Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All together now!

“God doesn’t exist—the bastard!” Jean-Paul Sartre

Monday, October 29, 2007


Random Acts of Reality by a member of the London Ambulance Service has this tribute to a passing generation.

"Our patient, lets call her 'Gladys', is ninety-nine years old. She lives in her own flat, but has a carer come first thing in the morning to make sure that she is alright. She's blind in one eye, deaf in one ear and normally potters around her house. She should use a walking frame, but often walks around without it. She's been laying on her floor all night. She has a community alarm. This is a pendant that is worn around the neck. If the person needs help they press the big red button on it and a call is put through to a care centre - they will then call us. Her community alarm is on a table. She'd managed to pull a tablecloth off the table to use as a blanket. Sleeping on the floor she waited until her morning carer arrived. Community carers aren't allowed to pick people up off the floor - that is a job for the ambulance service, with our backs of steel we are often called to do some heavy lifting. But we like these jobs, if the patient hasn't hurt themselves we can leave them at home - the patient is always happy to see us and it makes us feel that we have done something useful. So we check Gladys over, she hasn't hurt herself, she isn't too cold and she wants to stay at home. We pick her up, tidy up the things that she pulled on the floor when she grabbed the tablecloth. We make her a cup of tea and chat a bit about her family. I tell her off for not wearing her alarm, and remind her that we are more than happy to come around her place should she get into trouble. I let her know that I'd rather pick her off the floor than yet another drunk. I'm betting that she won't wear the alarm, there are a lot of people who don't even though it costs £100 a year. I've known elderly patients who have fallen over at night, then not pressed the button until gone 8am. They 'didn't want to bother us'. It's a generation that is getting smaller and not being replaced, this self-sufficiency and the desire not to be a burden on others. The feeling that spending the night on the floor isn't an 'emergency'. I'll miss them when they are all gone.

Jesus Prayer

In another desperate attempt to get my prayer-life back on the road I'm going to try the Jesus Prayer as a way of being with God. Breathing in to the thought "Lord Jesus Christ", and breathing out to "have mercy on me." It may seem a tenuous link with the great tradition of which I am myself an ordained member, but beggars can't be choosers, and for now it's the best I can do.

It's a myth

Progressive Vision has this from Shane Frith. A refreshing change from the tired old scaremongering cliches of the tabloid press.

"The claim that immigration puts strain on 'vital public services' is a
myth. The reality is that immigration only puts 'pressure' on the inefficient
state sector such as state schools and NHS hospitals. Vital public services
provided by the private sector welcome the additional customers. In the vital
field of food supply, you don't hear Tesco complaining that they hadn't planned
on the increased business - we face no food shortages. Neither does Vodafone
struggle with the technical demands of providing mobile phones to all these
immigrants. Immigration merely highlights the existing failure of the
inefficient, unreformed state sector."

Monday, October 22, 2007

What's Left

Sarah Baxter has her own test for spotting a phoney liberal.

If you think Bush is a fascist and Castro is a progressive,

you are not a democrat.

If you think cultural traditions can trump women’s rights,

you are not a feminist.

And if you think antisemitic rants are simply an expression of
frustration with American and Israeli policy,

you have learnt nothing from history.

New Labour

A man and his new wife jetted off to their honeymoon, and after a wonderful night of candlelit dinner and wine they went back to the bridal suite.

Upon entering, the bride softly told her husband "I'm a virgin, please be gentle".

Looking confused, the groom asked "But I thought I was your second husband?"

She replied, "Yes, that's true, but he was New Labour. He spent the 10 years of our marriage sitting at the end of the bed telling me how good it was going to be."

Archbish Wants Women to Agonize More

See this.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Up for t'Cup

A man walked into the ladies department of a clothing store. He reluctantly walked up to the woman behind the counter and said, "I'd like to buy a bra for my wife."
"What type of bra?", asked the saleslady.
"Type?", inquired the man, "There is more than one type?"
"Look around", she said, indicating a sea of bras in every shape, size color and material. "But actually, even with all of this variety, there are really only three types of bras."
Confused, the man asked, "Only three? What are they?"
She replied: "The Catholic type, the, Salvation Army type, and the Baptist type. Which one do you need?"
"What's the difference between them?" the man asked.
"Oh, it's quite simple. The Catholic type supports the masses, the Salvation Army type lifts up the fallen, and the Baptist type makes mountains out of mole hills."

