Letters from the Future

by Stuart Basden (via)

A reflection on Romans 14.13-23
Wine Before Breakfast
Originally Delivered March 6, 2007

A letter found shredded in a garbage dump. Dated March 6, 2048.

Dear Paul,

I write this to you to inspire you with hope. I am near the end of my life and I remember when life was much different, when we had considerably more freedom, and when global devastation seemed so far off. But you are young and may have many years ahead of you, so let me now pass on to you some of the history of the past few decades.

I am one of the more conservative of our community, although I do not always allow these colours to show. Times change, and so do words. Things that were once wonderful and life-giving can become stifling and deadly. There are days when I wish this wasn’t the case, but I know there can be no other way. Those who will try to keep life alive must allow their treasured and prized words to die.

You will not remember this, but I remember when the word ‘Christian’ was a good thing, something that you could be proud of.

I also remember when the Ancient Bible was seen to have a revolutionary message, although I know this will be hard for you to grasp. But maybe I can win you over a little before the end of this letter.

I know you’re used to seeing the Bible in the hands of the powerful, hovering above their proud heads as they give speeches, held in their fat hands as they make solemn promises which are only lies.

I know you are forced to see countless ads with Bible verses legitimating the products they are commanding you to consume. I know you know the verses from Romans 13 about obeying the elites as you obey God, and I know you have heard that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

The Department of Hellfire is reserved for those who don’t believe this, and I myself will likely find myself dragged there shortly, to be forced to confess Jesus as my Lord before I too burn, as so many in our community already have.

You probably even know the verses about stoning gays, and about how you should sell all you have for the pearl of great price – that is, salvation granted by the Consecrated and Holy Global Consumerist Church.

You know all about tithing. You know all about Jesus taking away your sins, all about the legitimating of war and evil that occurs because of this. You know that as humans we are called to dominate the earth, to put it as our footstool to serve us. You know of so many atrocities committed because of that book.

But if you can find an Ancient Bible, turn to Romans 14. It says:

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Yes, these verses are saying not to judge. They are talking about the relativity of the world. You may be surprised that the Bible corporations have allowed this to stay in, but they keep everything in the Bible because they know that nothing in the Bible has the power to harm them.

The bad publicity they’d get if they started taking verses out of God’s Most Holy and Revealed Truth is not worth it for them. They know that the Bible itself, in all its verses, is complicit in the system that they depend upon.

But look again. Our communities’ distrust and dislike of the Bible stems from the Bible itself: “To him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” The community decided, after much debate, that the writer of this passage, who btw, you yourself are named after, and who was indeed a political and religious revolutionary himself, this writer would want us to discard his work and move on, developing our own writings and expressions that were useful for our community.

St. Paul, we decided, would want us to leave behind this book which causes so much pain, and has so much baggage. To us, the Bible is unclean. We decided it, we declared it.

Of course, not everyone wanted to discard the Bible. Many of those formed other communities, some of which have been subverted back to the Consumerist Church, some who have been sort out and killed, and some who still struggle to survive, like our own. But they are few, and history seems to be showing that those who discarded the book have been better able to move on and survive.

While we may be branded Christ-killers and demon-worshippers by the Consumerist Church and media, we also consider the word ‘Christian’ to be unclean. Indeed, the word ‘Christian’ has returned to it’s original usage: as an insult.

However, the roles have been reversed. Originally the word was forced upon a struggling radical community by those who upheld the empire. Today, the word is spoken with disgust by us, a struggling, persecuted, illegal radical community, and the word is spoken about the imperialist regime that holds the world in chains.

The deepest chant of the Consumerist Churches religion, “Everything has a price” is silently repeated daily. I can’t find this in the Bible, but those who chant this don’t need it. They repeat “Thou shall not kill”, then enact the death penalty and seek out war. As they claim “Love of money is the root of all evil”, they use money to perpetrate their system of oppression and elitism.

Those who speak against it are either undermined as their movement becomes fashionable, and so enters the world of consumerism, or those who speak against it are bought out.

If the founders of a movement cannot be bribed (and millions will be silently offered) or threatened into silence (with or without death), any movement which gains enough members, enough momentum, will eventually gain people who do sell out, who aren’t as careful, and so can be shown to be hypocrites, thereby showing the entire movement (through the corporate-controlled mass media) to be yet another social group of hypocrites. The chant is repeated, the chant holds true: “Everything has a price.”

I don’t tell you this in order to depress you, but in order to warn you. All this century and for some of the 20th, people have been trying to warn about the impending global destruction because of climate change being caused by humans.

But as history has shown us, we refuse to listen. The system depends upon ecological rape, and is legitimated by its religion. This does not mean religion is bad, but shows again that the excesses brought about because of religion are bad.

Exclusion, copyrighted salvation, distrust and hatred for those who are not like you, and who you do not understand: these are the tell-tale signs of religious excess.

I do not know whether you will ever become old as I am. I do not know if the earth will tolerate human life that long. The global civilisation that we are forced to live within refuses to acknowledge that it will be ultimately taught that everything has a price.

The price humanity will pay will be the ultimate sacrifice: the sacrifice of all of her children to slow death by pollution. The civilisation does not want to change, it is addicted to its consumption.

And because of this, the earth will lose one of its greatest gifts, that of sentient life. But it is a necessary sacrifice, one which I hope the earth can recover from after all her tears are spent.

Paul, I don’t want to leave you on a sad note, but I know of no other way. I don’t want to demonise the past, but perhaps if I and the Christian communities at the turn of the century hadn’t been so passive, our lives now would be very different.

Perhaps if those Christians had refused to allow their Bible to become complicit in the system, perhaps if those Christians would have stood up and used their voices, perhaps if those Christians would have changed the way they lived, perhaps if those Christians would have refused to obey the system, perhaps if those Christians would have been ecologically alert and sensitive, changing the way they thought about and worshiped nature.

Perhaps if those Christians had used their holy huddles to enact change in the powerful, perhaps then the earth would not have to make this sacrifice, this ultimate, deadly sacrifice.

But perhaps those Christians felt as helpless as we do now, perhaps even then the system was too powerful for their religion, too ingrained in their thoughts to allow them to rebel? Perhaps even then they just didn’t care enough?

Dearest Paul, I must leave you now as they are coming for me. I have made it to 65, a ripe old age. I hope that this note arrives. I hope that it inspires you to a life of charity, that you enjoy every moment, and live for the future generations, even if their existence is unsure. I hope that Romans 14 may inspire you to “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”


Stuart Basden

One Response to “Letters from the Future”

  1. M.joshua

    Very interesting! A worthwhile read and a compelling vision of the future.


Leave a Reply