Thursday, 24 December 2009

Telegraph thunders against thermomaniacs!

Thanks v much for the Daily Telegraph page featuring a broadside against the thermomaniacs like me and the telling cartoon next to it.

The cartoon summarises my position nicely. We in the rich West and North of the planet are so busy making wealth (bonuses from our "you've never had it so good" sham society) that we haven't noticed that there is an unfortunate downside to our ever rising material standards of living - that is, rising problems! In other words, what we take today we won't have tomorrow and, these heavy footed life styles affect the planet's life support systems to the detriment of life on earth. The cartoon has snow and ice turning into water to leave little habitable land on which to enjoy our material bonuses - ever rising material standards of living gives rising problems like energy and food security issues. Even the government is now realising they must get to grips with securing energy and food for our descendants.

We all enjoy being promised the moon by the main parties who are not at all bothered about the rather more important but mundane matter of guaranteeing the earth for our children and grandchildren! Only the Green Party has, in fact, got its priorities right. In other words, we gain the whole world (literally from the most extensive, longest-lasting and most powerful empire in the history of humanity that is still in control) and lose our soul - as someone a little wiser than Simon Heffer said!

Heffer, Lawson, Melanie Phillips, et al are all part of the self-satisfied, self-enhancing majority who think that sacrifice is all about the heroic sacrifice of being killed in Afghanistan by the resistance fighters rather than the restraint and noble sacrifice of living to tread more lightly on the planet to leave a land fit - not for heroes - but for others!

This trio of unbelievers do, of course, have a huge problem with climate science being championed by the Greens and the greens and other assorted left wing groups for over 30 years. The right has grown complacent with their built-in majority amongst the electorate and in government. Now, we have won the battle and they don't like, one little bit, the left being right and the right wrong!

I think it is more sensible to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst. More sensible to assume that the vast majority of international climate scientists are right and to behave accordingly.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Ben and Sharon

The Liverpool couple, Ben and Sharon, this week, shows that evangelical Christians do seem to have a problem with Islam. A problem, too, with homosexuals, Catholics, evolution and with those who want abortion brought within the law. At one time, it was Jews that Christians had a problem with. Anti-Semitism was rife in Europe. It culminated in Nazism and World War part 2. Now, evangelicals have a special warmth for Jews and Israel, convinced that their divine destiny is wrapped up with their own and the return of Christ. Israel must be specially favoured (and armed to the teeth) by Christians and the West because God does favour His chosen people, Israel. God has promised all Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza to the people of Israel (actually, much more extensive area of land in Joshua 1v4) and no-one can get out of that one or, that God runs the world to fulfill His promises in the Bible.

Once, it was protestant Christian America that believed it was their manifest destiny from the Lord who gave them all the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific. That belief drove them ever onwards and outwards to drive out the Indians, the Spanish and the French. The religious right in Israel is doing the same to this day - claiming, owning and settling ever more of the Lord's promised land. After all, it was promised only to themselves! Non-violence and sharing are alien concepts to these believers!

Yet, for me, the week began with my sitting in the prayer chapel at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley reading the first three or four pages of the Koran and being astonished at how much the Koran has in common with the Bible. The children of Israel were mentioned, being steadfast in prayer and that Allah is merciful. However, little of this aspect of God seems to be shown by the religious right in the Holy Land who behave in such an unholy way; yet, Jews, Christians and Muslims are all the children of Abraham - and, like everyone else, are all part of the one human family!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Brits: more American than European

David Reynold's 'Empire of Liberty' looking back over 1,000 years of history on the N American continent was fascinating for someone like me who is more horrified than delighted by the behaviour of our American kith and kin. I say kith and kin because we Brits colonised what is now the USA to escape religious persecution by other religious people in England. Spain, Portugal and France also colonised the continent but our military prevailed. Our ancestors in England and Europe, said Reynolds, brought God, guns and germs to the native American Indians, especially germs!

Empire of Liberty is both a contradiction in terms but also accurately summarises American history over the last 500 years, I think. Liberty for the white man; empire that enslaved millions of black people; and, empire that incorporates us and imperialism over the poor world or, the black (non white) nations in the world.

