Monday, December 19, 2011

Starting over

I have for the umpteenth time in my life embarked upon a reconstruction of my religious faith, hopeful as ever that ‘all that is necessary’ is to be found in the unsearched riches of my Christian tradition.


Not quite believing in belief. Not quite fideism. But a damned close thing!

Condescension

If you think that the worst thing about being human is that we suffer and die, then you may find redemption in the passion of Christ. But if you feel, as do I increasingly, that being born at all is a very mixed blessing then you may even more come to recognise in the conception and birth of Jesus the most divine self-emptying.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

An experience of family

A family, I find, is a collection of people who come together from time to time - to celebrate the birth of a new member, a wedding, an anniversary, but mostly, sadly, nowadays a funeral - without ever asking what it's all for. Moreover if anyone were so bold as to pose such a question, the others would hardly agree about what it meant, let alone the worthwhileness of asking it.

Monday, December 05, 2011

A wintry view

Most people live as though human life is pointless, whilst at the same time pretending that it is very interesting and expending a lot of money and effort to reproduce and prolong it. A truly thoughtful religion still seems the best hope. If only there was one.

Say cheese.

Visited a local church coffee morning Saturday. Surrounded, swamped, immediately by friendly, welcoming, smiley people trying hard to make us feel at home and persuade us what a nice lot they are. Not one of them was as honest as Kelly Rowland in The Times who confesses "I can be a bitch. We all can." I personally can cope with that kind of honesty. I'm usually reassured by it. I know what a seething mass of envy, resentment and even murderous rivalry the average church congregation can be. I still carry the scars. Alan Ayckbourn's depiction of family life more nearly reflects the reality of the way Christians love and hate one another than the story we were told on Saturday.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Customers or burdens?

Adam Smith Institute expounds a typical argument on the subject of private medicine. I would once have dismissed fiercely this way of thinking, but after recent experiences and some alarming news stories I am beginning to wonder.

In a recent book on The Morality of Capitalism, US think-tanker Tom Palmer talks of his treatment for a serious condition in both public and private hospitals. In the private hospital, he was seen quickly by the right people, treated as a human being, everyone took an interest in him, and they respected his wishes. In the public hospital, he waited, was bossed around despite being in pain, had no human engagement with his doctor, and was generally treated as a piece of meat.

I don't think for a minute that working for a private or a public institution fundamentally changes people's basic humanity. But the incentives in a private system nevertheless encourage them to show more of their human side. That is because they see the clients they have to deal with as valued customers: their job, their income, would not exist if those customers were not satisfied. And they know from their own experience that the way a service is delivered – the cheeriness, the human engagement, the concern – are as much a part of a customer's satisfaction as getting the service itself. By contrast, the incentive structure in too many public services induces staff to regard customers as a necessary inconvenience. Shouldn't we prefer a system that positively encourages and brings out people's humanity, rather than one that discourages and so obviously represses it?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

From here to paternity

My dad was an autodidact. He taught me about existentialism without ever using the word.

He was admittedly rueful about the terms of human existence - or two of them: that we have no choice at all about a) whether we are born, and b) whether we die. These are big decisions. It can't be right, my father thought, that we are excluded from them; having excluded me.

My great uncle George declared his own contempt for life in general and the human race in particular. He advocated infanticide whilst, to the best of my knowledge, never practicing it - to the best of my knowledge and the considerable relief of his only child, Bernard.

In existentialism - as in most things - I have been a late developer.

It has slowly dawned on me that the only things we can promise our progeny is that they will suffer, and they will die. Even taxes are not that inevitable. Our offspring may conclude that the joy of being alive has outweighed the pain, but they may not. We can never be sure.

The paradox is nicely summed up by that great existentialist Woody Allen: 

"Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Existential Christian

I'm not sure whether this works as a description of what and where I am.


The Dean of King's College, London, Sydney Evans, in my time there as an undergraduate and trainee Anglican priest, encapsulated his own existentialist approach to life and faith in the three questions: Who am I? What may I hope? What should I do?


