Saturday, 22 June 2013

Citric Acid

The world is now officially crazy.  I have just been down to my nearest town (a goodly drive away) to try to buy some citric acid.  It is stuff found in lemons.  It would be an irritant if you stuck the powder in your eye. It is a mild acid but quite frankly most products for cleaning your home would do you far more damage.  Citric acid can be used by cooks and I wished to purchase it to clean my shower head which is filling up with limescale.  Oh, the innocent pleasures of the weekend!

A chemist shop, belonging to a chain which shall remain nameless, said they were no longer allowed to sell it and gave me a very dirty look.  So I ambled over to another chemist who was quite happy to sell it to me.  However I threw him a curved ball and said that the other chemist was not stocking it anymore, probably to take the moral high ground with the heroin addicts.  He chuckled and said that I didn't look like a heroin addict.  But the truth was out.  This is about the fact that citric acid is used to cut heroin, and that is why shops are wary of selling it.

Hold on, think I.  Citric acid is relatively cheap, and it is safe, very much safer than other things heroin addicts may be forced to cut their smack with.  Neat heroin can kill.  Why can't an addict make a choice to try to stay as healthy as possible and manage his habit accordingly?  Indeed, I've known professionals who are addicted to the stuff and had no desire to come off it. Not all heroin addicts look like they've just come off  the set of Trainspotting. Obviously, dear reader, I'm not endorsing it as a lifestyle choice, I must make that clear.

This seems to be part of the culture of control and I am very uneasy about it: don't make it easy for the addict to use his heroin safely, make sure he is registered and then get him on the Methadone.  Now Methadone is simply state zombification.  It is a horrid horrid drug, it destroys souls much more effectively than the natural opiates.

Further to this, isn't a heroin addict allowed to make jam or clean their shower head?

Lunacy.  Lunacy.

But then again, the Moon is tugging a bit more than usual tonight.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Midsummer Madness

This is a strange poem to be lurking about my brain at the height of the summer.  But then again, maybe it isn't.  It is a poem about one's muse, and as muses can be such contradictory things, it is quite possible that the summer can resemble deep midwinter and be more peaceful for it.  The Sign of Contradiction is in charge; who ascendeth upon the west.  The Lord is his name (Ps67) To ascend with the setting sun seems contradictory, but as Fr Faber once pointed out; our natural journey is from dawn to dusk, but our journey in Faith is from dusk to dawn; it is Christ who takes us through the night. What seems strange simply isn't! I just thank God for it all.

The Thought Fox- Ted Hughes
I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox's nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

Monday, 17 June 2013


I suppose I should be grateful for Joseph Shaw for pointing out a worrying article by Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI on the nature of celibacy.

For personal reasons I am deeply fond of the OMI  and their founder, St Eugene de Mazenod.  I am less fond of the writings of Fr Rolheiser.  This particular article is worrying as it is not joyfully positive about celibacy.  It sees it as part of suffering (which we know is a necessary part of the human condition), with the emphasis being on the solitude of the celibate.  Is solitude a form of suffering? The "infinite solitude" of God is our only joy, surely? Is celibacy something to be suffered?  I can't believe this to be the case.

Firstly and most importantly Chastity is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is not something to be suffered but wells forth from The font of joy. It is available to all, the Holy Spirit doesn't refuse His gifts and their fruits to anyone.  Celibacy is founded on a healthy and prayerful understanding of Chastity. Secondly, we are all called to be celibate who aren't in the married state and therefore the development of our sexual selves is something only to be worked on within the married state, it isn't a given, it is a gift of marriage. We are supposed to marry as virgins, right? Marriages that incidentally should be continent and chaste, where the partners are fully in control of their sexual selves. Thirdly (and here I will have a grump), I can't stand descriptions of celibacy that aren't joyful coming from priests, because THEY CHOSE THAT STATE!  It is only us widowed that had celibacy thrust upon us, and we have to damn well make it work. Marriage is a choice, the priesthood is a choice, the consecrated religious life is a choice, widowhood isn't a choice! Celibacy is good, celibacy is fruitful, God has given it to us, so why should it be otherwise? Celibacy is natural outside of marriage and as not everyone is called to the married state, celibacy can't be unnatural.

