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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Life without a future?

I was once asked a very interesting question. “Would I change the way I lived my life if I was given incontrovertible proof that there was no life after death?”

It is a very interesting question, one for which there is no simple answer.

My initial reaction was – probably. After all, if there is nothing beyond this one, why not take everything from everyone I can manipulate, bully, outsmart or simply overpower? Why not take advantage of everyone and take everything I can so that I can live in luxury? If there is no greater power than anyone more powerful, more manipulative or aggressive than me, what should I be afraid of?

A Humanist would immediately argue that my ‘basic goodness’ would prevent me from doing that. They would argue that mankind have an innate morality which prevents us from such excess, but history seems to me to disprove that – the greatest genocidal acts, the worst atrocities have all been committed by atheist leaders who were also first class manipulators and propagandists. They were men and women who believed that belief in any higher power was something to be exploited to their advantage in those they ruled.

The atheist would, of course, be delighted by such a revelation. Such a proof would give them exactly what they want – proof that they are right and everyone else totally wrong. But would it lead to a better world? Or simply to a world without any restraint other than those made by man – which, again, history shows us very rapidly degenerates into tyranny?

Then another thought began to form. If there was proof that there is no hope of something better beyond this life, what does this say to those who have lived lives of suffering and deprivation? What does it say to those for whom this life has been one long struggle to raise, feed, clothe and house a family in the presence of neighbours enjoying plenty and unwilling to share?

That thought filled me with sadness. If there was no life beyond ours, nothing beyond the grave to hope for, then there is nothing for any of us in this existence but the pursuit of self-gratification and self-fulfillment. What a pointless existence. In fact, only those born to wealth, power and all that accompanies that, could really enjoy life to the full. For the rest of us there would be nothing but years of work, perhaps some small rewards and finally oblivion. For those crippled by any number of childhood diseases, and some adult ones, there is even less. The term from a TV show comes to mind – “Suffer, baby, suffer – there is nothing else to look forward to.”

All very well for those, like Dr Dawkins, in good health and in well paid positions, living comfortable lives in professions and careers which gave them fulfillment and rewards. Tough for the genius born into the family of a heavy drinking dustman without ambition, compassion or civility. Perhaps this was what drove those who have attempted to impose socialism upon the world, arguing that this was the only way to ensure ‘fair’ distribution of wealth. Notably, of course, only they should determine who is ‘wealthy’ and who not and who should give up what they had earned and worked to achieve, and who not – and naturally, they were among those giving up least. Notably, many of those who espouse this ideology are also atheists or humanists and freely attack those of faith – from which the ideas they now attempt to manipulate originated – and do so from their comfortable positions in well paid professions and from the material fulfillment of their very comfortable lives.

So what do they say, what do we say, to those who do not have the good fortune to be born to comfort and loving homes? Here’s a handout? Join a gang and take everything you can because life is short, brutal and a free-for-all? This is where we really do run into a problem with morality. Why shouldn’t they beat up old ladies, break into and rob your home of the possessions you have worked so hard for? The Socialist would say to you that it is the desperation of poverty that drives people to crime; that your refusal to give up some of your ‘wealth’ in order to ‘combat’ that poverty is what causes crime. But is this necessarily so?

No - I do not believe that it is, though it may be a part of the overall problem. There was far greater poverty and a far greater gap between rich and poor before the 1950s, yet, with the notable exception of the Mafia gangsters in the Prohibition period, crime had not reached the proportions it has today. Today, at least in Europe, we live in a society that provides for the jobless, for the ailing and for the retired. Interestingly, though there is always a great emphasis on raising retirement ages and ‘freezing’ or reducing pension entitlements, no one ever dares to take a hard look at the runaway benefits system which grows by leaps and bounds.

If there is no ‘life beyond this’ then it is easy to justify handing out endless ‘benefits’ to those who do not work and even to those who have never worked and to justify reducing what we give to the aging as ‘they’ve had the benefit of employment’ and have ‘assets’ they can sell to live off. After all, you can’t take it with you even if there is a life beyond this.

Now this all leads back to the original thought, if there was proved that there is no God, no life beyond our present existence, then we are utterly without hope. Not just those at the bottom end of society, but all of us, the rich, the comfortable and the poor – because now you have nothing but man-made and man enforced ‘laws’ to guide us. Nothing at all to restrict us, since laws can be manipulated, changed and even ignored.

Would such proof change the way I live? Yes, it would. It would make me very wary of the intentions of those around me. It would make me behave in a manner that brings out the ruthless side of me, and it would certainly make me a far worse person than I am now.

Fortunately, despite the best efforts of the Humanist Society, Dr Dawkins and now Professor Hawking, I am still convinced that the Gospels are correct and that they do reveal a life beyond this one, a life to which even the Dawkins', Hawkings' and members of the Humanist Societies are invited.

Hope in higher power and in a life to come is what makes our societies work and holds them together. Why should I believe that a politician canvassing my vote for his party is more likely to give me what is not in his power anyway – and not in a life that God Himself has promised? For millions of people of all faiths, the life they live now will never be more than one hard struggle, and one which, if they are lucky, may be very short. Our early ancestors decorated vast caverns with images they hoped would guide them into a ‘spirit life’ which would offer some easier aspect. Even Neanderthal men buried their dead with tenderness and care decorated graves.

Does it not seem strange that in the 100,000 years that modern man has been around, no one has yet ‘proved’ there is no afterlife? In fact, increasingly, there is growing evidence that there is. Perhaps that is what gives rise to the question with which I began and which, I am happy to say, I do not believe will ever be the case.

I do not look forward to death and I do not seek it. I confess to being uncertain as to what precisely awaits and to facing it – especially as it gets closer – with some trepidation, but I am convinced that once I have passed through the pain of parting from those here that I love, I will find a welcome.

I dare to live in hope and faith – and through holding to them, I live in the Love of a God who loves His creation – all of it. As St Paul wrote almost 2,000 years ago; “And now abide these three, Faith, Hope and Charity – and the greatest of these is Charity.” In language of the King James Bible, “charity” was the same as the Greek “philos” – the love that is without eroticism or expectation of reward.

Yes, I dare to live in the hope of the “Charity” and that moderates the way I live my life.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Anglican Arguments...

The Sydney Archdiocese in Australia has always been out of step with the rest of the Anglican Communion and their latest Archbishop has turned their disagreement with the rest of the Church into something of a power struggle for the leadership of the entire Anglican world. The bulk of the Anglican Communion is a synodically governed church. It's bishops are consecrated in the 'Apostolic Succession' - the continuation of spiritual authority stretching back to the appointment of the first 'Episcopio' (Bishops) by the Apostles and recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and in some of the Letters that form the bulk of the New Testament. Anglicans have no 'Pope' and follow, instead, the practice of the Early Church in recognising a 'Senior See' and holding a Conference and Synods in order to examine doctrine and dogma issues that need to be addressed.