I'm currently more drawn to the prior question, 'Is life, my life, human life, worth living? Is human survival and reproduction a good idea? The New Darwinian Atheists I've read seem to sign up enthusiastically to propagation of the 'selfish gene'. I'm not convinced. Something missing. Religion? Transcendence? Medication?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A plea for balance

Dr Denis McEoin, a non-Jew, and senior editor of The Middle East Quarterly, has written to the Edinburgh University Student Association following their vote to boycott Israel and all Israeli goods because it is an 'apartheid regime'. He's not saying Israel's perfect, but . . . .

May I be permitted to say a few words to members of the EUSA? I am an Edinburgh graduate (MA 1975) who studied Persian, Arabic and Islamic History in Buccleuch Place under William Montgomery Watt and Laurence Elwell Sutton, two of Britain’s great Middle East experts in their day. I later went on to do a PhD at Cambridge and to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University. Naturally, I am the author of several books and hundreds of articles in this field.

I say all that to show that I am well informed in Middle Eastern affairs and that, for that reason, I am shocked and disheartened by the EUSA motion and vote. I am shocked for a simple reason: there is not and has never been a system of apartheid in Israel. That is not my opinion, that is fact that can be tested against reality by any Edinburgh student, should he or she choose to visit Israel to see for themselves.

Let me spell this out, since I have the impression that those members of EUSA who voted for this motion are absolutely clueless in matters concerning Israel, and that they are, in all likelihood, the victims of extremely biased propaganda coming from the anti-Israel lobby. Being anti-Israel is not in itself objectionable. But I’m not talking about ordinary criticism of Israel. I’m speaking of a hatred that permits itself no boundaries in the lies and myths it pours out. Thus, Israel is repeatedly referred to as a ‘Nazi’ state. In what sense is this true, even as a metaphor? Where are the Israeli concentration camps? The einzatsgruppen? The SS? The Nüremberg Laws? The Final Solution? None of these things nor anything remotely resembling them exists in Israel, precisely because the Jews, more than anyone on earth, understand what Nazism stood for. It is claimed that there has been an Israeli Holocaust in Gaza (or elsewhere). Where? When? No honest historian would treat that claim with anything but the contempt it deserves. But calling Jews Nazis and saying they have committed a Holocaust is as basic a way to subvert historical fact as anything I can think of.

Likewise apartheid. For apartheid to exist, there would have to be a situation that closely resembled things in South Africa under the apartheid regime. Unfortunately for those who believe this, a weekend in any part of Israel would be enough to show how ridiculous the claim is. That a body of university students actually fell for this and voted on it is a sad comment on the state of modern education. The most obvious focus for apartheid would be the country’s 20% Arab population. Under Israeli law, Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews or anyone else; Muslims have the same rights as Jews or Christians; Baha’is, severely persecuted in Iran, flourish in Israel, where they have their world centre; Ahmadi Muslims, severely persecuted in Pakistan and elsewhere, are kept safe by Israel; the holy places of all religions are protected under a specific Israeli law. Arabs form 20% of the university population (an exact echo of their percentage in the general population). In Iran, the Baha’is (the largest religious minority) are forbidden to study in any university or to run their own universities: why aren’t your members boycotting Iran?

Arabs in Israel can go anywhere they want, unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa. They use public transport, they eat in restaurants, they go to swimming pools, they use libraries, they go to cinemas alongside Jews – something no blacks could do in South Africa. Israeli hospitals not only treat Jews and Arabs, they also treat Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank. On the same wards, in the same operating theatres.

In Israel, women have the same rights as men: there is no gender apartheid. Gay men and women face no restrictions, and Palestinian gays often escape into Israel, knowing they may be killed at home. It seems bizarre to me that LGBT groups call for a boycott of Israel and say nothing about countries like Iran, where gay men are hanged or stoned to death. That illustrates a mindset that beggars belief. Intelligent students thinking it’s better to be silent about regimes that kill gay people, but good to condemn the only country in the Middle East that rescues and protects gay people. Is that supposed to be a sick joke?

