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Category Archives: Setting The World To Rights

Yeah … Well … Politicians innit?


A great many people seem to have adopted a policy of blaming politicians for everything as a means of abdicating personal responsibility for anything.

Given any situation, any discussion, any thing some people will adopt a position of saying “Oh well it’s politicians.” Then they can not do anything themselves to remedy anything because it’s not their fault.

This personal policy of allocating blame and washing hands is used as displacement by many to avoid action. “Why should I do anything? It’s Politicians hand in hand with the bankers who have created this situation, let them sort it out … the bastards.”

A recipe for idleness and inactivity.

But why should we sit around waiting for someone else to sort out the world? Do we not have abilities ourselves? Do we not have capabilities ourselves?

Is it in my interests to sit around while I blame someone else for the situation I’m in? To some that seems to be an ideal situation. Personally I find that to be an awful state of affairs. I could not sit around idle for that length of time, I can sit around idle for a reasonable length of time (ask my wife) but after a while even I would need to get up and do something.

So … as to the politicians … In Ireland we elect our politicians through a process called “democracy”. What happens is every few years we “elect” these politicians from a number of available “candidates”. Who can be a “candidate”? Anyone? Absolutely anyone who is an Irish citizen. So if you’re an Irish citizen and you think that all politicians are corrupt self-interested bastards in the hands of big business and you can convince others who have the same concerns that you are not one of these miscreants then you could be a candidate and maybe even get elected. You could run as an independent and by being willing to work with other such independents you could work together to turn the country around. That’d just be amazing, wouldn’t it? At this point someone will normally say “Oh well, you can’t trust independents, they won’t work together, you’ll end up with lots of people pulling in different directions.” To such people I ask, if it was you would you want to work together for the greater good or would you want to pull in your own direction? If you were electing an independent would you vote for someone who would pull together or pull in their own direction? If you wouldn’t want to work together, don’t stand. If your candidate wouldn’t want to work together, don’t vote for them. Are you, as part of the electorate, incapable of electing representatives of who would serve the greater good?

As to yourself, outside the direct sphere of politics and elections, what can you do? Could you lobby? Could you represent wider interests through activism and engagement? Could you do something, anything? Would you?

And as to the wider economy … Apparently that’s not your fault either. Apparently there’s no point having any sort of idea of any sort of enterprise because no one will ever trust you to do anything with it. No one will ever invest in you and no bank will ever lend you any money. And is that so surprising if you won’t even have the trust in yourself to try because you’re sitting back and waiting for the government and the politicians you don’t trust to do something?

So have an idea, have a dream, write a business plan, go to the banks, go to investors, try something, do something, because they don’t own your ability to achieve. You own your ability to achieve.

Or would you prefer to just sit around and go “Oh well, it’s not my fault.”

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Commentariat, Setting The World To Rights

 

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Hating The Poor And Vulnerable


A bit of a convo about the poor and workfare on twitter last week and a blog explaining my position was promised but wasn’t forthcoming because I have a newborn in the house and any quiet moment I could get to myself was spent quietly, or tidying, or sorting out paperwork, or sleeping.

Before you have your first child people tell you to store up your sleep but we aren’t hibernating mammals and sleep doesn’t work like that.

So …

… When workfare and related topics of social welfare reform rear their heads certain things are bound to happen.

First there is an accusation of hating the poor and vulnerable.  I don’t hate the poor, I hate that they are poor and would like them to have more money so that they can contribute to society’s unspoken contract.  Then someone, let’s call him Arthur Pitworker, turns up.  Arthur has worked 20 years in a coal mine paying his dues and contributing to society and now he has been thrown on the slag heap and all he wants is to collect his dole and keep his dignity while he looks for alternate employment without being put on some sort of half arse scheme that insults him, his intelligence, his experience and the fact that he has contributed.  Well good on you, Arthur.  You understand how things should work.  You have paid in and now you want to take back what you have paid in and you want to work.  Unfortunately the money you paid in has been spent, invested, bought, sold, appreciated, depreciated and spent on redundant missile systems over the years to the extent that the money you are taking out is, in fact, the money I am putting in.  I don’t begrudge you that.  When I get to the point where I am taking out the same will have happened to my contributions and it’ll be our children and grandchildren who are contributing that money.  That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Unfortunately there are a couple of other people in the equation.  Reece School-Leaver and Eustace Scrounger.  Reece has finished school or college and can’t get a job.  Not the job he thinks society owes him for getting reasonable grades.  He’s not going to work in McDonalds for instance, he thinks he’s better than that.  Fortunately for him he still has a room in his parent’s house, electricity, water, internet and food paid for and if he needs some spending money he has the government to fall back on.  They’ll give him at least 100 Euros a week so he has some money in his pocket.  They’ll give him more if he goes into some sort of further education, but there are no jobs with his current qualifications, so he doesn’t bother with that.

