"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

global peace needs global justice

Last Sunday we celebrated our church's Patronal Festival. Whilst we were hearing about St Peter from the pulpit the children were making these lovely paper boats and learning that Peter was a humble fisherman when he was commissioned by Jesus.

Today in church we read a biblical passage from The Book of Amos that seemed far removed from Sunday's theme.

Amos was a prophet of the eighth century BC. He lived at a time when both Israel and Judah had military and political strength and the peoples thought that their wealth was a sign of God's blessing. But there were huge injustices; the rich lived in luxury and the poor were oppressed, idolatry was widespread and the legal system was corrupt.

What Amos came to tell the people was that far from being blessed by God, God was in fact angry with His people. "The Lord says this: I hate and despise your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemn festivals...I reject your oblations...let me have no more of the din of your chanting..." (Amos 5, vv 21-23)This is strong stuff from a displeased God.

But the point is that displays of material wealth and power count for nothing in our worship unless our hearts are in the right place, and we truly not only love God, but love our neighbour as ourselves. Amos was saying that the people would only have a healthy society if they lived righteously and with justice for all. "Seek good and not evil," he says, "so that you may live, and that the Lord, God of hosts, will take pity on the remnant of Joseph" ... so that "justice (will) flow like water, and integrity like an unfailing stream." (Amos 5, v.14 and v. 24).

This message is as strong and relevant today as it was in the eighth century BC and it brought to my mind the mission of the present day Global Justice Movement, that calls for five justices: monetary, social, economic, environmental and peace - in fact an inclusive justice for all.

And without global justice there can be no global peace.

Women of the Bible - Mrs Noah

Last weekend we had a flower festival in our church. The theme was "Women of the Bible." That gave plenty of scope for the fertile imagination and sense of humour of our many talented flower arrangers. (I certainly cannot be counted as one of them - my skill with cut flowers is limited to finding a vase and putting them all in together and hoping they look OK!)

Here we have "Mrs Noah after the flood."

"And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark...

And God spake unto Noah, saying, "Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee... "

And God spoke unto Noah, saying, "And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature, that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth...I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a token of a covenant between me and the earth."

The Holy Bible Old Testament: Genesis VII vv. 12-13, VIII vv. 15-16, IX vv. 8-13.

This incidentally is the first of five covenants God makes to mankind in the Old Testament. Here is an unconditional promise from God to all life on the earth that He will not destroy the earth by water ever again.

What are the other 4 covenants? I shall write about those another day.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Depression as a Spiritual Journey - again

I promised, in May, to post up the interview conducted by Conscious.tv with Stephanie Sorrell and myself. Well, here it is!

Please let me know what you think.


Serendipity - A seeming gift for finding good things accidentally - a word coined by Horace Walpole after the Persian tale of the Three Princes of Serendip.

I was at the 30th Winchester Writers' Conference today, to hear Sir Terry Pratchett speak at the opening plenary session, in a talk he entitled "Why are you listening to me when you should be at home writing?" !!

He is a great believer in serendipity, he tells us. Things happen to him by happy chance - things that further his hugely successful writing career, as if he needed much more to help him on his way in that regard. To a packed auditorium in the Stripe Building at Winchester University he told us that he has never plotted a book - the process, he modestly explained, simply comes naturally to him when he wakes up and starts work each day. He was almost embarrassed to tell us this, but he did admit that sometimes the story did have to be rearranged later to get things into correct and sensible order.

He did also stress the value of reading massive amounts - a habit he acquired as a very young child, with a particular interest in historic novels. History, he told us, is so full of "amazing stuff." I certainly read avidly throughout childhood, mostly books of a scientific nature, as I actually disliked history intently, so obviously missing out badly on all that "amazing stuff."

Perhaps this is why I could no more write a fantasy novel as I suspect Sir Terry could write a scientific paper. (see an earlier blog of mine!)

Be that as it may, I have certainly benefited from serendipity in my writing journey. I was drawn to this conference in 2007 at a time when my writing demanded the further advice that a conference such as this can offer, and serendipity again led me to O Books Publishers; I was "fed up" one dark and miserable winter evening and drove to Bluewater for some retail therapy. There in Waterstones I stumbled straight away upon Barry Cottrell's The Way Beyond the Shaman, published by O Books, and thereafter received his encouragement and assistance in tempting O Books to take me on. Thank you Barry.

