Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Cats tend to look similar, most domesticated pet cats share more similarities than differences.  Of course, there are the big cats in Africa, India and China, but even these are similar to pet cats in many ways.  Now dogs; well that really is a whole other story.  As a Christian, I believe implicitly in the creation story, I just can’t look at a human being, the marvellous mechanics of the hand, the eyes, the ears, the heart, liver, brain and so on and believe that this is all the result of evolution and natural selection and that life just started by accident; a glorious accident, but in the end no more than an accident.  But whatever you believe, creation or evolution, there are complex questions that to my mind may have been asked but have never been adequately answered.  Why, if dogs are the same species, do they often look so very different from each other?  I mean, look at a Great Dane and then look at a Scotty dog; both dogs, yet so radically different they could be completely different species.  The question we might ask is ‘If these dogs are both dogs, then when did the Scotty dog change and shrink, or when did the Great Dane grow?’ and perhaps as importantly ‘how?’  So there is a conundrum here, a question, or questions more to the point, of epic and cosmic proportions, the questions that beg for answers.


So what about human beings then?  Look at someone from Japan, someone from Papua New Guinea and someone from Ireland; all human beings but again quite different from each other; different face shapes and different facial features, different coloured skins, different types of hair, and in many ways being quite different from each other.  The belief in evolutionary circles, at this present time, is that human beings came out of Africa and then spread slowly but surely to the rest of the world.  The creation story is somewhat different.  After the Flood, Noah’s sons populated the earth, one called Ham being the progenitor of African people, one called Shem being the progenitor of Semitic people and one called Japheth being the progenitor of all Asiatic people.

Let’s examine the evolutionary belief.  If all humans came out of Africa, why aren’t we all black and have hair, facial features and the bone density of most black Africans?  How does a white European with red hair and green eyes, or a light skinned Chinese person with straight fine hair and very different facial features, come out of African ancestors?  Another question I am waiting to see answered.


Then let’s examine the creation belief.  If God created life, all life and all the species on earth including us, then He also had the power to create difference right from the start.  How else could we explain such differences even in human beings?  And then think of all the different species that just exist in the vast Amazon rainforest that is in Brazil and I think borders a number of other countries in Latin America.  What are we to make of that?  Some evolutionists will say that many of these species are interrelated and indeed have bred from two other different species, so making a new species.  We may find out that some of that is true, and is not standing against the belief of creation.  Certainly, if we look at humans, although I believe we are creations of God and there were only three specific groupings of mankind at the start, many nations are indeed mixtures of these groups, and various admixtures of human beings.  I have noticed though, and I am no expert in this at all, that all human beings seem to be of one, two or three human varieties.  In short, all humans are a mixture of the three peoples that God created at the start.  I mean, look at Europeans for example.  We are all called Europeans, and yet some Europeans look dark like Arabs and those from the Middle East.  Some of us, especially in the far North of Europe exhibit what I would call Asiatic features, with almond eyes and fine hair and high cheekbones.  Then many of us have a Semitic look, larger noses, big eyes, long faces, and a tendency to be quite or even very hairy.  Of course, with this there is a tendency of some overlap with Mediterranean people.  In countries like Ireland and Wales for example, you will find that all these differences exist; some Irish and Welsh people are dark, hairy and have curly hair and a Mediterranean appearance.  Others have a more Semitic look, and others have the Asiatic look.  It is certain that Europeans are a very mixed bag of all the different ethnic groups in the world.  But whatever your opinion on this, be it more evolutionist or more creationist like myself, these realities of our often fundamental differences as humans demand intelligent, open and searching questions from all those interested, regardless of their viewpoint or beliefs.   


