Sunday, September 7, 2008

God's Funeral

I thought I better give a quick explanation of the name of this blog
(incase anyone stumbles upon it and cares.) I don't reckon Thomas
Hardy will mind.

God's Funeral
Thomas Hardy

I saw a slowly-stepping train --
Lined on the brows, scoop-eyed and bent and hoar --
Following in files across a twilit plain
A strange and mystic form the foremost bore.

And by contagious throbs of thought
Or latent knowledge that within me lay
And had already stirred me, I was wrought
To consciousness of sorrow even as they.

The fore-borne shape, to my blurred eyes,
At first seemed man-like, and anon to change
To an amorphous cloud of marvellous size,
At times endowed with wings of glorious range.

And this phantasmal variousness
Ever possessed it as they drew along:
Yet throughout all it symboled none the less
Potency vast and loving-kindness strong.

Almost before I knew I bent
Towards the moving columns without a word;
They, growing in bulk and numbers as they went,
Struck out sick thoughts that could be overheard: --

'O man-projected Figure, of late
Imaged as we, thy knell who shall survive?
Whence came it we were tempted to create
One whom we can no longer keep alive?

'Framing him jealous, fierce, at first,
We gave him justice as the ages rolled,
Will to bless those by circumstance accurst,
And longsuffering, and mercies manifold.

'And, tricked by our own early dream
And need of solace, we grew self-deceived,
Our making soon our maker did we deem,
And what we had imagined we believed,

'Till, in Time's stayless stealthy swing,
Uncompromising rude reality
Mangled the Monarch of our fashioning,
Who quavered, sank; and now has ceased to be.

'So, toward our myth's oblivion,
Darkling, and languid-lipped, we creep and grope
Sadlier than those who wept in Babylon,
Whose Zion was a still abiding hope.

'How sweet it was in years far hied
To start the wheels of day with trustful prayer,
To lie down liegely at the eventide
And feel a blest assurance he was there!

'And who or what shall fill his place?
Whither will wanderers turn distracted eyes
For some fixed star to stimulate their pace
Towards the goal of their enterprise?'...

Some in the background then I saw,
Sweet women, youths, men, all incredulous,
Who chimed as one: 'This is figure is of straw,
This requiem mockery! Still he lives to us!'

I could not prop their faith: and yet
Many I had known: with all I sympathized;
And though struck speechless, I did not forget
That what was mourned for, I, too, once had prized.

Still, how to bear such loss I deemed
The insistent question for each animate mind,
And gazing, to my growing sight there seemed
A pale yet positive gleam low down behind,

Whereof, to lift the general night,
A certain few who stood aloof had said,
'See you upon the horizon that small light --
Swelling somewhat?' Each mourner shook his head.

And they composed a crowd of whom
Some were right good, and many nigh the best....
Thus dazed and puzzled 'twixt the gleam and gloom
Mechanically I followed with the rest.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mitt Romney's Fantasy World

The car that I'm renting has digital radio (I get no analog signal where I am) and it comes with two free stations. One seems to be a continuous update of warnings about the weather systems currently affecting the south east of America. The other station is POTUS, politics of the united states, which seems to be continuous coverage of the republican election campaign. So, for want of anything else to listen to, I've been tuning into this every day. I thought it might be interesting, I hoped I might learn a bit about American politics but all I've learned is how economic with the truth the republicans are prepared to be to win this election.

Today Mitt Romney really took the biscuit when I listened to a recording of his speech to the republican convention of a few days ago. He talked, at length, of how the current government is a liberal government, and how the liberals were steadily picking the country apart. He tells of the Supreme Court's decision to give Guantanamo Bay prisoners some of their basic human rights, deriding the idea of it as a liberal policy. It's liberal, in comparison to nazis or al-Quaeda insurgents, but I like to think that a liberal government wouldn't have implemented the horrendous idea in the first place.

Then there is the Helen Lovejoy-esque cry of "Won't somebody please think of the children!?" as he condemns concessions made to the teachers' union as a blow against the children themselves.

He even tries to imply that the liberal policies were behind the current credit crunch that's brought the US economy to a grinding halt.

The prize-winning comment, however, has to go to his Parthian shot at Al Gore: "I have one more recommendation for energy conservation: Let's keep Al Gore's private jet on the ground."
Leave aside, for the moment, that he didn't actually make ANY recommendations for energy conservation, and that Al Gore isn't running for any position this year so is essentially an irrelevant target. I have looked into this claim and, it turns out, Al Gore DOES NOT OWN a private jet.

The shear gall to stand up and lie to nation is not an exclusively republican thing, but they are damn well practiced at it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Taking the Michael

I read today that a Muslim radiographer has resigned her job because of a hospital policy that required she bare her arms up to her elbow. The policy has been in place since the start of the year (months before she began work) and aims to improve hygiene and mitigate the transmission of superbugs such as MRSA. She feels that the policy discriminates against Muslim women who, according to some Islamic teachings, must remain covered in public.

This isn’t a human rights issue and this isn’t discrimination. This is a sensible measure to prevent the spread of infectious disease. How someone who works in the health sector can fail to appreciate this is beyond me.

She has her beliefs, which she adheres to of her own volition. If these beliefs restrict how she presents herself in public and which jobs she can legitimately perform then so be it, she has made her bed. She has chosen to follow the strictures of Islam and she can – presumably – opt out at any time. She should be appreciating the society that allows her to practice whichever religion she might chose, not attempting to force it to compromise sensible, hygiene precautions. It’s good, at least, to see the Imam standing by the hospital.

This reminds me strongly of the acute trend of needless litigation that was all the rage a few years ago. Someone would trip on an uneven paving stone and sue the council for not keeping their pavements as flat and flawless as their kitchen floors. As if screwing the council for all its worth will provide the funds to fix public walkways.

Thankfully this kind of imbecility seems to be dying down. But it’s quickly being replaced by a new game - see how far the government will bend over backwards to accommodate the fanciful beliefs of a religious minority. This is not the path to go down, and setting ridiculous precedents will not help matters. Our society was developed on Christian values and their arbitrary principles – hence people almost never worked on Sundays. Nowadays there are not laws against working on the Sabbath (and in an case stoning is frowned upon) and many if not most shops open for at least some time. I am no Christian but I don’t have a problem with shops closing down each Sunday – it’s a good idea to have a nationally recognised day off, and Sunday is as good a day as any. It was initiated for religious reasons, fair enough, but it is kept because it works. Now imagine if we had to treat the holy days of other religions the same – we’d barely have a working week left.

Yes, Christianity has had a privileged place in our history – it was first-come, first-served, after all – but our ancestors spent the intervening time pruning off the needless bits of religiously-inspired law that interfered with the day-to-day life so that we can live in a secular society. We do not need to relive this part of our history. Anyone is free to adopt any voluntary system of beliefs they feel like, but attempts to bully society into taking religiously-justified (and otherwise unnecessary) amendments should not be given the time of day.