You are here . on the pale blue dot

Blog notes

Anonymous comments for publication must include a pseudonym.

They should be 'on topic' and not involve third parties.
If pseudonyms are linked to commercial sites comments will be removed as spam.
The blog owner is unable to ‘unfollow’ Followers.

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Ministry of Chaos strikes again

I can't think of a more absurd excuse than the Transport Secretary's for increasing the speed limit to 80 MPH on motorways in England and Wales - 'because so many motorists already break the law and the police don't enforce it'. This from the 'party of law and order'! Police forces have already blamed scarce resources for failure to monitor speed violations so where will they find the resources to fulfil a promise to monitor the new 80 MPH limit with far fewer resources? When they do check, the most common formula applied for giving 'leeway' is '10% plus 2mph' = 79mph before action is taken. If the same formula were applied the actual top speed is more likely to be 90 MPH. 

Good reasons for challenging Mr Hammond's decision are outlined in the BBC report here yet many are in favour of the change. This is hardly surprising if so many people flout the law, illustrated by this Guardian poll which, at the time of writing, shows 68% and rising in favour of the change with two days to go for voting. Surely every shop-lifter, pimp or drug pusher would vote to legitimise their law breaking if given half a chance.

Even if the reason given were legitimate, there is a much better case for reducing the speed limit. The Green Party's chief scientist is quoted in the BBC link (above) as saying that there was a 20% increase in fuel consumption and emissions between driving at 70 and 80. Reducing oil consumption and emissions are important environmental considerations which should be given extra weight. I also question the suggestion that everything must be done at a quicker pace. Consideration for others, on and off the road, is now barely noticeable. If anything, we need to slow down and restore the better mannered culture of 'after you' which was far less stressful. 

I have just been reading the news about the M4 being shut this afternoon after a six vehicle crash. Not long ago South Wales was virtually cut-off when the nearby  Brynglas Tunnels were closed after a serious accident. The supposed few minutes saved on journey times by increasing the speed limit will be more than outweighed by the predicted increase in accidents and will cost more lives. The government appears unconcerned with the 1% predicted increase conveniently forgetting that it is 100% for the unlucky ones, often at no fault of their own.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Oppression or oppression: The Christian dilemma in Islamic states

 It was reported in the New York Times yesterday that 'Fearing Change, Many Christians in Syria Back Assad'. It is a sad irony for Christians there that even Iran has called for an end to the Syrian crackdown despite oppression being the norm in that country.

While the Anglican church here contents itself with becoming a social club for non-dissenters, fellow Christians elsewhere are prepared to die for their faith subjecting themselves to endless harassment. [Caution: the harassment link shows distressing images.]

The unintended consequences of the Arab Spring have provided a stark reminder that Christians in Iraq were better off under Saddam Hussein leaving Christians in Syria impaled on the horns of a dilemma.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Is Jesus Christ God incarnate or not?

Why are there so many religions?  Are they all the same? 

These questions were asked by an 'ex-biologist' after a discussion at Canterbury Cathedral on 16th September when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, met comedian, writer and broadcaster Frank Skinner for an "in-depth exchange of views on the state of Christianity today". Not being the greatest fan of Frank Skinner with his football fanaticism and laddish humour, when I was sent the broadcast link I was inclined to ignore it but fortunately I had much more respect for my correspondent and listened - in stages. I was in for a surprise. I found that I had far more in common with Mr Skinner than I ever could have imagined. He, a lapsed Catholic who had 'returned from the wilderness', reminded me of forgotten days in my youth when, as an Anglican, I lapsed and experienced the same sensation of returning from the wilderness. Some of our views were also remarkably similar although I winced at some of his 'Catholic' comments about Anglicans and Anglicanism. But that is not what inspired this blog entry, it was the answers given to the questions above, particularly the supplementary question, Are they [religions] all the same?

