Thursday, 28 July 2016

Bad Sex

The increased activity on this little blog is mainly due to the fact I am still orbiting planet Gove.  It is amazing how the mind wishes to take you down other paths and away from what you ought to be doing when what you are doing is tedious and involves long periods of silence and monotony. In space no one can hear you scream.


 My holiday is still being spent developing the Physics courses for next year at school following on from Gove's reforms.   It is dull work, though it will be worth it in the long run.  I'd be tarred and feathered by my colleagues if I actually admitted to them that what he set in motion is actually good.  However, I tend to see all educational reforms as 'opportunities', and this opportunity is actually worth taking seriously.  It is not all work, I'm taking days off and those days I am working, I spend a few hours where I morph into Mrs Tiggywinkle and immerse myself in clerical laundry and mending.

I'm rambling. This post is about bad sex and I'll now get to the point.

It is school related in that whilst I'm deliberately kept away from having any input into the pupils' personal health and social development programme (being a Catholic seems to prohibit me from having any sense in the matter), there are many things that I've had to speak up about.... I don't ever take a moral view with the pupils... it doesn't work... and essentially the only way to avoid moral relativism (mine against theirs) is to avoid morals altogether.

Picture the scene: the pupils enter your class having just come from some 'lesson' on sexual health, they are carrying goodie bags containing glow-in-the dark sperm shaped key rings, biros with information written on them about where to get free contraception or leaflets about 'growing up' and exploring sexuality. Hey, I'm only employed to teach Physics, but such things cannot go unchallenged, and a 5 minute 'rant' leaves me feeling better and gives them something to think about...

(for pupils aged 16 or over):
What have you got there?  Oh so this school is now educating you in a thousand ways to have bad sex.  How mediocre, how unchallenging, how dull [waving a plastic sperm in the air]. Sex using contraception will always be bad sex.  Condoms?  Nah, like having a bath with your socks on.  Why?  Oh, so this is about 'safe sex' is it?  So sex is inherently dangerous?  Make sure you and your partner are both virgins, stick with that partner for life and you'll never need barrier protection from infection, because you'll never have a sexual infection. Simple, heh. Oh, I see, so it is also about not making babies, is it?  Well, isn't that what sex is for?  Surely the ultimate expression of sexual love is in being open to new life?  When two people are involved in an act of total self-giving, when something is happening that is meant to be happening, then it will be good. Sex with contraception is bad sex. What did you just ask? What about 2 gay people who love each other?  They don't need contraception. Yes, you are right (provided there is no chance of STDs), but nor can they have sex.  What they are doing is not sex. The bits don't fit properly, it is not sex, it is mutual masturbation not sexual intercourse. And this is the point, all sex with contraception is also an act of mutual masturbation, you enter into a contract with the other person to supply you with some pleasure, whilst you give them some pleasure in return.  These acts are essentially selfish and have nothing to do with love and once you have engaged in them it is too late.  Once some spotty youth is humping away on you, oblivious to your needs and you realise that if you suddenly turned into a watermelon he wouldn't notice, it is too late, there is no beauty in the act, and you are worth infinitely more than that.  Protect yourself from vodka fueld fumblings on a trip Newquay, protect yourself from seeking pleasures that are not actually that good.  The day somebody tells me I'm wrong and that their first sexual encounters as teenagers weren't phenomenally disappointing, is the day I will stop ranting. But nobody ever does.......

And why do I mention this?  Partly mulling over a conversation I'd had over the weekend with someone entering the teaching profession.... partly I'm just wondering for how long I'll be able to be let loose on your sons and daughters, I cannot follow instructions and teach them as I'm supposed to....

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Psychosis

So, each day there are reports of further attacks carried out on innocent people.  Today brings news of an horrific attack on the mentally ill in a hospice in Japan and an attack on worshippers in a church in France resulting in the death of the priest. This worldwide psychosis will not cease, it will only get worse and God will allow it to get worse, He hasn't deserted us.  It is always a sobering thought that God loves all of us so much that He will not interfere with our free will, which is His greatest gift to us.  We can only come to know Him and love Him through our will, the desire for Him starts there. 