University is supposed to be about learning to use your brain, to think rationally, to examine evidence, to reach conclusions based on solid evidence, to compare sources, to weigh up one view against one or more others. If the best Edinburgh can now produce are students who have no idea how to do any of these things, then the future is bleak. I do not object to well documented criticism of Israel. I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations. We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it’s clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens. Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest). Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world’s freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Baha’is... Need I go on? The imbalance is perceptible, and it sheds no credit on anyone who voted for this boycott.

I ask you to show some common sense. Get information from the Israeli embassy. Ask for some speakers. Listen to more than one side. Do not make your minds up until you have given a fair hearing to both parties. You have a duty to your students, and that is to protect them from one-sided argument. They are not at university to be propagandized. And they are certainly not there to be tricked into anti-Semitism by punishing one country among all the countries of the world, which happens to be the only Jewish state. If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930s (which, sadly, there was not), don’t you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it? Of course he would, and he would not have stopped there. Your generation has a duty to ensure that the perennial racism of anti-Semitism never sets down roots among you. Today, however, there are clear signs that it has done so and is putting down more. You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play. Please tell me that this makes sense to you. I have given you some of the evidence. It’s up to you to find out more.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Denis MacEoin

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Weepie

Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says "But Doctor...
I am Pagliacci."

Friday, August 05, 2011

Beyond good and evil

There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Re-imagining Anglicanism

I'm reading 'Anglicanism Re-imagined' by Andrew Shanks.

He says the job of theology is to make life difficult. I used to preach that the job of the Church is to comfort the troubled, and trouble the comfortable. I now wonder whether we should be making life any more difficult than it already is, regardless of how comfortable we might be.

In fact the more I think about it the more it seems to me that life is nearly impossible and most of reality quite unknowable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Congratulations

Mark Vernon applauds Philosophy Now for its 200th issue. And for dedicating it to the most important subject in philosophy: love.


But is love really more important than, say, the mystery of existence?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Better Questions

A conversation with friends this week left me searching for a paragraph in a book I read forty years ago as a young student. I found it, as if I always knew it was there. It's from Voices in the Wilderness by John Bowden.


There is a point, he writes, at which our ultimate questions turn round and question us. He then goes on to quote Peter L Berger:


A child wakes up in the night, perhaps from a bad dream, and finds himself surrounded by darkness, alone, beset by nameless threats. At such a moment the contours of trusted reality are blurred or invisible, and in the terror of incipient chaos the child cries out for his mother. It is hardly an exaggeration to say at this moment, the mother is being invoked as a high priestess of protective order. It is she (and, in many cases, she alone) who has the power to banish the chaos and to restore the benign shape of the world. And, of course, any good mother will do just that. She will take the child and cradle him in the timeless gesture of the Magna Mater who became our Madonna. She will turn on a lamp, perhaps, which will encircle the scene with a warm glow of reassuring light. She will speak or sing to the child, and the content of this communication will invariably be the same - 'Don't be afraid - everything is in order, everything is alright.' If all goes well, the child will be reassured, his trust in reality recovered, and in this trust he will return to sleep.

Bowden then continues:

A common enough scene, yet it raises one of those questions fundamental to our very existence. Is what the mother says true, or is she lying to the child? The mother's actions are true only if there is some truth to the religious understanding of human existence. For if reality is limited to the natural reality that we see around us, then the reassurance given to the child, as it may be given to other people in other situations, even on a deathbed or by a graveside, is ultimately a lie. For all is not well. The terror which the child is experiencing is the ultimate reality, and the reassurance given is no more than a diversion. At the heart of the process which is essential to the making of a human person, at one of the most crucial moments of trust, there is a lie.

Since my earliest years as a student of theology and throughout my training for ordination in the Church of England it has seemed to me as though psychological forces have been at work to deflect attention away from this ultimate and existential kind of question and towards issues pertaining to society and politics. Religion has come to be seen as valuable only insofar as it enables human beings to live together in peace and with justice - the more peace and justice in the world, the more firmly established, the less we need religion at all.

