Sunday, 14 January 2018

On False News

Disinformation aka false news appears historically in 1939. Note the date. As a branch of intelligence, false news was deliberately spun to confuse, disconcert and disorientate the enemy. When practiced as an arm of government policy, in every aspect of statecraft or politics, across the civic realm, it’s fair to ask: who is the enemy? Answer: the entire population.
            If no news is good news, and false news is no news, who has ears to hear any kind of news at all? It comes down to Pilate’s question: what is truth?
            News is not rumour, conspiracy theory, or urban myth. Not propaganda, relations public, or celebrity puff.  Generally there’s an event involved. News isn’t opinion, reflection, ideological comment or indeed suppression.
            Can we cast away the works of darkness, like the baptismal child rejecting Satan through its sponsor’s voice? How much do we have to know? How much can we know? How much do we dare to know, and through whom?
            A little knowledge, in St. Paul’s view, is not only dangerous, but beside the point. ‘Repent, and believe the good news’ not the false news, says Mark’s Gospel. Verify the event. Without love, we are nothing.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

On Keys

Keys with mysteries. Ones that don’t engage, need coaxing or slip to the bottom of the bag. Passwords that don’t connect. Streets that won’t turn right, or left. Secret solutions defying permissions. Ianuarius, like all months, was entered invoking Janus, god of beginnings and endings, standing at the year’s turn governing doorways, transitions, passages, past and future tenses. Protector of keys.
            I wonder if it’s better to focus on beginnings rather than endings. Everything falls away from its first glory, and the past is filled, as Milarepa warns, with events concluded in sorrow. All worldly enterprises fail at last. Better to remember the beginning, appearing in hope and joy?
            Peter held the keys to heaven: are they future keys? Like Janus, Peter could open the way to the divine: Christ’s door-ward. The ancients believed the future lurked behind, ready to overtake you unawares. Surely the future is a key: will it turn in the lock?
           The two-faced god, acknowledged at the start of any action, also represents a present continuous, a point in time engaged with change: it travels with you. Other times fall away. Be attentive to beauty. The only valid key is the key to my heart.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

On Fatigue

Christmas is coming, season of goodwill. I know I sleep well, many hours, many times, yet here at year’s end I know I’m deeply tired, a level below. A low or depressed energy or mood is natural at the end of any great enterprise, even when we succeed. We’ve called on all resources, needing replenishment now. Celebration, and fatigue.
            A word of many guises. In the military, a punishment detail. For architecture, the state of materials worn to their last. Of action, to subject to stress, often repeatedly, to the point of exhaustion. Then we add Christmas, formerly Saturnalia, when the slaves took over the shop. Wearing in its own little way. What is called consuming.
            Competition is fatiguing. So is campaigning. Conditional love is exhausting: a lot of this around. Passion (especially passionate about) fatigues by definition: suffering. When intelligence appears, Lao Tzu says, a tiresome hypocrisy accompanies; when disorder is orders, we see loyal ministers with words to wear us out.
            Whatever has come to be has already been named, says Ecclesiastes: the more words, the more vanity. Fulfil your purpose, says Lao Tzu: sometimes push forward, sometimes rest behind. Breathe. Become as a little child. 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

On Having It All

Shame is so popular. Ashamed of having hair, or having no hair; of having too much height, or weight; of certain jobs, or no job; of not being straight, or having no kids, or having kids, and how they behave. Of not being fair enough, strong enough, smart enough, cool enough; of living in the wrong district. Of race, disability, style.
            There’s a deficit of enoughness, it seems. We’re not tall, powerful, healthy or magic enough. Not male enough, even when we’re girls. We never have enough money. We need more space, more attention, more love and more fame. We lack enough more.
            If we should happen to be that ideal, sex specific, family blessed, wellness crowned, truly employed, successful bright and beautiful example to the world about us, we still sleep badly knowing that one trip in the dark, one car crash, one mutating cell or rogue gene stands between us and humankind.
            Jesus said, ‘I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ He noted, ‘They that are whole have no need of the physician’. Then why shame? I wish you this Christmastide enough repentance, healing, and goodwill. There is enough: you can have it all.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

On the Margins

The margin is getting crowded these days. So many are marginalised: poor, disabled, sick, homeless, imprisoned; widows, orphans, singles, divorced; gays, and straights who object to gays; religions victimised for their righteousness; various races in various places; even the rich. Many people do not like the rich, more envy them, and they will never know if they have any true friends. Even Jesus sent away the rich young man: his only recourse was to become less rich.
            The default is thought to be health: a trip to the medical rooms shows young, old, and  in-betweens: the default is actually, as Buddha says, suffering. Myriad names for mental illness depict the default as sane lucidity: there are priests, politicians and media magicians who demonstrate the default as opinionated folly.
            With so many marginalised, often marginalising each other, my question is: where’s the page? Jesus had compassion for all the marginalised (including the rich young man, with all his responsibilities; not so the righteous). His favourites were sex workers and tax collectors: go figure.

            Perhaps the page is the Way. Jesus called himself the Way; the Tao Te Ching says the Way is nameless. The page is blank: what do we write there?

Sunday, 5 November 2017

On Faith

I emerged from five years in a theological school convinced that faith is something other than assent to the doctrines of the church. Other also than the customs of the church, which have included anti-Semitism, misogyny (witchcraft trials), racism (apartheid), homophobia (hangings) and support for the Biblical system of slavery. All these Greek words covering up the righteousness of readers.
            We’re living through one of the great international migrations of history. Xenophobia:  another Greek word expressing the thought that while one or two of you is all right, in great waves you feel unmanageable and beyond our scope. Note that Greek words distance in the English language. ‘Anti-Semitism’, not Jew-hating; ‘misogyny,’ not woman-hating; ‘homophobia’ not gay-hating; ‘xenophobia’ not ‘foreigner hating.’
            What kind of faith hates so many? I find a definition of faith based on ‘persuasion’: to be convinced intellectually, ideologically, by words. Some words coming out of some churches make me want to walk.
            Another meaning of faith is trust. Trust what is dependable, reliable, comfortable. (‘Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith.’) Faith, in the ancient world, meant ‘personal loyalty.’ Give loyalty to someone you trust. Who has faith in you? Who can trust us?

Friday, 20 October 2017

On Good Dogs

Every evening at the end of the day, my dog is told that he has been a good dog no matter what has happened during the day. He gets stroked and patted and assured that he’s always a good dog. That’s how he knows he has a home.
            Alas I don’t have the same conviction about myself. On the contrary, I’m sure I am and have been a sinner, and my daily experience confirms this. A survey recently wanted to know if I looked back on my life as a scene of happiness and success. Not entirely. Most of my trips to the past reveal sometimes grim mistakes and true catastrophes, enhanced by ignorance, arrogance, and greed.
            And there’s no one to tell me each day that I’ve been a good human all day long. This realistic view of my condition doesn’t lead me to feel low and depressed, though, because I have a hidden treasure. My errors comprise a lengthy list, added to by my limitations. But I am a soul for whom Christ died, and so are you, and so are all of us. You cannot be saved alone, but we live in honour nonetheless.