For some, this process is far to slow, for others it is far to fast - and, as always, there are those who go along with it as long as it says and does what they demand of it. The Archbishop of Sydney and his followers fall into that category. The bulk of the Anglican Church has moved on from the ghastly era of the Edwardian (Edward VI - son of Henry VIII) and Cromwellian periods. But Sydney wants to cling to the fundamentalism of the 'reformers' of 1552-4 and drag the entire church away from the 'universal' church (Also called the Catholic Church) and back into something that more closely resembles the 'Deep South Baptist' tradition of the US. Frankly, a eucharist in the Sydney Diocese, with one or two exceptions, bears no resemblance at all to what is practiced everywhere else.

And now, Archbishop Jenkins wants to take the Sydney Diocese out of the Province of Australia. He argues that his diocese holds 25% of the funds and makes 25% of the payments; that only his diocese is seeing growth and that only his branch of the church is the 'true' Anglican Church. Anyone who has attended one of their services will also know that they make the Baptists look like Roman Catholics...

All of this is giving a number of people a lot of ammunition to use against Anglicans - mostly from an ill-informed, or biased, base point. Catholic Convert is a friend of mine and a Roman Catholic, so it was a little concerning to me to see his post on the latest attempt by Archbishop Jenkins to seize authority for his desire to drag the Anglican Church back into the age of presbyters (unordained) and fundamentalist driven anti-Roman excess.

Let us hope that the common sense of the rest of the Anglican Church will eventually prevail. Archbishop Jenkins has hitched his particular wagon to some very odd fellow travellers. There are several American and Canadian bishops who are so 'Catholic' they make the Romans look like Methodists, several African Bishops and one Archbishop in the same camp and, worse, who have dismissed their Synods and refuse to operate in the democratic synodical manner of the rest of the church. Sydney is alone in its 16th Century 'Protestant' stance on doctrine, dogma and worship patterns and traditions in that group. That alone should warn those tempted to follow this attempt to split the Communion.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Global Cooling?

The "Bilderberg Group" are often portrayed as the modern face of an even more shadowy 'bogeyman' group - the "Illuminati" - every true 'Conspiracy Theorist' loves to hate. The Bilderberg Group are a group of super-rich industrialists, landowners, politicians and includes people like the Queen of the Netherlands, Bill Gates and Henry Kissinger. Their meetings are never publicised, always behind closed doors and always about long term trends. So their latest meeting, in June this year, and held in Spain hardly hit the headlines. Maybe it should have.

One of the items under discussion was "Global Cooling."

No, that wasn't a misprint. What it says, perhaps more loudly than anything else could have, is that the wheels are about to come off the "Anthropogenic Global Warming" bandwagon. And the funding tap is about to be turned off on all those 'scientific' units that have been milking the system and the taxpayers. We'll still be stuck with the damage they have done - probably for the next century at least. James Dellingpole has written a very well researched article on this in the Telegraph Online under the title "Bilderberg Group discusses Global Cooling at 2010 meeting."

The science is far from reliable or settled. Most of the 'warming' data comes from weather stations sited in areas that have seen a huge increase in urbanisation with tarmac acting as a heat trap, central heating in buildings and, in the case of the Siberian Arctic, above ground heating pipes and systems. In fact, tracking the data from these sites shows the sudden rise in temperature is directly related to the expansion of towns and even airports where these 'weather stations' are located. The classic example is Svalbard. The weather station is exposed to the backwash from taxiing jets, situated on the edge of a tarmac taxiway and a micro-climate generated by the expansion of airport buildings and paved areas. Move 2 kilometres away and the temperatures are two or more degrees lower than what the 'weather station' (on which the EAU/CRU models are based) are reading. Other stations in this 'model' are exposed to the hot exhauts of airconditioning units, up against sun facing walls of buildings and so on.

If the data is slewed - the model is spewing out garbage. That seems to be the conclusion that the Bilderbergers have finally figured out. After all, other indicators are actually contradicting the CRU/Greenstrife/Fiends of the Earth favoured 'evidence.' In fact, most 'weather' (as opposed to 'climate') records show that the last ten years have NOT been 'warmer' but actually static. In terms of the Arctic Ice, there are now ice and sediment cores which show that it was warmer in the early medieval period - excluded from the CRU et al model - and cows could be grazed in Greenland - impossible today. In fact, 9,000 years ago, there was even less ice in the Arctic basin - it may even have been ice free! Sadly all of us are already paying for the folly of allowing policy to be dictated and directed by a bunch of hysterical terrorists under the banner of pressure groups such as Greenpeace, Fiends of the Earth, Earth First and all their related 'direct action' spawn.

Wind Farms are only viable of you keep a number of ordinary power stations 'spooling' to bring on line as the wind turbine output drops. That means every single one of us is paying twice for the power we use and we're paying again in tax. All these "green" taxes do nothing for the environment except take more out of our pockets and divert it to subsidies that enrich the owners, makers and promoters of the 'wind farms.'

As they say, if you want to know what is really going on - follow the money. Watch the balance of funding swing away from all the "green" projects that cost an arm and a leg, are crippling our economies and can never be viable. Watch Greenstrife and Fiends of the Earth start to have to cut back their piracy and terror operations in the media, on the high seas and on our streets.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Book relaunched

The observant among my readers - hopefully everyone - will have noticed that there is a new link in the sidebar. I have republished The Enemy is Within! and it is now available from the publisher, Xlibris via their online book store, as a hardback, a paperback and as an e-book. I am assured that it will be listed by Amazon everywhere very shortly and I will provide links and the new cover design as soon as it becomes available.

I hope that everyone who hasn't attempted to buy the original version from the disappointingly expensive "joint venture" I had with the previous publisher will now find the book not just accessible but available. Republishing has given me the opportunity to revise one or two small sections and to correct some of the things which slipped through the editing in the first edition. I hope everyone will find a chance to get a copy now.

Another new book will make its appearance shortly. Watch this space for the appearance of "Their Lordships Request" which tells the story from Harry and Ferghal joining the Royal Navy to the eve of the event that will catapult them 400 years into their future. It also introduces that future and the people they will meet and serve with in the 23rd Century.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

There's a hole in our modelling...

Recently a well reviewed and well researched paper has identified the solar cycles as having a major influence on the global temperatures. Now there's a big surprise - except that these solar cycles have, until now, been discounted as having any inlfuence at all by the Greenstrife/Fiends of the Earth Warmist lobby. I'm also willing to bet that, despite the New Scientist - a rabidly "The Sky is Falling and we're all going to die!" supporter of the CRU/IPCC model predictions - actually publishing a reasonable report on it, the Anthropomorphic Global Warmistas will continue to insist it has no impact.

In an even bigger surprise, to the modellers at least, a German team have now published a paper which reveals that the oceans play a huge role in the weather and climate - again something the CRU and other 'Climate Modellers' have consistently declared 'irrelevant.'

Oh dear. Oh, dearie, dearie me. It seems that far from warming, the oceans are about to drop back into a cooling phase. The sun is in a really passive phase of its cycle and so isn't doing much to stir up the atmosphere and the cool damp weather may be the way it will go in the next few years.

Looks like there's a big hole in the model predictions. About three quarters of the 'atmosphere' - the oceans - aren't even considered in them. Back to the drawing board folks?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Throw away remarks...

