For our last day at Greenbelt, the rain continued to fall and the mud spread. Those with wellies were rewarded for their forethought and the steady exodus of campers began to trudge their way off site. There was a sense of euphoric celebration last night at the Jesus Arms as we danced into the night to Bohemian Rhapsody with professors and poets and ordinary punters. The timeless moment has come to an end this morning as the sense of departure draws near and the utopia of Greenbelt transitions back to the real world.
Marika Rose’s talk from last night entitled Angels and Cyborgs had stayed with me through till the morning. She laid out a dystopian vision of our cyborg society and its unending worship of Mammon. While much of the talk had a playful tone there was an ominous feeling that we might be powerless to break away from a world where the circulation of money was our act of worship.
To balance this I went to see Eve Poole who read theology before becoming a management consultant with Deloitte. Her talk was titled ‘Capitalism’s Toxic Assumptions’ and looked at some concepts prevalent in our market economy that we need to challenge. She opposed the constant demand we place on our companies to compete and suggested co-operation and collaboration often bring about a more positive outcome. She criticised the prevalence of limited liability companies in the UK and the acceptance of a market price being the right and just price. She had a great ability to explain complicated economic issues simply and humorously. Her position felt a world away from Marika’s and yet she finished with a very similar conclusion: that our spending is worship and we might want to look back over our balance sheet at the end of each month and ask if we are proud of our economic agency.
Her vision of hope is that the Christian community can take an ethical look at our money, from pensions to grocery shopping. She encouraged us to buy local and rejoice at paying a higher price when we can see fair wages paid and our environment protected.
As this last day of Greenbelt comes to a close I’m preparing for a night at the Glade Stage with Grace Petrie and Martyn Joseph singing out what has been a wonderful and wet weekend. I expect to stay in the Jesus Arms till they kick us out as I cling to the final hours of Greenbelt 2015.