Could the Cof E Step In Where The NHS Has Failed.

OK, that headline will be a shock to some as I have always made it clear I am emphatically not Christian. I did tell my frien Jenny (ViEiRa) not long ago however that I had some fond memories of the village church in Shropshire where I was brought up. Not of services or anything, my family were never churchgoers, but of an aspect of the British church we seem to have almost lost.
Without the Church and the pub (an unholy alliance?) there would have been no social life, the Midsummer Fete, Harvest Festival, Bonfire Night, the Chistmas Panto which as represented in the Vicar of Dibley, was just an excuse for everyone to do their party piece and a couple of activities around Easter and Whitsun that I now know were very pagan in origin.
But there was another aspect of the Church that I was barely aware of as a child but was reminded of when I read a dire warning that the National Health Service cannot keep up with the demand for domestic care for the elderly. In the village the WI volunteers made sure old people were visited, taken meals where necessary, had somebody to talk to a couple of times a week at least, received help keeping their gardens tidy and their homes in good repair, (I was drafted into digging, weeding, whitewashing and painting teams several times) and that the right people were alerted if a crisis was looming. I guess it was care in the community by the community.
Twenty – five years of Thatcherism later, people are not so generous with their time of course. And forty years of bureaucratic interference later I’m not sure it could still be done even if people were willing.
From a heated debate at The Guardian’s Comment is Free blog following an attack on the anti-homosexuality torchlit protest outside Parliament earlier in the week I detected something rather unpleasant and very American seems to be creeping into our society. We all know that Evangelical Chistianity with all the bigotry and misrepresentation that involves has infiltrated the dear old C of E and the protest was made by an affiliation of Swivel -Eyed Fundamentalist Jews, Muslims and Christians. While posting and commenting at American web mags I see many quite irrational arguments often descending into pure hatred over what is the right way to worship Jesus. Religion seems to have become a monster that is tearing the nation apart. We must not allow the fanatics to divide our society in the same way.
Now although my personal view is that the world can never begin to solve its problems until all organised religion is banned, I would defend passionately the right of people to practice their chosen religion. That right however should not extend to telling the rest of us we will be damned to perdition (love that phrase!) if we do not fall into line with their looney prejudices. In other words I expect the same tolerance to be extended to me and my fellow non – believers as most of us are prepared to extend to religionists.
And so I ask the question of religious readers, would it not be more Christian to bury the differences, form joint Anglican, Catholic, Mehodist (and Muslim where appropriate though I know in areas with large Muslim communities there is a support structure,) community support groups and work with the agencies of state? A bit less Jesus loves you and a lot practical action is was the first British Christian Church was about. (Did you know that Chistianity in Britain dates back to about a century before the date given for Jesus’ birth? Fascinating stuff, ancient history.)
Such an initiative would get mainstream churches back into the community, relieve some of the burden on overstretched resources and distance the acceptable face of Christianity from the Homophobic, Racist, Woman Hating varieties of that belief system.
I know some Chistians read Machiavelli so why not refine this idea with people of your faith, get some media coverage, challenge the Government to get involved or…
here’s a biggie…
ask Prince Charles for his support, he complains about people thinking he’s irrelevant.

Go on, I dare you. You don’t have to tell anyone you got the idea from an unrepentant old pagan.

BTW sorry if this seems incomplete. It probably needs a longer article than I have been able to give it today.

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22 thoughts on “Could the Cof E Step In Where The NHS Has Failed.

  1. Come on ian. Tolerance? Bigotry?

    Swivel-eyed Fundamentalist Jews,Muslims and Christians.

    Not overly tolerant I would observe.

    Should we not provide the ability in a free country for people to express their opinions, whether or not we agree with them?

    You appear to have strong opinions that some people might not like. Should you be banned from expressing them. No of course not.

    As ever an interesting blog.

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    1. Oh I don’t know. I mean here we are faced with a protest by people who were happy with those aspects of legislation they thought placed their religions beyond criticism but want to protest at the clauses that prevent them for saying all homosexuals are evil or making vile allegations about other minorities.
      I am very tolerant but as I’ve always said “we must learn to tolerate everything except intolerance. (Especially swilel eyed intolerance.)
      And I never see any sign of tolerance from religious extremists of any flavour.

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      1. Do you feel you are being intolerant? Therefore should that be tolerated?
        Are we in danger her of disappearing up a vortex of intolerance?

        I respect your right to have a view but then i respect anybody elses right to do the same. intolerance is in the eye of the beholder but the less tolerant the beholder the more intolerant people appear.

