I’ve just read a newspaper report that confirms something I’ve been wondering about for a few weeks…. and I now realise that I’ve entered an alternative world, fallen down a rabbit hole, slipped from one time continuum into another and lost myself. The report is all about the founder of FTX who has filed for bankruptcy. What is FTX? That’s the first question. The answer is ‘FTX is a crypto currency entity.’ Now I ask ‘What is a crypto currency?’ and then add ‘What do you mean by the word entity?’ Apparently the speed of this bankruptcy has sent shock waves through the whole digital assets market. What’s a digital asset? The crisis began on November 2 when a crypto news website (whatever that is) reported the extent to which the business was exposed to FFT, a token issued by FTX…. FTT? FTX? Token? Is that a token of a token? In addition, Bitcoin has lost 20% of its value.. hang on, what’s Bitcoin? I’ve heard of it but never understood it. How can something that doesn’t exist lose 20% of its value – and how can something that is merely a stroke on a screen have any value to start with?
Apparently crypto currencies don’t come into the scope of any financial laws, being totally unregulated, a bit like the Wild West but slicker. The founder of this floundering ‘entity’ is 32 years old and at its peak his personal fortune was 26 BILLION dollars, but this week that’s been wiped out by people scrambling to withdraw their funds. From what? A bank that doesn’t exist? What funds? Pretend money? A 32 year old has no business having 26,000 dollars, let alone 26 million, let alone 26 billion.
Half the world is starving, you foolish empty man.
Total madness. This rabbit hole is deep and dark and steep and I’m ricocheting from side to side, bouncing off the tunnel walls, blind and deaf and utterly confused.
Confusion isn’t new to me. I should be getting used to it. Only today I was reflecting on the fact that here in Wales if a loving parent smacks a child they’ve commited a criminal offence and will be taken to court, the family will be assessed and the child may even be taken away. I find that confusing.
Yesterday I heard an otherwise sane adult, on TV, give an example of child abuse as ‘a child being called by the wrong pronoun’.
A young woman was asked what she does for a living and she said she’s an influencer. Who does she influence? What is her purpose, her beliefs, her ideals? What are her skills, how has she trained, in what way does she make life better, who does she help, what does she make, what is the point of what she does?
Any moment now I expect to find a Cheshire cat grinning at me, and a dormouse asleep in a teapot, and a Queen playing croquet with a flamingo as a mallet.
But then, at lunchtime, I met with two pals and we watched the last in a series of videos on the Book of Genesis and then we had a nice lunch. Not exactly theologically taxing. But, what we lacked in scholarly application we made up for in our discussion (alright ‘chat’) afterwards. And this is what occured to me – you know how the Bible tells us that we were made in God’s image? Well, that’s always puzzled me. I mean, here we are intensely physical, mostly water with a mix of bone and blood, nerves and fat…. that’s not everso like God. And we are full of wrong doing and self and bad decisions, again not everso like God. The things we do are not God-like, from crypto currency to vapid influencing. So, in what way are we made in God’s image? In the videos we’ve been watching Markus Lloyd points out that we are unlike any other animal. No other animal builds skyscrapers, develops anti-biotics, builds jet engines, attempts to reach the moon etc. Seems pretty obvious but as I thought about that, the penny dropped for me.
This may not be right, it’s just what I think, but see if you agree: no other animal is creative. They are problem solving, yes – they take what is available and they weave it into a nest, or they drop a snail from a height onto a rock and so in a sense fashion a tool, they build dams to harvest fish, but they do not reach out beyond themselves and their needs, they do not imagine, they can only react to their environment. They react. Only man creates. Only man makes something from nothing – put a man in a bare cell with nothing, no tools at all, and he will spin stories, remember, sing songs, dream dreams, make plans, compose poems, draw in the dust. Making something from nothing. My husband designed refineries and sometimes a machine would be designed, as he lay in bed at night, staring into the dark. I am a writer and whole film plots would come to me as I walked by Carsington Water, or sat in the garden. It’s not just our ability to create things – songs or statues or machines – it’s our ability to create ideas, to think beyond what we see or know or have experienced.
I know that not everyone is consciously creative. You may feel that you never make anything. But creativity is more than just making things. It’s thinking, understanding, having empathy, reaching out, seeing the needs of others. It’s the young Mum who dreams of a future for her children and so creates opportunties for them. It’s the neighbour who sees a need and steps in to fill it. It’s the Pastor who yearns to share what he knows of God – that’s creative. This is what separates us from the animal kingdom. This is the part of us that is the image of God, the creator. God created man and his very essence, his creativity is in us.
And now I realise that those examples, the mother, the neighbour and the Pastor, are all showing love. Maybe creativity is another word for love. The painter who loves what he sees and longs to recreate it, the writer who delights in the richness of characters and wants to weave them, the musician whose love for music tumbles out of him. Maybe that’s the part of us that is in the image of God. That makes sense, doesn’t it? God is love and we are made in his image, and because we love we reach out and when we reach out we pass his love to others, and so the creation continues.
Man is wonderful, because God is wonderful. God makes us beautiful. Then we come along and bugger it up. We create nonsense currencies that implode, influencers who are empty and meaningless, we create millionaires while children starve, we take the Ten Commandments and decide which ones suit us, we are just so foolish. Are we more foolish now than we used to be, or am I just getting old?
It’s a jolly good job that God loves us anyway, with his eternal unchanging unconditional love. I struggle to love the crypto billionaire while God loves him totally, immersively, unendingly. Amazing God. He loves the rich and foolish young man of the Gospels, and the thief on the cross, and – wow, listen! – he loves you and he loves me.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-18