My morning starts with time spent thinking. I just listed how many things are on my mind. I started with the BBC drama I watched last evening, "Stolen" about trafficked children from Africa, Russia, Viet Nam and other relatively poor countries. One thing that one of the traffickers said that stuck in my mind was, "we are just supplying a demand." The demand is for cheap labor. That chimed in with something from St Paul, "Before there was a law there was no offence". Whether it is sweat shops in the East End making cheap clothes or sandwiches for London's lunches there are undoubtedly people working for less than the legal minimum wage and many are illegal immigrants and perhaps children. It didn't just start with the minimum wage legislation, but the legislation has revealed how offensive it is.
I have also begun reading CS Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms. He was taking his psalms from the Book of Common Prayer, which translation would be regarded as inaccurate by modern scholars. Nevertheless he has trouble with them, particularly the passages where the psalmist heaps down trouble on his enemies. Having seen the film about the traffickers I have similar feelings about them. I assume that as they are my enemies they are God's enemies too. But I need to put that in context. Are they just businessmen fulfilling a need - the real villains being the consumers; those who use young children as personal slaves and even worse as sex-slaves? Juxtapositioned in my mind is another TV series: The world's strictest parents, in which unruly British teenagers are sent to live with very strict (often Christian) parents, usually in America, and are miraculously tamed in a week. But what often comes out is a deprived child. Last night the girl had a dad with kidney failure who had had three transplants, one from her mother, and the boy who had fathered an illegitimate child had no father-figure at all in his family to be a role model. To understand all is to forgive all. Lewis reminds us that God is not willing that anyone should perish but that all should turn from their wicked ways and live.
I have also been struggling with John's Gospel in that there are so many, probably legitimate, interpretations of the text. Perhaps it was meant to be so. I am using it for devotional readings every day and I am not seeking to provide a comprehensive authoritarian commentary. One thought a day is enough. Our Pastor has started a study in Ecclesiastes on Sunday evenings. I have always loved the book, because it reminds me of my days at University when I tried to find the meaning of life outside of God. I could get no further than 42 (see Hitchhikers Guide).
I then begin to think about stereotypy and immunoglobulin genes in CLL. So much of prognosis in CLL seems to be fore-ordained, being determined by the particular structure of the immunoglobulin gene that powers the tumor line, but as in life events happen and nothing is predictable. To bias our thoughts too much towards 'nurture' or 'nature' is an error. Even identical twins differ at 70 years of age.
The le Carre book I am reading is set in Berlin in the 1970s. Bader-Meinhoff, anarchy, protests, free-love - it all seems so distant now and I never had any sympathy for it. But the need to get out on the street is born of frustration that the politicians are not listening. In the sixties at University, I remember making a speech at the Debating society which bewailed the fact the the 'young leader' that everybody was raving about, Jack Kennedy, was in fact 4 years older than my father. Which brought me to this poem that had it's genesis then though it has been much altered:
When the last, time-slipping clock sticks fast,
ratchet-locked and still, and the last rage
rumbles past and yet no screams decry
the cloistered boxing into cocooned cage;
when the sodium painted sky seeps clean
into clear black night and even fairy lights fail;
when the hot, whispered breath is cordoned so tight,
stifled and silenced, blanketed and frail;
when the cold creeps to cover the fire’s faintest spark
and the dark is oppressive, but curbed and defined;
when danger is confined and the limits are quite safe
and they tell us and sell us it’s best left behind;
will you dare to dance lightly on fences and tracks,
face dragons and princes and prisons and pens,
and clamber over palisades and balustrades and pounds
and rip out the restrictions and the rules we need to cleanse?
Anyway that is why I need to settle down for half an hour in the mornings and think.