A day or two ago I caught a fascinating interview on BBC World Service in a programme called. Sadly, I missed the name of the scientist and of the show which I think was "The Interview." I'm glad I watched though, the interviewee was an eminent astro-physicist, a true scientist and a gentleman through and through. The interviewer tried to draw him into the latest controversy stirred by Stephen Hawking with his anti-God remarks and the old boy refused to be drawn - But he did enter the politest and most devastating riposte to it I have ever been privileged to hear.

He said: "I have known Stephen for over 40 years and he is a great scientist. He has made an enormous contribution in his field - but he has no expertise in natural philosophy and probably less in theology. I wouldn't place to much credence on his pronouncements in either of those subjects."

Having firmly and politely slammed that door in the interviewers face he dealt with Hawking's other contentious statement - that the book and his work on "M-Theory" would bring the end of science in an equally balanced and gentle manner.

"I doubt very much that the human mind will ever be capable of understanding everything. While Stephen's work in this field may well close this branch of research it will have no impact at all on the biological sciences and many other branches. I think he is being humorous and having a little joke at the expense of other sciences"

The interviewer struggled, as has become the modus operandi of BBC interviewers over recent years, to introduce something contentious or damaging - and was consistently put in his place with perfect politeness and perfectly sound answers to every question. It was wonderful to watch. If only all the members of the UK's scientific community behaved with such restraint and politeness.

New Computer

Yesterday I splashed out and today I'm test driving my new iMac computer. It has a very large screen has installed itself and made itself right at home on my desk and even has a minimum of wires trailing everywhere because the mouse is wireless and so is the keypad. The one thing I'm struggling with is the German language keypad!

There are a number of small differences - like where the 'z' and the 'y' are - and these can certainly throw you off if you are used to 'qwerty' and it now is a 'qwertz' instead! But it also has all the Umlaut characters and even the 'ß' symbol, which, for those who don't know, is actually a double 's'.

So far, so good. But, boy, is this a learning curve!

Friday, 24 September 2010

So Climate Science confirms a Bible "story"...

What do you do with a super computer when you run out of data to play with on modelling future climate?

It seems that you start looking at some phenomena which science once said was impossible or improbable - and find out that maybe it can happen. The Climate Science boffins at Boulder Colorado have been playing with fluid dynamics models, and possibly to the embarrassment of the "The Bible is Fairystory" lobby, have discovered that natural conditions do exist which would 'part the waters' in exactly the manner described in the Book of Exodus. Of course, there will be those who will insist that this 'couldn't happen in an ocean' like the Red Sea, but then they miss the fact that the "Red Sea" in the King James Version is a mistranslation and a reference to the "Reed Sea" - a lagoon near the Eastern side of the Nile Delta.

For me this confirms a view I have long held, simply that science and archeology are more and more frequently confirming events in the Bible once thought to be 'myth' or 'fantasy' by many skeptics as factual. Of course, you need to be cautious and open to the fact that our translations of the original documents have distorted meanings and even changed place names. For example, there is strong evidence to suggest that the mountain we have called Sinai since the time of the Romans is not the 'Sinai' that Moses knew and walked on.

For many years Bible skeptics have pointed to the lack of direct references to Biblical events on Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and other monuments and records, but they are overlooking an important factor. One they are themselves using even now. Propaganda. As a major power conquers a nation or a people, you eradicate their history, or rewrite it so that they appear as 'uncivilised' or 'corrupt and crooked' and so justify your conquest. If the beat you in a battle you certainly don;t record that and if you are an Egyptian king dependent on people believing you're 'invincible' you certainly don't record your reverses. In fact, the Egyptian kings frequently had their predecessors or rivals monuments destroyed or defaced in an effort to obliterate their record. It is still done today - but in a more vicous form - you keep him alive, but smear and blacken his record and name with twisted representations and out of context 'quotes' - and, of course, you ensure that they only get the most negative access to the media and never, ever, allow the truth to emerge.

For the past hundred or so years there has been a subtle campaign to cast doubt on the Bible and its contents. This is a two pronged attack, first it is an attack on the Jewish and Christian faiths, an effort to undermine them and to reduce the influence on moral conduct they impose. Second, it has become a way of talking down the right of Israel and the Jewish people to their country and their existence. By calling into question the Old Testament as a record of the Jewish People and Faith it allows the Arab nations to promote as 'truth' the Quran's version of the story from Genesis to Christ.

I welcome each small revelation that some event, some 'miracle' described in the Bible is not only possible but accurately described is one more counter to this assault on Faith. I'm sure that is not what the researchers set out to do, but they have just succeeded in blowing another hole in the "There is probably no God" argument.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Ten what? A slightly off the wall look at a familiar story ...

Another swipe at Political Correctness in the UK from Darryl Ashton. It is in the form of a 'Play Script.'

GOD: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE TABLETS OF STONE WITH MY TEN COMMANDMENTS? I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO TAKE IT DOWN THE MOUNTAIN TO READ TO THE MULTITUDE".

MOSES: "Yes, you did, Guv, but I need to talk to you about that".

GOD: "WHAT'S TO TALK ABOUT. IT WAS A SIMPLE ENOUGH TASK".

MOSES: "That's what I thought, until, Health and Safety spotted me trying to carry the tablets".

GOD: "WHAT HAVE THEY GOT TO DO WITH IT?".

MOSES: "Well, Guv, they reckoned that it was either going to do my back in or I might drop it on my foot, or somebody else's foot. Anyway, H&S weren't having it. I had to fill in a risk assessment form first".

GOD: "ANYTHING ELSE?".

MOSES: "As a matter of fact, there is. It was then that the PC Brigade got involved. Said the title was too abrupt. Didn't leave any room for negotiation".

GOD: "THAT WAS THE IDEA. THEY ARE MY COMMANDS, THAT IS WHY THEY ARE CALLED COMMANDMENTS. THE TITLE STAYS".

MOSES: "Right, Guv, but there was a couple of other things they weren't happy about".

GOD: "WHAT ELSE WERE THEY MOANING ABOUT?"

MOSES: "Well they didn't care for that bit about not worshipping any other Gods. Said it was discriminatory and might upset other religions".

GOD: "ANYTHING ELSE?"

MOSES: "That bit about honouring thy mother and father. They reckon in single - parent families some of the kids don't know who their father is. Sometimes the mother hasn't got a clue".

GOD: "GO ON, LET'S HAVE IT ALL".

MOSES: "The ad people and the politicians are dead against the word "lie" - they say it is too judgmental. They prefer the phrases such as 'putting a spin on it' or 'presenting it in a better light' or 'in the public interest'".

GOD: "THEY ARE ALL LIARS, THOUGH".

MOSES: "Oh yes, Guv, they lie for a living".

GOD: "ARE THERE ANY OF MY COMMANDMENTS THESE VARIOUS MEDDLERS ARE HAPPY ABOUT?".

MOSES: "Well, Guv, they're OK with 'thou shalt not kill'. And the one about stealing, although the politicians rob the people blind, but as they call it taxing apparently, it's all right". Of course, the big stores don't agree with keeping the Sabbath special".

GOD: "I'VE GOT A GOOD MIND TO SEND DOWN A PLAGUE OF BLOODY FROGS TO TEACH THESE SINNERS A LESSON".

