Notes from underground

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Archive for the tag “business”

Julian, Gregorian, Mammonian: thoughts on the Festive Season

There was the Julian (Old) Calendar, then there was the Gregorian (New Calendar).

When those on the New Calendar (NC) are celebrating Christmas, those on the Old Calendar (OC) still have 13 days to wait. When those on the New Calendar are celebrating Theophany/Epiphany, those on the Old Calendar are celebrating Christmas Eve. But whichever calendar you are on, there are the Twelve Days of Christmas between the celebration of Christmas and Theophany.

Except that there is a still newer calendar, the ultramodern calendar, which I shall call the Mammonian Calendar (MC), which wants to move the Twelve Days of Christmas earlier still. As for example here:


If 14th December is the 4th day of Christmas, that means that Christmas day itself must be on the 11 December (Gregorian). That would put New Year on 18th December.

Such numbering gets even more confusing than the Julian/Gregorian one, so why not go the whole hog?

Make New Year’s Day the 1st December, and in the interests of the economy make all the days between Black Friday and New Year compulsory retail shopping days, on which all retail businesses must be open 24/7, and all non-retail businesses must close, to allow their employees  time to shop. The months could be given more appropriate names too. How about calling December Steinhoff, January Gupta, February Jooste and so on. Name them after all the heroes of Monopoly Capital. Even Cecil Rhodes could make a comeback.

But seriously, there’s a lot of confusion.

Think of all the places the 4th day of Christmas can be:

  • 14th December in the Mammonian calendar
  • 28th December in the Gregorian Calendar
  • 10 January in the Julian Calendar (with Gregorian notation)

Lots of my Western friends seem to think we keep Christmas on 7th January (Gregorian), but no, we don’t. Most Orthodox Christians in Africa follow the Gregorian calendar for the fixed feasts, of which the Nativity of Christ is one. Two parishes in our diocese follow the old calendar, St Sergius in Midrand and St Thomas’s in Sunninghill. Most of the rest are new calendar.

But business threatens to impose yet another layer of confusion.

My blogging friend Fr Andrew Stephen Damick has made a valiant attempt to chart a safe course through the muddied waters here How Many Days is Orthodox Christmas? — Roads from Emmaus.

And I’ve been doing my bit by posting “It’s the 5th day of Christmas” (that’s today, Gregorian) on Facebook, and hoping some of my friends might pass it on as a reminder to the confused which day it actually is. I don’t think many of my friends are on the Mammonian calendar yet, though Black Friday arrived on these shores a couple of years ago, and is probably here to stay.

The High Priests of Monopoly Capital also like to call the time preceding Christmas “the Festive Season”.

Not for Orthodox Christians it isn’t. For us the Festive Season begins on 25 December and lasts until 4 January. From 15 November till 24 December is the Fastive Season. No meat, eggs, or dairy products. On some days fish is allowed (it’s the main time of the year when we eat fish).

Hot Cross Buns are a relic of the fasting season in the Western Church. If they fasted on no other day, they did so on Good Friday (I don’t know what they do now), and so hot cross buns, if made properly, should be fasting food — no eggs, butter or other dairy produce. But on Boxing Day (the Second Day of Christmas) — no way!

On Christmas day this year we went to the Divine Liturgy at St Nicholas of Japan Church in Brixton, Johannesburg, 91.4 km at 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit, with no aircon in the car. We took Charles Nkosi down to be baptised (full story, with pictures, here). On the way home one of our number, Artemius Mangena, got a phone call from his brother, inviting him to a Christmas dinner…. a vegetarian Christmas dinner! So much for the Festive Season. I said he should at least try to eat some cheese.

 

 

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Cecil Rhodes and his statue

Owing to the difficulty in using the new user-hostile WordPress editor, this post has been posted on my old blog, here Notes from underground: Row about Rhodes.

Interestingly enough, when I opened the editor here to post, up came the new editor with its dreaded “Beep Beep Boop”, so I gave up and wrote it on the old blog.

Then when I came back here to put in the link, up came the old, usable editor, so I could perhaps have written it here after all, but by then it was too late.

But I can at least put in categories and tags.

 

The Bishop and the chocolate factory

One instance where this guy’s opinion is spot on

A Church of England bishop challenges Cadburys UK over its self-proclaimed rights to the colour purple.

Bishop’s challenge to Cadbury over the colour purple – Telegraph:

A leading bishop has issued a warning to the US-owned confectionery giant after a small Christian fair trade producer was forced to redesign its products because Cadbury had successfully trademarked the colour for the sale of chocolate.

In a landmark High Court victory last week Cadbury, now owned by the US conglomerate Kraft, saw off a challenge from its rival Nestle over the exclusive rights to use the distinctive shade of purple used on its Dairy Milk wrappers.