Janeane Garofalo & Uma Thurman

I absolutely adore Janeane Garofalo, those cute big brown eyes and sweet face, but I also adore Uma Thurman.  Two very different women.  They both appeared in a film I watched a few years ago called ‘The Truth About Cats and Dogs’, and it was a rom-com, usually the type of film I wouldn’t watch being a big hairy bloke who likes action movies and gangster movies and film noirs, but nevertheless I enjoyed it.  I have come to the conclusion that God made us all so very different, and beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, or on a Saturday night the eye of the beer holder!  Seriously, as a single man who hasn’t had a great deal of success in romantic terms, but who remains ever optimistic of finding love, I believe that we are all more than looks and true beauty really is much more than skin deep.  Beauty is when someone has time for everyone else, treats others kindly and regards no one as less than they are.  A sweet nature, whether it be a man or woman, is beautiful because often those types of people seem to draw in other people.  We know that a loving nature is closer to God than an angry and bitter nature.  In the past, I could have been accused of being both angry and bitter.  Now, I pray earnestly about this and God is dealing with these issues.  I have been called attractive and even downright handsome before today, but I ain’t no Brad Pitt or George Clooney at the same time!  I have imperfections like most people and even had hang-ups about them.  What lasts, as we get older, is the love we have for each other, the love we have for God.  That is beauty. 


The Christian Right

I am confused by some versions of ‘American Christianity’ and how it aligns itself with often extreme Right-wing conservative politics; if we are honest, surely basic Christianity has more in common with Communist, Socialist and Left-wing politics, or am I being naïve?  The vast majority of American Christians I ‘meet’ online are exactly like the vast majority of British Christians I meet online who are decent, sweet-natured, easy to get on with and interesting because they are all individuals with different personalities and interests, which is always reflected in their blogs.  So why is it often that the voices we hear in organised Christianity, and in life in general, are those who are not so kind and generous, but have agendas of their own?  In my humble opinion, we should be very careful when we mix any kind of politics, or indeed any worldly thing, with the simple faith of Christianity.  It seems to be true that some people use religion as a mask, as a mark of respectability, to further their own often very selfish interests and in the end to prosper at other people’s expense.

No, this is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel, when those days have come, the Lord declares: In their minds I shall plant my laws writing them on their hearts. Then I shall be their God, and they shall be my people.  (Hebrews 8:10 NJB)


God calls many types of people from all walks of life to serve Him and live out their calling as Christians.  But I think that organised Christianity is more about the great and the good and the socially important claiming and proclaiming religion for their own ends and gratification.  In my eyes, much of what passes for organised Christianity is just not that relevant to ordinary people anymore.

Faith is more than organised Christianity, it is more than rituals, it is more than men’s traditions, it is something that we might call the inner reality as opposed to the external world of religious politics, worldly religious power and seemingly much that passes for organised Christianity.  I am not talking about atheism or secularism, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Christian after all, just that we need to really think about what we are thinking about, and we need to really know and understand what we are supposed to believe.  I think to many younger Christians and Christians of my generation, popes and priests, vicars and archbishops and the whole paraphernalia of hierarchy that is in the Catholic church and the Anglican church, just isn’t that relevant to many people anymore; it is something that we should be debating as Christians.  The hierarchy in the big denominations merely reflect the social systems of the world.  Isn’t this the worldliness that Christians and Christian organisations should completely avoid?  Maybe the fear amongst those who hold to a more traditional and hierarchical belief is that what would we replace it with, quite simply?  I think there are now enough Christians like myself and modern Christian organisations who’ve proved that we can live Christian lives that offer far more than that which traditional Christianity does.  Well, what do you think?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Trials and Tribulations

It’s certain that all of us at some time in our lives will have trials and tribulations, that we will go through things that we wouldn’t choose and that make us feel miserable or just under pressure.  I write about this because at this time I am going through some trials of my own.  I feel somehow that through them, God is trying to draw me closer to Him.  I have had a serious cold with flu like symptoms and on top of it all I had a painful cough too; no fun at all and frankly I could have done without it.  On top of this, I fell foul of officialdom and struggled to sort things out while I wasn’t at all well.  At the same time, I am waiting for a breakthrough in my Christian life and have been praying to God for many months now for spiritual help and guidance in my life.  It seems I am either suffering or waiting; and sometimes both.  It’s absolutely certain that no one likes to suffer, and few of us like waiting for things; we want everything to be good and we want what we want right now.  But God, I think, has other plans.  My brothers, consider it a great joy when trials of many kinds come upon you, for you well know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must complete its work so that you will become fully developed, complete, not deficient in any way.  (James 1:2-4 NJB)



