Sunday, 20 July 2008

A miracle on World Youth Day

When Benedict XVI addressed an inner-Sydney congregation on Friday night, he spoke against the worship of the “false gods” of “material possessions, possessive love, or power.” And he asked: “How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can? But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death.”

And according to a report in The Weekend Australian, the hundreds of thousands of Catholic pilgrims have been a major economic disappointment: “The deathly retail silence contrasts with optimistic predictions of a ‘bumper week’ of trade by the state Government and the local chambers of commerce. A jewellery shop reported one sale in the week: a cross. New South Wales Business Chamber chief executive Kevin MacDonald had predicted a $231 million boost for business, or $1155 per expected visitor. But traders reported pilgrims unwilling to spend, even haggling over the price of one banana. Clothing store John Serafino said the Pope’s visit was ‘a disaster’.”

Here in Australia, talk about the economy tends to be the only talk that is taken seriously; the sound of the cash register is the only sound we really respond to. Our public life revolves around the assumption that everything is finally reducible to economic considerations. So thanks be to God for the strange miracle of a “deathly retail silence” in Sydney this week.

12 Comments:

steve martin said...

The Pope is right.

Thanks for a great post.

Shane said...

I wonder how the hookers made out?

http://current.com/items/89067049_sydney_brothels_see_boom_during_pope_s_visit

Anthony Paul Smith said...

Not to be a downer but that likely has more to do with a worldwide recession than a lack of idolatry.

kim fabricius said...

When Jesus was in town, fishmongers, bakers, vinters, and undertakers also complained to their local chambers of commerce.

MM said...

... I seem to recall that the same sort of complaint was made against the apostle Paul...

Adam Kotsko said...

I must echo Anthony's skepticism. Perhaps you could make an argument if this event was the rare exception in a booming global economy -- for instance, if the equivalent had happened during the heyday of the 90's.

Tony said...

Sydney shouldn't worry. The city may have spent a lot on world youth day, but the dividends are sure to come after. Has anybody noticed how the city was the backdrop to the week-long event? Surely no city was advertised as much as Sydney during world youth day. But of course, the Olympics is just around the corner, and Beijing will be "it" next...

James said...

Thanks for the post Ben -- coming off the back of reading Cavanaugh's "Being Consumed" and Cox's "The Market as God" & some other literature charting the transformation of the nation state into market state, this is extremely apposite. I couldn't however find the article you refer to -- is it only available to subscribers?

Ben Myers said...

James, it won't appear online, since it was just a very small article. It was actually summarising a more extensive article in The Australian Financial Review — I haven't been able to find that exact article, but there's a very similar Australian Financial Review piece here, discussing the economic disappointments of World Youth Day.

Lucille said...

Shane - That blog post should have been titled "Brothels expect boom", since it's about predictions and not noting an actual increase in numbers after the fact.

Lawrence said...

I'd point the blame squarely on the travel industry for gouging pilgrims. A lot of us in Toronto had to cancel travel plans because the travel agents suddenly decided to return our deposits so they could charge higher aifare

Sam said...

Great info. I learned a lot of new things here...

Mexican Fire Opal
http://mexican-fire-opal.blogspot.com

Post a Comment

New book

Archive

Contact

Although I'm not always able to reply to all emails, please feel free to contact me.

Faith and Theology © 2008. Template by Dicas Blogger.

TOPO