I became aware of this phenomenon at the beginning of Tom Cruise’s movie about the bomb plot to kill Adolf Hitler. There he was as general von Staufenberg in Africa, speaking to his commanders, and amid the background noise, I could not hear a word he as saying! Recently in shows like “House of Cards” and other locally made shows, and British TV too, everyone is whispering! (I assure you, I am not going deaf!). So where does this come from? It is like there is a global trend in all of the acting schools, and among directors that everyone speaks in whispers, instead of normal voices. Have they all been to the ‘whispering school of acting?’
But then, I began to think. All of a sudden, every time I buy something on line, or ring a call centre, there comes an e.mail, or a text, or something after the on line purchase saying “Will you answer our feedback questionnaire?’ I’m sure this must be automatically generated, but I’m wondering how did this all of a sudden become a thing to do? What do they do with the information? How come they don’t send me the results of their questionnaire?
It’s the same with local councils and church central offices. Have you noticed? All of a sudden, perhaps in the early 2000s, all of the diocesan offices became ‘securitised’. You cant get in there without some one pressing a button o let you into the security door, and then again into the offices of the bishops (with the archbishop all the way down the back, in the most difficult to access spot). Was there a bomb scare that prompted this? Did the insurance companies demand it? Did all of the general managers get together at a conference and decide ‘yes’ this is what we are going to do? No one told me, or explained it. It just happened.
In the first instance, then, I am aware of global movements that are happening by some one’s planning, but not involving me!
This is at one level pretty dangerous.
Recently, while we have been making fun of Donald Trump’s tweets, and the chaos in the White House, he has been emasculating the Environment Protection Agency in the name of ‘de-regulation’ but in reality, helping business to keep on polluting. He has been hiring climate change sceptics to run the very same agency!*
Most of us are pretty naïve I think when it comes to the influence of global movements behind the ‘front end’ of government policy. But more and more I am being made aware of the ‘principalities and powers’ and ‘spiritual wickedness in high places’.
Think about the Murray Darling Basin. There is just so much invested taking water out of this system (especially for Agribusiness and cotton growing) that there is little concern for the environment, and the people of South Australia.
It is these secret ‘powers’ that I think that Christians have to become more aware of in order to be genuine followers of Jesus.
When in John’s Gospel, Jesus calls his disciples ‘Friends’ he does so on the basis that he has told them everything that he has heard from the Father. The salves do not need to know what the master is doing, they are the recipients of orders from the master. But the friends are let in on everything. Thinking about this relationship, I wonder whether we are slaves of the Global powers, or friends.
The other thing that I am talking about accountability. I find myself on the receiving end of global, or at least Australia wide changes that no one has consulted me about.
This is the opposite of living in a small town like Alexandra or Kilmore. Everyone knows everyone else (more or less). Everyone has to be accountable to one another because making one another accountable is easy: just go around there and speak to them. The hardware store has to give refunds all of the time because they know who I am. But I go to our local hardware store because I know the names of all of the staff and call them by name, and they me.
When someone says that they are going to ring me back, and they don’t, then I can easily go around there and ask them why.
Again, knowing one another, and being known and recognised is one of the characteristics of the community life that we learn about by being members of the Church, and as one of Jesus’ sheep, whom he calls out by name. Being accountable to one another, knowing our hurts and fears is a characteristic of Church life that represents a genuine alternative to the alienation of other forms of living together. In this context, I think it is a shame that the Church leaders in some places have gone the way of more remoteness and less accountability.
It is true that the world is ever more globalised. But Christians need ways of being aware of the global ‘behind the scenes’ trends, while at the same time, offering a genuine alternative form of community life where we are called by name.
* Here is the link to this article. <http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/the-real-trump-agenda-helping-big-business>