I think what I'm trying to say is that we are forgetting about love in all of this; agape, that is to say "disinterested love". The love that only seeks the good of the other and the glory of God. This love is the love that sounds so difficult in 1 Cor 13, yet is so necessary for our salvation.  This is the love Christ has for us and the love we are asked to return to our neighbour.  It is gentle, patient, kind, never seeks its own way..... you know that passage as well as I.  BUT most importantly, it stems from an act of the will.  Agape must be willed.  Obviously, it cannot be achieved by the will, as it comes from God, but the soul must will that God enters in and transforms that person into one capable of demonstrating this love.  The "holy daring" of the saints is nothing more than a stubborn desire to will this disinterested love into being at whatever cost.  It works on all levels and should be what we are all trying to do; "be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" Mat 5:48. That isn't a command to someone else, it is for us all.  God is love, that perfect love is "disinterested"and that is what we should be striving for.  And it simply can't be done if we see the non-development of our sexual selves as something that must be suffered.  Finally, isn't there something more to being adult male and adult female beyond that which is sexual?  Surely the gift of male and female as companions for each other  that was given by God to our first parents, was not primarily sexual, because if it were, our first parents would have known they were naked before the Fall.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


I heard my first cuckoo of the year this morning.

Those birds have always bothered me.  It seems so very ugly that a bird should dupe a bird of another species, usually half its size, into rearing it as its own offspring.  When the price to be paid for this is the death of the entire natural brood of the foster parents, the whole things just seems so ghastly.

I have no problem with watching a documentary showing killer whales smashing seal pups to bits in some icey Atlantic breakers.  I have no problem with animals that are killers, doing their killing.  It is natural and there is even a beauty in it, especially if the killer is a graceful big cat or a spider.  It isn't cruel.  We make nature too anthropomorphic by using adjectives like cruel and merciless.  Nature simply is.  The natural world echoes the spiritual world by having a beauty that is bittersweet.

But there is nothing beautiful about a baby cuckoo.  To human eyes, all that can be seen are selfishness, greed and deceit.  But these characteristics are not there because the cuckoo is an animal and not a man.  The cuckoo can not sin.  The cuckoo hasn't had the life of grace breathed into it like man had when God first formed him out of the earth.  The cuckoo does not have free will to err from that which God created it to do.

Yet we are right to be repelled by selfishness, greed and deceit but must remember that they are in the corrupted hearts of men and not in nature.

I remember seeing a documentary about the bonobo apes and how they use sexual intercourse as a form of greeting, recreation, stress relief and appeasement.  The sexual activity is even with very young babies and is not restricted to members of the opposite sex.  It was to me, repellent.  Yet because of its perceived "innocence" and the low levels of aggression amongst these apes as opposed to those of other species, some people do not find their behaviour repellent and indeed argue that we should be more free with our own sexual intercourse as it would make us a more peaceful tribe.  I am as guilty as the supporters of bonobo culture for seeing their behaviour in human terms.

Personally, I have no desire to be like an ape.  A small amount of instantly forgettable fleshy titillation is all they are after.  Like badgers seeking out some over ripe sweetcorn.  There are other foods, there are other pleasurable activities for these animals.  They just seek out the ones that they have become accustomed to.

Humans are offered so much more; the permanent ecstasy of heaven in an eternity with God.  To get there we have been given  the Way of living which ought to make us feel revulsion at the thought of people behaving like cuckoos or bonobo apes, though not necessarily with the animals themselves.

Nature isn't there to show people how to behave.  We shouldn't admire animals that seem to show alturism, compassion, mutual cooperation and grief. Nor should we revile animals that show characteristics that would be unpleasant in a human.  Before the fall, Adam just named all the creatures and marvelled at them with their Creator for their own sake as part of His creation.  Adam knew he wasn't an animal.  This is something (post-fall) man seems to be forgetting.