I have written about class and social injustice for a long time, and posted many of the posts on my blog.  I feel that God does not want us ever to act unjustly to other people, nor to exploit other people ruthlessly or to simply disregard other people and their wants and needs.  At the same time, I admit that I have a ‘bee in my bonnet’ about it all.  From time to time, I feel it is necessary to debate such issues, but if we do too much, or take too much on, we can become jaded with it all, and it can become like an albatross around our necks so to speak.   It has become a stronghold, and goodness knows, I have enough of them already to deal with!  I have anger issues, because I was bullied at school, and I have issues with people disagreeing with me, because I am (or certainly was) very opinionated at times.  I believe that anger is very much a stronghold, and even if we think we have a good reason to be angry with another person, or just to be angry in general, it can make us miserable and sometimes we can become the person we don’t want to be.  I also have had a problem with women too, as I think many men do, but equally even if we have a good reason to be angry or upset, we can make more problems for ourselves by indulging our anger or our hatred or even our self-righteousness.  Strongholds can also be from a root of bitterness, and I confess that at times I have been a bitter person.  Strongholds and a root of bitterness do not make good Christians, in fact it can send us off on a tangent, away from God and into our own selfishness and self-importance.  For although we are human, it is not by human methods that we do battle.  The weapons with which we do battle are not those of human nature, but they have the power, in God's cause, to demolish fortresses. It is ideas that we demolish, every presumptuous notion that is set up against the knowledge of God, and we bring every thought into captivity and obedience to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NJB)  Not only can we develop strongholds, we can become like a stronghold, aloof, proud, lacking in decency and wanting to keep everyone at arm’s length, especially if we have been hurt by people in the past for one reason or another.  We have to take a chance on love, we have to be willing to be vulnerable even if that means that sometimes people hurt us, or take us for granted or otherwise let us down in some way.


The Christian Right

I have been reading a book called ‘American Fascists’ by a writer called Chris Hedges.  It talks about the way some Christianity in the United States has been hijacked by certain people and combined with very Right-wing politics and the belief in unfettered capitalism.  He writes earnestly about that he fears that such ideology will take over America and challenge America’s long standing traditions of liberty, freedom, free speech and the desire to live any way any American may choose.  After reading some of the book, I have come to believe that we cannot link Christianity with any worldly and temporal thing.  Even though my view is that genuine Christianity, the faith lived out on a daily basis, has far more in common with Left-wing politics and Socialism, I still don’t feel that we should particularly link the two things together.  In short, our faith as Christians must come first.  I confess that I am a Left-winger and have always been so from an early age, and don’t feel that my faith is compromised by my political stance.  In the final analysis though, I am a Christian first and everything else second.  I believe this is the way God wants me to be.  So, I too am suspicious of the Christian Right, and I wonder what their agenda is and what their aims truly are.  Perhaps we will have to wait and see.


The Great and the Good

We have just seen a new pope elected, and so far there is a good vibe about him.  He is it seems a man of the people and lived simply and frugally in Argentina when he was a cardinal and eschewed the trappings of high office.  I’m not a Catholic so don’t have strong opinions either way, but by and large it seems they may have made the right choice.  I may add one caveat; one of the problems I have with anyone born to or gaining high office of some kind, is that somehow we assume that they will have the answers to all the world's problems, or suddenly they will be able to solve all the world’s problems.  It is, of course, wishful thinking.  Many of the faithful seem to invest all their hopes in a new pope, and in England just look at the way some royalists regard Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles; they are treated, along with some other royals, almost as if they are gods and everything they say is of the utmost importance and is filled with significance and meaning.  But, you know, at the end of the day, they are only human beings and they don’t have all the answers however much we wished they did.  As a Christian, I look to Jesus for guidance and He has all the answers we need.  Yes a good pope or a good queen is a blessing to the world, but they are not divine after all.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Class War

There has been a low level ‘war’ between Working class people and Middle class people for a while now in Britain, perhaps really starting after the 2nd World War finished, when we were all told to pull together and we were all told ‘we are all in it together.’  Sound familiar?  I expect it does. 