I wanted to hear an unequivocal 'No' but I was to be disappointed. Readers may have observed that I am a great admirer of Archbishop Rowan. He cares deeply, even for those with whom he disagrees as witnessed by his efforts to keep the Anglican Communion together against impossible odds but struggling to cause offence to no-one, there was no clear message that there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ. Yes we can respect the beliefs of others but not in a way that could be taken by the listener to mean that it doesn't really matter what you believe. There are inherent dangers in blanket approval as evidenced by the respect demanded by Islam which will be seen by many as adding credence to their beliefs which, in Christian terms, have to be regarded as mistaken. In the widest sense provided we 'love our neighbour as ourselves' is fine but there are many who do not and failure adequately to proclaim the Gospel message of the Way the Truth and the Life perhaps as well as anything, may explain the state of Christianity today

One finger, one 'Pod, one App ....

After yesterday's depressing story of religious duplicity, here something to inspire.

The image on the left is a 'finger painting' using a £1.99 App on an iPod with a 3.5" screen.

Quite extraordinary.

Click here to see how it was done.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales

The cat is out of the bag! Today sees the publication of "Highlights of the Church in Wales Governing Body September 2011". Apart from the reference to 'the Church' in its leading article Equal opportunities for all in the Church and an obscure piece on page 4 headed ‘Worship’, the Report could be that of of a minority political party or Trade Union. What sets it apart is its priorities.

Relegating impending disaster to the back page, as predicted, gender balance, provides the lead theme with some interesting figures given that the ordination of women was supposed to reinvigorate the church and make it more relevant to society. Despite the gloomy outlook, the Governing Body heard “that change in the representation of women in the Church has taken place faster than expected and in a positive way”. Ironically Page 8 illustrates how, commensurate with the feminising of the church, it is having the opposite effect with the church heading for oblivion. Church attendance was reported to be falling rapidly with its associated financial difficulties. 
Here is an extract: 

“Sadly the Church plays scant regard to all the data it has. It does not give it the time or the resources it deserves if we are to properly form, measure and monitor our strategy making and policy forming.” 

“So often in the Church we move from one half-baked initiative to another, often at great financial cost with little or no thought at measuring outcomes and the difference we make, and learning lessons for future strategy and work.” 
“There is little good news in the Report. We have experienced an alarming rate of decline in average attendance, and that is clearly undermining our ability to perform financially particularly at a parish level. The difficulty in maintaining large buildings and making the 
books balance remains. Large numbers of parishes are having to dip into diminishing reserves to make ends meet.”

If the official report is alarming enough, unofficial reports reaching me are worse. In September 2008 the Church in Wales issued a Press Release which began: “The Bishops of the Church in Wales today promised to provide continuing care for those opposed to the ordination of women, following a decision not to appoint a new assistant bishop. They stressed there was still a place in the church for those unable in conscience to accept the ordination of women and emphasised their commitment to sensitive pastoral care for all people and parishes in each diocese.”

The cat jumped out of the bag when a woman vicar suggested that candidates for ordination must be refused if they do not support women's ordination. Such is his 'commitment to sensitive pastoral care’ that His Darkness conveniently forgot it and remained silent other than to announce that discussions would take place in the GB next year, leading to legislation being prepared for a vote to make it possible for women to be bishops. This announcement came as much of a surprise to his fellow Bishops as it did to everyone else, confirming Bazzer's conviction that the assembly exists merely as a rubber stamp. So much for Equal Opportunities for all in the Church. It should have read Equal Opportunities for all in the Church who agree with the Archbishop.

Leaving aside the ‘pastoral care’ aspect, another Press Release issued prior to last week’s meeting (now confirmed in the report) provides some interesting financial figures: “On average, church members last year gave £7.79 each Sunday – an increase of 1.8% on the previous year. This represents 2.5% of the average Welsh gross weekly adult income. However, with fewer people going to church the total increase from direct giving continues to fall.”

So for many traditionalists, what Equality of Opportunity in the church amounts to is a willingness to contribute considerably more than £7.79 each Sunday as an act of faith with no Episcopal support or understanding, thus subsidising not only the people who oppose them but the Theological College that trains women to peddle their feminist agendas. By comparison in the Church of England Archbishop Rowan demonstrates his commitment to continuing care for those opposed to the ordination of women. Now those in Wales adhering to the traditional faith can only pray for a successful outcome when their Ordinariate Exploration Group meets on 5th November. Please pray with them.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

That we all may be one.

