Popping into church yesterday lunchtime – yes, i know that sounds weird to some folk, but i was at a meeting by Victoria Station and i DO love the lunchtime mass at Westminster Cathedral – i was struck by how relevant the gospel of the day was to current events and how it was to be hoped that a self-proclaimed Christian like Cameron would be taking heed.
The original, for those that care about such things, is lifted from Matthew 18:21-35. Below is my own rather more modern take on the text.
How finance works: crisis
24 When the shit hit the fan, they pulled in all the bankers who, it turned out, owed more money than there was money to owe.
25 These wasters had no means of paying, so the Authorities politely suggested that they be declared bankrupt and barred forever more from having anything to do with banking. And they should hand back their bonuses. And if that failed to do the trick, they should be sold, together with their wife and children and all their possessions, to pay the debt.
26 At this, the bankers grovelled, saying stuff like: “i say old chap, that’s really not on!” And they added: “Just let us have some time and we’ll pay back the whole sum.” And for added measure, they presented cute pictures of kittens and cried real tears.
27 And the Authorities felt so sorry for them that they let them off and cancelled the debt.
OK. So maybe Matthew left out the kittens. But i am sure they were there IN SPIRIT!
28 Then breathing a collective sigh of relief, the bankers returned to their offices, and promptly pulled up the files on anyone owing even a few hundred pounds. And they summoned the debt collection agencies and sent threatening letters and seized their customers by the throat and began to throttle them (honest: that’s what it says in the Gospel!), saying, “Pay what you owe me.”
29 And these small borrowers grovelled and several may even have gnashed their teeth a bit saying: “Just give us a little more time”.
30 But the bankers would not agree:; on the contrary, they took their customers to court and had them evicted and thrown into prison till they should pay the debt “even unto the last 2p!”
31 Whereupon Guardian readers and other wet liberals were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to the Authorities and reported the whole affair.
So far, so prophetic: go Matthew, go!
Unfortunately, it is at this point that the story just falls apart. Because the Gospel continues:
32 Then the Authorities sent for the bankers and said to them, “You total bastards! We cancelled all your debt when you appealed to us, and we gave you plenty of time to restructure your balance sheet AND after a slight slap on the wrist, we let you draw bonuses again as usual.
33 Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow citizens just as we had pity on you?”
34 And abso-bloody-lutely furious the Authorities decided the only thing for it was to take away their bonuses “even unto the last 2p” and just for good measure, handed them over to be tortured till they pay all their debt. Though in their mercy, they allowed them to keep ONE kitten pic.
35 And that is how the Authorities will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.
Whereas in reality, we all know that what happened next was the Authorities held an inquiry, wrote a report, and did absolutely nothing. And the poor sods at the bottom of the heap continued to be treated like dirt.
Still, if you do happen to bump into diddy David Cameron in the next week or two, do feel free to pass on the relevant URL. You never know: he might learn something! 🙂