The native Indians had survived for thousands of years before the white man appeared on the scene and upset their apple cart - well and truly! Their civilisation was impressive and was sustainable, unlike our own that is built on the flawed foundations of black sand - oil, coal and gas. That means we are eating tomorrow's seed corn and, therefore, contain the seeds of our own destruction, as our resources exhaust and life support systems collapse from our behaviours that are so alien to how we should be living as part of nature and part of the earth and Earth. We belong to the earth and the Earth, rather than the Earth belonging to us!

I think, we Brits are hopeless Europeans because of these traditional links with the new country. They speak the same language, they built their new country on England's example but with great improvements and, there is much more inter-marriage with them than with our European neighbours.

Hopeless Europeans because we have fought countless wars with them over more than 1,000 years that, finally, culminated with the Great War and its sequel in 1939. The European empires around the world and their religious persecution and wars are also a feature of European and British history.

Whereas, our good friends the Americans have bailed us out twice in the World War in two halves and then bailed us out again with their enormous loan that we only finally paid off a couple of years ago! We, in our turn, for 64 years have been their staunchest allies in our joint wars against godless Communism from Korea to Cuba, today and military occupation of Arab lands to this day - Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran (to the overthrow of our stooge, the Shah), Afghanistan and Pakistan (our drones killing people in the borderlands). The Americans even supported us in the Falklands War after initially disapproving of Mrs T's bellicosity and intent to take back the islands.

As with the Middle East, our own green and pleasant land has been slowly disappearing under concrete runways, motorways, and American military bases for nuclear and conventional missiles and bombs. Our island is still America's largest aircraft carrier. We are, unofficially, the 51st state of the USA! We are the only nation that has a special relationship with them.

No wonder, so many Brits want independence from Europe and continuing dependance on hyper power, America!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

BNP, churches and the Greens

BNP is appealing to the Christian vote - already right wing and concerned about their faith being undermined by a growth in Islam, especially from the evangelicals I have spoken to. I think evangelical Christianity does have sympathy with traditional Britain being Christian and white and hankering after that former state. Now, Britain is even more less white and more Islamic - from immigration and from immigrants being younger and therefore, being more fertile, according to the Office of National Statistics. There is also the October 2009 projection of two thirds of the 10 m increase in the UK population over the next 25 years coming from immigration.

I do wonder if the Greens also favour much stricter controls on immigration 'cos of their concerns over ever more of the UK land disappearing under concrete brick and tarmac, and hills quarried away, and more greyness and less greeness everywhere in the UK. The Green Party has always been into a reduction in the UK population level to something more sustainable; and, a world population that can also meet the carrying capacity of the planet.

On the other hand, the Greens and Christians being true to Christ would want to welcome the stranger in their midst and to allow asylum under the 1951 Refugee Convention of the UN.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

'The Age of Stupid'

Worth seeing. I saw it yesterday evening, put on by Transition Stourbridge. Another climate change film with a novel approach. You look out through a computer screen at Pete Postlethwaite operating a touch screen to bring down film clips to keep your attention and interest.

One is of a remarkable 82 year old mountain guide from Chamonix taking his clients up the Alps, including via ferrata and showing how glaciers have retreated. Good shot of Mt Blanc at one point. Another, clip of a young wealthy man setting up the Indian equivalent of Easy Jet or Ryanair and contrasted with crowded trains and poverty. One film of an heroic young English guy trying to set up nine wind turbines on an old airfield in Bedfordshire but being foiled by NIMBY protesters determined to keep their view (of elecy pylons, I expect!). Oil and Africa is also featured; animation to depict our glorious colonial past to bring civilisation and light to the heathen tribes in their darkness; and, a man saving lives in drowned New Orleans. Plus, much else.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

One thing leads to another

An American warship, Vincennes, shot down an Iranian Airbus five months before the American airliner was brought down over Lockerbie in December 1988. This careless, gung ho shooting by our side may have led to the revenge attack on PanAm 103. It is likely that the USS Vincennes would not have been in the Persian Gulf if it was not for
  • the Iraq/Iran war from 1980 to 1988, that we were fuelling with our arms supplies to both sides; and,
  • the belief that we are the policeman of the world and that we must protect our oil supplies, and our possessions around the world.

Owning up to our little peccadillos!

