perfection.   People like us.  With money to spend.

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And the sand and sea on the other side keep drawing-in and drawing-out, keep that wonderful “shushing” sound of sea breaking onto sand every hour of every day whether anyone is there to appreciate and enjoy or not.

In the winter almost all those restaurants and bars close.  Unlike religion they can foretell the end-times of each season: 31st October – shutters down.

And for those who survived the financial rigour of a season: 1st May – shutters up again!

And the sand and sea on the other side keep drawing-in and drawing-out, keep that wonderful “shushing” sound of sea breaking onto sand every hour of every day whether anyone is there to appreciate and enjoy or not.

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Locally there is great pride in an “ecumenical” gathering each month.  When local church leaders of different denominations sit in the same room.  Other faiths and some above all this “fiddling with one true God” don’t attend at all.  And for those who do attend agreement is never guaranteed.  Each has their own patch-position to defend.    Feedback suggests “political jockeying” along the way is always a feature.  Power is hard to leave outside the meeting room.  Bums on seats (again) dictate the pecking-order.  Accountants at work as usual.  Literal or figurative.

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We can (and do) eat anywhere we choose that night.  But take away the sand and sea …

And we have no reason to eat there at all.

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