Thursday, 27 May 2010

The new rules of posting comments on other blogs

It was Banksyboy's plaintive lament for the Beaker Folk that reminded me to post these new rules.

It just got too complicated, having so many sock puppets to comment with.  So now the rules are simple.  My creations are only allowed to post comments on fictional (I hope) sites such as Beyond the Woodshed.  I will post as myself on "real" sites such as David Keen, Sally, Mike, Simon Robinson and (since "he" also interacts in the "real world"), Church Mouse.

I hope that's clear.  And so do Mrs Daphne Hnaef and Eileen.

Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes (or the organisation that bears her name) is much in the news for the new advert, and with comments from such as Cranmer.
I'm generally unhappy with abortion.  Not because I hate women, but because I love human life.  I can see cases where it's the least-worst option and I believe banning it would be wrong.  Nobody has an abortion for fun.  But I definitely see the current time limit as too late, and I get concerned in those cases where it does seem to be an alternative form of late contraception - particularly where its use as contraception is forced on women by a pushy partner, and makes a mockery of the concept of a woman's right to choose in any case.
But this isn't about abortion.  It's about Marie Stopes.  And I really don't like her.

Let me explain.

Back at the beginning of the last century, a family of North Londoners were ducking-and-diving in the streets off the Holloway Road.  The father of the clan seems to have been a complete rogue, who had moved in from the sticks, changed his surname (possibly to his real father's) and went on to produce nine or ten kids.  Daniel Poulter (for that was his real name) legged it leaving my great-gran (for such she was) with another one in the oven, and was never seen again.

The roads where my family lived are a litany of names that no longer exist, because planners decided they wanted to do something else.  Bavaria Road (pictured below) was renamed from its original Blenheim Road.  Cromwell Road was renamed Ireton Road, and then wiped away to form Whittington Park.  Rupert Road was truncated by the same park.  I sometimes feel that people like my family were just pawns on the map of north London, to be moved around the place at the whims of more important people - councillors, planners, people of vision - wherever was most convenient for those well-connected and important people.

And that's where Marie Stopes comes in.  She started her first clinic in 1921 - just as my great-grandad was legging it up the Holloway Road.  She opened it in Marlborough Road.  Right in the middle of my family's old manor - just across the Holloway Road from my great-nan's house.  And do you know, I feel she did it to try and wipe us out.  The Upper Classes of the era were still producing fairly large families  in those days, but she didn't worry about them.  They weren't her problem.  We were. It's like she decided that enough was enough.  If you think I'm a bit paranoid, you may be right.  But then read this.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Birth control is a sensible and practical solution to the fact that men and women want to share their love in physical ways, but don't necessarily want to produce ten children per family.  Apart from anything else, the planet can't take it.  And I don't have "natural law" issues with it.  We are free creatures and we have freedom in and responsibility in this as well.

I just wish the person associated with it didn't seem to have a personal grudge against my family.


By the way, this is the War Memorial for the people of Cromwell Road (as was).  Since the road was wiped out by the planners, it's set in the ground in the park.  Ernest Frank Miller, up near the top, is my great-great-uncle.  He was swept away with a great mass of the working class at the Somme. I don't suppose Marie Stopes would have worried that much.  After all, poor old Ernie was one of the "slave class".

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

It's Thicker by Rail

Frustrated beyond even my normal abilities to be frustrated by the combination of greed and stupidity that masquerades as a pricing strategy for our railways.

Watford is a mere 60-ish miles away.  It's not a great journey by train, involving as it does a walk across Snorbens (which is the local pronunciation of "St Albans") but it's eminently do-able.  It's handy because it would mean I could work on the train.  I could relax.  It's cool.  I like trains.

But when I get back to the St Pancras line on my way home, after a little trip on the Noddy "Watford and St Albans Abbey" line, and I get on a train that left London after 4pm, the price of a return suddenly goes up to £90 from the relatively sensible £40.  Not if I leave after 4pm - no, it's the time of a train that I connect with that decides this.  This is a rule to stop people daring to travel out of London in the evening rush hour, I presume.  But the price goes up by £50.