At every level, racial (whites), religious (Christian), wealth (the rich),
geographical location (western Europeans, Australasia, and North
Americans), it is our ancestors and we today who are the problem on this
planet. Our side, for a thousand years and going strong, are the primary
perpetrators of suffering for all humanity - and, some would say, the
animal kingdom, too.

First it was from exploration, trade, war and subjugation. From that list,
for some, we can now only delete 'subjugation'. To the list is now added
the catastrophic consequences of the industrialised nations' climate change
and their rapacious exhaustion of resources. They/we are imperilling all
humanity by these ruinous behaviours.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Midland Metro for never!

* Nearly thirty years of little action have gone by. Only one line out of the three was achieved since 1980 - and that was on a rail line!

* There is even more traffic choked roads alongside empty rail lines.

* Electrification of the rail network is nowhere near complete even after 50 years of trying. It doesn't help when nearly everyone wants electric trams instead of electric trains on these 38 miles of Brum rail lines.

* The train/tram idea of 2008 was, years ago called track sharing or double running. This is something that is impossibly complicated for our rail industry that has trouble in running an efficient and well run rail network as it is. This resurrected idea is way beyond their abilities.

* Keep it simple, keep it plain; keep it obvious.

* Get the two main public transport modes at least as good as the average on the mainland of Europe. Then, extend the tram network further. We now have, not two, but three failing public transport modes - bus, train and tram.

* The green movement's traditional stance of accepting anything as long as it is public transport, is nowhere near good enough when issues of priority, value for money, least impact on climate change and resource depletion and, discrimination and discernment should be uppermost in our minds, I think.

* Even the very long established wish to put freight trains back on the full length Stourbridge, Dudley, Walsall rail line is impossible for our rail industry to achieve. Astonishing!

* Still, a rail line goes past the Waterfront complex of offices that are next to Merry Hill Shopping Centre but, office workers and shoppers still have to use their cars, a minority go by bus and I go by bike! This is a scandalous state of affairs because of the supposed popularity of trams everywhere.

* Trams on the middle section of this rail line has been developed for nearly thirty years but nothing has happened in even three decades of desperate transport bigwigs trying so hard. It also prevents, for ever, passenger trains returning to the 13 miles through three Black Country boroughs. This is transport negligence and incompetence, in my opinion.


It is all too easy to get indignant and sound self-righteous about MPs expenses. We wouldn't dare to do such a thing, of course, would we? The problem is that many of us do have the opportunity to claim expenses. Are we always beyond reproach?

Even if we don't claim expenses, we are all living so unsustainably that we are making the most of the system - as much as the MPs - to live it up today and to hell with tomorrow. Ripping through our one-off geological inheritance of oil, coal and gas to leave a most uncomfortable future for our descendants later this century.

I think it is only a question of degree. The richer you are, the more you are on the make, the more you are responsible for leaving less for your children and grandchildren. The more money you make, in a finite world, the more poverty you are creating for future generations. That is the uncomfortable reality for those who have to inherit the planet we are all busily trashing today with no thought for tomorrow and others!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Prisoner compassion is a notion strange to us!

Prisoner abuse in US/UK controlled prisons in Iraq - little or no protest.
Prisoner torture in US/UK controlled police stations in Iraq - little or no protest.
Prisoners held without trial for years in Guantanamo Bay "anomaly" (Blair) - little protest ...
... when compared with massive protest at prisoner compassion and prisoner mercy. All hell broke loose. Is it because we are so inured by prisoner abuse, vile interrogation methods that amount to torture, mock execution and even deaths in custody? Or, was it because of our side's strong sense of revenge?

If by some totally impossible turn around of events, the Lockerbie bomber had been a UK citizen, we would have welcomed him home with a celebratory open top bus tour around London! At least, the Libyans didn't do that in their capital. Just as well our side is so upright that we never shot down a passenger airliner! We could never do such a thing.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Always violence, aggression and slaughter for ...

... one millennium and still going strong!

Giving Afghans and Iraqis the vote every few years is just not worth all the slaughter. It is called bringing democracy down the barrel of a gun; just like we condemned the Communists for spreading revolution down the barrel of a gun - we are no better! In fact, down the years, the white nations have killed many more black people than they of us.
We whites are so hypocritical and racist!

