Dominion Or Domination Part 1

Benign stewardship or aggressive tyranny?

In the very first book of The Bible, from the time God gave man, or in our politically correct age humankind, the Earth, we have abused the trust and intent of our creator. We were gien dominion over the Earth but it was never intended to be the domination we currently exercise over the planet.We were to be stewards, caring for the planet, not treating it as our collective personal, and individual, disposable resource.

Although there were and still are pockets where humankind lives in harmony with nature, in most places and especially where we think ourselves ‘civilised’ a different mentality predominates. We stopped thinking of ourselves as stewards caring for the food-chain, instead we arrogantly assumed ourselves to be at the top of the food chain where everything belongs to us.

This thinking now prevails in more aspects than just food, taking in all the resources the world has available. Anything from which man might be able to turn a profit has become fair game to be exploited for gain. We humankind are no longer willing to settle for what we need. Now it is all about what we want, we became greedy and because we want it someone always makes a profit from it.

There was a time in our history, before the recorded history in the era about which we can do little more than make educated guesses, when our home world was incapable of sustaining human life. Until sufficient plant life became established to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into breathable oxygen, human life was impossible.

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

A review of
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

published on my sister site,
Entertaining Angels Bookshelf.

 

Money, Part 2

Power.

(Part 1 here)

Money gives power. The more money someone has, the more power. Most people, at least in developed parts of the world, probably have sufficient money to have at least some control over their own destiny. The more money, the more control. People living in poverty or near the breadline have little, if any, control over their own lives, but having money also enables control in less obvious ways.

At the other end of a scale from the volunteer, we might consider the rich philanthropist. Such a person lives how he or she wants, where they want. They do what they want, when they want, spending money on what they want. They do not need to hold off of discretionary spending for necessities like food, a home and heating.

The rich philanthropist, who gives large sums of money to charity usually creates good publicity for himself or herself but is it the best use of the money? How much is actually given away in relation to the size of the fortune? Often, although the sum might seem big to you or me, to the rich man or woman such a sum might be insignificant.

And what about the ‘hidden’ control? Isn’t choosing which charity to donate to, or sometimes even setting up their own charitable foundation a form of control? Ok, you and I can choose which charities we give to too, but we’re not donating potentially life changing sums of money.

These same apparent philanthropists sometimes spend more in a year minimising the tax they pay, than you or I earn in the same period. Yet another form of control imbued by having money. If the rich paid the tax instead of donating to charity, wouldn’t their money benefit a greater number of people, a whole county’s population, not just those a charity tries to support?

I’m not implying charities are a bad, do a bad job or don’t deserve support but their focus is narrow, on specific causes. Higher tax receipts from those able to pay more, but actually pay accountants and specialists to avoid paying tax, ultimately benefit everyone.

 

 

 

 

A Wise Man’s Diary

Exact date unknown. A few days after 25th December.

The Magi Journeying (c. 1890), by James Tissot

We’re late. Today we arrived in Bethlehem. We came looking for a baby boy, in a stable that was under a star. By the time we arrived his parents had moved on with him. We had been delayed on the way.

Kin Herod had heard about us crossing the border, entering his lands. He sent a detachment of his guards to ‘welcome’ us. Welcome indeed! Melchior knew immediately that the welcome of the escort was really not optional, that we go to Herod’s palace. We couldn’t refuse without arousing suspicion.

Herod had heard about a king to be born in Bethlehem. I suppose if he’d sent his own men, he assumed the child would be hidden, or spirited away. Certainly he seemed to need us, a great deal more than we needed, or wanted, to serve him. He released us but commanded us that when we discovered the whereabouts of the new king, we should inform him so that he could pay tribute too. We all knew what this really meant.

We found the stable easily enough, a friendly innkeeper had taken pity on the man and pregnant woman and let them sleep there during the days of the census. By the time we eventually arrived, they had moved on with their new baby boy.

Fortunately for us the innkeeper’s wife remembered the names of the couple and of their new baby. “Mary, Joseph and they’s named the lad Jesus.” she told us. It took a couple more days of asking around, and a few gratuities, to find out where they were now staying.

When the crowds thinned after the census, they’d been able to rent a small house, and we found it with a donkey tethered outside and a couple of lambs penned at the side. We were invited in as soon as we arrived and knocked.

Inside it was a small, ordinary house for an ordinary family and though the man, a carpenter, and his wife were ordinary, there was something out of the ordinary about the child, Jesus. He looked ordinary enough but the feelings he stirred in us told us that this was no ordinary child.