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      2. Actually the phrase “swivel eyed fundamentalists” was picked up from a comment posted at Comment is Free by a well respected Anglican cleric. The gist of his comment was that in debating moral issues we must not let bigots dictate the agenda. Once we let their bigotry go unchallenged we do hand them control of the agenda.

        But what do you mean by intolerant? I have, have I not, defended the right of anybody to praxtice their chosen religion. It was the misrepresentations used by these protesters that sparked the controversy. They said the law is unfair to them because it will force churches that abominate homosexuality to accept homosecuals as members. This is a lie.
        The protesters said that the new law will force churches to bless same sex relationships. It will not, it is made quite clear that registry offices will have to offer civil ceremonies to those that want them (with a provision for registrars whose religious sensibilities are offended to opt out and arrange to be replaced by a colleague.
        Its is not worth listing the other misrepresentations here but there were many.
        At no point in the article have I challenged the right of these protesters to make their protest or express their opinions even though a big part of their complain centres on their demand for the withdrawal of my right to call them swivel – eyed fundamentalists (the swivel eyed is jokey a reference to their fanaticism)
        All I have done is used some pretty uncomplementary language to describe these people and their beliefs. This is done in an ironic way as they want to stop people being able to use uncomplementary language to describe them.

        The people setting up a vortex of intolerance are the religious fundamentalists. I notice a couple of my friends who are Christians have commented here. What a wonderful contrast Ros and Jenni make to the swivel eyed tendency.

        As I have said many times, people have the right to free speech only until they try to deny others a similar right. So as the fundamentalists of several creeds are trying to coerce the Government into abandoning part of this law that protect minorities from discrimination while trying to use the law to make criticism of their views illegal it is they not I who are intolerant.

        And if they can’t stand to have their opinions challenged then they should not express them in public.Machiavelli and Boggart Blog are pretty gloves off in their comments but I never cry foul when people attack me though I do at times make a very robust defence of my position. As you now know.

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  2. Funny that some groups attach the “Christian” label to themselves, and then act totally UnChristian. Hmmm. Do you think Jesus would have called them hypocrites in the way he accused the pharisees of hypocrisy?!

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    1. I think Jesus (I won’t argue about whether he existed) would have resorted to fruitier language. And he would certainly be very upset at some of the ideas being spread by people who profess to speak on his behalf today.
      Your boy was certainly a socialist and would have included everybody among his friends, gays, lesbians, druggies… What’s sad is that the fanatics read the stories literally and miss the richness of the allegories.

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      1. Yes. Of course. Jesus spoke in metaphors, and The Bible is a little like that; we need to understand the time to understand what he is trying to say!

        He was certainly tolerant; he befriended the outcasts of first century society, so I’m sure he would befriend all the outcasts of today’s society.

        It’s a shame the fanatics have the loudest voices. πŸ™„

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      2. We have lost our ability to think in myths. The myths, whether Christian, Greek, Persian, Hindian, British or Norse contain the essence of our spiritual thinking.

        Unfortunately so long as a lot of people who need to believe in Judeo Christian religion have such a literal mindset Christianity will suffer.

        For example: The Parable of the Talents, its not about investing wisely its about always doing your best simply for the satisfaction that knowing doing you have done your best gives.

        But John Calvin gave us a literal interpretation and too many people get stuck on that. It would help if the New Testament was not so brief.

        Loaves and Fishes: Not “Oh wasn’t Jesus a wonderful person for feeding all that hungry crowd” but “if we all only keep what we need and share the rest, there is plenty for everyone.” (but I guess you had worked that out for yourself – try it on some American fundies though!)

        Keep spreading the word – to the tune of “The Internationale”

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  3. I agree that Christians should practice social justice a lot more, which is why I’m a Socialist politics student.

    And I also don’t believe Christianity should ever be used as a stick to beat people with.

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    1. Good thing you are a politics student and a socialist. It means I can’t correct your English [a stick with which to beat people πŸ˜‰ ] without revealing that I went to a posh school.

      What Christianity needs to do if it is to ever play a role in the modern world is dump the Old Testament.

      I don’t really want to turn Machiavelli into a site for religious debate but if you can suggest anywhere suitable I can provoke some really hot debates through my knowledge of “real” ancient history.

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      1. I don’t think the whole Old Testament needs to be dumped. Both Old and New have some amazing scholarship, comforting words, and insights into the love of God. Both Old and New have a few hateful, human lines which are iterated endlessly by those who use faith to divide.

        To be honest, I can’t really help you with the site thing. I don’t do as much Christian stuff online as I probably should, as I find it quite stressful, and don’t see the point of arguing with people who are never going to listen.

        The trouble is that liberal types like me don’t argue because we respect others’ beliefs, so only the disrespectful get heard.