So here's to serendipity and avid reading.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

spiritual default settings

Yesterday I was in London and visited St Lawrence Jewry, the official Church of the Lord Mayor of London and of the City of London Corporation. It is a very beautiful church indeed with a fascinating history, as described in full on its website, from which I quote:

"There has been a church on the present site since the twelfth century. The first church is thought to have been built in 1136, and was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. The church was one of many re-built by Sir Christopher Wren, Work began in 1670 and was completed in 1687. It was one of Wren's most expensive City Churches.

During the second world war the church was extensively damaged but not completely destroyed on 29th December 1940.

Restored in 1957, it is now the official Church of the Corporation of London. Like most Wren Churches few walls are at right angles but the "sumptuous barn" white interior with its gold-leaf and chandeliers is spectacular. The church was described by Sir John Betjeman as "very municipal, very splendid." It was designated a Grade I listed on January 4, 1950"

Talking to the vicar and Chaplain Canon David Parrott, I was saddened to learn how very few attend the regular weekday and Sunday Holy Communions, and how very small is the resident congregation, although he told me the church is packed to the rafters on the few special civic services during the year.

And that made me think about how we can bring people back to spirituality and worship. There must be very many in the City of London and its environs who would surely welcome the peace and spiritual sustenance provided within the walls of such a wonderful place, built to the Glory of God. When I had my own very busy and stressful accountancy and tax practice I found the mid week communion at the local church a restorative time of prayer and fellowship at the Lord's Table.

When I arrived home last night, and in one of those wonderful serendipitous moments we all experience from time to time, I came across an item in Weatherstone's blog which I follow that made me pause for thought.

Although written in the context of the author's own spiritual journey in the American Evangelical Church, that does not matter. His message has a universal Christian relevance, as he draws upon an analogy between our own personal spiritual choices and the choices we have on our computers to alter the default settings.

The computer manufacturer has a pretty good idea of what we want or need from our computer. We turn it on and can immediately take advantage of the default settings. We can get on with what we want to do easily (well usually!). Those of us who are more computer literate, or think we are, can alter those settings to suit ourselves. The trouble is that sometimes we totally screw up the system, get in a total mess and end up with frustration and worse.

Have too many of us twiddled with our own default spiritual settings, without the manual or a clear understanding of what we are doing. Do we think we know best only to find that we don't!? I am quite sure that many have lost touch with their Christian upbringing and beliefs, and their spiritual needs, in this way, and need some system default corrections!

God may know what we want or need better than us - perhaps we should go back to those default settings and be guided by a greater Spiritual Teacher towards a better journey!

If people would only listen to their default spiritual settings and give God a chance.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Global warming and sustainable living - scientific evidence

Scientists issue open letter on climate change

Here is another valuable contribution from my favourite blog, planet thoughts. Here is a very clear and succinct explanation of the scientific process in general and more specifically the support for the view that we contribute to climate change. More than 200 members of the US National Academy of Sciences have spoken out and signed this open letter and it is a must read for all those who are climate change skeptics and who also believe that science can categorically prove that things are black or white. Of course science cannot do this, and this is the cause of much misunderstanding amongst the general public.

I have written on this very same theme myself not so long ago in this blog.

Sad that the comments on this letter so far on "planet thoughts" revolve around disputing the actual number of scientists involved! We all want to be clever all the time, to debate unceasingly, often displaying unhealthy pedantry, whilst the world continues towards destruction under our not so clever stewardship.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Mice and Strawberries

These are my strawberries!

They have been left in neat piles all around my allotment, between the rows of potatoes and broccoli, near the marrow plants, in fact just about anywhere within a reasonable mouse travelling distance of the strawberry plants.

At least I assume that the guilty party is a mouse or a family of mice - probably breeding happily in my nice warm compost heap. But why are they hoarding these strawberries in piles all around the place? What bit of the strawberry are they eating in particular? Why so many? Why are they hoarding? Why do they pick mostly unripe fruit? Or do they eat the ripe ones whole and think the others will ripen in storage?! A bit like the supermarket fruit?!