MOSES: "No Guv, don't do that, or we'll have the animal rights crowd all over us like a rash".

THE END.

By
DARRYL ASHTON

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Unsustainable 'Green' Energy...

One of the best informed and written articles I have read recently on the reality of the drive among western government's to 'go green' in the face of the cost and the destruction to both the ecologies of our countries and our economies is argued here in an informed and very graphic manner. The truth is that wind turbines have a massive impact on the ecology and they are certainly not 'carbon nuetral.' Nor are the famous 'solar panels' and the accumulators that we need to go with them.

None of these technologies are sustainable without massive subsidies, money that could be far better spent in finding ways conserve energy and clean up our existing technology. One popular 'green' myth that is constantly trotted out is that "97% of the energy in a coal power station is lost up the chimney." Total garbage. While that may well have been true in the 1960s it is no longer the case. Heat exchangers in the flues preheat, or reheat, the boiler water. The 'waste gases' are scrubbed removing the Carbon Dioxide and Sulphur Dioxide and particle filters remove the soot. Carbon recovered is processed into other products and so is the sulphur, even the Carbon Monoxide is fed back to the firebox and burned - most people don't know that CO is combustible within its flammable range (Roughly 12.5% to 74% by volume in air.). This is the reason the BBC, Greenpeace and other climate hysterics always show the steam billowing above the cooling towers of these power stations when they want to push their "polluting power station" lies.

Watts Up With That put all this into perspective in this post published yesterday entitled Unsustainable Cow Manure. It is worth every second spent reading it. It is factual, informative and above all true. Not a Greenpeace/IPCC/CRU/Fiends of the Earth lie survives.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The dreaded 'Elf an' Safety ...

I found this poem on a site called FanStory where I have some of my own stories on show. It is by Darryl Ashton, who has given me permission to post it here. If you'd like to contact him directly his email is ashton53@btinternet.com And now the poem ...

Watch out, watch out, don't dare go out.
The ELF and SAFETY man's about.
He says that there are nasty things
Called roundabouts and slides and swings.

And climbing frames you mustn't climb
Because they hurt you all the time.
"You shouldn't walk along the street
'Neath hanging baskets trim and neat.

'Cos they might fall and bump your head.
Or if they're heavy, leave you dead."
Don't leave your ladder on a wall
'Cos it might move and make you fall.

"And never run' cos you might slip
And end up with a broken hip.
Don't walk on roads if they are wet"
'Cos ELF says, "You can safely bet

Your feet will slip and down you'll go
To break your ankle or your toe."
So now although I'm just a boy
I dare not play with plastic toys.

The plastic ones will poison me
And metal ones endanger me.
I dare not go and ride my bike
Or swim, or go off for a hike.

"Cos danger lurks in everything
And only pain and death they bring.
I take in all this "good" advice,
That tells me life's not very nice.

And wonder what I'll do all day
To keep these dangers all at bay.
But I proclaim that while alive
Despite the pitfalls, I'll survive.

I won't take chances but instead,
I'll safely spend my life in bed".

BY

DARRYL ASHTON

He has a number of humorous renditions of well known anthems and hymns and takes some well-aimed swipes at any number of PC 'Sacred Cows' in his poetry. Do pay him a visit.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Conflict of interests

Yesterday's Gospel reading was from St Luke and included the statement, "A man cannot serve two masters..." As I reflected on this I was again struck by the difficulties facing the Roman Churchas it struggles to deal with the sexual scandals that have engulfed it in recent years. The truth is that wherever religion and secular power are combined, abuses of one sort or another are inevitable. Rome's problem here is its claim - matched by that made in the name of Islam - to being a sort of 'super authority' above normal secular politics and even national and international boundaries.

It is inevitable that, once all matters are submitted to the narrowest interpretation of religious truths, that abuse will arise. Power corrupts and nowhere does power corrupt more quickly than in matters of faith. The late Ayatollah Khomenei actually exhorted his fellow Shia clerics to step back from government and politics. I think that history will show that their refusal to do so, to relinquish control of Iranian political power, will be one of the turning points in the history of Islam. I believe that just as Rome is now having to confront a catalogue of sexual abuse cases, it also has to face the sorry history of abuse of position and authority in places like Ireland where many parish priests actively supported the Provisional IRA's campaign of murder, drug dealing and intimidation. Some even sheltered wanted killers, hid the arms and one, at least, actually planted bombs.

The really terrible aspect of this is that it has damaged the efforts of all Christian Churches, not just Rome, to carry the Gospel to our children and theirs. It has provided the secularists, Humanists and Atheists with propaganda, ammunition and justification to support their lies and attacks on faith.

The Papal visit to Britain seems to have been something of a success. Those who are opposed to Christianity feel that their placard waving, whistle blowing and screaming insults has somehow "made Britain a better place." Those who support the Pope and believe in the Gospel, are happy that, despite the intimidation and outright anti-church campaigning from Humanists, Secularists and Atheists, the attendance at the public events met and exceeded expectations. I am not a Roman Catholic, nor do I support the present Pope's views on many things, but I would have turned out to attend these events had I been there - if only to show support for the faith I hold and which I believe to be true.

What Christians of all shades must do now, is work with Rome to reform, to consolidate and to ensure that Rome's mistaken adherence to secular and claims of exclusive authority, do no further damage to Christ's message. We must also find ways to effectively counter the poison of the lies propagated by the Humanist Society, the Atheist factions and the Secularists. Current teaching in schools, written by Atheists and Secularists, portray the Bible as a collection of "fables" and fail utterly to mention that the events described can be confirmed by archeological means and by non-Christian texts. Scholars have for years declared that the texts of the New Testament and of the Old are among the most reliable in existence - but the Secularists constantly declare that they have been "doctored" to "mislead and create the story the church wants." Small differences in copied texts are seized upon as "evidence," when the reality is they are usually the mistakes of copyists who often could not, themselves, read the language they copied.

As I said at the outset, Rome has done itself and the Christian message no favours by trying to be both a temporal and a secular authority. If the Chritian Faith is to survive the current smear campaigns by the enemies of Faith, Rome must change the way it deals with the secular powers and with its fellow travellers in the Gopsel. It must learn to recognise the authority of other Christians and it must learn from the mistakes of its secularist claims and rediscover the ministry and leadership of the laity. Others have made that step, but it is something Rome has still to discover.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Flat Earth Faith?

I have often wondered at the assertion, usually directed at Christianity, that people thought the world was flat. This seems to be based on the 18th and 19th Century misrepresentation of artefacts such as the Mappa Mundi which were 'Spiritual Representations' of the world of faith, and never intended as representations of the "world." It even says so on the Mappa Mundi!

Christianity's scholars and philosophers followed Aristotle, Plato and Ptolemy and believed the world to be a sphere, Copernicus argued that Aristotle was wrong in placing us at the centre of the universe and Galileo initially got into trouble for contradicting what Copernicus had actually proved, not for heresy as is commonly believed and misrepresented. The evidence is there - for those who want to see it - in the form of documents in monastic libraries across Northern Europe - until the 'enlightened' French destroyed many of them when they pillaged the mpnasteries. Fortunately, many of the ancient documents survived in private hands and they include a remarkable canon of scientific writing, much of which dates back to the so-called "Dark Ages" another Victorian 'Enlightened' label.

