I have been following the mucky history of 'fracking' for some time on The Diane Rehm Show. (Regular readers know I get a lot of my foresight from American Public Radio, because whatever horrors are visited on our cousins in the USA, inevitably crosses the Atlantic … ) The promise that fracking was 'safe' because the carcinogens added to the high pressure water jets that break the shale rocks to release the gas, would not pollute drinking water, turned out to be undeliverable. “Ah yes!” The oil industry reassures us, “Faulty kit, not dangerous practice!” Well, really, if the oil giants couldn't get something as important as public health right straight away, why trust them with a second bite of the cherry?
And it's happening. Here it comes. Our lovely government that promised local autonomy is now saying, “Except when you don't allow fracking!” So just wait for it … Some of our most beautiful landscapes will be despoiled, and the lives of many of our citizens disrupted by the roads that have to be laid to accommodate the heavy plant that has to go in and out, by those very goings in and out, and inevitably, someone, somewhere will get a dose of something nasty and everyone in government will be shocked and dismayed, like they didn't see THAT one coming. …
The best science says we can't take out of the ground any more of the greenhouse-gas emitting hydrocarbons without destroying the biosphere. The legacy we leave to our descendants, if we carry on like this, if we allow fracking, is a dying planet. But hey! Politicians only think in bursts of five years, and crossing their fingers, they hope the mess they create now, will either go away, or get blamed on someone else … And now, who knows? With luck, there might not be anyone left to blame them anyway!
My hope lies in a massive awakening of consciousness in the sleeping populace. I thought that very unlikely until hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised Brits joined the Labour Party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Who is a both red AND green. You should hear the establishment squeal! They didn't see THAT one coming either.
To destroy the planet for short-term gain is immoral. Corbyn offers a real, alternative to the empowered self-interest that is the current system. He might not be able to stop the juggernaut, but he will stand in its way. Let's face it, someone has to. I, for one, will stand with him.
I am smitten by the number of hits to the story of my grandmother, Ellen Caroline Pitt, who died of complications in childbirth that would not have killed her and her child had she been rich. (She would have had adequate pre-natal care and been saved by a C-section.) The memories of those days are fading now, which isn’t a good thing all round, I think, as I listen to the stories of the men and women sent away by the state to starve when their benefits are stopped.
Well, yes, you stupid people, you SHOULD have gone to that interview, and for not doing so, you deserve to go hungry!
I am exaggerating, aren’t I? Nobody really says that? Maybe not, but it’s what happens. I do not like what we are becoming, and that’s a fact.
This is altogether too serious, so for a little light relief, I took the ‘Would You Make An Entrepreneur ‘ test on the BBC website.
Despite the fact that I signed up for working all the hours that God sends, I failed the test. Even though I lied, and answered ‘Endlessly Thinking Up Ways To,Make Money’ when I really should have owned up to ‘Having Fun’ as being my modus operandi as a teenager.
I thought it was a wind-up, but no, really, this test is promoted by GOV-UK.
I SERIOUSLY don’t like what we are becoming.
I could have opened up with, “Since Becoming Older”, but that's just boring. Who would read that? So.Since Becoming Enlightened, I have been become a whole lot lazier. In fact I would encourage Enlightenment as a good enough reason to wander aimlessly in the wild admiring trees, or to sit still for long periods of time with a beautific look upon one's face.” Wow!” I am thinking, which is probably not what the observers of my beatific countenance are thinking I'm thinking, “This is GREAT. All this doing next to nothing and getting admired for it! What a scam!”
You do know I'm joking. Right? Please engage 'Tongue In Cheek' mode.
The downside to Enlightenment is that once I start opening my mouth and engaging with people, they quickly realise I'm not very Enlightened at all. I get frustrated, angry, petty, and all the rest, just like everyone else. But Hey! Enlightenment has an answer to this too – SILENCE! I am now longer known to be frivolous and empty-headed ( not that I was either MUCH: I'm just making a point here) but WISE.
So here you have it. Sit still a lot, walk aimlessly about a bit, and keep your mouth shut. The secret of a mystical and fulfilling life, admired by all.
I am the real thing behind these eyes
These bright blue eyes
Widening in delight at this stellar world
Made new right now, and now, and now.
I will not name you, or place you in a box,
I will watch you slip and slide through every moment
Making no sense, just falling apart,
Weak with laughter.
NOTHING lasts. Everything comes
And goes, like weather, or tides.
What is there to do, but
Realise my debt to life and
Trade sorrow for joy?
When I preach the gospel to the crucified people I meet on the streets, I hold hands and say little beyond, “Know who you really are. Infinitely loved, infinitely precious.” Nothing else matters, truth be told.
I used to believe that to be “Saved” was to hand yourself over into the care of a deity, who would then make sure everything worked out for you, especially after you died. I am so glad that I never, as far as I know, convinced anyone. It simple didn't occur to me to realise that a cosmos in which the vast majority of conscious beings ( a much more satisfactory term than 'human' beings) were condemned to hell fire, made absolutely no sense at all. In fact, at no time, ever, did I actually believe this, much less pass it on. The mystery I still call God, simply wouldn't do such a thing, and I know this, or I know nothing.
I used to joke about that: knowing nothing, I mean, though I didn't really believe it. I was proud of my achievements: overcoming a set of fairly minor obstacles to become a reasonably successful professional became my identity. My story.
One day, I was telling my story, when I woke up. It was that sudden. Somehow, possibly out of sheer boredom, that who I really am flooded into Being, and I stopped.
I don't tell the old stories any more. I am just here, experiencing a raw, splendid and joyous existence,, so vivid, so different from the pedestrian me tied to the past, trying to make a future … The Kingdom of Heaven is how one teacher out it, is here, now and within.