That desire rests in the hearts of every man alive, and our three enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil work to smother and corrupt that desire so that we cannot recognise it. The desire pulls one way, the world pulls the other, distracting us with ideologies, fripperies, tastes and an extreme selfishness which masquerades as morality and even virtue.

We convince ourselves that the flesh is only a channel through which our senses operate and this debases any ability we have to respond to anything beyond considering our feelings. This leads to solipsism whereby only our thoughts mean anything; we are the only intelligence and matter is an illusion, we are each little gods with our own self-created universe which only allows us greater knowledge of self. And therein lies madness.

Lastly the devil, lazy bastard that he is, doesn't need to do much to convince us that we are all isolated material beings, loosely connected through ideas and feelings; that there is no deeper communion, that there is no God (who is love) and that our brothers are not all made in the image and likeness of God, to be respected and treated with dignity and love.

It is all there, at work in each and every one of us.  We see the workings of the world and we develop an increased moral outrage and sense of our own righteousness and the evil of others.  This is as much at work in you and me as it is in some nihilistic Daesh fighter.  The material world assaults our flesh and because our communion is broken (our relationship to our Creator), everything becomes brutal, we can no longer see beyond the needs of self, other beings are either useful to us or in opposition to us; disturbing our senses, irrational, sub-human caricatures we'd love to see eliminated as if they were part of a video game. And the devil just sits there pissing himself with laughter saying: see I told you, 'god' doesn't work, nothing works!

This, is the progress that dialectical materialism gives us.  This is the disenchantment of God's creation made possible through rationalism, empiricism and dualism.  Basically, what we are seeing is the psychosis caused by clinging to the ideals of the Enlightenment whilst scraping the bottom of the empty barrell of post-modernism.  The Enlightenment was an experiment (man's endeavour to make progress by himself) and it has failed. It has brought us nothing but insanity, insecurity and lonliness.


Gericault's Raft of the Medusa.. is this painting perhaps an icon of our age?
The jihad is real (but it will not be televised): there is a subsersive 'holy war' to restore the delight of God and the enchantment of His creation, to help make His way manifest. The weapons at our disposal are beauty, goodness and Truth, and the discipline is that of the Beatitudes.  Are you willing to fight, or is fear the only thing that drives you?

Monday, 25 July 2016

Litany for the NHS

For all your hard working staff               we salute you
For the dedication you show
For all your wonderful work for those in trauma
For all your work with the seriously ill
For your honesty

For the fact you are crumbling at the seams    we know it is not your fault
For the fact you are getting worse
For the fact that you are unsustainable
For the way you have treated me

9 years without a concrete diagnosis    I'm tired of this game
Lost test results
Misread test results
Protocol based on cheapness rather than effectiveness 
A diagnosis you gave me because it looked cool to show me off to visiting Romanian consultants
Then the next time I saw you, you told me I had nothing of the sort
I've asked for is my latest test results and you wont give them to me
You haven't given them to my GP either
I've asked to be fitted with a constant glucose monitoring kit and your silence is deafening
I'm managing my own condition with a medication that suggests that what you told the Romanian consultants was true
You still say I don't have that condition
If I have this condition it is operable and I could be well again
But you want me to keep taking this obscure drug
The drug works (hurray!) but I am having to up the dose
For the expensive and invasive procedure that you did so badly that a visiting doctor who witnessed it, told me to request the test be repeated
For agreeing to repeat the test then going back on your promise
For the endless trips to see consultant X
Consultant X says wait to see what consultant Y says
For the endless trips to consultant Y who says better wait on the results from consultant Z
For consultant Z saying I'm not his problem
For postponed appointments
For dithering
For the lack of any plan on your part
For the lack of scientific method in your work that is maddening to me, a scientist
I don't want your sympathy
I really don't want your sympathy
No, seriously, I really don't want your sympathy
What is the point of bothering with you?
You keep telling me there is definitely something wrong with me.
Shall I assume that as I'm not about to drop dead, then it isn't all that serious?
Shall I just get on with my life and forget that we ever tried to work together?
For even more dithering on your part


Oh NHS shall we just end this affair?   we are obviously no good for each other
Oh NHS shall we just call it a day?
Oh NHS, just what have you to show for all the money you have spent on me?