I recently found a link, posted, I suspect, by someone wishing to promote Islam as the 'faith of enlightenment' which promotes all the achievements of Muslim scholars in the European "Dark Ages or Middle Ages period. The suggestion was that the Islamic society alone is resposible for all the advances which moved society forward. But this is far from accurate, copies of Aristotle, Plato, Ptolemy and others filled the libraries of Irish monasteries and those of Northern Europe during this period. Many scholars also studied the sciences and made some important discoveries. The film clip also failed to mention that during this period Europe had to fight off the Viking invasions, repeated attempts at invasion and forced conversion from the Muslim world and from the East in the form of the Mongol invasions which left little opportunity for purely scholarly pursuits. In the same period, Islam flourished in the comparative peace of a world made secure from invasion by conquest of its neighbours and rivals.

It is currently popular among some sections of the intelligentsia to paint Christianity as backward, corrupt and untrue and to try to portray every other culture as 'enlightened.' Comparisons are made between the state of medicine in Europe and that of Muslim Spain, yet the examples picked are always the best from Islam and the worst from Christianity. What this also overlooks is that the 'Golden Age' of Islam came to an abrupt end in 1258 with the fall and sacking of Baghdad by the Mongol invaders. The last Caliph was publically humilated and kept as a slave for the amusement of the conquerors and the faith turned in on itself, suppressing the liberal pursuit of the arts and sciences and Europe, at ;ast secure began to use its own scholars and scientists to build on the scholarship refugees from the east brought with them. This paved the way for the Rennaissance and the Age of Exploration from the West.

Again, proof of the fact that our society was already aware of much of this comes from the first transatlantic explorers. John Cabot, the 15th Century explorer hired by the Corproation of Bristol to seek out a new source for the beaver fur rapidly vanishing from Britain. He even wrote that his voyage to Nova Scotia was simply following in the wake of fishermen who regularly fished the Grand Banks and sometimes over wintered in America and Columbus was well aware of similar voyages.

Simple peasants may have believed the world flat, but no man of intelligence did, and it was never the 'doctrine' of mainstream Christianity, 'Enlightenment Propaganda' notwithstanding!

NOTE:This comment on the impact of the Fall of Bagdad from Wikipedia -

"Iraq in 1258 was very different from present day Iraq. Its agriculture was supported by canal networks thousands of years old. Baghdad was one of the most brilliant intellectual centers in the world. The Mongol destruction of Baghdad was a psychological blow from which Islam never recovered. Already Islam was turning inward, becoming more suspicious of conflicts between faith and reason and more conservative. With the sack of Baghdad, the intellectual flowering of Islam was snuffed out. Imagining the Athens of Pericles and Aristotle obliterated by a nuclear weapon begins to suggest the enormity of the blow. The Mongols filled in the irrigation canals and left Iraq too depopulated to restore them."

Thursday, 16 September 2010

A Christian response to Pastor Jones....

A friend sent me a link to a blog from Syria which has published an open letter from a Syrian Catholic priest addressed to Pastor Terry Jones. It is translated into English and sums up exactly what I feel about this issue.

In recent years I have become increasingly aware of just how much ignorance of the cultures, the beliefs and the practices of both the Christian Faith and Islam have blighted relations between Western societies and those who are founded on Islamic principles. This is not helped by the hysterical secularism of the Media and its Humanist and Atheist owners, controllers and directors. Nor is it helped by tub thumping patriotism on either side.

Travelling in the Middle and Near East has also been educational for me. The more I have learned of Islamic beliefs and writings, the more I realised that they are not that different to those of the majority of Christians - with one major exception. Christian's believe that Jesus was and is, the Son of God. After Him there can be no further 'prophets.' Islam acknowledges Jesus (Isa) as a great prophet, one who was removed by God and remains 'hidden' until he returns at the last days. Their belief is, in fact, founded on Menachianism and Arianism - heresies of the Gnostic tradition which arose some 100 to 200 years after the crucifixion.

Arius was a Bishop of Alexandria (250 - 336 AD) and the father of Arianism, a Gnostic doctrine that describes Christ in much the same terms as that found in Islamic teaching. According to Arius, Jesus was not crucified, a 'heavenly being was sent in his place to die' and the real Jesus was 'hidden' by God.

I am often confronted by controversies arising from the American churches adotption of so many secular principles and philosophies - often in the face of appeals from the rest of Christianity to consider carefully and exercise some restraint. While I do accept that the US churches have the right to develop their own understandings and theology, I am often left with the impression that they don't consider the impact of - for instance - appoitning a practicing 'gay' bishop on the rest of the church universal. The impact is usually incredibly damaging, especially in places where Christians are a minority and more so where they face aggression and persecution.

Equally alarming, in the west, are the images of rampaging mobs burning flags and effigies and chanting 'death to America' as they riot.

There is a fine line between appeasing such a mob and standing firm for our own beliefs and lifestyle. Actions such as that taken by Pastor Jones help no one and actually endanger all the good work being done to bring about understanding and peace.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Seeking a publisher ...

Is a high stress operation. I am now listed on at least three lists which keep me alert to publishers looking for work in the genre I enjoy. You polish your work on the advice of professional critiques and submit it again, and again, and again ... Sometimes you get the courtesy of a response (SASE enclosed with the submission) and sometimes you don't.

The publisher I tried for my book based on St Patrick has now replied, saying it does not fit with their planned catalogue. Interestingly, they are a company that specialises in religiously based books, one wing is a major publisher of Bible commentaries and teaching aids for faith. The division I submitted Ego Sum to publishes fiction - but seems to have moved away from Christian and faith based fiction and into fantasy and non-faith stories. I guess that's the market in a world in which confessing to being a believer in anything other than the latest PC of Humanist/Atheist fad is to be labelled superstitious or a moron.

The major publishers are now so monopoloised that it is almost impossible to find one that isn't a subsidiary of someone else. A trawl through the pages of Writers and Artists Yearbook reveals that these companies are almost all now part of one of around five major "groups" and though they obviously focus on specific areas of the market they seem to collaborate in not competing with one another.

I recently met someone who is a "editor" in a major publishing house and learned to my surprise that she is in fact a "ghost writer" who takes the ideas of some quite well known 'authors' and turns them into readable books...

Oh well, when you also know that a "Booker Prize Runner Up" in 2007 sold a TOTAL of 140 copies world-wide, you begin to wonder what is really behind the choice of books to be published.

It won't stop me trying though and Ego Sum is now on its way to several more possible publishers. The Enemy is Within is about to be republished by Xlibris and one of the options there will be to buy it as an "e-book" and Their Lordships Request, my latest Harry Heron story will soon be available from AuthorHouse and Amazon.

Watch this space for more details ...

And now, back to writing about fire investigation. At least this one has a publisher and will be in print probably next year - assuming I can get it finished by the deadline!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Something for the Babylon 5 fan...

I now live next door to Kosh, who is married to Lennier ...