It was the Christian, white nations and not the Muslim, black nations who developed and first used chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We were responsible for the 1st WW and its sequel, the 2nd WW. In fact, we had the Arabs, united to the last man under our army hero, T E Lawrence fighting with us in the 1st WW - only for the Arabs to be let down later!

In a recent thirty year period, in one corner of our country, we had a civil war between two branches of the UK and two branches of the Christian Church that resulted in many more Irish republicans killed than they managed to kill of our own Irish monarchists who were loyal to the Queen. Figures from the BBC website. Bloody Sunday is only one most disgraceful and shameful episode in the history of the heroic British Army.

I have just seen in the 'Church Times' that one leading Christian vicar is arguing in print and, this morning, on BBC Radio 4 that the US/UK/NATO must continue the warfare in and on Afghanistan. The churchman is the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, Vicar of Putney in London.

Giles Fraser agrees with the War of Terrorism on the good people of Afghanistan. I know it is directed at the Taliban and al Qaeda but, as usual in modern warfare, the people of non-violence get injured and killed in much greater numbers than the wicked Taliban and al Qaeda that our men of violence are trying to eliminate for ever. Does this really satisfy Giles' Church of England's just war teaching?

David Dimbleby on 'Question Time' last month, said that al Qaeda is to be found in fourteen countries. Does Giles seriously think that even if we were to defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan, that they would no longer exist in the other thirteen?

Does Giles not know that our current war in Afghanistan is the fourth? We lost the first three, just like the Russians did more recently in their fewer wars in that country. We are certainly not winning this current war, even after
eight years of desperately trying and we are told it is going to last for decades!

Does Giles not suppose that if
we were invaded and occupied by foreign armies, that our men and women of violence would not similarly fight back? People of non-violence, like me, would be classed amongst the non-collaborators rather than the resistance fighters.

Does Giles not recall that our country has not been seriously invaded since 1066? Instead, we have had one millennium of invading, occupying and exploiting many nations around the world. Iraq and Afghanistan are simply the latest in a very long list of countries that are the victims of our many crimes of aggression down the centuries.

As a man of the cloth and a Christian believer, should Giles not be leading his flock in the way of non-violence as taught and practised by Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jnr and Donald, Lord Soper? In my book, Giles is now a man of violence, along with too many in the church and society.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

We'll have everything we are allowed ...

... thank you very much, for as long as we can get away with it! While the going is good, let's exploit the system for all its worth! If the rules allow it, we'll have it, thank you very much! It is this kind of thinking that leads to the behaviour that is meaning more wind farms that many don't like; and, now even nuclear power in desperation to plug the UK's energy gap. Many don't like nuclear power, either. But if we insist on grabbing all the fossil fuels we can while we can, what can you expect? If we want everything now and refuse to show any restraint, what else can the authorities do?

Saturday, 13 June 2009

We are the problem in this world!

The inconsistency and hypocrisy in our position is that we wish an open door policy for those immigrants who are skilled and valued or who are white and wealthy. We are not so happy to have the stranger come to our shores if that visitor is black, poor, unskilled or seeking refuge and safety from our crimes of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan. We conveniently overlook the fact that the vast majority of men, women and children who are escaping our bombs, rockets and drones are taken in by some of the poorest countries like Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and other Arab/Muslim nations.

What is even more immoral is that we think we have the God-given right to jet around wherever we like on this globe and no-one is going to stop us. But we don't like it when these damn foreigners think they can settle in our so pure and white England. How dare they!

We can over-populate this planet with our high-living, high-impact life styles; we can act like the old colonial masters that we once were; but, we're not going to let them lot do it. No way!

What is the matter with us?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Hypocrisy begins at home!

It is all very well us pure and holy electors of MPs getting all self-righteous and condemning their claims, until we consider that the MPs are simply a microcosm of society at large. They are like each and everyone of us - a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly. In condemning them we condemn ourselves!

Given half the chance, would we really behave any better? Don't we all have a tendency to get away with what we can until we are stopped - by speed cameras, for example or by people's video cameras recording police lawlessness?

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Police, PMs, Presidents like to feel that they are untouchable

"To whom more is given, more will be required"

Our culture, our prejudices always tend to give the benefit of the doubt to all authority figures (except, perhaps, social workers!). We all seem to be most sympathetic to our own kith and kin, our own kind, our own class. We are less sympathetic to the stranger, the poor, the immigrant, the classes beneath our own. Hence, our prisons are stuffed full of a disproportionate number of blacks, the poor, the mentally ill and the illiterate - and, now, asylum seekers.

