The joy of making things

And what happens when you can’t

Just a single statistic caught my interest recently. In the early 1970s, traded goods were about 30% of world output. So, two-thirds of goods were made and used locally. In the early 2010s, that traded-goods figure had risen to 60%, meaning two thirds of goods were made elsewhere and shipped to where they were needed.1 Locked away in that little statistic, maybe, is loss and sorrow and Brexit and Trump and populism and nationalism.

When I was growing up in 1970s England, to see ‘MADE IN ENGLAND’ stamped on a thing was a thing. And it was everywhere. Slowly that ended. Now, the handtools and toys we buy are mostly made in China. This expansion of trade has brought prosperity to much of the world and cheap prices and more and better stuff.

But in the (thankfully) now past agonies over Brexit in our country, I observed nostalgia and loss over the way we don’t make our own stuff any more. It may be that that sense of loss has driven populist or nationalist politics all over the former stuff-making regions of the earth. In it is a hint of gaining the whole world (the free trade economists were right) but losing our soul.

Then I look at things editors pick as good news stories. Building windfarms the size of Yorkshire in the North Sea, for example. People who build and repair windfarms spend weeks on ships, climb creaking columns in gales, replace sprockets, rehang blades, loosen corroded big-end bearings — I don’t know what they do — but it is hard physical work to be proud of. Or someone else, further down the coast, is growing herbs in a vertical farm.

These are good news stories because they are about people saving the earth, but they are also hands-on, tiring, providing for your local community, reducing our dependence on others and fostering independence and self-sufficiency and they feel good.

Kind of like finding your soul again. Interesting.

We were made to make. It is a kind of devotion.

silhouette photo of two wind mills during golden hour
I’ve long wanted to include a picture of windfarm in this blog.Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

The GP, the JP and the MP

The UK oddly has three establishment-type jobs ending in the letter P, the General Practioner or family doctor, the Justice of the Peace or volunteer lay local justice, and the Member of Parliament.

I wish more people were writing about how these jobs are really vocations. We Christians, and especially those of us from the evangelical wing of the church, are in danger of seeing these jobs only as usefully senior roles that can add prestige and finance to the church, and perhaps can be a location for sharing the gospel with colleagues.

I wish there were more teaching that it is a vocation in itself to serve people justly and kindly and well. That is your Christian service. That is your main thing. It’s a lucky country that has good institutions, and good people serving faithfully within them.

The Bread also rises

This may not be all that interesting to you, but at last we have the proper cover for Bread:

I’m so grateful to my graphic designer friend Chris Lawrence for working on this. My next step is to tweak the text, again, and produce a so-called advanced review copy (ARC) to send about the place for reviews and comments and whatnot.

Thank you for putting up with this post, but it’s exciting, if only to me.