I always suspected that the Minbari had a closer relationship with the Vorlons, now I have proof.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Last Barbeque

Last evening, Mausi and I enjoyed a delicious barbeque, possibly the last of this summer. It was a beautiful evening, cool in the garden with a light breeze just disturbing the leaves and pleasantly mild. The meat, a lamb steak for Mausi and the Rumpsteak for me, came from our local butcher, Herr Wüst. His meat is superb, full of flavour and precoated with his special BBQ marinade.

Glasses of "Federweißer," a drink of semi-fermented grape juice available only at this season, superb meat and a great salad accompanied by a seeded bread - perfect end to a lovely day in which we have managed to get a lot done in the garden, cleaned the house, oiled the outside wood furniture in preparation for winter. The nights are much cooler now, even though the mountains here are not that high and the garden is looking good, though we still have a huge amount of work to do.

Watching the Red Kites and the kestrels patrolling and hunting overhead as the sun slowly vanishes behind the mountains bordering the Rhine is a great way to end a day.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Remembering the atrocities

Today marks the anniversary of the devastating attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. We tend to forget that the Pentagon was also targetted and possibly the White House or the Capitol building were also on the list for the murderers who flew the hijacked airliners into them.

Sadly, since then, extremism has continued to rise, fueled by the propaganda of the leaders of Al Qaeda and the likes of the Taliban, who prey on the ignorance of the majority of members of the Islamic faith, in respect of the west, to foster hatred. Israel's refusal to surrender to the demands of the Palestinians is further fuel as is the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. The situation is made even worse when people in the westinflame things by making public statements or demonstrations calculated to cause offence to the majority of Muslims who have to stand by - as do a heck of a lot of Christians - while the extremists hijack the spotlight and provoke demonstrations of ill-informed mobs waving placards and chanting "death to America."

While working in Tehran last year I had a conversation that was informative to say the least. The young man I was talking too argued that Hamas had a right to fight for the Palestinians rights and for the return of the whole of Israel to Muslim control. He rejected utterly the information that Israel was a democratic government and that members of the Knesset were Muslims and Palestinians and even Christians. "Impossible," he declared, "Israel is a corrupt dictatorship - only Jews have a vote and only they sit in the parliament."

Of course it is no good directing him to a website which would correct that - such web pages are blocked by the very efficient Web Police in Iran.

I was intrigued to read recently that President Obama claims he "converted" to Christianity at the age of 20, having, apparently been raised as a Muslim up to that point. In the strictest terms of the Sharia he should now be stoned to death by all loyal followers of Islam for apostacy. I wonder if he realises that? I have it on very good authority that the current President has three times the number of security operatives around him that any of his predecessors, including GWB, had.

There is insensitivity on both sides of the debate over the World Trade Centre at present. I can sympathise with the Muslims who want to create their "Education Centre" on the site of the former Department Store (There has to be an irony there!), but at the same time, they must realise just how insensitive that is to all those Christian, non-Muslims and Jews who lost loved ones, friends and colleagues in the atrocity. Now that it has become a political football, it just gets worse. The gracious thing for the Muslims to do now is to withdraw and take their centre elsewhere, but they know that this will be emblazoned across the media as a "triumph" for the "Islamaphobes." Therefore they won't.

Nor will the President or the Mayor stop its building, because if they did, they would immediately be accused of "giving in to racist extremism" or worse. This is now a no win situation for both sides simply because the vultures of the media are circling waiting for one side or the other to blink.

This is not how to remember the fallen. This does no one any honour at all.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Rights versus Responsibility

The declared intention of a Christian Pastor of a small and otherwise unremarkable congregation in Florida to burn copies of the Quran, strikes me as, first, an attempt to grab some publicity, and, second, as an exercise of a "right" without any regard for the consequences. This is something I have frequently observed in recent years, especially among American groups, but increasingly among 'pressure' groups in the UK.

"I have the right to..." is the cry, and they then proceed to take actions or make statements that inflame sensitive relations or disrupt and even destroy other lawful activities. Yes, we have many "rights" but every one of those also imposes a very important responsibility to exercise that "right" in a responsible manner. I may very well have a "right" to free speech and I frequently use it on this blog and elsewhere, but I also have a responibility to take cognisance of the impact I may have on others in doing so. I am not a sympathiser with Muslim ambitions or culture. The Quran, to me, is a book, based on the writings of the Gnostics and Christian Heretics, and Mohammad is the last great Gnostic. But I would no more consider burning a copy than I would burn a copy of Marx, whom I also consider to be wrong and misguided.

In recent years we have had our democracy undermined by the "rights" of dissenters, usually people who choose to push single issues or off the wall beliefs - one group I have encountered believed in a "heirarchy free society of peace and love" and were prepared to use violence to achieve it - without any regard to the wishes of the democratic majority, or the consequences of their actions. The Florida Pastor and his, now stalled, plan to burn the Quran, falls into this category. Mr Obama is not one of my favourite people, but he is right when he says that this stunt is the best recruiting action Al Qaeda and the Taliban could wish for.

Our "Rights" are vital to our society, but there has to be a balance between exercising them indescriminately, and exercising them after careful and due consideration of the consequences. Burning the Quran may be a "right" in America, but it is one no one should exercise precisely because it will do nothing except inflame the hatred already rampant in the Moslem world. Americans have a right to feel anger over the attack on the Twin Towers, they even have a right to feel angry over the manner in which they are portrayed routinely by the Islamic Press and the Imams. Perhaps they have a right to feel aggrieved over the building of a mosque at the site of an attrocity commited in the name of Islam, but there are other, less inflammatory and more effective ways of expressing this anger through many other "rights" available to them, than following this stupid and insulting stunt.

It is in the inappropriate abuse of our democratic "rights" that all of our "rights" are infringed and ultimately threatened.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Bailing the banks?

An item in the Guardian, a paper I rarely read, came to my attention recently, thanks to a link sent to me by The Postulant. Essentially the story is about John le Carre's latest book, which features a Russian Drug Mafiosi who is laundering money on a massive scale, and suddenly gets a conscience and wants to become an informer. So why am I bothering to report this?

Because this is a case of the truth being somewhat stranger than the fiction. It has now been revealed that a massive amount of drugs money is what saved several of the world's economies, including some western one's last year, and certainly saved a goodly number of the banks.

Three hundred and fifty-two billion dollars worth of dirty money in fact.

That kind of money simply doesn't go unnoticed, so now there has to be a question, which politicians gave the nod to the authorities to turn a blind eye and let the money become legitimate?

The Guardian goes further and points the finger at Gordon Brown and the Treasury, stating that London is now one of the major 'laundering' centres simply because Mr Brown, in his efforts to make London a bigger financial centre than New York, relaxed the rules and made the watchdogs stop asking awkward questions. It is almost a joke that at the same time as this amount of money was being laundered through a number of western banks and centres, the UK's Serious Crime Agency was boasting they had seized assets worth £300 million from crimnals... As The Guardian says, the words 'drop' and 'bucket' spring to mind.

OK, so the drugs money saved the world, now the question has to be asked, will the politicians who accepted this state of affairs admit it?

