"When They close down the last shopping Mall
Crickets will sing through crumbling walls
Termites will eat through the doors
As rabbits hop round the shop floors…"
We are hard on ourselves but love ourselves with things that our killing what’s important. We feel down because we can’t get noticed or admired or adored so we go and pamper ourselves with analgesic consumption.
Back in the day, when my Californian friend, CEO of These Numbers Have Faces, intern Justin Zoradi was an intern he used to describe the Castle Court Shopping Centre as Church. For him it is the place we go to get what Church should give us. James K A Smith later theologised the liturgy of the Mall in his book Desiring The Kingdom.
We love ourselves as we pamper ourselves with the right fashion house label, the right product, the right skirt with the matching top or the latest I-Thing gadget.
People sit round in New York offices trying to con us into making them rich by convincing us in advertising propaganda that their piece of disposable trash can give us meaning, identity and transcendence; some kind of redemption indeed.
“Wmpty shelves will swarm with bees
Cash machines will sprout weeds
Lizards will crawl across the parking lot
As birds fly around empty shops…”
And so we selfishly try to acquire other people’s attention and yet never quite get there, feeling that tug of yearning deep within as we never look quite good enough or up to date enough with our acquisitions. Ultimately the Church of the shopping Mall fails.
Christy Moore takes this up in his cover version of The Handsome Family’s song Peace In The Valley Once Again on his new album Burning Times. With a contextual nod to Dublin’s relatively new Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, Moore prophetically declares that when God brings the reign of His Kingdom the mirrors will crack, mannequin eyes will fall out, cash machines will sprout weeds and birds will nest in the escalators!
“Wild flowers will grow up the mannequins
painting them with a leafy skin
their plastic eyes will fall to the floor
to be gathered by wild boar
Mirrors will crack in half
as wild horses gallop past
wild doves will build their nests
on the escalator steps
There will be peace in the valley once again
There will be peace in the valley once again”
Jesus tells us that other people are important in our finding ourselves but not the way we are going about it. He showed us that in giving yourself to God and others you find your meaning, identity and that peace that he said was “not as the world gives.” To paraphrase him he asks, “what good would it be if we bought everything in every shop and yet lost our souls, our very selves, in the process?”