I had the recent great good fortune to be invited to go to the opera at Glyndebourne, not so far from Lewes in Sussex. I’ve added it to my list of “60 at 60” along with milking a cow and helping to deliver a full-term sheep; an objective that came to fruition through the sterling efforts of the well-known and much loved Forshaw Farmers.
Anyway, the opera was magnificent, the atmosphere was not in the least bit snooty (everyone wore evening suits at lunchtime!), the orchestra was blissful, although I cannot quite work out why people applaud “the lad with the baton” before he has actually done anything? Perhaps Cathy Brooks might illuminate my inquisitiveness? I was looked after with the greatest of hospitality and it was a grand day out as Wallace might say to his dog Gromit. Those of a particularly Lancastrian loyalty will be please to note that their diminutive Vicar used the many opportunities that presented themselves to express the iconic northern greeting “Ow do?” to the gathered followers of opera that has become so much a feature of his lingua franca; a far cry from Oxford and Durham!
That I might catch my train earlier in the day I had to walk, in formal evening wear, through Fulham and across to Victoria train station by tube. Zoe Jackson, former Altar server of burning hair fame on the Feast of the Epiphany, had kindly put me up in her flat for the duration. As I did so I became acutely aware, almost oppressively aware, of a constant stream of consumerist images, “right on” advertisements, and socio-political causes of one sort or another, bombarding my consciousness. As I sat on the tube I thought to myself, “How hard it must be to be a practicing, devout, sincere, counter cultural Christian in the midst of such an onslaught; particularly if you are young.”
Technocratic consumerism seems to be engulfing the spiritual dimension of life at every turn; I sensed it all around me. And it struck me, with all the more powerful resonance, that political and economic systems of whatever hue and flavour do not redeem mankind – Jesus does. The secular idea that mankind becomes somehow more noble and good when huge global corporations and governments implement economic structures and policies ignores the fundamental flaw in his nature – sin and a naïve interpretation of the last 300 years of the so called “Age of Enlightenment.”
Jesus is, and always has been, the solution to mankind’s problems however great or however small they may be. Isn’t it odd what going to the opera can do to one’s thinking processes!!!!