Probably not, after all, who wants to upset the Mafia Don that owns your favourite Football Club and probably the street you live in...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A civil service

Yesterday I had an interesting experience. I had to go to the local Driver's Licence Authority to see about getting my UK Drivers Licence converted to a German one. Now I guess I'm used to the helpfully polite but utterly unhelpful UK Civil Service. The pleasant young lady took my UK Passport, my registration as a resident of Hessen and my UK Drivers Licence, called up the information on her computer, completed the form for me and showed me where to sign it.

The she took the photo I had brought with me, got me to sign another form, told me to go and pay the fee and bring the receipt back. When I did it was to be handed my originals back, and to be told that she had ordered the new licence and all I would need to do is bring in my UK Papers when they contacted me to say the German Licence was available,

I had to go home and have a strong beer. I'm just not used to Civil Servants actually being efficient and helpful!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

It was a dark and stormy night ...

Is the classic opening to Snoopy's literary attempts and one that every piece of advice to would be authors says they should avoid at all costs. But last night on our little mountain was certainly a candidate for the description and today hasn't been an improvement. In fact, most of today we have been hiding in a blanket of fog. But now the wind and the rain are back...

It will be another dark and stormy night as well as this works its way up from the south. The weather maps on the 'Fehrenseher' are interesting to say the least. CRU and IPCC warnings of 'hottest summer on record' not withstanding, ours has been fairly short and fairly cool so far. And now it looks like its over.

But then, as the CRU constantly tell us, we're not 'experts' and what we are looking at is only weather.

Ce la vie, perhaps someone will bung them another few million now the next budget round is starting...

Commuter comment

This is just a random observation based on what I saw this morning!

The London commuter is a hardy creature, used to pushing in front of everyone else in pursuit of the rare seats on the train. The most successful commuters have an inflated sense of entitlement and are adept at the art of avoiding eye contact while still tracking the location and vector of all surrounding commuters in order to ensure that they're in the best possible position to get onto and off the train first. I've learned to just let them get on with it - if people want to be inconsiderate or rude it's not my problem and I usually overtake them on the walk anyway! Men rarely give way to women anymore and who can blame them? Plenty of young women will barge through a crowd, ignoring the elderly just so they can get a seat.

But I had a pleasant surprise this morning. The train was packed as usual and I was one of the last onto it, but I managed to get a seat, squeezed between two relatively inoffensive people. Across the way there was a suited policeman (the logos on his bag and tie gave him away), who was taking up two seats with his bag and paperwork and looked anxious at the thought of giving one seat up, probably because he was a bit of a giant and the seats are too small, so I left him alone and squeezed into the slightly more awkward free seat.

I buried my head in my paper, put my earphones in and only looked at my surrounding passengers again when we got to Victoria. Commuter instincts always kick in again at Victoria - everyone starts eyeing eachother (without eye contact) to assess whether they'll push in front of this person or the next one to get off the train as quickly as possible. Much meaningful bag and outstretched leg placement goes on, which is fascinating to watch. At this point I noticed the older gentleman with a smart RAF badge on his blazer, with a medal pinned on it, obviously on his way to something important with his wife, who was also in her Sunday best.

I usually identify who I'm going to let out in front of me and I nominated this man and his wife - with all of the anti-military sentiment that people seem to have these days, I wanted to show solidarity. Most of the policemen I've met aren't old school and don't automatically respect anyone or give way to women, so I wasn't surprised that the copper angled to get in front of me. I was surprised when he made a point of saying "after you sir" and ushering the RAF veteran and his wife out of the train.

I wondered if he was in a hurry to show his respect too? I just thought it was a nice moment that made me smile. And it was good to see a copper, who I would guess is high-ranking, showing that small respect to a veteran.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Faith and Science

It seems that several scientists feel a desperate need to attack faith and those who believe that there is something bigger than humanity and guiding creation. Richard Dawkins and his cohorts are now joined by none other than Stephen Hawking, whose latest book states that "God is not necessary for explaining the origins of the universe." My first reaction was - "so what?" Then it struck me; these men seem to be going out of their way to "prove" that God does not exist.

That raises the question: Why? Why are they so determined or desperate to prove there is no God?

This desperation on the part of the Humanist/Atheist faction seems to me to be driven by two things. The first is fear and the second is hatred. What are they afraid of? That they might, at the end of the day, have to face the consequences? Or, more likely, that the religious among us may, at some stage reject them and their philosophy altogether, which, I suspect, is much more likely. The hatred is more difficult to pin down, though it sees to be directed primarily at Christianity. Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and anything not 'Western' doesn't come in for anything like the criticism directed specifically at Christian beliefs.

Sadly, as they now control academia, all the histories are being re-invented to tell a story that shows Christianity as an aggressive, acquisitive and totally corrupt philosophy. Anything good about Christianity, such as its influence on morality, law and the fostering of knowledge and even the sciences these men and women practice, is played down or presented only in a negative light. The Roman Catholic Church is a target for a special venom - worthy of Cromwell, Knox and Calvin themselves - and, sadly, all churches and church related matters are painted in the same light.

The sad thing is that the 'conflict' between science and faith is the invention of those on the extremes of both science and religion. The reality is that, for the majority of people of faith, Christian and others, is that science informs our faith and does not conflict with it.

Professor Hawking's book leads me to ask the question of those who say they have no belief in God and reject religion in favour of the Humanist belief that man is his own invention: What hope does this offer to those born in poverty, without the hope or the means to rise out of that in this life? What hope does it offer those whose lives are cut short in service of these 'Humanist' ideals of the 'greater good' of mankind? What does it offer those, crippled like Professor Hawkins, but without either the money, support and the intellect to do as he has? To these and millions more Humanism and its god of material gain offers nothing. Nothing but the short, grinding poverty of emptiness in this life and then that's it. Tough luck brother, I got it all and you got zilch. Your problem, your fault.

On balance, and in defiance of the likes of Professors Dawkins and Hawking et al, I prefer to live in the hope offered by a belief that there is a God. He may not have actually lit the blue touch paper of the Big Bang, but I do believe he had a hand in it and in the millions of tiny events that all had to come together - randomly in the Humanist belief - to ultimately create even an amoeba. I prefer to believe in the hope of the resurrection - an historical event if you actually care to study things more than superficially, and track down the testimony of some who lived at that time - gives me that I may, in due season and at God's time, live in a more perfect world and in the company of all those I have loved and who loved me.

I cannot prove there is a God, but then I cannot prove why the division of cells in a fertilised ovum eventually becomes a living, breathing animal or human. I can tell you that the moment it dies, there is a noticeable difference as can anyone who has been in attendance at a deathbed. But then, neither Professor Dawkins, nor Professor Hawking can tell you that either.

I cannot prove there is a God, but then the Humanists can't prove there isn't. Perhaps that is why they hate Him so much.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Birthdays....

The GM's son and youngest daughter are celebrating their birthdays yesterday and today. The GM can't believe the years have slipped by this fast, it seems only yesterday he was able to hold them in his hands ...

Now it would probably result in him straining something, and his son could probably lift him up and sling him over his shoulder. With three years between each of his three offspring he isn't going to embarass them by giving away their ages - besides it would reveal how ancient he really is. Suffice it to say that youngest daughter is now a Flight Attendant and son is teaching people to fly helicopters.