        God bless xx

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      2. Oh you little sweetheart. Yes that is why I go in with all guns blazing. Only web fatigue can stop me refusing to be shouted down. Today’sachiavelli (I’m just off to post it) will give a glimpse of how rough it gets across the pond.

        I do think you need to be re-educated on the Old Testament though. Show me one inspirational passage in it and I’ll show you a passage that was nicked from The Greeks, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Parthians, Egyptians, Hindus, Minoans, Eutopan Pagans or Dacians. In fact its all nicked from those sources.
        And the best bit, The Song of Soloman is just an expuragated version of the Sumerian erotic epic The Song of Innana (origin circa 3500 BC.)
        Incidentally Inanna explains a great OT mystery. In Ezekiel chapter something verse something it says “and the women of Israel wept for Tammuz.”
        Who was Tammuz? Well he was a shepherd boy who became the mortal husband of Inanna aka Astoroth aka Ishtar.
        So this shows that at the time of Exekiel (600 BC) the Israelites were pagans worshipping the Gods of the Babylonian Empire.
        But Ezekiel was a prolific scribbler (well there were actually about 30 Ezekiels) he wrote the books of the Pentateuch (credited to Moses) and invented the Jewish creation myth of Adam and Eve. The Zoroastrian creation it superseded in Israelite worship is much more interesting and more credible.

        I’ll send you some interesting links.

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      3. I don’t see how learning from other cultures makes something bad. I don’t think either you or I could write a passage which was 100% original or 100% Anglo-Saxon.

        The other day I was reading Psalm 119:17-24. It would be interesting to know where it came from:)

        Books such as Ezekiel and Isaiah are the books of a whole school of prophets whose works were collected under the name of a prolific prophet or teacher.

        God bless xx

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      4. “nflsdnch zrmlitch brelghifutch mlknt.” (100% original – and 100% nonsense, whuch is the fate of poets who obssess with the idea of being original.

        Drawing on other cultures is always a good thing. Its just that the OT, its – well…not right. For a start the most important book (Enoch) is missing and then – there was never a King David or a Solomon. Cyrus the Great of Persia founded the city Jerusalem though there was a primitive settlement on the site. There was never a Hebrew Empire or a Hebrew language. Its just out of sync with what was really happening in the world then (which is absolutely gobsmackingly interesting so you would think it might get a mention.)

        But as a Jesuit said to a humanist on the Hevean and Earth show a few months ago “for you its a matter of history, for me its a matter of faith.”

        I’ve an idea where to start looking for your psalm. I’ll report back.

        love
        Ian

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      5. Isn’t Enoch about what happened to him after he was taken up to Heaven? I’ve heard a bit about it, and it sounds far less likely to be true than just about anything else in the Bible… Although I would never write off the Apocrypha, because the Jews did a lot of stuff via story telling, and told some great stories. The thing is that the Jews never wrote anything secular: even if it was a story, it had to have God in it, which is why reading the Bible should be done with an understanding of this.

        I’m really not sure how anyone can prove these people didn’t exist. Proving they did would be possible, I suppose.

        My faith is that God loves us so much that he sent his only Son to die for us – whether the Bible is literally true isn’t a huge issue for me. Some of the commentary I’ve read which tries to rubbish the Bible, however, I, from limited exchanges with my very scholarly father, know is rubbish and I’m appalled that people print such blatant lies.

        God bless xx

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      6. Enoch is about how Enoch the scribe, the only educated (enlightened) man among the primitive Israelites (we have to call them that because we do not know who they were) went off to live among the civilised people. Now there are a lot of scholars who say this story refers to the remnant of an antediluvian civilisation, (the watchers,) but its value lies in its unravelling of Essene symbolism.

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      7. Wow, it’s not often that someone out-intellectuals me but that’s twice in 2 days…

        What does “antediluvian” mean? What is Essene symbolism

        I really am enjoying this dialogue:)

        God bless xx

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      8. Look under “A” in your dictionary ;-)~