I am always astonished by the number of miscarriages of justice in which the Police are implicated. They tend to go for the old lags, the men already known to them. They go for the likely characters; the men who look as though they are up to no good! Getting the hard evidence is less popular. They also feel that they are entitled to use the tactics of the criminal to beat the criminal. In other words, 'cos they are on the side of the angels, they can use any means to get their good end. They are convinced that, for them, the ends always justify the means. Or, the ends are so important, the means can be stretched, are elastic and ethics can be ignored. Hence, the Police will hide their uniform numbers, be heavy handed and feel they are above the law (they used excessive force - unprovoked attacks, in fact - at the G20 protest in April 2009). No wonder there are so many complaints and so much rough justice. (Remember David Jessell and his 'Rough Justice' TV programmes?).

I think, for men and women of integrity, these sloppy, short-handed methods should be treated more seriously. The Police are so powerful that when they break the law, justice should be applied. It is less popular to do this 'cos we don't like to think that they could possibly be crooks and must, therefore, be charged with a crime. However, the good Lord says, "To whom more is given, more will be required." There should be justice done to deal with lawless Police officers to get the Police to be what we all think they are - upright, clean living, setting a fine example to the rest of us. The problem is, I think, they let themselves down too often and nothing is done. The murder of the Brazilian electrician is one of many examples. General Pinochet also got let off. Margaret Thatcher, in sinking the 'Belgrano', contrary to the rules of engagement when the ship was outside the exclusion zone, killed over 400 Argentinian sailors yet, was unassailable; but, was not beyond criticism on the TV programme, 'Nationwide'.

An extension of this is when our Prime Minister and President think that they can short circuit the UN and international law by deciding they can attack other independent, sovereign nations and, in consequence, be responsible (directly and indirectly) for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. However, even with this enormous war crime, both men are untouchable. Yet, the Lord says that these top men (who both belong to Him) should be required to account for their sins. More is given to them; more is expected of them. Does this not mean that we should be stricter with those in power? But, always justice tempered with mercy, of course.

We are more prepared to forgive those in authority for their crimes because, it seems to me, we are almost all prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the Police and we supported every post-war governments' unethical foreign policies (Robin Cook's phrase when he was Foreign Secretary). For example, although the small majority of the UK seemed to be against the attack and six year war on Iraq, the people were not against our invasion and, so far, eight and a half year war on Afghanistan. The ends still justify the means when it comes to Afghanistan. Incidentally, our present war is the fourth against Afghanistan since 1839; we lost the previous three and we are losing this one. Our foreign policy is not only as unethical as ever but is as incompetent as ever!

Last night's 'Unreported World' on Ch 4 showed how Kabul is a bloodbath and a hell hole thanks to our well intentioned and sincere intervention but, it is wrong, stupid, immoral; simply a war crime. And more troops from the US/UK are pouring in from Obama and Brown! Attack and invade, occupy and fortify, grab and brag is what we do best as the New Colonialists from New Labour.

ever the law makers, enforcers and upholders break their law, behave like criminals and worse, rather than us lot sympathising, excusing and turning a blind eye, prosecution and justice tempered with mercy is essential - in my opinion. "Those to whom more is given; more will be required."

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Scrappage scheme for planet Earth!

We can scrap, use and waste resources until we are blue in the face. We humans are the king pins on this planet and we can do what the hell we like because we are in control. We can rip through our remaining oil and gas and coal reserves, regardless 'cos we must have unlimited growth and expansion to allow for our love of living way beyond our means, our limits and our boundaries.

We are entitled to have as many babies as we like and to consume just as much as we like, with no holds barred. How dare these greens tell us that living infinitely on a finite planet is not a good idea. Of course we are not part of nature or part of the web of life, as these greens tell us. We are the top dogs on the planet and what we say goes. We can live unnaturally on a natural earth. Our science and technology and new inventions will save us from our excesses.

