Monday, 29 September 2008

Being leaderless and disillusioned with politics is one thing, but feeling the Catholic Church in you own country is bereft of many good, sound, loyal, holy and humble men to lead it in these difficult times is quite another. There are such priests, but as with much that is good, they will be sidelined. Few of our English Bishops seem to be showing the vertebrae they were born with.

Why hasn't the Cardinal issued a prayer card for the nation, so that we can all be united, praying for the intercession on the Holy Spirit to guide the Church and inspire a suitable candidate to fill the post? I think that some in high places see the office of Cardinal as purely political and not as anything divinely inspired. Politics is crap on its own, we don't want the Church filled with it too.

Talking of this, if I were Cardinal (tee hee), one of the first things I'd do is ban lay parish liturgy groups. They have far too much influence with far too little sound training. Guess who populates them too? All those recently retired baby boomers with time on their hands. Guess where their sympathies lie, guess their agenda? I could be really bitchy and say something about "empty vessels"....hmm. Unfortunately, priests are often somewhat terrified by ladies of this certain age and often just "give the punters what they want" irrespective of how representative these well meaning folk are.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Unless the Lord build the house....

Often economics mimics the science of the day. It has been well documented that capitalism and the "free market" wouldn't have taken hold so convincingly in the 19th century if parallels hadn't been favourably drawn to the rising science of evolution, and in particular "the survival of the fittest".

Less well documented is the fact that Adam Smith's "invisible hand", the self regulatory mechanism that keeps the market ticking simply mirrors the science of "equilibrium chemistry". Those who say there should be no intervention in the markets, that they should be left pure to function properly are really just modeling the markets as a simple system in equilibrium chemistry. This stuff is 200 yrs old and showing its age. Those who are following Dr Ron Paul on this are wrong, the model is obselete. Those who don't want George Bush to intervene on the markets are reactionary idealists.

I'd argue that the markets are far more complex than equilibrium chemistry allows. In the 20th century Ilya Prigogine radically developed the science of complex systems far from any equilibrium. These systems are chaotic but develop periodic order and patterns of behaviour, this is far more like the system inherent in the world markets.

Patterns develop, prosperity and poverty grow and become polarised, greed and the state intervene and the patterns repeat. It is not pretty, but it is the deeply flawed system of market economics. There is no good in the system. It is unfair, it always will be. However putting your faith in an unfettered free market, free from state intervention is like putting your faith in caloric or flogiston, a bit silly!

The Belousov-Zhaobtinski reaction; complex, non equilibrium, chaotic, yet a pretty system (unlike the free market which isn't pretty).

Psalm 126
Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.
Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.

Friday, 19 September 2008

From Irene

Irene linked to the following blog with this holy card and caption, saying it was appropriate for my ponderings about a parish:

"It is such a folly to pass one's time fretting instead of resting quietly on the heart of Jesus."

St. Therese of Lisieux

(This is a 5-fold booklet holy card.
This means you open the first page to the left, the second page to the right, two smaller pages, and then the larger picture in the middle. Be sure to double click to see it enlarged.)

That is beautiful, thank you Irene. It does put things in perspective. However, you are always on the move in the ol' Airstream and part of me is a little jealous of your nomadic existence. Unfortunately, being stuck in a stone house without wheels, means I'd quite like to feel at home in my locality and that means having a parish, a parish family and a parish priest. The big crime I'm guilty of here is the picking and choosing of a parish, it reeks of all that is wrong with our consumerist, "shop around" society. Where I've moved from there was no choice and whilst aspects of parish life and liturgy were decidedly off the wall, it was home and we felt part of the family and it was an enriching experience. I even got a present off the priest when we left, priests don't usually do that sort of thing!

You're right, just go to Mass and don't fret. Now, what do I do about confession?

Monday, 15 September 2008

The last time a beautiful voice made me cry was when listening to a recording of the Red Army Chorus. Perhaps this shows what a shallow person I am. Still, even today, when their routine verges on the high camp and pantomime, they still have some of the best lungs in the business.

Here they are singing Dark Eyes

No real reason for this post other than I felt like it. Don't for one minute think I'm a fan of Russian imperialism, or the imperialist posturings of any other country for that matter.

Sunday, 14 September 2008


Just a quick post to let you know how things are progressing. I feel I have sounded fairly snarky recently, this is not my intention, I'm not really such a curmudgeon, I do smile occasionally....

Where we have moved to is a region which (by necessity of having a very low density of Catholics) supports pastoral areas rather than parishes. The up shot of this is that, living nearly equidistant from two of the churches in the pastoral area, we don't feel we have a parish home/family. On e-mailing the lead priest in the area, he informed us that we could go to Mass where we wanted, I supposed we were a little underwhelmed by this response. So over the last couple of weeks, we have been trying out the alternatives. This has been far from satisfactory. Once you are given a choice, you start to become very critical. Do you prefer the Mass with the perfectly drilled altar servers but less friendly congregation to the one in the church which doesn't have a crucifix but where they sing like angels? We shouldn't be making these sort of comparisons, it is wrong, very wrong. The really big temptation now is to say we just can't feel at home, jump in the car and drive up to the Oxford Oratory.