Well, yes, I'm still grumpy, selfish and unreasonable, still capable of monumental foolishness. This too, is who I really am. Infinitely loved, infinitely precious. Not the stories I tell about myself. Just me.
This post was prompted nt Dr David Parrish's book: “Enlightenment Made East: Discovering The Obvious” It's free with Kindle! Which makes it amazing value
Dear Mark Harper,
There follows a statement put out by War On Want that crystallises my
concerns about the TTIP trade agreement.
I have been following the debate in the U.S. for well over a year, so
was alerted to the secrecy surrounding the agreement, the lack of any
kind of public scrutiny, and the power TTIP gives to American
Corporations, which is particularly scary, as they have an appalling
record with regard to issues such as workers’ rights, and the
protection of the environment. Bearing in mind that U.S. corporations
have the same rights under American law as individual citizens, I find
that giving them the right to sue the UK over any environmental, health
and safety , or employment legislation, enacted to protect UK citizens,
It does seem rather ironic that, when we are about to embark on a
referendum over sovereignty, that the loss of sovereignty that TTIP
will invoke is not under scrutiny. Frankly, if staying in the EU
involves signing up to this trade deal, I will vote for leaving, a
position I never thought to take.
What I am seeking reassurance about in particular is:Will the TTIP
agreement be able to be used by foreign nationals to challenge and
change operating practices within the UK, particularly those relating
to the NHS and workers’ conditions of employment? Is the loss of ‘one
million jobs’ a possibility, however remote?
What is your take on the secrecy surrounding the TTIP negotiations? Do
you believe this secrecy works to the advantage or disadvantage of
Will there be any opportunity at all for opposition to TTIP to be
effectively voiced and acted upon within and outside Parliament?
In conclusion, here’s the piece put out by “War On Want” that alerted
me to the fact that the grave concerns of those of us working with
vulnerable communities, have crossed the Atlantic:
“When cancer patient Paul Giles heard that the EU-US trade deal known
as TTIP might affect health services in the UK, he travelled to
Brussels to find out more. But Paul’s questions were met with silence.
That’s because the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP) is being negotiated behind closed doors. In fact, the EU has
confirmed that all key documents relating to the agreement will remain
closed to the public for 30 years. But why all the secrecy?
Governments and big business are relying on lack of public awareness in
order to rush through TTIP and seal the deal without too much
resistance. But what are they afraid of? They know there would be an
outcry if people knew what was in store.
If TTIP goes ahead it will cost at least one million jobs. It will pave
the way for the introduction of genetically modified food into Europe.
It will irreversibly extend the privatisation of key public services
such as the NHS. And it will give US corporations the power to sue the
UK and other states for loss of profits when these governments
introduce public policies designed to protect their citizens. ”
I can think of a million reasons to be sad,
And I honour them all:
The suffering of innocents
The agony of the guilty
The death throes of this poisoned world.
(Yes! You HAVE to face it!)
There doesn't seem a lot of point to it all, to be frank.
I could stop. Right there, except …
Something rises up in me
Something light, and infectious
Like laughter, only, without sound.
Like joy, but somehow deeper,
If you know what I mean.
I shall, therefore, gallop through this day
With a smile.
A pointless, foolish,
Summer rain in thick, sharp bursts,
Punctuates an uneventful afternoon –
For me that is –
Because, as this world turns, the place where I was a moment ago
Is desert, and weeping.
Do not you think, that even on this ordinary day,
My heart forbears to swell with gratitude: You see,
I am content, and my life
Is a merry dance …
I am SO glad it’s over! Fortunately British politics is always about pink or pale blue shades of centralism, so I am hopeful that there won’t be too much to worry about over the next five years, I suppose you could say I got neither what I wanted, nor what I feared, and that’s a result.
I do wonder though, if there might be a better way of doing things. If our nation is in such dire financial trouble, why can’t we have a government of national unity? Or at least a government that leaves polemic and division to one side for a bit, and works to draw idealogical opponents together to work for the interests of everyone?
Last Wednesday, I went to the cinema in Gloucester with Carol. As I walked down Southgate Street towards the Cross I heard shouting. It was Samantha having a very public row with Vince over – something – that she clearly felt was unfair. Later I met Robbie, who was drunk, and Robin who was sore from a beating, and I stopped – to hug Sam and calm her and remind her of her worth, to commiserate with Robin, to make sure Robbie knew where he was …
To me this work, as a Missioner, is a joy and a privilege. It’s me doing what I love with people I love.
Yesterday I went to a BBQ with friends and family from Church. These are people I love too, whose life experiences are so different from my street friends. Something in me wants to battle with them, to force them to understand the impact of austerity on the vulnerable who are beyond being able to cope. I could feel the old class war begin to break out, but something different happened. I listened, I got off my high- horse and I let these friends tell their stories too.
No great conclusions here, but for me, a bit of a change of heart. I’m not going to metaphoricalky shout slogans over a class wall. I’m going to carry on bringing the two sides together in myself and reconcile in me whar I want reconciled in politics.
Don’t know when I first realised that mathematics is a foreign country to me – but I suspect it was around the time I gave up on Long Division. If there ever was an answer to prayer, and concrete evidence of the existence of God, it is the invention of the calculator and the death of Long Division. True.
I remember getting a Detention in school way back in 1966, for not knowing my nine times table. (I know it NOW … ) Fair cop, Mr Robinson, I WAS fifteen.
I had to do serious maths to pursue my interest in science, and the night I measured, correctly, the distance between the Earth and the Moon with two pieces of stick and a set of log tables, I decided that I would never say I was no good at maths ever again. Nevertheless, my relationship with numbers leaves me at ease with mystery, which serves my spiritual life very well indeed.