Thursday, 24 August 2006

Water too sacred to sell

The United Church of Canada seems to think that buying bottled water is now sinful. Although I'm not entirely sure that they believe in the notion of "sinful" anymore, so maybe it's just downgraded to inadvisable.
The United Church of Canada plans to ask its members to stop buying bottled water.

Delegates at the national meeting of the church's General Council in Thunder Bay, Ont., adopted a proposal this week that originated from congregations in London, Ont., recommending the step.

The measure was part of a package of water proposals -- some from congregations in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa - which were adopted and affirmed, among other things, that "water is a sacred gift that connects all life.''

Now water, its management and its availability, are major issues that will only become bigger, but attacking bottled water companies seems to me to be a rather silly tack to take. Dress it up with religious fluff and it gets worse. Something's necessity does not make it sacred, unless we want to expand the meaning of "sacred" to the point of meaninglessness, like we've already done with the word "art", "Christian", and a host of others.

The UCC is concerned with the privatization of water "whose value to the common good must take priority over commercial interests", and yet remains mute on the subject of the privatization of food. How's that for consistency? Of course, food production has been privatized since the dawn of civilization, so it's a little too late to squawk about it.

Richard Chambers, the church's social policy co-ordinator, also said that the church isn't calling for a boycott, only asking its members to avoid buying bottled water wherever possible. A kinder, gentler boycott, I guess, which will no doubt fall short of a devastating impact, especially since they have no intentions of "forcing" their membership to comply. That's very nice of them. Was there ever a question of forcing? Churches are notorious for using force. There's only so much finger-wagging a person can take before resistance crumbles.

Need I add that the UCC is not only losing membership, but entire congregations? Not over this issue, admittedly, but it lost its compass years ago, arguably right at its founding. As residual habits of piety die off along with the people who had them, the United Church is having a hard time keeping people coming to church. Having forgot what it's here for and why, if it ever knew, it tries to come up with causes to justify its existence, and even that it does very poorly.

Water deserves a better spokesman.

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