“It is not good that the man should be alone” says God as he surveys Adam alone in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:18). The first two chapters of Genesis offer us a description of the world as God intended before everything went wrong as described in Genesis 3 onwards.
From the outset, God affirms that human beings are social by design. In the seventeenth century, the Anglican cleric and metaphysical poet John Donne would write: “No man is an island”. Let’s choose not to focus on the gender questions properly raised by these quotations and simply notice that these insights from scripture and the life of faith in Jesus Christ are completely at odds with a world which preaches that individual prosperity and self-determination are definitions of success. The bible insists in all sorts of different ways that we are created and designed for each other.(Incidentally, I am completely at ease with the fact that evolutionary theory would agree). We are incurably social.
Writing in the late 1950s, the American economist J K Galbraith once remarked that it is ridiculous to retain personal wealth to be able to buy new cars only to drive them on pot-holed roads. Surely this is not a matter of political ideology but rather the relentless pursuit of sheer folly. In an age of pragmatic “glass half full” politics, we are succeeding in telling each other that the glass itself has become a thimble whist all the time growing our fence panels and conifers between us and our neighbours.
Denying our mutual independence is a denial of our humanity. As neighbours in our town, Christian Aid collectors offer their neighbours the opportunity to connect with people of any faith or none through local partnerships established by what is a highly respected non-governmental organisation.
During Christian Aid week in May, one of our Christian Aid collectors walked up an immaculate driveway with an envelope. The greeting on the door read: “No canvassers. No religion. No cold-callers”. Is that our best message we can give to our neighbours? How about, “I would prefer not to buy or discuss religion or politics at the door, but I wish you and yours well. Grace and peace”?
As a consequence, communities up and down our nation are becoming aware of a growing epidemic of loneliness. Churches Together in Frodsham are looking at how we can partner with community leaders to bring people together. If you have ideas of how we can tackle loneliness in our community, let us know.
Grace and peace.
Andrew M. Emison
Blog posts written by the Minister and Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.