Eustace has never had a “job” as such.  He has a house on the council with rent allowance, money from the government, a free washing machine every 3 years and financial assistance where he can finagle it on incidental expenses, like when his wife has a kid and he needs a new pram or pushchair, he gets a bit of extra money because he can’t work because his leg hurts when it rains he has a note on his from an overworked doctor who didn’t really examine him.  He does work occasionally, when he isn’t in the pub, but he does it black or keep it’s under 20 hours a week so he doesn’t impact the money he is “due” from the government.

It’s people like Reece and Eustace that make the impact on tax payers like me and former tax payers like Arthur.  We resent them.  We resent their money for nothing attitude and we resent the fact that they don’t get society’s contract: Society pays out because people pay into society.

As a result of Reece and Eustace the truly poor and vulnerable do start to get hit quite badly when money is tight.

That’s why we want people like Reece and Eustace to be made to go out to work, even on workfare, so that the poor and the vulnerable aren’t impacted.

 
 

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To Badly Go


In these times of great austerity Tom Chivers proposes we hoof a trillion dollars into a great work.

“What could arch this lefty plan?” you ask.  “Irrigate the Sahara?  Reduce inequality?  Solve the Euro problem?”

No.

Tom, along with his colleague Ed West, proposes we build the Starship Enterprise.  Seriously.

Would you follow these two into a pub, let alone into space?

 
 

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Atheists To Win!


Great news today for the Secular Movement as Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor declares that the practice of being intolerant to anyone of any religious belief will ultimately wipe out Christianity.

Yes!  It’s true.  Every time you berate someone for believing in an omnipotent and and ever loving Sky Fairy you grate away a little bit at them until you get them to the point where they not only won’t express such awful and untrue things they also won’t practice any part of the Christian ethos, tolerance, trust and compassion will be eschewed by them particularly with regards to you.  Remember, whatever they say about their faith just go “It’s not true, you’re fooling yourself, are you stupid?  Maybe you want young boys to be molested.”  Eventually they’ll either cave or they’ll hit you.  So stand there holding your bloody nose and go “Dats nod a bery Grisdian agd, you gahd really be Grisdian gad you?” and call your own damn ambulance, no one’s going to do it for you.

OK.

You don’t need to have a Christian framework to be compassionate.  But some people like to.  Some people find faith, security and solace in belief.  Why do other people feel a compunction to rip that away from them?

Sure bad things have been done dishonestly in the name of faith but so have good things, honestly.  Why do some atheists feel the need to throw the baby out with the bathwater?  Many of us of faith have seen the awful things done by some people claiming to be act in the name of God and we deplore them too.  It doesn’t mean that we’re going to rip apart faith to expunge them.  When you find a bad apple in your fruit bowl do you take the whole bowl out and burn it?

Incidentally, intelligent readers will have spotted my conspicuous use of the word “some”.  Some atheists, some Christians.  There are no hard and fast rules for either group (although some Christians do follow rules that are both hard and fast).

That “some” with Atheists won’t apply to David Penberthy who penned an interesting article a couple of years ago entitled, “Please God Spare Us The Born Again Atheists“, in which he deplores the behaviour of many nouveau Atheists in the Dawkins mould who feel a compunction to go out into the world and evangelise their lack of faith:

“The once gentle conviction that there is no God, and that in an ideal world, everyone would stop fighting over the supremacy of their imagined deity, is increasingly becoming the preserve of aggressive loudmouths who are every bit as annoying as those Jehovah’s Witnesses who used to knock on the door at 9am on a Sunday while you were sleeping off a big night.”

And so I find myself in agreement with a Cardinal and an Atheist.  Funny place to be in.

 

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Solution To The Greece Problem


Obviously the Greeks don’t know what they’re doing or what they want.

Isn’t it time that Angela Merkel the EU stepped in and just appointed a government so the euro can last another couple of weeks?

 

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Leviticus: Christianity’s Buffet


To cries of “Ooh No, he’s the Antichrist!” President whatsisname has “come out” (so to speak) in favour (or possibly favor) of gay marriage.

