Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cheap is Good

Tesco have somehow managed to get into the recent booklet, The Internet Shoppers Guide to Going Green (actually in a sanitised version of the real product made for sale in supermarkets). As well as somehow selling themselves as an ethical supplier of entertainment product (... uh huh ... I'll blog about the neutralisation of ethical shopping by increased consumerisation another day) they also have an advert that reads as follows:

Once upon a time they seemed pricey.
So we decided to sell them.
The end.
Yes. Very clever advert but utter rubbish. The fact is that Tesco, along with the other retailers, choose a few books each month to promote, demand extortionate discounts that only the biggest publishers can afford, and then choose at least one book to promote as a 'loss leader'. This means they will sell it cheaper than it can be bought by other retailers from a wholesaler and use it as a 'driver' for 'footfall' (forgive the retail-speak).

This does not help book retailing, in fact it cheapens the whole business of books, restricts the market to a few big players and reduces the amount that even they have to spend on developing new authors. This is not some act of salvation for the book trade by Tesco, it is the complete opposite.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Only the Hip Shall Be Redemmed

More than a decade ago folk/punk band The Electrics wrote a great song, The Hip Shall Be Redeemed, with these immortal lines:

Only the hip shall be redeemed
The poor and the pathetic will all get creamed
When God comes back to judge us
He'll be wearing Levi jeans
'Cause only the hip shall be redeemed

This song has stayed with me since - the idea that the right sort of clothing (or the right music, haircut or anything else) has any value in the community of those following Jesus is so utterly repugnant that it beggars belief that people actually think that way. The song follows up with this great satire:

And if you do not look the part
The sorry man how sad thou art
If you don't fit our body can't be one

It has really bothered me as I have traveled on both sides of the atlantic that in the progressive churches and movements there is an increasing focus on looking hip. The number of trendy preachers, mission directors and others who wouldn't be seen dead in anything other than Nike trainers, the right label on their shirt or the right music on their iPod (and it has to be an iPod) has been noticable. I'm not sure if this is an attempt to be 'cool' or just an unconscious enculturalization but it means that the more important questions about the ethics of production and materialism get subjugated to having the right stuff.

Is this what the church should be?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

On the banks of the Clyde

Glasgow was a strange time. I arrived by train at about the same time that the attempted attack on Glasgow airport occurred, and having left London just 5 days earlier, and just prior to the car bomb attempts there, really brought home the closeness of the attacks. It is ironic that at a time like this I am travelling on a tour about non-violence.

The event itself went smoothly in the rather grand setting of the Royal Concert Hall, although the Scottish crowd were full of enthusiasm.

Rather surreal time afterwards, when I was offered a life back to my hotel by a couple of radio presenters (they do a show together) with whom I had just met. However, the driver got lost and I ended up getting a delightful tour of the motorway circling Glasgow whilst seeing my hotel retreat into the distance! It was fun (in a funny kind of way)!

I am now on the train down, managing to escape the worst of the delays etc) to Cambridge for the final night tonight.

What are we here for?