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Reform Magazine | December 15, 2017

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Chapter & verse: Ephesians 1:16

Chapter & verse: Ephesians 1:16

Jack Dyce gives thanks

The crime fiction author PD James observed that detective heroes – ‘like a secular priest, expert in the extraction of confession, whose final revelation of the truth confers a vicarious absolution on all but the guilty’ – are changing. Heroic investigators have given way to antiheroes – detectives who, even if they are successful in identifying murderers, are rather sad characters. One of the most famous is Henning Mankell’s Wallander, whom a Swedish critic described as ‘a fat, divorced southerner who is so burned out that he can hardly make it to work’. Then, there’s Martin Beck, liable to stomach aches and nausea. Staalesen’s Varg Veum and Nesbø’s Harry Hole are alcoholics. Van Veeteren has cancer. Martin Rohde of The Bridge worries about his masculinity due to having had a vasectomy.

There’s a lovely passage in the Wallander book The Fifth Woman where he responds to Linda, his daughter, asking him about why he finds adjusting to modern Swedish society so difficult. He says: ‘Sometimes I think it’s because we’ve stopped darning our socks. When I was growing up, Sweden was still a country where people darned their socks. I even learned how to do it in school myself. Then suddenly one day it was over. Socks with holes in them were thrown out. No one bothered to repair them anymore.’ This is no simple nostalgia. It’s more, even, than an ecologically-minded regret at disposable consumerism. Mankell, through Wallander, goes on to remember ‘when we didn’t throw everything away, whether it was our woollen socks or human beings’.

Back in 2008, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, delivered a new year message that was filmed not only at his cathedral but at a waste disposal centre. Like Wallander, he lamented how disposability can seep into aspects of our society: ‘In a society where we think of so many things as disposable, where we expect to be constantly discarding last year’s gadget and replacing it with this year’s model – do we end up tempted to think of people and relationships as disposable? … God is involved in “building to last”, in creating a sustainable world and sustainable relationships with us human beings. He doesn’t give up … He doesn’t throw it all away and start again. And he asks us to approach one another and our physical world with the same commitment. … God doesn’t do waste. … And so, a life that communicates a bit of what God is like, is a life that doesn’t give up – that doesn’t settle down with a culture of waste and disposability – whether with people, or with things.’..

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the October 2017 edition of  Reform

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