        Antediluvian (I pronounce it dil – uv but I think die – luv is right) means “before the flood.” Aw don’t tell me you though Noah’s flood was just a story. Its about the only thing that is true. The telling is somewhat skewed though, the flood occurred between 10 & 11 thousand years ago, towards the end of the meltdown. Scientists have a pretty good idea how and it is very pertinent to us now. as the earth warmed up huge lakes formed on top of the ice cap. Corresponsing to these were sub glacial lakes from ice melted by latent heat in the Earth’s crust.
        For very well established reasons the temperature around coastal areas was lower and the ice wall consequentyly higher. When the ice walls eventuially gave way water flooded out of an area that covered most of Siberia and central Asia. The other floods were caused, it is thought, by similar catastrophes in Europe and the Balitic and in Canada (Hudson Bay) Now in Antarctica we currently have similar ice lakes and corresponding sub glacial water. If it goes it will only raise sea levels about two to three meters but thats enough to cause chaos in low lying third world countries.
        Now it is thought (stress “thought”) that the last of three great floods, Noah’s flood, was due to quantities of meltwater sufficient to raise sea levels by around 15 meters in a few weeks gushed down through Mesopotamia which would have flooded the “world” of the early human communities in that area. I think we have to be exceedingly sceptical about the big boat bit though.
        I typed that form memory of reading several books on late pre history in that area but I think its broadly accurate. A good and very readable source for an overview is Graham Hancocks “Underworld.” Hancock is scoffed at by traditionalists but his research is good and he admits his conclusuins are speculative. What I have given you is backed up by academic research in oceanography and ice cap behaviour.

        I’ll do the Essene when I’ve had a while to look it up. I would not want to approach the subject with any chinks in my armour. BTW the Psalm you highlighted to me is basically an invocation to the Babylonian God Baal Marduk by Cyrus the Great when he conquered Babylon and fred the Jews from the captivity. Now the Jewish and Persian versions of this liberation are very different, but the Jews hailed Cyrus as their “Messiah” and adopted his God, the Zoroastrian Ahuru Mazda, giving him the Semitic name Jehovah which is in fact the holy and unspeakable names of Hermes (Ormazd). The correct spelling is something like IEOUIA which is more a holy and unpronounceable name. What’s significant about that is it uses all the Greek/Pelasgian/Phoenician vowels. Hermes is the God credited with giving humans language. The vowels in early language were never written but implied by the consonants around them so outsiders could not make any sense of the written language. Cunning enough for Blackadder really.

        So anyway, Cyrus was a tolerant ruler and let conquered peoples keep their own God so long as they paid their taxes. And what his invocation was saying is “look Marduk, I’ve kept your laws, treated your people with respect and been an all round good guy so how about plating ball and telling the Babylonians things will be cool as part of the Persian Empire. The whole thing was imprest on a clay cylinder which was in the museum at Baghdad unbtil it disappeared in the looting. Some people have wondered aloud why, while the Americans were guarding the museum so many priceless antiquities that threw a lot of light on early civilisation and religion went missing while other stuff with a real financial value was left untouched.
        Fortunately the museum contents were well documented and photographed.

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      9. Thanks for all that. The longest comment ever on blog by a long way?:)

        I know all ancient cultures have a flood myth and different explanations of what happened, so it doesn’t surprise me that there is evidence for it.

        Also interesting to read about the museum thing. I think it’s kind of sad that people destroy things instead of trying to understand what they mean – or just accepting that we have two contradicting historical accounts and either might be right. Look at Kings and Chronicles. The accepted wisdom is that the Babylonians encouraged the Jews to catalogue their history, because the Babylonians were keen historians. Kings and Chronicles are differently skewed accounts of the same events from different political factions- humans have always interpreted history through the cultural lens of the time and our own personal beliefs.

        God bless xx

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  4. You know, my mum taught me from an early age to have faith – and I do, but she steered me away from religion.

    I am so grateful for her doing so. Surely, if there were a God, he/she/it/whatever wouldn’t mind how you labelled yourself and in our relatively God-less society, I don’t think would really mind whether we prayed in the ‘right way’ or even prayed at all? I am sure there are those that disagree.

    I personally feel that our actions speak louder.

    But that was your point, wasn’t it!?!

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    1. Yes it was – except I don’t do God. But if people try to good by others and do not put their own ambitions and desires before everyone else’s right to be treated decently what is un-Christian about them. Even if they don’t accept that Jesus ever existed πŸ˜‰
      After all I’m not an expert so you might have to ask Ros or Jenni above where to find this bit, but Jesus does say “the only unforgivable sin is to blaspheme against the holy spirit.
      Now there are many ways to interpret that but I’d say that the Holy Spirit is that undefinable energy that joins all life and to blaspheme against it is to be a selfish, self righteous arsehole who treads on anyone or anything that gets in their way. Would you agree?

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  5. I’d have to agree. I take the Lord’s name in vain most days but I’m pretty sure that I’m a fairly good person aside from that. However, if God made the world and made man in his image, I’m pretty sure crimes against humanity would count as blasmphemy on a major scale. . .

    Of course, this is where I have a slight difficulty understanding the shite Bush comes out with . . . But then I spose he thinks he’s going to be beamed up to Heaven come the Rapture (I forget what they call it, hope that’s right) so doesn’t really give a rat’s arse . . . Hang on, that makes no sense . . . I thought that we were supposed to be getting smarter every generation . . .

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