IKEA: A Rant

I really haven’t got this thought through properly and sorted in my head.  But I really want to write about IKEA because, as some of my facebook friends may have noticed, the place really winds me up.

I had managed to avoid IKEA for a few years.  However, 8 weeks ago we moved house.  Now if you were to drive vaguely in a downhill direction from our new house on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon  for about 75 seconds you would find yourself at the end of the queue for the IKEA car park.  You would still be 500m away from the entrance to the car park but that is how long the queue is because there is something about IKEA that draws the masses.

They are very clever at branding because they have somehow convinced the capitalist world that the consumer needs to have their home set up the IKEA way, you need to live the IKEA lifestyle.  They even creep into popular culture featuring in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Fight Club.  Ironically, the Fight Club concept is certainly full of anti-IKEA lifestyle sentiments but the message still comes through at the start that IKEA defines a way of life.

So I have hideously found myself searching for a car parking space in IKEA four times in the last month* and to be honest the place revolts me.  The way you are conveyored around the whole building, the way they make out that it is a wholesome family experience to spend all your money with them, the way they keep you buying right to the very exit with that cafe where you can’t even get a seat yet it’s rammed with people prepared to stand up and be squashed in while they consume their snacks and caffeine.  I could go on but ranting isn’t good.

What do other people think?  IKEA is obviously really popular so If you love IKEA, why?














* Twice was to return shoddy quality products


No presents for 8 year old this Christmas

This young man is an example to us all.  As reported in the Birmingham Mail, 8 year old Ethan Edwards leads the way in living a life that confronts consumerism with a care and love for those less fortunate.  The lad only went and persuaded all his relatives to give to Birmingham Central Foodbank instead of getting presents himself!

Ethan Edwards has asked all his family to give donations of food for Birmingham Central Foodbank

Why does it take a child to remind us that this is an option, that we don’t need presents at Christmas at all?  It really is great to choose to give a thoughtful gift to a loved one but what percentage of gifts were given freely?  I suspect many presents were bought as a result of the cultural compulsion that, at the very least, we need to buy one present for every significant family member otherwise we’re not doing Christmas properly.

When the John Lewis ad came out there was much gushing for the skill and artistry that went into it .  However, all the advert did was add to the tidal wave of consumerism that washes away all but the most stubborn of selfless Christmas spirit.  I’m glad that young Ethan manages to resist what we all tell him about Christmas and shows that there is a different path to choose.

I’m as guilty as the next and need to make decisions this Christmas to make sure next Christmas puts others before the urge to buy buy buy.



A sad story

I read something really sad today about a baby that died in the night, and how the rest of the family ceased to function from that point on.  I then noticed my train had got into the station so I quickly nipped out of the door.  As I walked along the platform tears had pricked my eyes, I could feel my heart beating and my chest was a little tighter.  What I had read was so tragic and so human.

And now I was in this superficial world full of people pretending to walk purposefully down the platform, a world full of make-up and getting frustrated because someone’s standing on the left hand side of the escalator, full of over-priced coffee and snacks that we’re compelled to buy because it wouldn’t do to sit quietly without consuming something for a moment, full of ticket-barriers, tabloids, pretentious broadsheets, high heels, designer suits, full of sheep walking in the same direction.

And by now the tears had dried off and I’d forgotten what I was feeling and I’m back on my way.

Adverts I Despise – #2

This is the one where Gary Lineker is eating crisps watching lots of people climb some deep ‘ridges’.  Once again we are taken for absolute mugs.

Did anybody ever eat some ridged type crisps before, such as McCoys and think, ‘oh I wish these ridges were deeper’?  As far as I can see Walkers are desperately looking for something to mark their crisps above the other brands and the best they could come up with is that the ridges are deeper!  Now they are running a marketing campaign to convince us that we need to be eating these deep ridged crisps otherwise we’ll be missing out on what the crisp eating experience has to offer our lives.

Don’t fall for it, other crisps will be cheaper, the bags will fuller, and chances are they’ll taste better.

Adverts I Despise – #1

I was happily listening to the radio this evening when Monarch Airlines told me that when I choose my skiing holiday for this winter I should book it through them.  Hang on…when I choose my skiing holiday?  Who said I was going on a skiing holiday this year?  Or have ever been on a skiing holiday?  Or have ever felt a lack of fulfillment for never having gone skiing in my life?

Oh, I apologise Monarch, I see what you are doing – you’re playing a trick on my mind by sending a message to my brain that if I hadn’t already started planning a skiing holiday then I must be abnormal and culturally deviant, and that I better get planning one straight away otherwise I will miss out on some life fulfilling experience and therefore become less of a complete human being….

Rage Against the Machine swear on 5 Live

I am loving this campaign to get Rage to number one ahead of X-Factor Joe.  Appearing on Radio 5 Live this morning, Rage Against the Machine argue that Simon Cowell has so much control over what people think and what people spend their money on.  I like Rage’s point that, whether it is a small thing like getting someone different to the top of the charts or whether it is something big like war and peace, when the silent majority act together then the world order of things can be turned on its head.

This is such an important lesson for us to learn.  We are so indoctrinated by culture…we are fed values and expectations that tell us we have to have sex to be normal, we have to get drunk to feel good, we have to own ‘stuff’ to be worth anything.  I hate these values…they rip families part, exploit the young and destroy the poor.

But these values will not stop being preached by the media until more people stand up against them.  Whether or not X-Factor lose their chart crown is petty but the concept behind the campaign is devestatingly important. Sheila off 5 Live demonstrated the passive pathetic attitude that is typical of us, the consumer public.  She told the audience to buy Joe’s record because Rage started swearing.  Yeah, it’s ok to say something different until it offends people and then they run to the safety of what they know – materialism, celebrity obsession, self-centredness, escapism……

I’m off to download Killing in the Name!

Solihull, the YMCA, and the poor

I was thinking about how Jesus primarily came for the poor and this set off two trains of thought:

  1. Where I live in Solihull people are really rich.  Even those who consider themselves poor are rich compared to the average person in the world.  And I thought about the false gods that many of us in Solihull worship – money, jobs, success, social standing, a luxury lifestyle, entertainment, consumerism.  And my concluding thought was that in the Church in Solihull we subconsciously promote all of these idols.  I think it would be worthwhile Christians in affluent communities sitting down and discussing how they are counter cultural and what traps they have fallen into that mean they pander to cultural norms rather than being a radical and world changing community.
  2. My second thought process was about my own job.  I work for the YMCA finding accommodation for young people who are at risk of becoming homeless.  “A worthy cause!” I hear you cry and, yes, I agree it is a very worthy thing I do.  However, it can be all too easy for me to hide behind my job and claim that I fulfill Jesus’ mandate for the poor.   I can all too often think I am serving the ‘poor’ when in fact I am just enjoying job satisfaction and serving my own false gods of having enough money to be comfortable and own my own property.  Granted, our motives will never be pure and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about that.  However, we should continually be assessing our standing in terms of God’s call on us to serve him and make disciples no matter what status our job title or habitual lifestyle gives us.