Carry on regardless, scrapping perfectly good cars. Waste is what we do. Unstoppable growth of people and the products they want is what we do and nothing can possibly stop us. Over-consumption and over-population does not matter and, anyway, is none of my responsibility. I'm going to continue to live it up today and to hell with tomorrow. Scrap the lot of 'em - ten years or ten months old - build in obsolescence and, build bigger, newer and faster - and, ever more humans on planet earth, for good measure. It won't run out of precious resources or habitable land - will it?!
We're not disrupting life-support systems. Are we?
We're not scrapping life on earth. Are we? Only cars, after all.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Smoke nuisance in remote glens and hills!

Here I am, wanting to get away from the big city and its, sometimes polluted air, into the clean, fresh, invigorating winds of the big hills in Scotland. It sounds like a great idea, especially for someone like me in the early stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who cycles to work and for work, almost every day, in Birmingham and the Black Country.

The only snag is the grey and sometimes brown smoke wafting over the hills and down the valleys in the otherwise pristine environment of the Highlands. What causes this nuisance - and, for me, something that is harming my health, when there is no way for avoiding the smoke? It is the annual muirburn; the heather burning at the end of March and in April. The very weeks that are my favourite for burning rubber off my Vibram soles between the short days of winter and the long midge months of summer.

Is there anyone else out there who dislikes the heather burning and thinks that it puts walkers at a disadvantage for the benefit of the sportsman with his rifle? Or, do you not mind the occasional breathing in of smoke and smelling the fire of the recently blackened hillside?

On Easter Sunday in 2007, I was one of many tourists toiling up and down the path to the summit of Mount Keen, the most easterly Munro, when we were enveloped in smoke. The wind had re-ignited the fires of the previous week's heather burning. This last holiday, on both 1 and 3 April I was enveloped in smoke. Once in the hills north of Blair Atholl and, again, walking north from Loch Glascarnoch, in the Far North to visit the remote Corbett, Carn Ban.

Burning of anything spews out yet more carbon dioxide when one scientific research paper after another urges us to limit our greenhouse gas emissions for the benefit of all humanity.

Am I on my own in wanting heather burning restricted or even stopped?

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Do as we say; not do as we do!


At today's city council Transport Summit in Birmingham Council House, Cllr Len Gregory, urged delegates to switch off when idling to cut exhaust gases, to cut carbon dioxide emissions and to save fuel.

Environmentalist, Tim Weller, in the first question after Cllr Mike Whitby sat down from his speech said,

"I fully support Cllr Gregory in his appeal to switch off when idling. However, he might start with his own leader on his left. Cllr Mike drives a 3 litre Jaguar, when he is the Leader of the Council who claims to lead all other councils in the UK in doing the most to cut very harmful carbon emissions. Three weeks ago I found his large limo idling uselessly in the Council House Courtyard when I returned for my cycle. When will he follow Cllr Len's example and, better, when will he lead from the front, gain the respect of of us all and either cut his hefty carbon emissions by driving a smaller car; or, car share with the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor's two Jags; or, even better, follow Prof Julia King's work to replace high carbon cars with electric vehicles and drive an electric or hybrid car."

Cllr Whitby was not at all embarrassed by his gas guzzler and explained that he did not drive it so had no control over the idling engine.

Tim Weller commented that "Former London Mayor Ken was a regular bus and train user, Mayor Boris rides a cycle but our two Mayors and Leader Mike all drive their own, personal, chauffeur driven, carbon spewing Jags. This is totally unacceptable. It is business as usual for our three leaders; but they tell us to drive less and use public transport more. There is no leadership, no action and even they don't change one iota!"

Prof Julia King of Aston University, Cllr Mike Whitby and Cllr Len Gregory were the lead speakers this morning.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Islam and War

I listened to an address from Karen Armstrong at Carrs Lane Church Centre
in October 2007. It was the first in the series, 'Dialogues in Faith' that
were recorded and put on CD.

"Islam means surrender", commented Karen Armstong. The war cry from the
fundamentalist, evangelical Christians of N Ireland is 'No surrender'. I
heard it with my own ears, shouted at us, in 2007 on an open top bus tour
of Belfast when we drove through a Loyalist area! And, it is the
evangelicals and Loyalists of N Ireland who support the War of Terrorism
and not the Republicans, from the panelists speaking on Question Time a
year or two ago.

Karen said,

"We talk about Islam today as though it is inherently violent. This is
nonsense of course. We should never equate a few extremists with the vast
majority of billions of Muslims who have lived throughout history far more
peaceably with peoples of other faiths than the people in western
Christendom, for example.