The above quotes from Berger and Bowden go some way to explain why I have never quite been won over by this new theology. I think that the older questions were better.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ain't No Cure

Sally Vickers, the writer, is quoted as saying that there is no cure for being alive. I find these existential reflections ever more appealing. We have recently had a new baby born into our already extended family. I've come to see being born as being volunteered - for life.

At the same time my wife's eighty-nine year old father proudly, if naively, declares that he has never volunteered himself for anything. I suppose it could be said of his four children: he volunteered them.

The Makings of a Vicar

It was over forty years ago. I was leading worship in the parish where I served my first curacy. Two old ladies sat together in the congregation. One turned to the other and, slightly louder than seemed strictly necessary, pronounced, "He's the makings of a Vicar."


I have been striving manfully ever since to live up to that early acclamation. The burden of expectation, imagined and real, has sometimes been trickier than you might think.


For a while now I have not been what I would call a Sunday Christian. I haven't been in church regularly on Sunday for over ten years, since indeed I retired from professional ministry. I have been instead a kind of Tuesday Christian, until recently offering the Eucharist at noon in a local parish church and giving pastoral support as chaplain in a hospice and, more lately, a cathedral setting.


But not usually on Sunday.


Sunday feels to me like a day of celebration - resurrection, confidence, strong affirmation - a day to stand up and be counted - to fly the flag - a day for Christians to be at their best.


I feel that I am more of a Tuesday Christian - a marginal believer - a devout sceptic - a displaced person - a disappointed priest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

UNCOMFORTABLE

When Chris Jefferies, landlord of Joanna Yeates, was being held for questioning about her murder, a crime of which we now know he was entirely innocent, our daily tabloid newspapers wasted no time in revealing details about his hair-style, his dress, his manner, his taste in literature, his love of the Christan Bible and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, in a blatant attempt to link these 'eccentricities' to the suspicion of his guilt.


Compare this with the lead story in today's Times, Young girls lured with drink were 'sold for sex'. The nine men accused are photographed and named. They are clearly of Asian background. What their religion might be we are not told. The seven teenage girls who were abused are simply described as from the small Staffordshire town of Wellington, near Telford, again without reference to their religion or ethnicity.

A word of advice to Mr Jefferies might be: If you don't want to attract the wrong sort of attention from the press, choose your religious affiliation more carefully - or at least keep quiet about it. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Why I am not Bertrand Russell

It was the great philosopher who wrote "Why I am not a Christian". Reading his book as a teenager helped me to work out why I was a Christian, and what kind of Christian I was.

Since those early days being Christian has become even more problematic to me. Being Christian in an intellectually honest way I have never found easy. But I can with more conviction say why I am not a humanist:

Because human reality is not the whole of reality as we know it, and most of reality is unknown to us and perhaps unknowable. 

What's more:

Human beings are not obviously to be preferred to other animals or creatures. They're just more closely related. I believe my 185 million greats grandfather was a fish.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two Weddings - without forgetting the funeral

It was marriage that fate
had in store for William and Kate,

but whether
made for bliss or hell

is too soon to tell.

Though the fact that William's mistress was not present at the ceremony

bodes well.

Forward to the Past

This is not a well-researched observation, more an impression, but, apart from Mr Milliband, there didn't seem to be any Labour politicians or anyone recognisably working class in the congregation for that there Royal Wedding yesterday. (And don't say you can't tell class by looking. I can tell by watching.)

Could it be that the Royals are so far above politics that a snub from them isn't a snub?

Or is it rather that The Tory Party at Prayer is back? 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Then and Now

Frank Chalk's left wondering. 

So we've got a mad dictator, who is happy to kill thousands of his own people without a second thought and some brave citizens trying to get rid of him. We have decided to help them out...

Anyway enough about Saddam Hussein in 2003; how come all the fashionable people aren't marching up and down the streets of London chanting anti war slogans now?

Monday, April 04, 2011

In memoria matris

I found my mother asleep on the sofa when I got up to go to church one Sunday morning at 7.30 am. Only she wasn't asleep. She was dead. Or was she dying? We'll never know for sure, any more than we can ever know whether she intended it.