As Pope Benedict's visit to his German homeland draws to a close, this screen grab of Mass being celebrated in the Olympic Stadium illustrates how insignificant we appear from above. Despite that, the intensity of debate continues as we strive for unity. Lutherans in particular had been hoping for a gesture to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. The Pope acknowledged that there had been talk that his visit would produce an 'ecumenical gift' but said that it was a 'political misreading of faith and of ecumenism.'  Emphasising the point he said, "A self-made faith is worthless.  Faith is not something we work out intellectually and negotiate between us.  It is the foundation for our lives."

Compare that statement with the report of his meeting with Orthodox Christians when Pope Benedict said, "the Orthodox are theologically closest to us; Catholics and Orthodox both have the same basic structure inherited from the ancient Church. So we may hope that the day is not too far away when we may once again celebrate the Eucharist together".

So where does the Anglican church stand? The position is neatly summed-up in this Blog but undeterred, the Anglican church has chosen relativism over unity. Depressing though it is, all is not lost. Closing his homily for electing the Supreme Pontiff, the then Cardinal Ratziger said, "At this time, however, let us above all pray insistently to the Lord that after his great gift of Pope John Paul II, he will once again give us a Pastor according to his own heart, a Pastor who will guide us to knowledge of Christ, to his love and to true joy. Amen." Unbeknown to him, that prayer was to be answered in Benedict XVI himself and in answer to Christ's prayer for unity the Ordinariate will be his legacy for Anglicans, hopefully to be followed by communion with the Orthodox church, God willing.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Now even Gay Pride bows to Islamists

If I had had any respect for Peter Tatchell it would have evaporated with his decision to "respect the decision" of the organisers of Saturday's East London Pride event "not to address the gay-free zone controversy", a subject on which he has previously written passionately. A long time campaigner and no stranger to controversy and outrageous behaviour he thought nothing of invading the pulpit in Canterbury Cathedral one Easter Sunday while Archbishop Carey was preaching. So what does Islam possess that Christianity lacks? In a word 'fear'.

Apparently tomorrow's event will "celebrate LGBT life in Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge and Waltham Forest as well as oppose homophobia, transphobia, sexism and racism, including islamophobia and anti-Semitism."  [Islam is not a race - Ed.] They will: "not address the Gay-Free Zone controversy, not march through the E1 area and not stress the need for LGBT-Muslim solidarity" because they fear this would stir local division", said Tatchell. He added, “given the recent controversies, I believe it is very important that we reach out to the Muslim community in East London and unite with them against Islamophobia and homophobia [because] making local alliances and coalitions is the best way to conquer hate and division". Clearly in sucking up to make alliances with Muslims, Tatchell has swallowed the Islamophobia pill for a non-existing condition. 

Meanwhile, outside this circus yet another Christian is taking another knock, this time simply for trying to heal the sick by whatever means he thinks appropriate for his patient. Despite all the benefits of living in a free society, Islamists constantly raise false claims of bigotry, racism and Islamophobia for not bowing to their every demand. As Christianity is forced to take all the knocks while listening to Islamist constant complaints, more no-go areas are being created.   

No dhimmitude here thank you Mr Tatchell.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

"Can you hear me, mother?"

Other ancients will recall the catch phrase used by the late Sandy Powell, "Can you hear me, mother?" Now the call is to go out from the Church in Wales dioceses and  Provincial Strategy Group "to look again at ways of encouraging more applications from women for ordination to the ministry".

Whatever happened to being "called by God"?

Rugby World Cup killjoys

Pressure is growing to lift the ban on bagpipes imposed by organisers of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. A massive 71% of responders to a NZ TV poll want the ban rescinded, perhaps unsurprising  given the number of New Zealanders with Scottish links.

If we can have the haka in the shopping mall surely there is room for bagpipes on the terrace.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Well said Mr Dean

It was back to North Wales last Saturday for another Dean's installation, this time the Dean of St Asaph, who, in his own words said, "What I am looking forward to most is the worship, utilising all the resources available to us to celebrate the Christian faith in our observance of the festivals through the year." Words echoed by Bishop Gregory, “.... this cathedral is to be a place of encounter, of revelation, of the handing on of the truth of God’s powerful call to conversion in Jesus Christ.”