And the Monk? Well, he'll be raising a glass in their honour later.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Nacht der Kirchen


Night of the churches, an ecumenical evening in which all the Wiesbaden Churches throw open their doors and share the worship for the evening. A tight programme included services, organ recitals and choral work. At our little Alt Katholische Friedenskirche, we began with a Vespers, then views of the city from our roof and finished with a Taize session of chant and prayers. The picture is of the interior of the Friedenskirche. In English, the "Peace Church."

Friday, 3 September 2010

Warming hysteria...

The increasing number of incidents of extreme behaviour by individuals and groups swept up in what can only be called hystrical behaviour should be worrying our politicians. Why? Because they are in part responsible for this.

Since the "Climate Change/Global Warming" argument began the reporting and responses to the science have become ever increasingly alarmist. We have been told that unless we act now, we will be swamped by rises in sea level of anything between 200 feet and 10 feet. We have been told that our coastal or sea level cities will be uninhabitable - usually within ridiculously short timescales - if we don't stop producing CO2 immediately. We are told that most of the planets species of flora and fauna will die, unless we stop living our modern lifestyles and fill every available space with wind turbines. We are told w must give up our cars and our freedom, or face extinction by 2050 or some other randomly selected date.

But do the scientists really say any of this? A few might - but they are trying to stir up the civil servants and politicians who control the research funds. The vast majority say nothing like this. Yes, they agree that the climate is changing and they all agree that it has been changing since the last Ice Age and will continue to change. But is it time to start building arks, or retreating to the mountain tops? No, for one thing the rises in temperature are not likely to see the entire Arctic and Antarctic ice caps vanish. Even to melt all the ice in Greenland will take almost 15,000 years at present rates of melting.

Nor are we likely to see the other nightmare scenario the media like to push, that at some point the CO2 levels in the atmosphere start to compond themselves and we end up like Venus, with an atmosphere that rains Sulphuric Acid and is loaded with Carbon Dioxide and Sulphur Dioxide. Why? One reason is simply the distance we are from the sun - Venus, being closer, is also outside the 'Temperate Zone' - the orbital zone roughly 3 - 5 million miles in width, within which the earth orbits. Closer than this to the sun and you wind up like Venus, further and you wind up like Mars, probably a frozen ball at first, then, as the core solidifies, losing the water, then the atmosphere until its just a lifeless lump of rock.

Hollywood must also take some of the blame for events like the nutter who tried to hold the Discovery Channel to ransom, demanding that it promote Global Catastrophe messages and his "The End is Nigh" manifesto. Since the 1960s there have been a string of Hollywood disaster movies. Each postulating the end of the world as we know it in a variety of ecologically triggered disasters. If it isn't a nuclear holocaust such as that postulated in "Doctor Strangelove" it's a climate change holocaust such as "The Day After Tomorrow" which plays around a sudden and violently extreme change in the atmosphere - triggered of course by human industrial western activity - that sees New York first flooded by a vast "storm surge" and then frozen solid in a new Ice Age. All happening in the space of a few hours...

At long last some scientists are starting to question the wisdom of the media alarmist approach to reporting the science. It's about time frankly. This post by Thomas Fuller, a scientist, calls for an end to the Hysterical Reporting of the science. There are now reports of people committing suicide over fears that the world will be unfit for human habitation within a generation, several are reported in South America and the Discovery Channel hijacker is another. Add to that the uniformed hysteria of the foot soldiers of Greenstrife, Fiends of the Earth, Earth First and all their many related eco-terrorist organisations and you have a recipe for one or more of these idiots actually triggering a major ecologcal catastrophe by taking 'direct action' with truly serious consequences.

It is time to stop the hysteria and start taking a responsible and informed approach - something the modern media seem incapable of, but which our politicians and civil servants don't seem to want either.

I wonder why?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Images of Limburg

Some time ago I promised some pictures of Limburg, so here they are. The ancient Dom Church stands atop the granite hill which dominates the city and overlooks the River Lahn. With its seven towers it is an imposing presence from any angle. Internally it is quite small, the narrow nave is flanked by aisles of almost equal width and the Transepts are roughly square in shape. Each Transept has a semi-circular apse chapel and the Quire is quite short. In height it is impressive, being built around 1080 and it has a lierne vault.





The medieval wall paintings were restored in the 19th Century when much of the "Baroque" whitewash was removed and the outer walls were replastered and repainted in the 1980s when it was realised that the removal of the original plaster protecting the outer walls and the stone work, done in the 19th Century restoration for 'Romantic' reasons, was a very bad idea.

The old town itself still boasts the medieval decorated timber framed buildings typical of this area.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Blair Memoirs ...

Predictably I suppose, Tony Blair makes no apologies for the mess he and his cronies have left in Britain. Interestingly though, and perhaps this gives the best insight into a party that is best described as a collation of single interest groups, he describes Gordon Brown's premiership as a disaster and explains that he couldn't sack him as Chancellor without being overthrown himself as leader. Labour struggles to present itself as a 'Party of the People', but a close looks shows a very different picture.

Labour grew out of the 19th Century struggle for a fair deal for the working class. As one person put it, it took the ideals and morality of the Methodists and Salvation Army, stripped out God and developed an ideology based on what was left - envy. The "Party" is still a "Party of Protest" and really doesn't cope well with actually being in power, it is far to busy protesting and chasing '-isms' to declare war on. The problem with all 'single issue' factions is that they live in a world seen through tinted lenses which allows them to see only what they are pursuing. They will not accept any evidence or any argument that shows their cause, if dealt with in their chosen manner, will create a problem somewhere else. Labour is filled with these factions.

It is funded by the Trades Unions, and he who pays the piper, calls the tune. The Unions want control of the industries and commercial enterprises that drive the economy. They already control the civil service - with that orgainsation employing 21% of the UK workforce, the Unite Union, which represents most of them, has unequalled political clout. Union members are seldom told that a portion of their 'Dues' is paid into the Labour Party, and if they know and object, they are generally find themselves under pressure to comply.

But does Labour actually represent the "Working Classes?"

In my view no. As I said at the outset, it is a collation of diverse 'interests' all of them squabbling and all of them vying for control. Looking at the top tier of the Labour Party you soon realise that almost none of them are "working class" - all are Grammar School or Public School educated and most have attended either Oxford or Cambridge or one of the other "blue brick" universities. Almost all of them have been activists in the NUS and most have studied Law. Many have even been vocal supporters of various terrorists and terrorist groups and movements. Some could be accused of terrorism themselves.

The majority of those who are MPs and sit in Parliament have never been "working class" either - except that they have 'worked,' if that is the right term, as Union Organisers and Representatives while climbing the political mountain to attain their seats in Parliament. As a party it waivers from Socialism to Communism, it represents the Trades Unions and the narrow interests of some Single Issue Campaign groups. It is almost invariably disasterous in government and it always manages to bring Britain to the brink of bankruptcy - under Wilson and Callaghan it did bankrupt us - and it always leaves the country in ruins, with the Unions stronger than is healthy and more divided than ever.

Will Blair and his propaganda machine ever acknowledge any of this? Don't hold your breath or waste your money placing a bet.