Bizarre.  The US president probably isn’t the Anti Christ, if this were a film it would make plenty of narrative sense for him to be so, but it isn’t.

The religious opposition to homosexuality lies primarily in one book, Leviticus and this brings me to a single question.  To whom does Leviticus apply?

[Note that this is the thought processes of one man, it’s not doctrine, it’s not policy, it’s just me doing what I loosely refer to as thinking.]

It was originally the foundation of Jewish law and it carries forward into Christianity, in part.

Now many Christians eat pork.  It’s forbidden by Leviticus but we still eat bacon and sausages and I, for one, am very fond of pork scratchings.  So are Christians breaking God’s law?  Well in Acts God tells Peter that what was considered unclean is now no longer unclean.  He uses food as an example and later points out that Gentiles are ok too, is he expecting Peter, as a reasonably intelligent guy, to realise that as Christ died for ALL our sins then the gloves are off and what was unclean is no longer unclean?  Does it go that far?  Does Leviticus no longer apply?

It certainly seems to not apply for a lot of Christians, they take the point about food, they take the point about Gentiles.  They also seem to assume that it doesn’t apply to clothing and you don’t see too many people making animal sacrifices as you should do under Leviticus.

In fact Leviticus (and much of Christianity) seems to have become a buffet where people pick and choose what they do and do not want to do.  I don’t think religion should work like that.  Either you think Leviticus applies to you or you don’t.  Either Jesus washed away the sins of the world or He didn’t.  You can’t say “Oh he washed away the sins, but not this one.” to pander to your own unpleasant bigotries.  If there’s one thing Jesus wasn’t about it was unpleasant bigotries, you can see it throughout his ministry.

So if we do dispense with Leviticus what are we left with?  The Sermon on the Mount, the commandments, the ministry as a whole.  What aspect of that ministry suggests going around being unpleasant to people just because they disagree with our preconceptions?

None I can think of.

So just be reasonable and pleasant.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and frankly if homosexuals are allowed to get married what difference does it make to you in quantifiable terms?  Are you less married as a result?  Do you love your spouse less?  Is anyone forcing you to marry someone of the same gender?  No.  On all counts.  If people want to be happy don’t stop them, encourage them.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Newsy, Setting The World To Rights

 

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The Myth Of The Honest Atheist


Tom Chivers has asserted that Atheism is Honest, the Atheist has looked at the evidence, found none for God and made the intellectual and empirical discovery that there is no God.

How arrogant.

What’s actually happened is that someone has started from a position of not wanting to believe in God, taken a scientific stance to try to disprove God, achieved the decision he wanted to having found no evidence of God in his own life and decided that for all mankind there is no God.

It’s dishonest from a scientific perspective and it’s dishonest from an intellectual perspective.

Pitting science against religion in this way is akin to pitting cheese against a kestrel.

The truly honest position is to admit, that no one can really know.  Religion is a matter of faith, not a matter of science.

As a bishop (of sorts) I’m more than happy to acknowledge that my faith may be based in misplaced superstition, but it gives me comfort and solace and does no harm to anyone.  How many atheists will concede that their rejection of any God is based in their own intellectual choice rather than a truly evidence based framework?  Very few, I’d wager.

Instead many atheists seem to prefer to claim some sort of superiority to those of us of faith.  “There is no God,” they profess, “So anything religion based should be excluded from society, not mentioned to children and the tenets of religion may not be allowed in the decisions of society.”  Pure, unexpurgated, arrogance.

For me, there is humility in faith, the acknowledgement of a higher power the need for respect and love for both Him and for our fellow man.  Respect underpins society and helps it to function, a society without respect won’t stay a society for long with people pulling in different directions.  Many say “I’ll respect you if you respect me”, always someone else has to go first.  Well I’ll go first, I’ll even respect the non-respectful in small ways so that their respect can grow.

Not so the arrogant atheist, his very language reeks of disrespect.  “Why should I respect someone who believes in imps, sky fairies and demons?” he cries.  Why shouldn’t you?  Is not a person of faith still a person, you can respect them and treat them with respect while not actually agreeing with them.  I’ll respect you all the same, I’ll acknowledge that there is no God in your life, not right now, I’ll quietly hope that you and He meet in your life, but I’ll not force you and I’ll not disrespect you as I do so.

Now, can you do the same for me and stop using disrespectful language to liken my God to a “sky fairy”?