So I walk out of the station.  Return home and get in my car.  Wreck the planet and my patience driving down the M1.  Bill my company at 40p per mile PLUS the £8 parking because - irony of ironies - the only place I can park near the office I'm visiting is Watford Junction Railway Station.  And it's still cheaper, and I can leave when I need to not when the Railways would like me to.

I know it's not fashionable today to say this, but there oughta be a lore.

Church without a Church

Just reading Matt Payne's blogpost on "The Business Model of New Churches" and agreeing with every word.

Call me an old extremist, but I don't understand why, at this time in the history of history, any church in its right mind that did not have a building, would build one.  Or buy one.  Rent one might be OK.
But this country, like most Western countries, is full of schools.  Schools on the whole, in my experience, like churches renting their halls.  The church gets a cheap meeting place, the school gets a bit of money, the community gets more out of its money - it "sweats the asset" as a particularly cheesy ex-manager of mine would have said - and all in all everyone's a winner.  It's not just economic.  By meeting in a school (or community centre,  or pub, or social club) the church lowers the entry barrier of going to church, and makes the boundaries of church porous to the outside "community".  I use the word "community" in inverted commas, because in my experience it is of limited existence.

In fact, as far as I can see there's an argument for churches that have church buildings, if they are suitable, to sell them if they can.  They might be good community centres.  Or they might have development potential.  Obviously, I'm not talking your 12th century Norman masterpiece here.  More your Non-conformist preaching "box", or 20th century community church.  If they're only used one day a week, maybe somebody else could use that asset better?

The whole concept of a "church" building seems alien to me.  I've quoted no Scripture in this posting, for the simple reason that the Bible knows nothing of church buildings.  It knows about synagogues, but they were centres for education, social interaction and religion.  A very Jewish, very non-Platonic-Dualism way of behaving.  I think we'd be well off with the same thing.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Priorities

So pleased.  Visiting-ministering a church yesterday and somebody was busy with money-related matters but then said "we've got to do with it, but it's a shame.  We should be concentrating on the important stuff, like mission and the children".
Quite.
But then how can we do that when every year the Parish Shares go up faster than a government structural deficit?  By everyone tithing in the old sense of the word, maybe - but then when tithes were invented everyone didn't also have 20% income tax, 11% NI and so on.  On the other hand, life was much simpler and nobody spent money on Sky TV, Plasma screens or BT Internet.  So it's never easy, is it?
Sorry, no solutions.  Just thought it was nice that somebody talked about important church stuff, and managed not to mention buildings.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Fresh expressions of Labour

I haven't blogged much on the Election.  Mostly because my random, not very well thought out batch of libertarian beliefs tends to be more suited to Twitter where you don't need to justify yourself in 140 characters.

But I'm a bit worried about what New Labour is now going to call itself, now it's no longer shiny and New.  I suggest that they could take some hints from the world of new Bible translations, which would provide all the following possibilities.  And the good news (if you'll excuse the pun) is that these Fresh Expressions of Labour could all exist at the same time.  Gotta catch them all...

New International Labour - an old-fashioned attitude to politics but expressed in new language.

New English Labour - committed to Anglo-Saxon self-determination, as a corrective to the last 13 years of Celtic rule.

New Revised Standard Labour - relentlessly political correct, but worded slightly strangely.

Today's New International Labour - quite politically correct, but not so popular as the original.

Good News Labour - policies in simple 1960s English, but all the politicians are just two-dimensional caricatures.

Updated (thanks, Simon):


On Message - Contemporary, simple, can be condensed to fit a txt message.  But not much like the real, traditional Labour.

Monday, 10 May 2010

On the Filleting of the Liturgy

There's just something a bit wrong about this.

This is Rev 22: 12-21.
“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
“It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. 
And this is what it looks like, according to the lectionary

“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. 

So this is what has been removed:


Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

So the message would appear to be this: Christians are children.  We must not scare them.  We must not let them tackle hard passages.  We must save them from looking at a text in full, and in context, and tackling in frankly.  We must have only good news, and no nastiness.  The Prophets of Baal went home chastened, the Beast goes for therapy and is released on parole, and Jezebel was a loving wife who died in her bed.  And they all lived happily ever after.