When I say war, I don’t mean a physical thing between different people, or any violence as such, more a war of attrition, a war of ideas, a war where each side tries to prove the other false, or hypocritical or somehow debauched and depraved.  Sound familiar?  Perhaps it does. 


One aspect of the class system is that often we don’t know how to relate to each other.  If someone from a very Middle class background meets someone from a traditional Working class background, there is almost certainly unease, a clashing of cultures, two different accents and a wholly different outlook and attitude to life; in some cases it’s as if those two people are from different planets.  This to me is the sad state of Britain and the way the class system has made everyone an enemy of everyone else.


For some Middle class people, their supposed interest in fighting for the rights of ethnic minorities seems just a smokescreen so that no one challenges them on their class prejudice and so we don’t look at the way white Working class people are kept out of the wealth creation process, and kept in many cases from higher education, better housing and better employment opportunities to name but a few things.  Middle class people it seems do not want competition from Working class people; for some reason they seem to fear us and perhaps that fear breeds hatred.  They fear that the majority of poor people, whether White, Black or Asian will start demanding better lives and a bigger slice of the pie and not having to accept low-wage jobs and third rate lives as is the usual case.  In some cases, certain cynical Middle class people supposedly fight for the rights of ethnic minorities in order to drive a wedge between those ethnic minorities and the White Working class, so they can divide and conquer and keep us at each other’s throats while they cream off the better jobs, better education and better career opportunities whilst ordinary people fight for the crumbs at the bottom.  In reality White Working class people have more in common with Working class Black and Asian people than they do with White Middle class people.  Am I being cynical in all of this?  Do Middle class people really want equality for everyone, or is their selectivity in supposedly fighting for the rights of some and not others a way of dividing us all up and keeping us all down?  My view is that certain Middle class campaigners fight for special rights for ethnic minorities, in the same way they fight for special rights for themselves; instead of special rights, we should all be fighting for equal rights.  In the end, I am not condemning Middle class people for wanting to get on and have decent lives, don’t we all, I am taking umbrage with the way some people pretend to be concerned for others when they are really only interested in themselves.  I might add that for a Christian there should be no consideration of someone’s class or ethnicity, or whatever background they come from, Christians should believe in equality pure and simple.


The class system is a form of fascism like racism and it is institutionalised injustice, an injustice that will be the next big thing for people to challenge and open up to general national discussion.   And believe me it’s not before time; we need a healthy and open debate on this.  We all need to accept and understand that class like racism is about demeaning some, and exalting others in an unjust and unfair way that should have no place in a supposedly modern 21st century democracy.


In this country we accept, often without qualm, Working class people being kept out of good jobs in the Media, Law, Civil service and many other institutions, this being the real reason some Middle class people are prejudiced against Working class people; the economic reason.  Also how people with Working class accents are kept from the national news and politics, and how often Working class people have to emulate Middle class people just to get on.  It means that quite frankly if a Working class person does have ambition to a better life, often he or she has to be twice as smart, twice as hardworking and twice as talented as someone who is Middle class.  In effect then, we have a society where often the smartest and most talented people do not get on, if they are noticeably Working class, or from an ethnic minority for that matter.  This is where the reality of most prejudice ends; a society where people are held back to allow someone else not particularly talented or accomplished to prosper simply because of their perceived higher status.  It’s the way the world has been for a long time but it is time we began to fight it and challenge it, in our own very personal lives, and also on a local, national and international scale.