I have good days and not so good days
I have flare ups 
I have a life and I think that my ability to live this life may be best suited if we go our separate ways
I do my own thing: self medication, careful diet
I may get worse, I may not
But you are simply not helping
There seems to be no point in you taking any more of my blood.....
I'll just keep taking the tablets......

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Orientation

I have snapped (in all charity) at several people within the Catholic Church when they have tried to say they are Catholic and that they have a preferred sexual orientation.  I maintain that this is simply a nonsense.  There is only one orientation and that is towards the cross is what I say. When we see God face to face, sexual orientation, like any other 'preference' (no matter how deeply held) will be of no consequence.  In matters sexual, it is lust that is the killer and lust is lust is lust irrespective of what it is directed towards.  Indeed, all preferences smack of politics; preferred ways of doing things based on our notions of what is right and comfortable for us (and by extension what we think is right for others). Preferences and politics aren't sin, but they are of the world so they offer the potential for sin.

I've been musing on the fallout from the Sacra Liturgia conference that was held recently in London. Cardinal Sarah again talked about fostering a greater understanding of the sacred liturgy through the adoption of the ad orientem arrangement of priest and people on the same side of the altar. It has been suggested elsewhere that ad orientem and versus populum are liturgical preferences, and judging by the verbiage flying around the interwebs, it seems to me that the minute we start expressing a liturgical preference we are entering into the murky world of politics, mud slinging and division.

So if I am to be consistent in my logic, I must step aside from my 'preference' and look to approach the matter of liturgical orientation (and it is a serious and worthy matter to consider) from a completely different perspective and look sola scriptura.

Because the Jewish tradition of temple sacrifice massively favours the ad orientem arrangement for the holy sacrifice of the Mass, I decided to ignore this and look instead at references in scripture to the altar in heaven.  Scan the book of Revelation for reference to the altar in heaven, (it is easy enough to do using an online bible) and you will find 7 references: Rev 6.9, 8.3, 8.5, 9.13, 11.1, 14.18 & 16.7.

The souls of the redeemed are said to be under or in the altar. So this is obviously not a 'practical' altar and at first glance seem to be of no help in our understanding of proper orientation at Mass here on earth. Second glance is slightly more revealing. 'Under' is easy enough, the altar should be above the highest point reachable by man. Indeed in heaven, priests will still be priests and people people, but we will all be orientated towards the Lamb that was slain. We will all be under Him.  'In' is also easy enough to understand if we take the insight offered in Hebrews (Heb 13.10) that Christ is the altar.  We will ultimately only find rest in the wound in His side, from whence flowed blood and water. We will, in heaven, in a very real sense be both 'in' and 'under' the altar. It is a good job the rules of geometry won't apply. What is clear is that the orientation is fixed towards Christ and doesn't necessarily stick to the type given in the historical temple in Jerusalem.

The angels of God are before the altar and issue from the altar to undertake the commands of God. This fits with our liturgical notions of the place of the angels in the Mass, Novus or Vetus Ordo.

The relationship between God and altar is as follows: I heard a voice from the four horns of the great altar, which is before the eyes of God. The altar is before God as God the Father will always have the sacrifice of His Son before Him.  The altar of sacrifice is then a bridge between God and Man.  Man and God cannot be on the same side of the altar, man faces the eyes of God from the opposite side of the altar.  Surely, that is ALL men, even those who have been the alter Christus? No man, not even a priest can get between God the Father and God the Son.

It is no good!  Wherever you turn, even towards heaven, there is only one orientation and it is towards the cross.  There are no liturgical preferences, there is only one orientation.

