God don’t make no junk, but we do. - Thought for the Week 1 March

God don’t make no junk, but we do.

My first car I ever owned I bought as a student. It was a 1966 Volvo 122S with twin SU carburettors. Also known as the Amazon. It was built like a tank and seemed to be able to last forever. Manufactured in an era before planned obsolescence. Manufactured to not have to be replaced to soon. Manufactured not so much for making the company the most money repeatedly but for delivering a product that satisfied the needs of the customer as long as possible. Manufactured with some sustainability of the environment in mind instead of only the sustainability of the owners of the company’s wealth.

I remember a drawing I saw for the first time as teenager that stated “I know I’m somebody ‘cause God don’t make no junk!!” A cute, motivational, self-valuing theological statement in contemporary children’s language that states a very important truth about God, us, creation and quality, amongst other things. In the Genesis tradition is states that God reviewed his work and appraised it as “good”. To be clear, when he appraised homo sapiens He adjudged us “very good”. So good in fact that He entrusted the care of this our world to us.

Currently one of our biggest failures in our duty of care [whether you subscribe to the Judaeo-Christian worldview or not] for the remarkably interdependent ecosystem of our planet is all the junk that we are making. Particularly “throw-away” junk. Like single use plastics. We might use it for 20 minutes in the form of a shopping bag to take the groceries from the store to the kitchen but if it is not recycled it will take at least decades for the typical plastic bag to biodegrade to any state that it can become part of the natural ecology. In the meantime, it will cause damage for generations to come. Similarly our plastic milk bottles have the ability to last for centuries whether in the ground or more likely in waterways and most likely the ocean (gravity, buoyancy and all that means the ocean is by default the final resting place of our plastic junk).

I do not (unfortunately) own my old Amazon anymore, but it is still going strong back in Pretoria. Unlike most of the much more modern cars I have since owned – some of which started coming apart a mere 15 years after they came out off the factory.

Do we really need so much temporary stuff that needs replacing? Can we not make products that last longer and keeps working so that replacements do not need made nor discarded?

Seemingly God did not make us to discard us. Quite the contrary. According to the Biblical storyline we were salvaged from the scrapheap and got a new lease of life through the recycling process of the Cross.

I am grateful that European legislation is being considered to reduce or penalise manufacturing for planned obsolescence in mind. It remains to be seen whether the Westminster-led British government will adhere to such a commitment to increased ecological responsibility, or whether it will follow the lead of the USA in taking the route of least sustainability.

If God does not make junk, then neither should we.

By the way, thank you McDonalds for starting to replace your rubbish plastic trinkety toys with books and other more responsible give-aways.                                                               

Rev Alan Childs



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