I had a great time at Spring Harvest again this year, it is a wonderful event and I would recommend it without reservation. (We went to Minehead instead of Skeggy due to the scheduling, but enjoyed it so much we will probably do the same next year.)
Of course there’s a “However”, I am cross, after all!
However, there is one aspect of the event that makes me rather uncomfortable and it has done each year we have been. Is the increasing promotion of new material and merchandise detracting from Spring Harvest?
So, you arrive in Butlins, relieved after the M5, etc. trek. You sort out a parking space and check in to get your keys. Then, you need to buy the Spring Harvest theme guide, the programme guide and the accompanying book. This will set you back about £15.
Some of the fizz just evaporated.
The books are actually very good this year, but I still feel a little exploited. After all, we have paid a chunk of money already for the holiday and you really need access to the guides to get the most out of the event. Maybe I’m getting old, but £15 seems a lot.
Then, there is a whole new set of worship songs, along with CDs, music and song books.
Disturbingly, new material seems to have become more central in the last couple of years: in 2011 and 2012 the live CDs seem to only have the new songs published by Spring Harvest. In the past, Spring Harvest CDs had a mixture of new and more popular songs and hymns.
This has begun to worry me. Is it really a commercial necessity? Is it driven by copyright?
I have worked in IT for twenty years now and have seen the rise of Generations Y and Z and a more liberal and fluid attitude to intellectual property along with the frustratingly inept, greedy and generally gross responses from the big media companies, software companies and rights holders. Intellectual property laws are ostensibly to protect and promote creativity and invention. The fever for litigation and the stockpiling of patents in the software industry seems to be along lines that are quite to the contrary.
Suffice it to say, I am sceptical about the balance of protection in modern society and would like to see copyright replaced by something more appropriate to a digital world: something like the GNU Public Licence or the Creative Commons licence.
I am doubly sceptical about copyright for Christian teaching, worship and other writing. There is something non-Kingdom about the whole thing. For example, one of the practical problems with copyright and bible translations is that each translation has to make sure it is significantly different from the previous translations. That is just plain bonkers in a Christian context.
Yes, there is a requirement to reward people for work they do and yes, wages are scriptural.
7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages.Do not move around from house to house.
Luke 10 v 7
But, again, it is about balance and it is about a fine line between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God.
I have thought about Zondervan, the people who own the NIV copyright. What would Jesus think about them claiming ownership of a translation of his words? Would he turn them out of the temple?