Tuesday 5 February 2019
In Belfast when I was a curate
elderly parishioners described streets black with bodies
as twenty thousand odd people swarmed
to the city’s rope works, linen mills, aircraft factories and shipyards.
They spoke proudly of trades learned, machinery operated
and large-scale hardware exported – until they ceased to be competitive.
The new language of industry
is sustainability, globalisation and digitalisation
as on the agenda today and tomorrow in Brussels at two Industry Days.
A far cry from the Industrial Revolution
which so many root in the forces unleashed
by the Reformation, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
And perhaps the fact that so many leading British industrialists
were professing Christians isn’t surprising.
Even modern travellers to Bible lands marvel
at the remains of some of the grand designs
that rose up from that ancient soil.
They were undertaken with God, for God
or sometimes even in spite of God’s express disapproval.
about not a stone of the Jerusalem temple remaining intact
have haunted many a Church-restoring vicar,
yet on balance, the Scriptures see tearing down and destroying
as the worst of human instincts, building and planting as the best.
As for Belfast,
now it’s lightweight, smart and virtual image which the city feeds to the world
plus ironically a tourist industry rejoicing in its rich industrial past.
Though for anyone with a spiritual vision
for a purposeful, productive and fully employed society
that very capacity for reinvention is God-given.
God who scoped and schemed the earth and heavens
show us what to do with our minds and our hands
to make this world better for today’s children
and to protect it for tomorrow’s. Amen