Wednesday, 24 December 2008

No Depression

My favourite Radio 3 programme is Late Junction. Last Thursday, on the last programme of the year, they played the Carter family singing “No Depression in heaven”. This song from 1936 is suddenly relevant again in our current economic gloom, and depicts the great depression as a sign of the end times and heaven as an alternative to hunger and want. The chorus goes:

I’m going where there’s no depression
To a lovely land that’s free from care.
I’ll leave this world of toil and trouble.
My home’s in heaven. I’m going there.

You can hear it in a number of places, including here.

Heaven, God’s space, is imagined as a glorious place where there is no recession, no investment scandals, no crisis in banking, no defaulting on loans, no large-scale redundancies. Heaven is shown as quite separate from all of this.

Though it is — in some way — a theological reflection on economic crisis, I suspect it is not the reality check that the Archbishop of Canterbury was looking for.

There is an otherness of heaven, but it doesn’t stay “out there”. The message of Christmas is that heaven comes here and enters in to our space. Heaven doesn’t remain apart from the toil and trouble. Rather God breaks in to all the mess and is born as a vulnerable baby in the middle of it all.

Heaven is what happens when we let God in. It’s not that God is going to wave a magic pantomime wand and sort out the problems, but God will stand with us in the misery, inspire us to help those who are in depression because of the Depression, and give us the tools for making the moral and economic choices for remaking our world.

We need to start again, with the baby in the manger.

Posted by Meg Gilley on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 8:03am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: just thinking

Thanks for this.

Posted by: Ann on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 2:48pm GMT

Thanks for this reflection. A blessed Christmas to all, every single one of you, and especially those I have riled.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 5:31pm GMT


It is the darkest of times that God brings out the best in us. Courage and leadership is easy in pleasant circumstances. It is in adversity and turmoil that we find real strength.

Jesus came not in an easy time, but in a terrible time.

When things seem at their worst and you can no longer go on, that is when you find the beacons of hope to carry you forward. Being Christians we are called upon to be those beacons, not just for those we love, but for all occupants of God's Creations.

Merry Christmas.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 7:04pm GMT

Happy Christmas, all.


Posted by: john on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 8:25pm GMT

Christus Natus Hodie! Alleluia!

God so loved the world...... Alleluia
A Happy and Blessed Christmas everyone.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 11:49pm GMT

Thanks for this meditation.

Blessings to all for a joyous Christmastide!

Posted by: Jay Vos on Thursday, 25 December 2008 at 2:43am GMT

Merry Christmas all!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 25 December 2008 at 3:37pm GMT
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