How refreshingly Christian. Not the politics pushed by the neighbouring Dean of Bangor nor of their Archbishop who must be bitterly disappointed that Nigel Williams isn't Nigella giving a boost to "Bazzer's" aim of parity in senior posts in what he clearly sees as his church. 

Time to move over Archbishop and let your flock hear less politics and more of the Christian message while you still have a church.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Not in our backyards - in yours!

George Osborne and Eric Pickles favour changes to planning regulations but
oppose developments in their own backyards. Photograph: Martin Argles

This duplicity caught my eye when it appeared in the Guardian 10 days ago. Today there is an opportunity to do something about it.

For those wishing to protest against the "breathtaking hypocrisy" of Ministers who want to scar what's left of our countryside while protecting their own little bits of England, 38 Degrees have lanched a 'Save our countryside' petition. Readers may wish to add their names.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

'islam' in the church

       All for Jesus me dear, all for Jesus me dear,
       this our song shall ever be;
       for we have no hope, nor Saviour,
       if we have not hope in me!

'Islam' in the church? The notion is not as far fetched as one might think. Submission, or the word 'islam', under the feminist god of political correctness is the goal of GRAS. In their arsenal of disapprovals is another word, 'integrity', which they cannot countenance any more than they can accept that true Christian belief may not accord with their injunctions or those of their related sisterhood WATCH.

What has inspired this outburst? The Church Times has published an article by Ed Thornton, "No promises were broken, says GRAS". The author of the Report has combed through all the relevant legislation to 'show' that no promise was made to those who disagree with them. In a piece of exceptional personal interpretation, the Rev'd Rosalind Rutherford convinces herself that, regardless of any intention of Synod to accommodate Christians who look to a higher Authority for guidance than synodical debate, feminist orthodoxy puts the 'sisterhood' under no obligation to look further than their own self interest. In their 'reading' of the Bible, supporters of women's ordination were able to claim justification for their belief because no objection could be found in the Bible - despite being axiomatic throughout the main body of Christendom and the threat to unity it created. Now this feminist lobby has the gall to suggest that by denying traditionalists acceptable sacramental and pastoral oversight they are doing so in the interests of unity. 

We have come thus far by giving-in to their every demand out of Christian charity, allowing women to progress from the biblical Deaconess to Deacon and Priest and now to the threshold of the Episcopacy, albeit in what has become a declining church having put themselves outside the main body of the Universal Church. Another report spotted today shows similar stealth by the gay community in advancing their their objective of having civil partnerships accepted as marriage, an issue that raises more obstacles to church unity.  

For traditional Christians, the problem is summed up in a quote in Rutherford's paper:
"People who never went into a church were really glad that the Church of England had been prepared to say that discrimination is not God’s will." Of course people who "never went into a church" will take the same secular view as church feminists but if "discrimination is against God's will", why do they continue to discriminate against traditionalists?  Answer, they are an obstacle to the feminisation of the church.  

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Barry's blatantly feminist agenda

Archbishop "Bazzer" is back in the news, this time with his feminist agenda in the guise of equal opportunities for "improving the gender balance on Church committees and in senior posts", ie, women Archdeacons, Deans and, Bishops. "Peggy Pilot" was first parachuted-in to be Archdeacon of Llandaff followed more recently by Dr 'Inclusive' Jones, the first female Dean in the Church in Wales. Much to his chagrin Bazzer lost the vote that would have enabled him to appoint (import?) the first woman bishop in England or Wales. He said at the time that he was "deeply disappointed, especially since it was lost with a very low margin in the house of clergy", conveniently forgetting the words of one of his predecessors that the vote was the work of the Holy Spirit. - Previously it was 'the work of the devil' when the vote to admit women to the priesthood was lost!

For Bazzer the Gospel according to WATCH is his guiding principle:

       "And in the 21st century, in the West, women have more freedom and choice than at any time in our history. There are very few areas of public life that are technically closed to women; we are airline pilots, politicians, astronauts,lawyers, mechanics, builders, football club owners. The only areas of public life still closed to women are those protected by organised religion."

