Bishops and scientists agree - you shouldn't give up chocolate. At least, that's the potential message which two news stories carried last week.
The first was the Bishop of London's plea for people to avoid giving up the traditional things they abstain from at lent, and work to reduce their carbon footprint instead. Mini egg, anyone?
The other story was that scientists are now positing the thesis that childhood obesity may be more related to their genes than their ingestion. Studies have 'proven' that children who suffer from obesity may do so more because of nature than nurture. In typically clear, understandable language the scientists say: "These results do not mean that a child with a high complement of susceptibility genes will inevitably become overweight, but that their genetic endowment gives them a stronger predisposition." Anyone fancy a Dairy Milk?
My conclusions are, of course, made (pardon the pun)tongue-in-cheek , but these stories do carry an important message about consumption and consequences.
On the one hand a Christian practice which is traditionally understood to focus the mind on the suffering of Christ, has turned its focus instead to the needs of others in the world. The Bishop's ideas are laudable, given that the way we live our lives does seriously impinge on the poorest people on the planet, but are they legitimate in terms of the traditional view of lent? Is our focus solely on the sufferings of others, or should it not be on the sufferings of the Saviour? He is the One who has ultimately borne the consequences of our sinfulness in His body on the cross at Calvary - and He is the only one who can ultimately renew our ailing cosmos.
On the other hand scientists seem to be hinting at the fact that fault cannot be found for being obese. It seems that we cannot be held to account for certain consequences which result from our behaviours. Undoubtedly there are many people who are genetically predisposed to being overweight (and I'm no size 00 myself!) but is this really the message which the media should be presenting to our society which is growing both in waist and waste? Is the so-called 'obesity epidemic' not at least a partial consequence of our consumer culture, and growing affluence?
These are just some random thoughts about carbon, cocoa and consequences, and don't necessarily carry any weight. My own response to both stories will simply consist in cycling to the shop to buy my Mars bar...