It was before the days of mobile phones and before we as a family could afford a domestic phone at all. I ran off down the street to ring for an ambulance. But how fast do you run when your mother is dead or dying? And how patiently should you wait outside the call-box for the person in there to finish? And how do you live with the thought that if only you had taken less time your own mother might have been saved?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A long way from home

A man from Japan, in Tsunami's wake, asked me to help him inscribe the book of condolences in English. I could help him with the language, the spelling, but not the sentiment. It was coursing through his veins, the blood of his own people.


He introduced himself as a serious man: an admirer, follower, worshipper of Jesus, the awkwardness of words made it hard to tell. He said he was lonely, but did he mean alone, or individual? He read the Bible at home, he said. Belonged to no church or fellowship.


He reminded me so much of Philip Larkin's description of a church as a serious house on serious earth. The fact that our encounter was in a cathedral seemed at once incidental and yet of great importance. Our communion, though imperfect, was serious.


As he left he asked me to take a photograph with his camera - of him overshadowed by this great pile of stone, "this special shell". It was a pillar of grief.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Let's hear it

We had to disturb Daniel the other night as we took to our bed. Aged six, he has never had the power of speech. He needed attention before he could settle finally and cleanly to his slumbers. He surfaced briefly to consciousness as I bent to plant upon his forehead a goodnight kiss. Seeing me he clapped his hands excitedly. I clapped mine. 

That's how he learned to clap. By copying me.

So we applauded each other. Then it was back peacefully to sleep.

He claps because I first clapped him.

Very nearly biblical.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A great big shame

My theological pulse has been quickened once again by a visit to a good and thoughtful friend, and by watching the discussion on BBC TV's The Big Question about the Japanese earthquake.

This is my angle.

If a God existed who had created a world like ours, and then allowed people like us to be born, to live, to suffer and die in such a world, then that God would be the very devil. There is in the New Testament both reference and allusion to Satan as the God of this world.


Now watch Brian Cox and The Wonders of the Universe. It's a wonderfully illustrated account of the origins and history of the universe. I have my problems with it. For one thing he talks as if the universe and even time itself could have something we could sensibly call a beginning and end. I don't get this.


But I do think Professor Cox accurately describes the pitiless and pointless world we inhabit. The idea that any kind of divine being might have created it - is diabolical.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Beware of the Bidet

My first close acquaintance with a bidet was when we moved into our present home, just over ten years ago. It has become an unalterable part of my daily routine. I can barely imagine how previously, without these ablutions, my nearer presence was even tolerable.

Today however I have one small cause for regret. Something not so much as hinted at in any risk assessment I have seen.

A scar to my forehead.

Which leaves me asking - Am I doing it wrong? 

Antenatal or Antinatal?

The radio announcer, a woman, jokingly remarked that if men had the babies the human race would cease to be.

I asked myself why that would be a bad thing.

The only answer that would satisfy me is in relation to the eternal purpose of God. Without such faith I have no answer. Human reproduction, it seems to me, is that serious.

Fortunately my own deciding about such matters is in the distant past. I do not see myself following my great-great uncle William who fathered two children in his seventies with a wife in her thirties.

Bless.

Friday, March 04, 2011

An inverted bowl

A sane person believes firmly in the uselessness of thinking about what she does not understand.


It does not seem to me that there is anything in the life of the average man, even of the modern intellectual man, which would not go on just as well, and perhaps a little more comfortably, if tribal custom happened to dictate belief in an inverted bowl overhead.


Thus spake Celia Green.


Thus spake my wife, on hearing the announcement of a TV programme about the origins of the universe:


"What on earth has that got to do with me?"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reading Time

Last night our Book Group met.

Reading books reminds me of my mortality in that part of my enjoyment of a book is the feeling that if I like it, or don't fully understand it, I can read it again. And if it stimulates an interest in something I haven't discovered before, or sets me thinking in a new way, I have time to pursue it further.

