Building Bigger Barns: A Short Observation on Life in the City
This is a short piece I wrote for someone else’s blog on the parable in Luke 12 about the rich fool, and what it says about “The City” where I was working at the time:
Christ said (between his baptism and triumphal entry, I believe), that it is foolish simply to build bigger barns in this world. I work in one of the richest areas in the whole of Europe, possibly the world – the City of London. People here are building huge, gigantic, massive ‘barns’ out of their recent bonuses right now: over 4000 people in The City are said to have earned over £1,000,000 just in bonuses this last year. And yet happiness and contentment are not noticeably on the increase because of it, as even secular economists like Richard Layard (see his recent book Happiness: Lesons from a new science) have noted. If anything, people are more miserable because someone else is obviously earning more than them! And there are still too few who have any idea about the coming Final Audit when their souls will be required of them.
God said to the rich man in the parable: “You fool!” A more poetic reflection on this is provided by 17th century poet Thomas Traherne in his masterpiece The Apostacy:
Both Great and Good,
The Seeds of Melancholy
Created not: but only foolish Men,
Grown mad with customary Folly
Which doth increase their Wants, so dote
As when they elder grow they then
Such Baubles chiefly note;
More Fools at Twenty Years than Ten.
As an observation of life in The City, that’s spot on.