The ruling was the culmination of a long-running legal battle between the two of the world’s biggest confectionery companies but it has also forced a rethink by one of the smallest.

The Meaningful Chocolate Company, based in Manchester, produces a special range of fair trade chocolates for Christmas and Easter with a Christian message.

Last Christmas it sold a range of chocolate Christmas tree decorations with nativity scenes, displayed in a purple packaging – the colour long recognised by the Church as symbolising advent.

But the company has been forced to switch to scarlet wrappers this Christmas after being advised by intellectual property lawyers that it could be infringing Cadbury’s rights.

This seems to be the same kind of bullying that was seen a few years ago when an American firm took over the SPCK Bookshops in the UK, and systematically destroyed them. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, this comes with a hat-tip to the very same Phil Groom who was one of the whistle-blowers on that.

As someone has suggested, perhaps we should extend the Advent Fast to cover Cadbury’s chocolate. We have sometimes eaten their Bournville dark chocolate during the fast, because it is non-dairy, so maybe we’ll drop that now too. I wonder if  Cadburys in South Africa is also owned by Kraft?

Orthodox Christians don’t really do purple for Advent, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sympathise with those who do when they are bullied for it.

 

Glocal Christianity: How Christian is my business?

Excellent post from Matt Stone on what makes a Christian business and what makes a business Christian. Well worth reading.

Glocal Christianity: How Christian is my business?:

For years now Hillsong have been running a Christian Business Directory for Christians in western Sydney, and apart from the missiological issues this inevitably raises, I have also long wondered, what does it mean to call a business “Christian”?

There can be many problems, which take many different forms. Some businesses use Christian symbols in their logos. That does not make them Christian, it just means they are trying to con Christians into supporting them. One church I was in asked a parishioner to design a logo that could be used on church stationery. Another parishioner, who ran a light engineering business, promptly nicked the logo to use on his business stationery — thus implying that his business had the endorsement of the church.

A few years ago a bloke quoted for some building alterations on our house. He was full of Christian talk, but he took the money and didn’t finish the job. His name was Lukas Neethling, so if you ever come across the guy, beware of any business deals you make with him!

That kind of thing gives Christians a bad name in the secular world. But the most telling exampleof the bad reputation of Christians was when I applied for a job as a bus driver with London Transport. They wanted three references. I gave them some, and they rejected them. References from anyone connected with the church were unacceptable. I’d just arrived from South Africa as a semi-refugee, having skipped the country one step ahead of the Security Police. I didn’t know anyone in Britain who wasn’t connected with the church. Eventually I gave them the names of some professors at the University of Natal whose courses I had taken, but hardly knew me at all, and those were acceptable.

Of course such things can take different forms, and it’s not always in the form of a published directory. A few years ago there was a TV sitcom called Birds of a feather, about two sisters, Tracy and Sharon, who ran a working class cafe. One was divorced and the other’s husband was in jail. A yuppie Jewish friend persuaded them to turn their cafe into an upmarket bagel bar, and their business fell off drastically. The husband in jail was Greek, so they went to see the Orthodox priest, who remarked on Sharon not being seen in church since her wedding, and when she was suitably contrite, pulled out a card index of business contacts, and at the end of the episode their business was prospering again. That kind of networking was dead true to life. I’ve seen it many times.

A more positive example comes from more than 30 years ago in Namibia. The Anglican bishop, Colin Winter, gave a series of Holy Week addresses in a Durban church, and urged people to come and help the church in Namibia. One guy there, Ed Morrow, said “I’m just a builder, what can I do?” And the bishop said, in effect, come anyway, God will show you. So he and his wife let their house, put their furniture into storage, bought a second-hand Volkswagen Kombi into which they loaded their stove, and set out to drive 1500 miles to Windhoek. When they arrived the church registered a building company. They wanted to call it Ikon Construction, but the Registrar of Companies said that was taken, so they called it Noki Cosntruction instead. The Diocese owned 198 shares, Ed Morrow owned one, and the diocesan secretary owned one. They asked clergy if anyone wanted to learn the building trade, and three blokes came from Ovamboland, 500 miles to the north. They went everywhere in the old Kombi, to work, to church, to social occasions. They were referred to as “the Noki outjies” (that’s an in South African joke; if you’re from elsewhere, skip it, it’ll take too long to explain). At the end of a year, Ed reported to the diocesan synod. He said they had shown it was possible to run a business on Christian lines and still make a profit. They paid three times the going rate for workers, they quoted fair prices, and they did a good job. They had gained the respect of their customers.

But Matt goes way beyond these trivial examples in his post, so do have a read of it.

PS

I looked to see who else was talking about this stuff and this is what I saw:

Mentions by Day

Posts mentioning business ethics per day for the past 30 days.

Chart of results for business ethics

Anyone know why Technorati shows such a drastic drop off at the beginning of June?

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