Our nation prospered as an empire for a few centuries; certain people and certain families prospered as plantation owners, slave traders, land grabbers and many other things besides.  It’s true to say that for many people profiteering, there were issues of injustice, double-standards, horrendous levels of prejudice and the turning of a blind eye.  Our society is rich in many respects because of what happened at the height of the British Empire, or we could say more honestly some families and businesses and banks and corporations are rich because of these times and the trade connections that empire facilitated.  It’s certain that today there is a level of guilt in all of this, and certain again that some families are uneasy about how they originally came into wealth in the not-so-distant past.  Somehow, and in some way, this guilt, this self-hatred, has been transposed onto Working class people, that we are to blame for all the ills in society and all the prejudice and racism that exists.  If we are honest, it is more likely that guilt is on those who come from the perceived higher echelons, those who have position, status and wealth.  I am not condemning anyone for what their ancestors did or didn’t do, I am suggesting that British people, certainly those who consider themselves from Middle and Upper class backgrounds need to examine their prejudices and accept that this reality is something they need to come to terms with, instead of demonising those they perceive to be beneath them for whatever reason. 



Society in England still infers that if we aren’t Middle class or above, somehow we aren’t accepted or acceptable, that we should go away and crawl under a stone somewhere and just die.  It’s more honest to say that we must curtail our ambitions and leave the better life to our ‘betters.’  Yes, this is still an issue in Britain now and I believe the time is right to bring it up and open it up to debate; we need a national debate on the class system and accept that it has made us a third-rate nation, and continues to sap the lifeblood of the nation.  Much of it comes down to prejudice, prejudice that comes from those perceived to be higher up the social scale.  I try to understand this prejudice, I even try to come to terms with it, but in the end I can’t; to me it is just prejudice and all prejudice is small-minded, and born of ignorance and contempt and extremely shallow thinking.


In some cases, you are meant to be somehow ashamed of being Working class and having a Working class accent and heritage; why is this?  Why are we supposed to be ashamed of being something that we are? Shouldn’t those who are prejudiced be ashamed, or is it another anomaly of the class system that those perceived to be better than the rest of us are allowed to be bigoted?  If so, why is this?  What happens then quite simply is that once some Working class people get on in some way, through education, starting a successful business or getting a highly-paid career, they themselves become the new Middle class, so carrying on this ridiculous obsession with social status and class.  There are more important things in life than which class someone is, or what colour their skin is, or what their parents did for a living; there are issues of justice, fairness, concern for the other person at stake.  I believe all prejudice is a form of cowardice and the vanity of small-minded people who have nothing to offer other than their own supposed superiority.


The Economic Apartheid of Britain

The class system in Britain, and especially England is really about who is perceived as ‘the deserving’ and who is perceived as ‘the undeserving’; it’s something that has its roots at least in the 19th century and perhaps further back than that.  Class is really about the economic issue; who is allowed to prosper and get on, and who isn’t allowed to prosper and get on.  The economic issue is at the heart of class, it’s the only thing that matters.  If you are on a good wage, you are probably economically Middle class, if you are on a low wage or unemployed you are probably economically Working class.  For me the real reason for prejudice is simply to stop people getting on and getting better wages or better life chances, and to cut out competition for the Middle class.  All this talk of being concerned about ethnic minorities and being non-racist and non-sexist and whatever else is mooted is just a whitewash to enable some Middle class people to be just as prejudiced and self-centred and self-interested as they can be, whilst claiming the high moral ground.  If people were honest about their ambitions and their agenda, there would be less animosity, and if there was more of a level playing field there would be less injustice and hypocrisy.


There is an economic apartheid in Britain, as there is in many rich countries in the West.  The pyramid of wealth in Britain means that at the top there are people with billions and hundreds of millions, and there are people at the bottom who sometimes lack even basic amenities and sometimes go without food.  In the Middle are often those who’ve escaped poverty or low wage jobs.  The reality is that there is enough to go around but the economic system we live under means wealth for a few and relative poverty for millions.  It is this issue that is at the heart of class relations.

We need a debate on this issue, we need to understand that class is as relevant as racism or any other prejudice and an issue that is not going to go away.  My view as a Working class person myself is that I will challenge in my own life the limitations society and the class system has set for me by aspiring to a better life, and if I can I will challenge these notions of prejudice on a local, national and international level.  I am one person with my eyes open now.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Haven't been at all well lately...!

Hi folks, haven't been at all well this week, so I am going to post the next post at the end of this week.  Hope everyone else is fine.