As Fr Faber said so often; we have forgotten that we are creatures.  We must wake up to this fact because it shows the very real mess the Catholic Church is in.  We are bearing heaven away with real violence (Mat 11.12) due to our arrogance and lack of humility in our communal prayer life (and that applies to all of us irrespective of which Rite we attend). No Mass is perfect liturgy, perfect liturgy only exists in heaven.  To God every Mass must look like a clown Mass (certainly a Mass presented by clowns- that's you and me, we're nothing but clowns), but He can read our hearts and that is all that matters. So I think that what I'm trying to say is that (as I see it) there can be no 'reform of the reform' and there can be no more 'rupture' either.  Things are a mess, but most cannot see it.  This is about the conversion of hearts.  Those of us who KNOW what is right have a huge responsibility resting on us to act accordingly, and the internet will probably not be the forum where hearts are changed. Ultimately we can achieve nothing and we will fail.  But if our hearts are orientated correctly then God will do the rest.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Pokemon No!

On Saturday evening I was left dog sitting whilst my house guests (mature adults!) went Pokemon hunting. Dexter (a whippet - black lab cross with limited intelligence and phenomenal speed) looked at me somewhat wearily, neither of us can make any sense of this. Dexter then amused himself 'savaging' his squeaky toy frog and I was left with my thoughts. I'm actually very uncomfortable about this particular craze, especially the idea of Pokemon turning up in churches.  There is to me a brutal and irreversible iconoclasm in projecting something trivial into a sacred space.  Anyway, I'm grateful to a fellow blogger (with a very different take on this to me) for posting the following from someone who is obviously as dismayed by this craze as I am.

It got me thinking of the stupidest things I have lived through.  This is my list.
  • chopper push bikes
  • nylon sheets
  • mullets
  • the SDP
  • the Birdie Song 
  • space dust
  • the NHS internal market
  • squirty cream
  • the Ford Probe
  • the Star Wars franchise
  • visible thongs
  • Rugby League's "Super League" formation
  • selfies 
  • Ugg Boots
So Pokemon Go! can be added to the list. The angels may be doing the angelic equivalent of "facepalming" at our stupidity, but we are loved.

Stupid will always be with us.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Test Match Special

In the darkest days of last term, when my body was failing and I really didn't think I'd get beyond the end of May, when there seemed to be a very strong and unwanted "somebody else's problem field" around me, when no help seemed to be coming my way (though it was, I had many prayers and for that I'm grateful), someone had the audacity to ask me what I wanted.  This question stopped me in my tracks, I've spend so long just surviving, just doing what I'm supposed to do, that the concept of actually wanting something was a little alien to me.  Further to this, experience (or fate) has meant that whenever I have actually wanted something, it has always been snatched away from me and I am left lamenting and weary like a somewhat stoical (rather than a suicidal) Dido.  I've found the only way to survive is not to want "things", well certainly not to want things for myself...

However, this question was left hanging in the air and I had to give an answer.  Simply making it as far as July seemed like an impossible dream so I said: I want to be sat in the garden listening to the Test Match on Long Wave.  [ For my readership outside of the former British Empire - this is the all day radio broadcast of the 5 day long international cricket matches, starting on a Thursday and sometimes making it till the following Monday.]  Admittedly, this was only a small want, but I thought that it might at least be achievable.

Yesterday the Test Cricket got off to a very good start; England v Pakistan at Lords.  I will admit now to being a Pakistan supporter; when they are good there are few more elegant, exciting teams, when they are bad they are dreadful.  Test Match Special (radio cricket) is a thing in its own right, it has its own unwritten rules, it can be delightful, it can be poetry, it can be surreal and it drifts over me and takes my brain to another dimension, it relaxes me like I suppose some people find a long hot bath relaxing.  I find bathing intensely boring, it is TMS that does it for me.

Yes, my desire was accomplished.  I always like the first day's play.  The two teams are still checking each other out, there is a lot of psychology at work, it is not exciting, but it is good.  There are flashes of brilliance, there is patience, there is hard graft, there are moments of carelessness which are dealt with mercilessly, there is quiet aggression and gentlemanly reserve and all the time TMS ambles through endless discourse on cricket trivia, cakes, pigeons, finely dressed men and bizarrely yesterday, umlauts.

