MacMoses Motorway - Numbers 11
Published in Lady Godiva, Shetland, No. 19, pp. 18-20, 1996. This text was originally used as a Lenten reading, side-by-side with the original version in Numbers 11, at the M77 protest in 1995.
From the Department of Liberation Theology at
the Peoples' Free University of Pollok, the following Lenten bible study is
offered by Alastair McIntosh. Consistent with principles of "contextual
theology" and in the spirit of the Hebraic tradition of Midrash, the
eleventh chapter of Numbers is cast in the context of the M77 motorway protest
at Glasgow's "Pollok Free State".
And in the reign of a not very major Pharaoh, a
prophet arose from down by the bulrushes of the River Clyde. His name was
MacMoses, and he settled in the Lord's area of priority treatment at Pollok.
One day MacMoses was walking barefoot on ground
considered by some to be "holy," having been set apart for perpetual
conservation in the Pollok Estate. Both being ecologists, the Lord addressed
MacMoses from out of a bush.
"Hey MacMoses!" God said. "Ever
since the people got pushed off the land at the time of the Clearances they have
been in bondage to the 'treasure cities' of Pharaoh."
"Their situation is miserable. A third of
their houses are seriously damp. Childhood asthma rates have increased fivefold
since 1970. In the countryside 0.08% of the population own 80% of the land. And
my mountains are being quarried out to build motorways, pyramids and all manner
So the Lord told MacMoses to go forth and
prophesy unto the people as to the ways of socially just and sustainable
development consistent with Agenda 21 of the Rio Summit. He said to lead them on
an exodus unto a promised land "flowing with milk and honey."
The Lord warned that the transition from a
degraded world to a new Eden would not be easy. It would be like unto a journey
through the wilderness. But the people of the Lord would be sustained day by day
with Manna from Heaven - vegetarian, of course.
Then MacMoses lead the people out into the
wilderness. But after some time they grew weary of Manna, and lusted even for
their previous bondage. "Who will give us flesh to eat?" they asked.
"We remember what we had in Egypt ... the abundant fish, and melons, and
secure jobs out at the Faslane nuclear submarine base, and private cars to drive
there, and homes mortgaged unto the Bank of Moloch."
MacMoses despaired, and he said unto the Lord,
"Lord, I am not able to bear all this hassle alone. The peoples' addiction
to the drip-feed of consumerism is too great in magnitude. Help me!"
So God said to MacMoses, "Gather seventy
muckers from among the multitudes of six hundred thousand, and bring them forth
to the Pollok Free State protest camp."
Thus it came about that this Remnant of many
good causes gathered around the campfire. The Holy Spirit descended in a cloud
through their treehouses. She placed upon them a vision of the Promised Land - a
land cleared of lairds. A land with Trident submarines beaten into railway
tracks. And they did go forth and prophesy, speaking truth unto power.
But some amongst the multitude grew angry at
this. They told MacMoses, "Your protestors are but as NIMBY if they hail
from here, or rent-a-mob if from away. They leadeth others and especially the
MacMoses replieth unto them, "Would that
all God's people were prophets."
But even then, the multitudes carried on lusting
after their old ways. Eventually God got very fed up with their comfortable
culture of complacency and their middle aged middle class aspirations to
"Alright!" he thundereth. "Let
them have meat - let them even eat quail on Wimpey's corporate expense account!
Let them grind the face of Pollok's poor into the dust of the motorised chariots
of Eastwood's rich if they must! Oh yes, before they choke on it, let them have
just one last drag on their great car culture's fag end!"
So it came to pass that early one morning,
amidst much wailing of police sirens and gnashing of striking schoolchildren's
teeth, Wimpey felled the great
forest of Pollok. The motorway was forced through the wildernesses of social
And unto MacIsaiah (24:3-6) who had chaineth
himself up in the last tree, the Lord spake saying: "The earth is emptied
clean away and stripped clean bare ... desecrated by the feet of those who live
in it, because they have broken the laws, disobeyed the statutes and violated
the eternal covenant. For this a curse has devoured the earth and its
inhabitants stand aghast."
And ere the landscaping on the new M77 was
finished, the Lord smote the multitudes with a great plague of asthma. And the
Powers that Be went home. They organised a big AGM and told shareholders wanting
to tender for similar projects elsewhere "to think again."
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