"You may hear in the Koran, in an English translation, talk about infidels
- a very bad translation. The word translated infidel does not mean an
unbeliever. ... The word for infidel means ingratitude to Allah; hurling
God's bounty back at him and, not being generous and peaceable. Another
word translated as infidel means aggressive, irascible, a pre-emptive
strike. ... It has nothing to do with unbelief.

"The Koran permits only war in self-defence in order to maintain decent
values. Mohamed was creating primitive just war theology, as we in the
West call it. So religion is not violent."

Non-violence and non-occupation are unheard of!

On Wed eve 11 March, the Archbishop of Birmingham did not comment directly on the points in my comment summarised as, "Would he be prepared to teach and preach non-violence in his sermons and homilies? Would he urge Protestants not to retaliate against this week's Catholics with their killing of three Protestants, with tit for tat killings of Catholics?" The media reported it as Republicans killing Loyalists, to take into account Christian sensitivities and to avoid pointing up Christian violence. They prefer to highlight Muslim violence, of course.

When will we have faith leaders urging non-violent direct action (NVDA), restraint and conflict resolution by Churchill's jaw jaw, rather than war war; all this, instead of a career in the military and the years of military attacks and occupations in foreign lands that that then entails? Our schools, colleges and universities also shy away from teaching non-violence and avoid highlighting our invasions, attacks and occupations.

When will we have them applying, in their sermons and homilies, the
teaching of the non-violent Christ in the Gospels to everyday living today?

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Purpose Driven Life - an alternative view

What on earth am I here for?

To pass on my genes;
to live as sustainably as possible;
to prepare for heaven;
to make my peace with God/to get right with God;
to glorify God and enjoy him for ever;
to support Israel in all that it does 'cos the Lord is working his purposes out through Israel for the return of Christ;
to tread as lightly as possible on the planet;
to leave the place in as good a heart as when I was born;
to be faithful to Christ in living out his life and teachings;
to turn my back on invading other countries to sort them out when there is no UN mandate to do so;
to make disciples of all nations - as long as they become non-violent disciples of all nations; and, it does not look like colonialism/imperialism or, we're right your wrong; and, it doesn't look like more white supremacy by the rich West telling everyone else how to behave;
to live for others, especially for those yet unborn, in order to leave a habitable planet for them;
to support Israel right or wrong, violent or non-violent, aggessive or non-aggressive, despite all the UN resolutions flouted and its transformation from oppressed to oppressor;
to live for God's pleasure;
to make all life on earth last for an eternity - a grand purpose, a magnificent obsession for me that is no part of God's purpose for his believers.

This I can't believe!

This I can't believe I can't believe in a God who created humans for the sole purpose of them worshipping and praising him and to give him pleasure. What kind of God is that? The Westminster Confession has, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever."

I can't believe in a God who, as part of his purposes for his special nation of Israel, that nation under God can slaughter over 1,000 Lebanese and Palestinians in 2006 in Lebanon and a further 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza in 2008/9. Jews for Jesus Christians, certainly, and other Christians, too believe that God is working his purposes out through Israel and, therefore, Israel's aggression is all part of God's wonderful plan for Israel. They also believe that Christ's return is dependant on the Jews return to Israel and their acceptance of Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. Israel's encroachment on to more and more of the West Bank is all part of God's glorious plan in these end times.

I can't believe that a God of justice and love, who is all powerful and all knowing can countenance the suffering, misery and large scale murder by the crown of his creation - humans killing humans. The track record of the West and the whites is easily the worst throughout the planet and down the centuries. Especially in the 20th century - the most ecocidal, suicidal and destructive in the history of humanity. And we all know which God fearers were responsible!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

More snow than we ever expected!

Saturday 7 February 2009
I had six days of walking through the snow to work between Halesowen and Harborne but there was no snow in Aberystwyth or along he Cardigan Bay coast as Jon and I drove to climb Cadair Idris in, we hoped, snow. We felt there was not enough, so we drove further inland to Dinas Mawddwy and up the narrow mountain road for six miles to the sharp corner where we parked to climb Aran Fawddwy. Earlier, back in the Jon's study bedroom, I had adjusted my ancient but adequate Salewa crampons to fit Jon's size 11 boots. I was keen to try out my new winter mountaineering boots with their matching crampons. They have a metal tongue that slots into the groove in the boot toe.

