A plague on Tesco

I’ve been kept away from computers for the last week, and tomorrow I fly to Paris. I am conscious, though, that I should reply to a few posts, and also I just have time to say a few words…

More evidence for the existence of God has been forthcoming recently, and unusually, it doesn’t seem to have been picked up by any of the usual atheist bloggers.

Apparently, a Tesco Metro store at Covent Garden in central London has been infested with mice, and has had to be closed down temporarily while the problem is resolved. Some Christian groups, notably Christian Voice, have picked up on this and assigned the blame squarely where it belongs – a donation from Tesco to London Gay Pride (LGP).

It seems that the donation is responsible for all sorts of problems besetting Britain’s favourite retailer.

It doesn’t get any better for Tesco, who have seen their ‘big price drop’ flop, sales and profits drop, the worst perfomance (sic) of the ‘big four’ over Christmas, their share price plummet, their UK operations CEO sacked, their local management in a spin, all since announcing a £30,000 gift to London Gay Pride in November 2011.

God is apparently so displeased by Tesco’s support for LGP that he has sent a plague of mice to the Covent Garden store to remind us all that he will not be mocked. And this is not the first time that small rodents have been found in a Tesco store – in 2010 baby mice were located in a bag of crisps at a Birmingham supermarket. This was doubly remarkable in that the Birmingham incident took place before the LGP donation, thus demonstrating God’s omniscience, transcendence and existence outside of time. I wonder what the flavour was. On the downside for God, I suppose that it’s possible that his will could be thwarted by Rentokil  -Britain’s least admired company.

The only way out for Tesco, say Christian Voice, is repentance.

Tesco’s only hope is to put their trust in God.  Repenting of the ‘Gay Pride’ decision will be part of that.

We can expect great white sharks in Tesco’s Brighton store any time now. Asda Walmart, Sainsburys and Morrisons will no doubt seize the opportunity to distance themselves from Tesco and improve their own business prospects by letting homosexuals know that they aren’t welcome. Or maybe not.

The most disappointing thing about this whole episode is the lack of ambition of British evangelicals. My nationality isn’t something I can do much about and it’s not something that I especially care about. But if I did, it’s almost enough to bring on a sense of shame. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell would invoke earthquakes, hurricanes and terrible terrorist acts as evidence of God’s displeasure. Here we have to make do with mice in the basement.

Of course, neither Pat Robertson nor Christian Voice speak for all Christians. Indeed, they are an embarrassment to many of them, and rightly so. Most Christians, like the rest of us, would find a more plausible, more natural, more explicable, reason for the infestation. Yet, why would Hurricane Katrina or mice in bags of crisps be any more or less of God’s work than a footballer recovering from a heart attack? The truth is that Christianity and other religions depend for their very existence on implausible claims. We hear that there are good social reasons for belief, but these social reasons would be good with or without God. As Rowan Williams rightly said in his Easter address:

…perhaps ‘religion’ is more useful than the passing generation of gurus thought; but is it true? Easter makes a claim not just about a potentially illuminating set of human activities but about an event in history and its relation to the action of God. Very simply, in the words of this morning’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we are told that ‘God raised Jesus to life.’

We are not told that Jesus ‘survived death’; we are not told that the story of the empty tomb is a beautiful imaginative creation that offers inspiration to all sorts of people; we are not told that the message of Jesus lives on. We are told that God did something…


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