Listening on Long Wave is also vital. I like the fuzzyness of the broadcast.  It reminds me of my grandfather in Malaysia listening to the Test Matches of old on the BBC World Service. He'd be in the dark, sat in his reclining chair, outside you could hear the endless motorbikes in the distance, the cicadas and the Allahu Akbar  from the surau next door.  The house would be full of the aroma of night scented shrubs, mosquito coils and old dogs.  He'd listen, we'd be silent, he was not to be disturbed.  He'd reach a certain point then the radio would be switched off, the house would be shuttered up and he'd say his last rosary of the day (in Latin) before retiring to bed.  Listening on Long Wave is also vital for the interruptions for the shipping forecast just before noon and 6pm.  I actually find the shipping forecast a prayer, well I can't listen to it and not pray.

So yesterday, life had a certain "completeness" about it, the past and present were one and the future could wait.  A certain aching emptiness and fatigue is also there, but yesterday it all hung together and there was rest.  Real rest is something akin to heaven, and it is good to experience it occasionally. Occasionally I even fancy that God inspired the English to invent the game of cricket so that when it works (and often it falls short of what it should be) we could have a foretaste of heaven. Old Father Time can retire to the pavilion.

Weather vane at Lords: creative commons image Wikipedia

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

down the pan


It is quite possible that I am now going to be guilty of taking an analogy too far, I certainly mean no disrespect by what I am about to say, so please don't think I am being disparaging....

The Church can be said to be the Bride of Christ or the Body of Christ.  Personally I prefer the Bride of Christ, but in their espousal they are ONE so I don't suppose it matters much.  For the purposes of this post, I'm looking at the Church as Body. If we look at the human body, there are certain organs and systems of organs with specific functions.  We all have different functions within the one Body. St Paul returns to this theme time and time again, though he doesn't ever go as far as saying "you are the hands", or "you are the toe nails".  Indeed such a thing would be silly and wrong, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Now all of us can at times be hands or feet, eyes and ears. If the twofold commandment to love God and neighbour is lived seriously then there are times for watching, times for hearing, and times for doing, we simply don't have one function.  And Christ is our Head, and it is through not resisting grace that we function properly as the ONE body. The body is a UNITY; any division, any pulling in different directions, any opposition, any lack of harmony is not the work of the Head.  The divisions are caused by absorbing and being influenced by things that are of the world.  This holds true for us too; we are victims of fashion and victims of the culture we find ourselves in and more often than not it can have an effect on our health.

What is absorbed by the body is usually taken in by the mouth.  We eat stuff and it passes down the digestive tract where in successive stages it is broken down, absorbed or excreted.  Now, forgive me, but there does seem to be one part of the body that is analogous to the work of the Princes of the Church and one part that the rest of us simply don't have the authority to be.  It seems abundantly clear to me that our Bishops in their capacity for binding and loosing are indeed the body's lower intestine and anal sphincter.  They are the ultimate arbiters of what is rejected and what isn't.  This is a role that the rest of us simply don't have.   Could it be that bishops are at their most bishopy when they are doing just that?  Could it be that that is when we ought to take the most notice of them, because they are doing something that is totally reserved for them alone?

I'll give you a question.  Which of these carry the most weight; a bishop saying "lets look at this, lets absorb this information and work out what it means to us" OR "this is not going to happen because it might upset people" OR the bishops saying "this is part of the Church as revealed through Scripture and Tradition, has handed to us by the Apostles" OR  "this must be rejected because it does not tie in with Scripture and Tradition and the first Apostles".

Surely it is the last two which are the triumph of our lower intestine and the strength of the Church Militant.  Sadly, right now, I'm wondering if we've had a radical colostomy, as such no such unified behaviour seems to be forthcoming.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

apple for teacher

Well skoolz out for summer and the house is full of chocolates and 'thank you' cards and there is a bottle of Cava sat in the kitchen and if it were sentient it would be asking itself what on earth it was doing here.  Indeed the chocolates would be asking themselves that too, if they could think. Due to my illness I can start to feel quite ill after ingesting either if those things. So they are getting ignored and I'm wondering where useful second homes for them might be found....

