A season of tinsel, more sugar, food colour and fake miracles

Sunday December 10 2017


By Alan Tacca

As the year rolls by to complete another 12-month cycle, the division between those who think ‘consumption’ and those who think ‘profit’ becomes very pronounced.

On the cosmological scale, of course, there is no big deal about the end of one year or the beginning of another one.

Every single (Earth) day, there are billions of other planets in billions of other planetary systems that complete their peculiar years, some very short, some very long. And in virtually all these cases, the event apparently passes with dignified cosmic indifference.
But being the freak he is, man makes quite a fuss about the end of his year, which happens to be just over 365 days.

Man is a bit like the butterfly pupa that the Kapek brothers invented for the theatre, an insect deluded enough to think that when it was breaking out of its cocoon, the entire universe was holding its breath and standing at attention.

If we did not scream, burn old tyres or put on fireworks displays and drink to get silly, the annual midnight of December 31 would be a total non-event.

As tradition would have it, most believers celebrate the birth of Jesus (the Son of God in Christian mythology) on December 25, just a week before New Year’s Day. The seven-day bracket provides an opportunity for the packaging of extended end-of-year festivities; and for some entrepreneurs it is the only season that brings in serious money. Best wishes to those money makers.
But what do the consumers get?
Apart from the tinsel, balloons and ribbons, the bread and cake sections in supermarkets look more colourful than they did a few weeks back.
The in-house baker is adding bright food colours to some of the things that were normally baked wheat brown. He is laying fake cherries on your cookies and spreading cream and icing on cakes in nauseating thicknesses. The dough also probably has more sugar than usual. This is not to mention the mountains of deep-fried foodstuff and the rows of bottles and packets of junk drinks in the other sections.

In short, the supermarkets and junk food makers generally are already offering you more poison in the guise of making your season more enjoyable.

Then, as Jesus said, man does not live by food alone… So, our more aggressive religious entrepreneurs have set up an array of traps that only the smarter navigator can avoid.
The average sheep has the usual old stuff of carols and prayers, for which the merchants are strategising to sell her (and even him) new clothes. Add serious bling, and some women will look like walking Christmas trees heading for the pews.

The cash seekers in Pentecostal skin are advertising all sorts of short religious leadership programmes, mass gatherings and the coming of supposed miracle workers from foreign lands, all of course building up to the hysterical end of year exhibitions that reach their climax at midnight, December 31, in various football stadia, just as the fireworks go off for other merrymakers.

Their relentless fundraising campaign does not spare any grade of spiritual consumer. It is targeting small pockets, medium sized pockets, large and corporate pockets; and – look out – even the taxpayers’ national treasury.

The key word is ‘kusiga’, or sowing. An investment. And God will do the rest; God’s profession is miracles. I have heard the word ‘guarantee’ used. God cannot fail the investor.
But what if God is completely indifferent?
We will investigate that next Sunday.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
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