Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
‘I’ve got nothing to offer but my chocolate and a hatful of dreams’, sings Timothée Chalamet as he dances through the streets in the opening sequence of Wonka.
Wonka is a fresh adventure from the delightfully whimsical minds of Paul King and Simon Farnaby (the creative team behind the Paddington films), detailing the origin story of Roald Dahl’s eccentric chocolatier and inventor.
A young Willy Wonka dreams of opening his own chocolate shop, packed with magical new treats affordable to everyone. But the city’s sweet scene is dominated by the sinister Chocolate Cartel, a Boggis-Bunce-and-Bean-esque trio of chocolate overlords who care only for maximising their profits.
Corruption abounds: chocolatiers cook the books, the chief-of-police takes bribes, and the town’s supply of chocolate is guarded by a memorable ‘corrupt cleric and 500 chocoholic monks’.
As Wonka’s friend laments, ‘The greedy beat the needy every time.’
But Wonka brings a different spirit to his endeavours. He cares about relationships, honoured promises, just reward, beauty, and imaginative creations that are accessible to all. Where other chocolate sellers observe their sales successes from afar, Willy Wonka’s distinctive attitude sets him apart and ushers in change, hope, and a more just future. It brings those around him together.
When Jesus was asked about the most important commandment, he responded:
‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (Matthew 22:37–39)
Relationship is essential to our triune God. Jesus’ response both articulates God’s priorities and provides a relational framework for us to take into the places we live, work, create, serve, and rest.
For some, that place may indeed be a chocolate factory: Christians like Cadbury and Rowntree, motivated by their faith, made a transformational difference to the working lives of their employees. For others it will be a school, office, gym, courtroom, cornershop, hospital, or neighbourhood.
God’s kingdom values encourage a distinctive approach to doing business, where profit blesses people and planet alike for the greater purpose of loving relationships. That might look like challenging your organisation or area on its environmental impact, making proper time to welcome new colleagues, resisting attempts to distort the truth, or setting an example by leaving the workplace at a reasonable hour.
Wherever we are, we’re called to move beyond a ‘world of pure imagination’ and into transformative practice.
Katherine works in communications for the Civil Service and attends Christ Church Balham.