We told them about our meeting with Herod, which seemed to alarm them. I can’t be sure but I suspect that the look that passed between the man and woman was along the lines of ‘time to get out of here. They were grateful for the gifts. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The gold, I think, will be most helpful if they have to travel.

After a slightly disconcerting dream, apparently both Melchior and Balthazar had the same dream I did, we decided to go a different way home, skirting around Herod’s palace. We had no desire to tangle with him again.

A Shepherd Boy’s Letter Home

Dear Mam,

The Angel Appearing before the Shepherds by Thomas Buchanan Read, 1822-1872

Thanks for sending Da’s old crook, letting me use it until I can replace my broken one. I’ll get it back to you as soon as I can. I promise.

The night before I wrote this letter was filled with some strange events. At least one will be unbelievable, to those people who didn’t see it for themselves.

Maybe you had an inkling of something out of the ordinary happening, if you looked up at the sky and saw the extra bright star in the east. Well, Mam, That was just the first of an eventful night.

I was sitting by our camp fire, with Uncle Barnabas and a few of his friends when, shortly after the star appeared, we heard a fanfare. It startled us, I can tell you, though strangely the flock didn’t seem bothered.

A few moments after that a choir appeared, singing some great songs. One of them flew down, yes Mam actually flew, and said we should go into the town of Bethlehem, where we could see a new king. It seemed odd but there was something compelling about the way the flying man spoke.

Uncle Barnabas and the others decided to go and see what was going on. I thought they’d leave me to mind the flock, but they took me too. Took us a couple of hours to walk into town. We’d been told to follow the star, and that led us to an inn. The keeper didn’t know what we were talking about but said there was a couple in his stable at the side of the inn. 

It seemed a strange place to be with a baby, I guess there weren’t many places in town to stay. Lots of people had come in for the census and needed rooms. The girl didn’t seem much older than me.

They were a nice couple. The baby looked like all the babies I’ve seen, not that I’ve seen many. The flying man had said he’d be a king. He didn’t look royal, but there was something about him that set him apart. I can’t explain it, it was just a feeling that he was somehow different.

Uncle Barnabas and his friends left a lamb as a gift to the young couple before we left. They said we had to get back to the flock.

I nearly forgot to tell you the baby’s name, Mam. The couple were called Mary and Joseph, yes really, Joseph just like me, and they’d called their son Jesus. They were nice, Mam. I hope I meet them again.

Hope to visit soon,

Your loving son,

Joseph.

 

An Advent Prayer

For those not looking forward to Christmas.

Three in one God who in Trinity is always in community, we pray for those who may be alone or lonely at Christmas time. Be with them and with everybody who for any reason is not looking forward to Christmas.

Lord and Father, you turn your back on no one, man or woman of any race or creed. Help us to follow your example, by not turning our backs on those approaching Christmas with trepidation.

We pray for those that have lost a partner, husband or wife in the past year, facing Christmas alone for the first time. We pray too for those who may not be alone but have lost a family member who will leave an empty space at the Christmas dinner table.

Loosing someone is but one of many reasons that Christmas my not seem to be a time to celebrate. There are many grounds for apprehension. Parents who cannot buy presents for their children, when all around they are bombarded by advertisements. The homeless, who if they find shelter for that one night think it a gift received.

God and Father be with those who do not look forward to Christmas. Comfort and support them and show them that they never need be completely alone. Guide and support those who would bring human aid and comfort, making Christmas a little better where they can for those feeling foreboding of its approach.

Amen.

Christmas Gifts

What will you give this year?

A lot of us will be caught up in the Christmas hype all around us. We’ll be busy laying in food, putting up decorations and buying gifts. Hopefully the readers of this don’t get sucked in by the hype.

The perfect gift, according to the advertisers at any rate, seems to get more expensive every year but what is the perfect gift? Is there really such a thing?

Most gifts that people receive are simply bought by someone. Often bought quickly without a lot of thought, because shopping for someone else is, let’s face it, inconvenient. Not many people, these days, got to the trouble of making something for someone else.

Gifts don’t need to be expensive. Sometimes, giving an expensive gift is actually a disservice to the recipient. And expensive gift often creates in the receiver a feeling of obligation to respond in kind at a similar cost. Note here I say cost, not value.

Creating an obligation can prompt someone with little money to feel obliged to spend more than they can afford to respond in kind. A thoughtless gift in the first place actually adds to the hardship of the recipient.

Sometimes the best gift is the least expensive or the most thoughtful, perhaps even free in monetary term, is nevertheless of great value. Caring doesn’t have to mean spending, it can mean not spending. Perhaps the most valuable to give someone, is your time. Of course so many people don’t, or say they don’t, have time.