Saw something that has stayed with me, yesterday. We went for a walk in the early evening, the moon was up and the sun was setting gracefully over the village. There was utter pandemonium coming from a near by lake. The Canada geese were really excited. Then the din stopped and the geese set off in groups of about 15 flying into the setting sun. They struggled to get much higher than the rooftops, it could have been a last staging post before a very long flight, they were probably at their fattest. After the last group had nearly disappeared over the horizon, one solitary goose turned around and headed back to the lake, calling into the gloom and not receiving an answer back. Had it lost its mate, did it not feel fit enough for the journey?..who knows..I felt strangely sorry for it though.

More likely though is that the rest were off to rich feeding ground at the Cotswold water park or even Slimbridge, and my little friend couldn't be bothered. Nature is not full of romantics.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

This and that

I'm sorry I haven't been around much, but commuting is a nightmare and the new job is taking some getting used to. I'm needing my sleep and the blog world has had to take a back seat.

Here are a few things I have noticed recently:

There is at least one supermarket that sells a "chocolate for dieters" that is marketed in packaging to make it look just like the contraceptive pill. It has a logo that makes much of all the indulgence and none of the weight gain. Well, it is sick. I feel I ought to do something about it, I just can't think what...any ideas?

The same supermarket was selling 2 litre bottles of wine in plastic that looks like it had been designed to hold vegetable oil. The price was ridiculously cheap. Just who was it designed for? It look like it was designed for someone with a drink problem (or the potential for a serious drink problem), nobody else would touch it. I thought it was irresponsible...but then I've known too many for whom alcohol has become a demon and parasite.

I know those trapped in life threatening weather conditions all need our prayers but somehow I feel driven to pray even more so for the people of Haiti. Not only is the weather deadly, but that is on top of the starvation and the hopelessness of the economy; it is probably a better candidate than Zimbabwe for "Hell on Earth" at the moment. There are many strange things afoot in that land but how marvelous is every soul that is saved from the brink. Aid to the Church in Need have funded many projects in that land.

Finally, I'm utterly sick of the cult of personality that shamelessly parading itself as politics both in the UK and the USA and elsewhere. Can it be said clearly enough; none of the politicians, senators, Vietnam-vets, great white hopes, great brown hopes or hockey moms will do any good. Why? Because we are putting them on a pedestal. What happens when we stick a fellow human being on a pedestal? Someone else tries to knock them off. We don't know these people, but we do know they are human. Like the rest of us they are all deeply flawed. They need political parties with policies. Policies that show concern for all those within the country, that are fair and not obsessed with ratings and serving the press and media and feeding our fears. We put these guys on pedestals, they do their little dances for us, we holler and slaver like guys watching pole dancers. We've forgotten the human being, we have created a fictional being that we then start to put our hopes and fears is doomed to failure. There is no debate and nothing is done, the cult of celebrity is a smoke screen that everyone wishes to hide behind whilst more and more are falling into poverty, falling out of education, loosing opportunities, unable to use their talents and becoming slaves to welfare, crap insecure jobs and loan sharks.

Oh, and I'm sick of all this nice hair and day-glo teeth, why do politicians all have to look like Barbie's aunties and uncles? Why can't they have rotten teeth, sweat problems, the odd scar, a funny walk, embarrassing tattoo and inability to make clothes look good. I guess, this just goes to show I'm as obsessed with image as the rest of you..

Friday, 5 September 2008

A quizzy thing found on Mac's blog and open to all. I've just done it cos it was a deep trawl through my past which has steadily become more and more repetitive and respectable...I should get out more.

1. President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963
I was not born, but my mum was atop a bus in Dublin having just come back from the pictures (an Elvis film she says).

2. England's World Cup Semi Final v Germany - 4 July 1990
Slightly the worse for alcohol in a rented flat in Rochdale.

3. Margaret Thatcher's resignation - 22 November 1990
In a public house in the Leith docks nr. Edinburgh, the pub had the legend on the door "Belgian sailors welcome" and the mature ladies who like to welcome sailors that frequented the establishment were dancing on the tables in celebration of her demise. Don't ask which Edinburgh drinking house I was in when Gulf War One fired up..... I can't remember much apart from the poor go-go girl doing her thing whilst everybody was too transfixed on the TV screens of fighter planes to notice. (All these places have now been sanitised and this a good thing? I'm not sure.)

4. Princess Diana's death - 31 August 1997
At work.

5. Attack on the twin towers - 11 September 2001
At a different work. I remember not being able to get through to one of the maths teachers what had happened, she kept wittering on about something really trivial.

6. The election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to the papacy - 19 April 2005
DH told me when I came home from work.

BTW, I hate the taste of alcohol these days and I've seem too much of the damage it does to people.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


I must thank Philip for awarding me this stupendous award! Especially as due to the pressures of work I'm hardly blogging at the moment.

All the chaps and chappesses I would have nominated for this have been done with the exception of the brilliant James Mawdsely, but he's too cool for this sort of thing (perhaps).

Life is weird at the moment. Imagine waking up and finding your soccer team is now the wealthiest in the Universe thanks to some serious money from the Gulf. Well, I have done. I hope they realise the DNA of this team is programmed for self-destruction and heroic failure. As irritating as this is, they wouldn't be MCFC if it wasn't the case. In other words, if they start becoming as pompously successful as their nearest neighbours (if you don't know who they are - you must come from Manchester), then they simply ain't my team, so I'll know it was all a dream anyway and MCFC have really ceased to exist due to an act of enourmous stupidity and greed.