Anyone familiar with secular governance is aware of the practice of stuffing committees with people to obtain the desired result. As the Anglican church becomes increasingly feminised many Parochial Church Councils are already dominated by women (I have no problem with that) but Bazzer's patience is running out. Sooner or, more likely, later he will have to retire into obscurity. Before doing so, "gender balance" is his latest wheeze to achieve his ambition by default, by which time at the present rate of decline there will be hardly anyone left in congregations to support their top-heavy structure anyway.

For the few left who are fed up with the politics of religion and desire a true glimpse of heaven on earth, click here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A question of trust

The 1979 election was said to have been won for the Conservatives by a fake 'Labour isn't working' poster. Today the published unemployment figures were simply described by the Prime Minister as "disappointing". Young people who have never worked will no doubt have a different description.

Attacking the public sector has been a key part of the Prime Minister's strategy. He suggests that cutting public sector jobs will enable the private sector to expand by picking-up the slack created. Not so thus far on today's figures. The smoke-screen of attacking the public sector is no substitute for a plan for growth.  Regions have been unjustly condemned for the size of public sector employment in their areas after it was created as a matter of government policy. People filling jobs that were dispersed from London to save money and mop up spare capacity created by the loss of manufacturing jobs are now blamed for current problems and their successors are being made redundant with little or no hope of work. 

Today Mr Cameron let slip another government aim of cutting public expenditure. After the Government's earlier gaff of predetermining the outcome of 'discussions' on public sector pensions, David Cameron quickly corrected himself in PM Questions when responding to Ed Miliband telling him that the government was cutting (reforming) public sector pensions. Is it surprising that public sector unions are threatening more public sector strikes?

Monday, 12 September 2011

9/11 Shame

One of the images not published in the BBC's gallery of pictures illustrating events to mark the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 has been published in the showing Islamic extremists shattering the remembrance silence and burning the American flag.

We remember them all, the dozens of innocent Muslims, Christians and people of faith and no faith, murdered by Islamic extremists. Yet they still complain endlessly about Islamophobia!

I receive daily alerts about supposed examples of 'Islamophobia'. The fifth today was a welcome change. You can read it here in the context of 9/11. 

Friday, 9 September 2011

Barry's blunder

Another irate email from a friend in the Church in Wales reminds me of the Grand Mufti tales that used to appear in the Llandaffchester Chronicles. 

Well insulated from lesser mortals in his palace on the Green, the publicity hungry Archbishop has used the 9/11 anniversary to promote his idea of mutual understanding between Muslims and Christians issuing a joint statement with the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, Saleem Kidwai. The Archbishop is not alone in his delusion that Islam will embrace Christianity if he panders to Muslim demands. Others have committed the same blunder. Ironically he appears to have more dialogue with Muslims than with the 'traditionalists' in his own church despite his supposed position as a visible sign of unity [see Para 3.1.3 of the link]!

Reading about him in his Wikipedia entry the Secretary General, Saleem Kidwai, is a pillar of society but far less impressive are the warnings highlighted here. Of course Muslims want to live in peace and harmony with Christians who form a majority but that is not the case in countries where Christians are a minority and will not be here if the position is reversed. I have been told that Muslims in the Archbishop's diocese are spreading a story that Jesus was a Muslim while others claim that Jesus prophesied Muhammad in the Bible. A response to these absurd suggestions can be found here.

As the influence of the Anglican church declines in England and in Wales its bishops are more intent on fostering Islam than preaching Christianity. According to the latest Church in Wales press release their Archbishop "will turn to the Welsh writer R S Thomas to sort out the current problems in the Anglican church in a lecture next week. [He] will suggest Thomas’ poetry has much to teach the church today about the nature of faith as it struggles to resolve tensions over the ordination of women bishops and gay people." One could add, tensions he and his liberal friends have created. Let's be honest, if listeners want to hear the Christian message they would be better off listening in to Fr Zakaria Botros.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Pensions plea

To lose one's hearing in old age is bad enough but to lose one's income through no fault of one's own is unfortunate. Many pensioners who lived frugally, putting aside what savings they could to provide that little bit extra in old age now find themselves sadly disappointed.

