Punch, Ploughs & People

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I remember as a child watching Punch and Judy shows. It was a violent, horrid story – Mr Punch, the hero, beats his wife, kills his baby – who’s then made into sausages, assaults a police officer and eventually is condemned to be hanged – only for Punch to hang the hangman!

This politically incorrect story was funny?! … I’ve been reminded of Punch and Judy by current American politics: the uncomfortable space between anarchy, farce, horror and uncontrollable puppets.

Sunday – the first after Epiphany – was Plough Sunday; traditionally a ploughshare was brought into church and prayers would be said for the land, the seed and the eventual harvest: a pre-harvest festival.

Yesterday was Plough Monday, celebrating the start of the agricultural year. There would be different traditional celebrations in different communities – collecting money for the poor, dancing, farm workers with blackened faces threatening vandalism, men dressed as women: more politically incorrect traditions.

A friend wrote on Facebook yesterday:

The kids have been tired and emotional today. Poor M… has struggled, missing her friends & worries about the virus. But we collected the MASSIVE work packs from school, did hot writes, fractions, materials, pe & noun phrases. Then everyone was a bit emotionally done so we watched Angry Birds 2, chilled, and had doughnuts for pudding.

We relate to the basic human story:

  • Punch reminds us of the struggle of good with evil, justice, and the thin line between comedy and tragedy.
  • Plough brings optimism and belief; from winter will come summer, crops will grow, life will be sustained.
  • People bring us down to earth – dealing with today’s issues, living, surviving, thriving…

I return to my faith in a God of justice who’s concerned about good and evil. He brings me optimism in his world, its continuing beauty and potential. He cares for us as individuals, whatever we face today… and somewhere there are doughnuts for pudding.

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