Saturday, 24 September 2016

Church of the boy-zone mind

I was recently reminded about returning to school one September back in the early 80s, it was an unpleasant experience because, over the summer holidays my peers had decided they were going to re-invent themselves and become tribal teenagers.  I was just terribly un-cool.  The girls would ascertain which tribe we belonged to by asking as series of probing questions.  Firstly: are you a Durannie or a Culture Clubbie? Secondly: which one is the fittest?  This second question would be posed with the centrefold of a recent Smash Hits open on some pop group or other, and I think the unwritten rule was ‘don’t pick the drummer’.

What a strange time the 80s were! 

I failed miserably with the questions.  Firstly, apparently you HAD to like either Duran Duran or Culture Club, liking neither was not an option.  But I knew more about sackbuts, crumhorns and Stravinsky that I did about Simon le Bon and Boy George so the question was illogical.  As for fancying pop stars, I simply didn’t get that, so by sheer random fluke, I picked the drummer and they laughed nervously.

Igor- never knowingly a Smash Hits centrefold

The girls were then in a bit of a dilemma about which tribe to stick me in. I was neither a Durannie nor a Culture Clubbie and I obviously didn’t understand the rules about what constituted a ‘fanciable male’ so therefore I was a puzzle.  Some girls got away with being different.  Charlie got away with not fitting-in because she was more experienced with boys than most of us and she was into Heavy Metal which nobody argued with.  As for myself, they decided, that I’d simply have to be re-invented by them.  I wouldn’t do as I was, I was too weird.

Two ‘Durannies’ took me into their care, they lived near me, we caught the same bus home.  They painstakingly tried to ‘improve’ my wardrobe with trips into town to visit Chelsea Girl and Top Shop and they encouraged me to listen to the trendy DJ on the local radio station.  I found most of the music and the banter boring and I soon retuned and found John Peel on Radio 1 and was mesmerised by Jamaican dub and post-punk weirdness, and if Peel was playing some tripe, there was always classical music on Radio 3. Luckily, they soon gave up trying to make me look the part too.  Their little bit of social engineering had failed and I made my own stubbornly independent way through the teenage maze.


There is no direct analogy here to how I find myself in the Church.  Though I’m definitely someone much more at home in the older rites than the novus ordo, this is very different from expressing a preference for a certain pop group.  I do not want ever to think that I have been sorted into a tribe because my tastes in liturgy are one way and my theology is definitely not nouvelle.  I do not ever what to be called a ‘trad’.   However, there are those who have a tendency to sort the church into ‘Conciliar’ and ‘Trad’ and in all honesty it is little more than what my peers were doing all those years ago. There is only one Body.  The Church is One because Christ is One.  We are part of the same Body as anyone else who receives the Eucharist and the only way to make that body more Christ-like is to clear out all the crap from our own selves that doesn’t conform to Christ.  Everything else flows from that, and we can only strive for this end if we let Him transform us.

We cannot afford to become insular, navel gazing, smug and filled with 'victimhood', though this is certainly how I find many who would define themselves as 'trad'.  Nor can we attempt to re-design others who are not like us. Souls will be drawn to Christ if we are holy, gentle, generous, kind and good natured, yet also authoritative and uncompromisingly truthful. Souls will not be truly drawn to the Church if they are primarily drawn to a ‘movement’ within the Church.  Beauty, goodness and truth are part of the unity and do not reside in any one subset of the body.  We are creating unnecessary divisions. The real divisions, those which create the biggest battles, are the ones we have within ourselves, the ones linked to pride in our own achievements, our own righteousness, our own sense of self importance, and our own understanding of God. The false understanding that boxes Him in, makes Him into an idol of our own ego; there to do our bidding because we are right, and 'they' are wrong.

(ps: my epic battle with BT  is now in its 4th week).

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Schrödinger’s Chat


 This post may go some way towards explaining my recent absence from the interwebs.  I know my legion of fans are missing me, I can only apologise that the explanation I am about to give does demand some basic familiarity with Quantum Mechanics.

The purpose of having a telephone line is really quite simple.  It is there so that we can communicate instantly with the outside world.  Our landlines may one day become obsolete, but whilst I can, I use my mobile rarely (I’m still using an aged Nokia housebrick and am highly amused by its cult status and the amount of ‘street cred’ it has). I loathe telephones. The broadband connection resides in the same network and is part of the same infrastructure.

Since the beginning of September I have been subjected to something resembling Quantum weirdness in my dealings with the telecommunications giant that manages the infrastructure in the UK (BT), indeed I am left wondering if at some level, Quantum events can take place in the macroscopic world, provided that world is suitably illogical.

One of my neighbours moved out and their phone line and broadband use stopped.  My line was also cut, it had been playing up and was far from stable but now it died.  Apparently other villagers have noticed that if something happens with the line at one house, some other house, not necessarily the nearest, is also affected. Non-locality and ‘spookey action at a distance’ or what?  The wavefunction collapses at one dwelling and another is also affected! (hmmm)

A day or so later, I managed to get through to BT and they said all would be resolved in 24 hours.  I checked on the internet at work to reveal the status of the fault and it was reading both ‘resolved’ and ‘in-progress’ on the same page.  Both quantum states were obviously equally likely and it would take an observation of my router to ascertain what was actually going on.  Working 25 miles from home has some disadvantages.  Anyway, when I got home and observed the router, the wavefunction had definitely collapsed in the ‘not fixed’ state.  The following day I checked the status on-line again and the page still read ‘resolved’ and ‘in-progress’.  I decided to contact customer services using the online chat mechanism. We ‘chatted’ and they assured me it was fixed, I assured them that it wasn’t.  They then decided it wasn’t a broadband problem and it was a problem with the landline which may be causing a secondary issue with the broadband.

A landline engineer was duly summoned and fixed what was wrong with the landline.  I then had to book an engineer to get the broadband working again. I had 24 hours of functioning landline and then in an act so random it lies beyond the realms of quantum physics, engineers working at the exchange made an error and cut off the whole village.  This was a fault that they then did not rectify and it took us all a while to realise that what we were supposed to do was register each fault individually so that they could get fixed individually.  However, unless we are in possession of boring 3G or 4G enabled mobile phones (not uber-cool aged Nokia housebricks), this is equivalent of getting the cadavers to complain about the skill of the executioner.

And in some parallel universe I’ve had broadband all month, because I’ve just received an e-mail telling me that I was close to my 12Gb download limit for September. Parallel me also doesn’t pay her phone bills, I’ve been mistakenly accused on non-payment this week.

And now the fabric of space and time is unravelling and the end is nigh because I have categorically shown that the multiverse exists and indeed communication with other universes is inevitable if you are a BT customer.


I wonder if parallel me is in good health, happy in her work, free from technical incompetence and living out the vocation to which she has been called…? 



ps: still no interwebs at home.....