While bankers continue to reward themselves at taxpayers' expense with billions of pounds following their incompetence, savers have suffered a loss of £43 billion compared with their income before and after the Bank cut rates to 0.5%. In addition the value of investments is being eroded as markets fall.

Inflation is adding to their misery made worse by the Government's unilateral action to change the measure of calculating pension increases from the Retail Price Index to the Consumer Price Index resulting in lower increases. 

Last night I listen to complaints about the 50p tax rate payable by the top 1% of earners who receive over £150,000 a year (ie, ten times that of the average pensioner based on £29,000 for a couple). One man said he had had to work hard to achieve that. There are many who have worked very hard for much less. If they were to receive a bit extra they would be more likely to spend it.

An e-petition has been organised to protest against the unjust change in the method of calculating pension increases. Please sign it and ask others to do so. Thanks.


E-mail received today (29/02/2012):

"The e-petition 'Public & Private Pension Increases - change from RPI to CPI' recently reached 109,392 signatures and a response has been made to it.
This e-petition has reached 100,000 signatures. The Government has notified the Backbench Business Committee in the House of Commons who will consider its suitability for debate when Parliament returns in September. This e-petition will remain live, and people will be able to continue adding their signatures. The Backbench Business Committe have announced that a debate relating to this e-petition will take place on Thursday 1 March 2012 in the Chamber of the House of Commons. Further information about the debate, and on the workings of the Backbench Business Committee, can be found on the Committee's website at The Government will post a further response to this petition following the debate.

View the response to the e-petition."

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Bishop of Oxford has been at it again.

In the news againon the BBC's Today programme this morning [jump forward to 1.31], the Bishop of Oxford had trouble in answering John Humphries' question whether or not Jesus was the Son of God. In fact, the interviewer had to labour the point to get an answer as to whether Jesus should be featured at all in school assemblies. 'Reflection, silence and singing' were OK but care was needed to strike the right balance in multi-cultural schools.

Bishop Pritchard was particularly impressed with an ONS figure which showed that 71% of the population 'identifed' with Christianity. 'Identified' does not put bums on pews but perhaps this is part of his plan to speed the decline in church attendance. What really irked a friend in Wales who emailed me this morning (the former Bishop of Oxford is leading a team managing the decline of the Church in Wales under the leadership of their current Archbishop) was the statement that 100% of pupils in some Church of England schools are Muslims. Ignoring the financial implications for the church, this suggests to the bishop that parents of Muslim children send them to Church schools because they know that God will be taken seriously!

So there we have it. If God is to be taken seriously we should make all Church Schools 100% Muslim even though they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. They believe in their God (Allah) and that everyone else should too so that would put an end to the multi-culturalism our church leaders and teachers care so much about without ever having to worry again about mentioning the name of Jesus

Monday, 5 September 2011

'Allo 'allo 'allo;

what's going on 'ere then?

The suggestion that police constables (why are they all 'officers' these days?) should wear their uniforms to work has not found favour with the Police Federation. On Breakfast Time this morning their Chairman responded to the observation that the police were on duty 24 hours a day by likening it to the view of policemen as characters from Noddy, Big Ears and PC Plod. 

Perhaps not in London where public transport is more convenient than elsewhere in the country but did it escape the attention of the 'Think(!) Tank' that, like the rest of the workforce, most police persons today travel by car, obscuring the 'visibility' they desire? 

If they want a realistic suggestion, why not issue every police constable using his or her private car with a blue light to put on his/her car roof, Kojak style? With police patrols far less in evidence than they used to be this would be a welcome presence for the law abiding. Now that would make sense: 

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Exclusively "inclusive".

The BBC has reported today that the new Dean of Bangor in North Wales has hailed her appointment as a "privilege and an honour" showing the faith is "inclusive". So inclusive in fact that it excludes anyone who doesn't agree with the feminist theology to which she refers. This view from the Church in Wales is actively encouraged by their Archbishop whose minority view of Christianity mirrors the trend in the Church of England which, at diocesan level, is currently considering admitting women to the Episcopate, contrary not only to the tradition of the Universal church but to the example of Christ Himself in choosing His Apostles. But no matter to those in the politically correct Anglican Church today.

