Tag Archives: market

November 27: Of so little use, Money.

The ladies could not, for a long time, comprehend what the merchants did with small pieces of gold and silver, or why things of so little use should be received as equivalent to the necessaries of life.

(from Rasselas by Samuel Johnson)

Samuel Johnson’s ‘Rasselas’ of 1759 takes a Prince of Abissinia, Rasselas, from his luxurious captivity, escaping out into the world, accompanied by a female cousin and her maid, all guided by a wise man who had become weary of the place as well. He takes them to Egypt, where Cairo was already a bustling metropolis. The young people have a lot to learn.

And so do we. We have seen these tokens before: they were minted in German cities after the Great War when inflation impoverished many people. And they remind us that Judas sold his Lord for a handful of silver, and that Mammon will always ‘see a market’ and persuade us that things of little use are equivalent to the necessaries of life. We sometimes waste our money, but money has wasted many people around the world since the hyperinflation of Germany in the 1920s.

If money loses the trust of people it will no longer procure the necessaries of life. Can we help provide some necessaries during this Advent, beginning tomorrow?

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August 1: Shared Table XIII, Dishonouring the poor at table.


If there shall come into your assembly a man having a golden ring, in fine apparel, and there shall come in also a poor man in mean attire, and you have respect to him that is clothed with the fine apparel, and shall say to him: Sit thou here well; but say to the poor man: Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool: do you not judge within yourselves, and are become judges of unjust thoughts?

Hearken, my dearest brethren: hath not God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him? But you have dishonoured the poor man.

James 2:2-6.

I was struck between the eyes by a restaurant review which described the diners as bravely consuming roasted grasshoppers and silkworms. Where did the chef source them, I wondered. It all sounded like the decadent feasts portrayed in Asterix the Gaul comic books. Then I read an article by Joseph Pons, a student at ICES University in France.1 He writes about quinoa, the so-called super-food.

I had images of acres of the stuff, ripening in Somerset. Wrong! Quinoa comes from Bolivia and Peru and was a staple for poor people, till rising prices meant they had to sell all they could produce and buy rice from Asia to feed their families. Meanwhile, richer Asian people are buying Western agricultural produce.

Quinoa cost forty times the price of wheat in European markets in 2013.

Yes, I tend to think of a global food chain as linking us together for good, but in this case it is not for the good of all. And so far as I know I’ve never eaten quinoa, grasshoppers, or silkworms. But then one of our mottoes here at Agnellus Mirror is ‘Eat whatever they put before you’, (Luke 10:7) so who knows what will be on the menu some day?

Let’s hope it will not be served to us to the dishonour of the producer, and let’s strive to avoid such damaging fads.

text and photo: MMB

Barley in Kent.

1Joseph Pons: L’Avenir commence demain en consummant differement, in La Ruche ICES, 22/5/2017, p10.


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19 January: Crossing Barriers, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Canterbury.

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Worth Gate Thursday 19th January, 12‐12.30pm

St Mildred’s Church, Church Lane, CT1 2PP Business and commerce Innovation and integrity

Wincheap was one of Canterbury’s thriving markets, with traders coming in from far and wide to sell their wares. Today we pray for the thousands of businesses which make this city such a vibrant place to live. We pray that those who do business here will operate in honesty, integrity and generosity.

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The misdirected Thank-you.

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She was about two years old and exuberant with it, dancing near the door of Canterbury’s Goods Shed market and enjoying the sound of her own voice.

When I came back from Enzo’s bakery, there she was still, but a little quieter as her mother was readying her to face the cold outdoors again. Mother and I exchanged a few words, but it was clear that the little one was eyeing my warm loaf. I broke off a corner for her – not enough to spoil her appetite, of course.

‘Say thank-you,’ mother said, and looking at mother, the child said her thank-you.

You might call it a misdirected thank-you, as it was not mother who gave her the bread. And yet, mother is her reference point, and mother had agreed to let her take the bread. Every thank-you at this age is a thank-you to her parents.

Perhaps we can see something here about praying to Mary or other saints. Many would argue that praying to them, or thanking them would be misdirected thanks or prayers, but at our age the beatific vision is embryonic; we see Christ in our fellow humans, including those saints whose stories touch our imagination.

The little girl’s thank-you was relayed by a glance from her mother; prayers to the saints will be relayed by a glance at the beatific vision. God is no more insulted than I was.

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10 June, Year of Mercy: What is freedom and what does it mean?

It is God and his merciful justice that compels us to face these very real issues. The Church’s social teaching rests totally on the inalienable dignity and freedom of the human person. What is freedom and what does it mean? Certainly not individualistic free licence. Licence in fact makes itself dependent on the current moods, interests and emotions. Individual licence is also politically dangerous, making itself vulnerable to propaganda and advertising.

Freedom that is aware of its own dignity will always respect the freedom of others. It is freedom for others, not freedom from. Freedom becomes real when justice gives each his/her due. Freedom presupposes that others respect their own freedom and bring about a justice that is at the same time freedom regulated. So – what is justice, what is a just society? The ancient Greeks’ [Aristotle] is the midway between too much and too little. Law cannot legislate for all diverse situations, so justice is dependent on goodness as the higher value.


Natural Law is the foundation for justice – which persisted late into the modern era – which abandoned it, and yet a consensus is not yet apparent. Some see the concept of justice and talk about as dealing with empty formulas if not cliché suited to political propaganda to use and abuse for the sake of power games. Democracy without values soon descends into tyrannical governance. Democracy lives on presuppositions – that it cannot guarantee – but if we lose them or displace them as stating the obvious we end-up with relativism, which doesn’t accept absolutes but makes decisions according to market and/or power structures. If in the end there is no final truth, no absolute value then even the noblest expressions of democracy are without foundation; and tolerance gives way to its opposite against all disagreement.

As human being we are damaged goods, whilst having an inbuilt leaning towards good, we interpret good as what we see as goo: I did it my way. All our relating is infected with injustice which preceded us and which we inherited. This means our healthy survival makes pardon for the injustices we have given and received a sine qua non. We need to pardon past injustices and be reconciled again and again. Reconciliation is the only way out of the vicious circle of guilt and retribution.

Justice flourishes where there is forgiveness, reconciliation and mercy. Reconciliation and mercy do something seemingly impossible – it pardons what from the standpoint of justice is unpardonable. Forgiving the unpardonable violates a sense of justice that seeks retribution. It is by acting against the demand for retributive justice that forgiveness becomes the rock foundation of the new way of being human. I am the way…


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