I can remember when such future opportunities seemed endless. The growing awareness that they are not robs me of an innocent pleasure.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Price

Returning from a lecture on the history of Manchester Cathedral I read this account of that part of Manchester my ancestors would have been familiar with:

"Such is the Old Town of Manchester, and on re-reading my description, I am forced to admit that instead of being exaggerated, it is far from black enough to convey a true impression of the filth, ruin, and uninhabitableness, the defiance of all considerations of cleanliness, ventilation, and health which characterise the construction of this single district, containing at least twenty to thirty thousand inhabitants. And such a district exists in the heart of the second city of England, the first manufacturing city of the world. If any one wishes to see in how little space a human being can move, how little air - and such air! - he can breathe, how little of civilisation he may share and yet live, it is only necessary to travel hither. True, this is the Old Town, and the people of Manchester emphasise the fact whenever any one mentions to them the frightful condition of this Hell upon Earth; but what does that prove? Everything which here arouses horror and indignation is of recent origin, belongs to the industrial epoch."
From Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1892), pp. 45, 48-53.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For crying out loud

When Daniel's mummy and daddy came to take him home for Christmas, he cried. He was born with a brain abnormality known as lissencephaly which has left him at the age of six still unable to speak. What precisely he is trying to communicate about anything is always therefore partly a matter of guesswork.


So what was he crying for?


We feel sure it wasn't simply because he wanted to stay, or not to go. His cry seemed to be as much of bewilderment as of protest. The tears I saw were shed out of helplessness in a world out of control - the human condition.


Daniel is not able to utter a single word. He cannot express himself verbally. He cannot speak. Many of us can - but don't - mainly because it is too difficult or painful. But somehow Daniel's lack of articulacy is the clearest articulation of his distress.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Body and soul

What I miss most about being a regular Christian is the thing I always had the most difficulty with - the practice of prayer.


Victor Hugo wrote, 'There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees.'


My problem was not, was never, how to pray, but how to stop praying. And so it remains. My soul is still on its knees.

Escaping from reality

How to spend the rest of his days freed now from the responsibility of earning a living and raising a family? Short of a major disaster in the national economy he has quite enough to pay his bills and meet his needs and even more surely provide for his wants till kingdom come - his kingdom at least. (He had made due provision for his darling spouse should she be fortunate or unfortunate, about that you must ask her, enough to survive me.)

In the meantime, what should he do? Become a spectator, or a passenger, seek to be entertained, amused, or travel the world and see its far-flung beauties? Or join in the human evasion through social or political activity?

Something odd here. If he takes up a hobby or pastime, or joins a club that gets him out and meeting people, it will be perceived by others as a personal achievement, a mark of sanity. If he stays in and devotes time and thought to solving the riddle of existence, and perhaps becoming disillusioned and discouraged by what he finds, he will be seen as escaping from reality - the very reality he is trying to understand.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Religious sense and innocence

Watching 'Songs of Praise' last night I was overcome by a sense of lost innocence. Worse, when I looked into the sweetly sympathetic, staring eyes of Richard Coles as he interviewed the woman speaking expertly about hymns I realised that I have never been able to emanate that gaze.

Down the years people have come to me as a priest looking for someone to confirm them in their religious innocence, indeed somehow to reinforce it. I have tried hard not to disappoint them.

But finally, perhaps long since, I have reached the point where all I can do honestly is share with them my own sense of religious loss, trusting that they will be as sensitive to my bereavement as I have always sought to be to theirs. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Members only

In our society you are lucky to find someone who cares for your individuality, your subjectivity, what is peculiar, different, unique about you. People are more likely to be scared than attracted by these things. They prefer you to be sociable, clubbable, easy-going, undemanding, unknowing, unreflective, uncritical, unchallenging - one of them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Life after therapy

Before therapy I used mainly to think.
My therapist (and Wittgenstein) said, ‘Don’t think. Look.’
So I tried to cut down on my thinking.
Apologised for thinking too much.
Since therapy
I have learned
To think and look
And think again.

Before therapy
My mother said
You can’t do better than your best.
In therapy I learned
To do less than my best
And be happy with it.
Since therapy
I have decided (thoughtfully)
That only my best is good enough.