Dr Jones says, "I'm excited. I think it gives a statement that the church is inclusive and I think I am bringing something different - a female perspective." Sorry Dr Jones, Mary the Mother of God did that 2,000 years ago. 


Two stories caught my eye in this morning's newspaper. First the disgrace of foreign nurses being registered to work in the UK despite not having seen a patient for twenty years while British nurses without up-to-date training have had to leave the profession. Hopefully, as the scandal has emerged in evidence to a House of Lords inquiry, someone somewhere will get a grip on this farce and do something about it, simply by ignoring the plainly stupid EU rules if necessary.

Far more disturbing and with little or no hope for the victims is the ongoing disgrace of rape and slavery in the (so called) Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Guardian video here is harrowing enough but look a little deeper on the Internet and the story is even more harrowing where in addition to rape being used as a weapon, children as young as five are raped through ignorance and superstition. Men are not immune either.

Poor people in many countries suffer in misery to provide the life styles to which we in the West have become accustomed and the best of intentions in dealing with human rights abuses can go awry. Meanwhile the misery of men and particularly of women and children continues. The United Nations organisation say they are addressing the challenges but compare the glitzy image in this video with that revealed in the Guardian video above.  

Using any computer or using any mobile phone to text a friend has been made possible by the blood, sweat and tears of raped women and children who mine the necessary minerals. It doesn't bear thinking about and, tragically, for the most part we don't but as the Libyan conflict subsides, is it too much to hope that world leaders will turn their attention to these suffering women and children or will they wait for the next shoot-out to wade-in in the hope of claiming another victory?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

"Art is a doorway to God"

On Monday, back from Madrid where His Holiness celebrated World Youth Day surrounded by a multitude of young people, Pope Benedict XVI told a meeting of his former students in Castel Gandolfo that "Cradle Catholics have not done enough to show people that God exists and can bring true fulfilment to everyone". He added, "It also is up to Christians to make God known to the world and older generations may not have done their best."

Graphic explanations can be viewed here giving reasons for the decline of the Irish Catholic Church and here where in France, secularism has added to the church's problems. The decline of the Church of England is shown graphically here. Today, individualism as opposed to collective responsibility has resulted in anarchyIn the secular world Michael Gove has outlined his vision of what needs to be done in an attempt to deal with the problem. But what of religion? In a recent article in the Mail Online, A N Wilson wrote of the Legacy of a society that believes in nothing. Schools have played a significant part in the decline of Christianity and this must be redressedRegard for self over others has resulted in no benefit to society, quite the contrary.

In an age where authority clearly means nothing to many young people, the old authoritarianism of the church must appear anachronistic but viewed, not just from a religious standpoint, the Ten Commandments provided the basis of an ordered life in this country and beyond. How one sees God may vary and this may be part of the problem. If God is love, the religious authoritarianism which told people what to believe or fear the consequences may have convinced the ignorant but does not wash with Christians today.

The answer of the Church of England, and of the Church in Wales, is to abandon mysticism and depart from the tradition of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church to define themselves as politically correct social workers in vestments. However, they continue the Anglican tradition expressed in music and in art. Enter many Anglican churches today, including Westminster Abbey, and you will find icons on the walls. Although used by many as religious pictures rather than Holy Icons to be venerated as doors to heaven, nevertheless they represent an important link with Orthodox Christianity. Links which must be strengthened if Christianity in this country is to avoid the descent into secularism witnessed in France.

For his part Pope Benedict has explained how to find God in art. “Art is like an open doorway to the infinite, toward a beauty and truth that go beyond everyday reality”, he said. Raphael's The Disputation over the Blessed Sacrament (The Triumph of Religion) is an excellent example of this. The beauty of the Earth surrounds us and as Christians we should unite to spread that message if we are to avoid subjugation. What binds us is far greater than anything that divides us. For some Anglicans in the Church of England, and perhaps in Wales, the Ordinariate is an answer to Christ's prayer for unity. If we can achieve it in the West, unity with the Orthodox church may follow.Then older generations really will have done their best to 'make God known to the world'.