We soon met another walker on the track that goes up the valley side. He also had Grivel crampons, I immediately noticed, but of an older design. I next noticed Fergus, the small Scots terrier with his short and very hairy legs but all four were so thickly balled up with snow that he was struggling. The pair were on their way down because of Fergus. Fergus and master were from west London and were staying at the Red Lion. I mentioned we hoped to have our evening meal there. As we left the track, we got into deep soft snow. Only then, did I realise that I had not thought of bringing the snow gaiters.

Jon soon offered to take my heavier, green rucsac with the two pairs of crampons and I took his small black day sac with the ice axe. We soon reached the post and rail fence that we followed to the double summit of Foel Hafod-fynydd 689 m. On the way, Jon sank into snow up to his thigh. When I came up to it, we saw that it was a mass of rolled up rusty wire fencing that was fun jumping up and down on it to spring up onto the grass step; except, I didn't make it! On this hill, we heard the sound of the NW wind howling round our ears. I filmed Jon running and jumping down the slope into deep snow on his way to shoot the circular patterns on the semi frozen llyn at the foot of the E face of Fawddwy. Crampons were used to get up the long, broad SE shoulder to the main ridge between Fawddwy and Benllyn and the shoulder summit at 872 m. By now, we were in cloud but only more spindrift. The patches of icy snow near the top could have been avoided but we tried out the sharp crampons points that held beautifully in the ice.

We made our way south on the main ridge through the cloud and dusk. We stopped to get out our head torches. Soon, Jon shouted to me through the murk, "We're going down hill. Is that right?" "It's all right; we lose 30 m before climbing again", I shouted back.

The steeper N ridge took us, in the gathering gloom, to the cloud shrouded, ice and snow encrusted trig point at 905 m. Jon took two self portraits of the pair of us, despite the strong wind and the dark. The climb had taken over four hours to do less than four miles (6K). We completed the circuit with our new head torches and reckoned we were real mountaineers in the snow and climbing in the light of them; found snow to the top of the fence in one place; and, another stretch of fencing that Jon described as looking like a waffle, with the horizontal rime more on the windward side of the wire.

We came down before the 632 m spot height when passing it makes the descent easier; crossed the stream that flows from the large llyn we looked at earlier in the day; and, found the one man and his dog, Fergus in the bar of the Red Lion in front of the roaring log fire. Jon had lasagne and I had broccoli and cheese bake for the second time running. It was a great walk made all the more enjoyable and safer with Jon's presence. We were out for nearly seven hours in the most glorious of winter conditions.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Israel has forgotten its past or ...

.. it is reliving it, this time, as the cruel oppressor.

"You were once strangers in a foreign land. Therefore, love the stranger in your new homeland." my paraphrase of Deuteronomy ch 10 v 18-19. Chapter 20 is the Lord's rules for waging holy war to obtain the Promised Land from the existing settlers - holy war endorsed by Jews and Christians but not found in the Koran.

You were once victims of barbarity and genocide in a strange land. Therefore, you of all peoples, should know how to behave to all the children of Abraham - and to all the human family - in your Middle East region.

You were once not a nation; now you are a mighty nation and the regional super-power. That brings its attendant responsibilities and restraints and obligations to behave within international law and in compliance with numerous UN resolutions over the last sixty years.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Unholy human inhumanity to human in the Holy Land!

Everyone seems unmoved by the latest slaughter - a ratio of 100:1 in Gaza in favour of the Jews. Their big supporters, like some at our church, see what is going on in Israel/Palestine as fulfilment of biblical prophecy and everything working together for the return of Christ. Turning their back on violence and sharing the land with the Palestinians seems to be an alien concept! I really do despair for our God-fearing people and explains my infrequent church attendance, these days, on principle.

One friend wrote in reply:
If all this slaughter is there to prepare the way for the Second Coming, I do not want to accept a God who uses innocent humans as fodder to trumpet his eventual arrival...
I do not believe this is "God's Will"... it is the behaviour of a collective aggressive neurosis which has its basis in the Holocaust .. the Palestinians are only second in the queue behind the Jews when it comes to their revulsion of Hitler.