It is however so very touching when the pupils do say thank you in whatever way they choose.  This year there has been a rich seam of  'confessional' cards and hushed conversations in corridors along the lines of "I'm sorry I have been such an utter pain in the neck for the last 3 years,  thank you for not giving up on me".  Money can't buy that.  I've also been taken aback by the  'you've really inspired a love of Physics in me' cards. OK the number will not cause a gravitational collapse and a black hole to open up in Wessex, but 4 whole cards saying that was 4 more than I would have thought possible.  I've been doing mainly chalk and talk didactic stuff that any inspector would slate because I've been too weak to do much more than prop myself up on a low cupboard next to the board in order to scrawl on it. And whilst every teacher has their own fan-club, it is always a shock when someone you thought did nothing more than sleep through your lessons says thank you.  I got one letter which said 'thank you for ignoring me, thank you for respecting my strong personality'. For my part I think I acted out of cowardice with that pupil, I didn't think I'd win the fight.

The best gift this year is just about my best present ever off anyone.  My sixth formers got me a Stirling engine and it was an emotional moment; wiping back the tears whilst running for the kettle and trying to find a can of machine oil. Simply brilliant! I've got it to work if the temperature gradient is as small as 25 degrees and I'm trying to see if it will go lower.  A few year back some sixth formers got me an abacus from the Early Learning Centre, this was the previous 'best ever' present.  Like a lot of Physicists my arithmetic is appalling, and I enjoyed the joke at my expense.

And then I start to think just how well pupils do get to know teachers.  They will know every little mannerism and be able to mimic these.  They can draw piercingly accurate cartoons of us.  They see us 'perfom' several times a week, on good days as well as bad.  They are uncompromising critics if something we do isn't to their liking.  Our style of dress is scrutinised as is any slight regional variation in our accents.  They will pitch us against their parents with a "but my dad says....", and we have to be so careful because dad is often a high powered academic at some prestigious university. They will pitch one member of staff against another and they know our weaknesses; mine being a strong belief in the inferiority of chemistry. So they will deliberately start up an ideological battle between myself and a willing chemist and stir up rivalry.

OK, so it is lots of fun, but like my Stirling engine, I've ground to a halt, but I'll need a bit more than some machine oil and a hot cup of tea to get going again.




Friday, 1 July 2016

The mysteries of the solar system...


A nifty little space craft called Juno prepares to probe the Jovian atmosphere to help us learn more about its darker secrets and immense power, and teachers up and down the country are busily stuck at their computers trying to make sense of the Govian legacy in education and its phenomenal impact on what and how we will teach next year. Many of us are looking in the rafters to see if we can uncover stores of forgotten O’level papers. The Govian world is not necessarily bad, just different; a bizarre cross-breed of 1983 and 1953 which is already showing problems with its digestive tract and probably won’t have a long life-expectancy.
 

As I cobble together ‘schemes of work’ I’m also depressingly aware of a further legacy of this government: British Values. We teachers have to sign up to these, we have to memorise them, we have to live them, we may be tested on our knowledge and assimilation into them if we are inspected.
 

I’m still not sure what British Values have to do with the contents of the Physics courses and their delivery, but never mind. Perhaps I’ll just stick a poster of a stressed Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise over the door to the lab uttering his immortal words: ah cannae change the laws of physics, Captain. Here they are (and apologies for using sarcasm):

Democracy: yes we accept the results of elections that have been carried out fairly, we respect the views of the British people then they cast their votes, no?  

The rule of law: We abide by the rules as set out by our democratically elected government, no? And don’t seek to get them overturned in Brussels, no? We have governments who never bring forward laws that were never mentioned in their manifestos, no? Gay marriage, anyone?
Individual liberty: People are free to vote (or not vote) in whichever way they see fit, they do not have to tow a party line, no?
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs: We show great tolerance and respect towards the elderly, those on the left and right who made up their own minds when voting in the referendum last Thursday, including those in the North of England who may not be as well educated as ourselves in London and the SE, but who did not vote the way 'we' wanted them to vote, no?
 

What a joy it is to be British! The British are best summed up as a disparate group of big thinking, big dreaming, but ultimately petty-minded and insular souls, hell-bent on heroic failure and hypocrisy. Three cheers for being British!

 Plucky little spacecraft has close encounter with the Govian atmosphere.