My local bank in France has had a “make-over”. The counter, with its familiar personnel, has gone; to be replaced by a “Dalek” looking work station occupied by a girl who looks as if she still ought to be at school. The people that occupy the renovated space in their little offices change with remarkable regularity. But the biggest change is that they do not seem to be interested in handling money! One can only obtain cash from the ATM machine. A bank that ceases to function with liquid money seems to me to be a contradiction: an oxymoron.
Thomas More’s Utopia was written in a similar nonsensical style. For example, the word Utopia means “no place”, its major city had a waterless river running through it and the narrator has a name which means “speaker of nonsense”. It was a work as much about human foolishness as anything else, and part of its enduring quality is that it is a commentary on the human condition that can be given so easily to folly.
The book, in two parts, also drew a contrast between the foolishness of the corrupted state of western Renaissance Europe and the idealistic newly discovered island of Utopia. Nothing much has changed on that front. We seem now to be creating two worlds: one of the oligarchic super rich who receive obscene amounts of money that then funds their foolish spending. The other is a growing economic poverty among the majority who find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. This is socially a very dangerous situation.
Pope Francis has written the following words, which are so apposite to our present condition in the contrast that he draws. “The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.” Perhaps the still, small voice of God ought to be heard more often.
Our best wishes go to Bishop Alan Hopes, who has visited us in the past, upon his translation to become the new Bishop of East Anglia.