Synagogue finds a home, with help from a Muslim contractor

Associated Press reports that a Jewish synagogue is rising in the hills of Arkansas, in large part because of the generosity of the project contractor: a Muslim immigrant from the West Bank.
Since 1981, members of Temple Shalom have practiced their faith where they could. The congregation bought a home to convert into a temple, but members abandoned their plans after residents complained that the synagogue would bring traffic to their neighborhood.
The Reform congregation then bought new land — and Fadil Bayyari got involved. The Springdale, Ark., general contractor agreed to waive his regular fee, saving Temple Shalom at least $250,000.
"Abraham is our forefather," Bayyari said. "We're first cousins. How we got to hate each other is beyond me."
Bayyari, who built the mosque in Fayetteville, said his kinship with the Jewish congregation also stems from the fact that his faith community, too, lacked its own building until the mosque was completed.
Jeremy Hess, a founding member of Temple Shalom and the building project coordinator, said the synagogue will be open to all. He said working with Bayyari taught him that "you can't judge anyone except by the character of who they are."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

If a farmer worked in the Church . . .

From Bigbulkyanglican:

Wonderful image of our instituionalised Church coming out of the Allelon Missional Order Conference in the States which goes something like this:

If the farmer worked like the current church, he would:
Plow in the barn;
Plant in the barn;
Pray that it would rain in the barn;
Harvest in the barn;
then burn down the barn and call it revival!


Friday, October 12, 2007

Quote of the Month

"I do not wish to live in a society where you are stoned for adultery; I prefer to live in a society where we get stoned first and then commit adultery."
Ibn Warraq, during a debate on the superiority of Western values.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Where can this be?

It's actually a room set aside for Ramadan prayers in The Pentagon, headquarters of the US Department of Defence. A little surprising, given the popular view of the Bush regime as a citadel of the Christian Right.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Simon Hilyer

Derek Hilyer's tribute to his brother was published in today's Guardian. Had I read it a few years ago I might have found it a touch sentimental. Now we have little ones in our life to which such words could easily one day apply.

My brother Simon, who has died aged 51, never learned to speak or understand very much, or to perform simple tasks. He lived most of his life in a hospital for people with learning disabilities. Then, two years ago, he moved to a house in Derby, which he shared with two other people, supported by the Turning Point trust.

Yet he lived with an intensity that would have exhausted any of us - and it quite often did. When he was distressed, he would lash out from frustration and failure to communicate; when he was unhappy, he would look at you with eyes full of misery, hurt and betrayal - and he could not explain why he was sad. But when he was jolly, he would show complete interest in what was going on, supervising the cooking, interrogating his carers with a penetrating, intelligent gaze. And in the calmer surroundings of his own home, he had times of pure joy. He had the ability to pass his delight in living straight to anyone he was with.

Simon was born in Cheshire, the son of my cousin John. He was adopted by my parents when his mother Beatrice died, but as his behaviour became more challenging he went to live at Aston Hall hospital, Derbyshire. It is sad that my parents did not live to see him benefit from the changes in attitudes, where drugs are used to help rather than to control, and with emphasis increasingly being placed on supporting people to make decisions for themselves, to lead, as far as possible, their own lives.

Simon relied on staff at the hospital, and his home, caring for him. And he needed and received help from many others - people in shops, pubs, holiday centres and restaurants - who happily accepted him and his two companions, together with social and medical workers.

When people die, it is often asked: what did he do? What was he? How did he spend his time? The answer could be: he did nothing, his life was pointless, he was someone to be pitied. But the 50-odd people at his funeral knew that was nonsense. Simon, as we hope one day it will be said of us, lived a full, rewarding and thoroughly worthwhile life.