Please can any one throw any light on
this phenomenon?

And is there any way I can protect my fruit without resorting to killing the mice, which I just cannot do? Perhaps next year I shall strew holly twigs between the rows of fruit. I have successfully used that technique to protect seedlings in my greenhouse in the spring.

Community - Fear and Happiness in the 21st Century

I came in from the garden the other morning in time to hear the last few intriguing minutes of a discussion on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. Host Jenni Murray and her guests were talking about gated roads and the importance of belonging to community and the current fear culture that seems so prevalent in our neighbourhoods.

On following up the programme on the Radio 4 website I found one of the guests to be Anna Minton, and discovered that she has written a book around this theme, Ground Control: Fear and happiness in the twenty-first-century city (Paperback Penguin Books - 25 Jun 2009)

This attracted my attention as a subject dear to my own heart.

If we sense that our boundaries are being threatened, it is a natural human reaction to feel insecure or suspicious. We are afraid that our identities may be lost. Fear can breed violence and aggression, which then becomes a real obstacle to any attempts at community building. And this applies as much to the inclusive faith group or the national culture as it does on the faceless and impersonal track housing or housing estate we have created, or in the inner cities.

When barriers are in any way dissolved, it is important to ensure that individual and group identities continue to be preserved and respected in their overall unity. The one great melting pot that we dreamed of in the “swinging sixties” where all differences would be watered down and identities lost will never work. And why should we want to bring all colors and cultures and faiths and backgrounds into one homogeneous mush anyway? We have to learn to celebrate all our differences of faith and creed and culture in a spirit of respect and understanding and indeed joy. Judaism has a set of principles known as Darkhei Shalom, meaning “how to live graciously with people whose beliefs and way of life are incompatible (with the Jewish faith). Despite profound differences, we must engage in common citizenship, contributing to the welfare of other communities as well as our own,” writes Jonathan Sacks in To Heal a Fractured World.

This needs real community. It needs community at all levels, local, national and international, if we are all to learn to live together in perfect harmony. “Beware above all of everything that isolates, that refuses to accept and that divides,” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin warns. “Each along your own line, let your thought and action be ‘universal’ which is to say ‘total’. And tomorrow may be you will find to your surprise that all opposition has disappeared and you can love one another.” (Activation of Energy 1970 p.95)

We should perhaps remember that most of the war and conflict in the world today is defensive rather than aggressive. Much of the violence and pain we see around us has been interpreted in the context of Teilhard’s theories, as being the result of our failures to adapt and evolve alongside the move we have so rapidly made towards global convergence. This suffering has been likened to the pathological birth pangs of a new world order, a world in need of healing. Man has to learn, he says, not to give up security, which is psychologically impossible, but to trade in the old security of fences, boundaries, guns and bombs, for the new security of openness and trust in bonds of relationship, mutual support, brotherhood and love. And that means real community.

Of course the worth or otherwise of a visionary’s words can only be tested by the passage of time, but Teilhard’s visions seem to be attracting ever more followers as we struggle to understand our seemingly precarious future in this twenty first century.

Bonds of mutual support, brotherhood and love seem far removed from the gated private roads, the houses surrounded by overtly secure and impenetrable security gates, the intercom devices to gain entry. Such exclusiveness continues to isolate and divide. I believe strongly that it is misguided and harmful to achieving any real community. It removes us from being a part of the spirit and soul of a place.

We have the first responsibility to make change in our societies and communities. Governments with their laws and regulations can only provide the supportive framework within which we make these changes. Governments can fight the injustices of low minimum wages, non-existent healthcare for so many, lack of security in sickness and retirement, and the huge divide between the richest and the poorest of our society. They can make the tax codes which support the status of marriage and family, that either help parents stay at home with children or force them back into the workplace.

But most of all I believe we need spiritual politicians who are compassionate, indeed empathic to the needs of the populace. In fact we need spirituality, compassion, empathy, and good old-fashioned moral responsibility all round. And we need changes of heart and mind in us all.

And the picture? It is of the Chestnut Festival in the Nun's Valley in Madeira - during a tremendous rain storm which threatened to totally close down the event. But community spirit and neighbourliness prevailed against all the odds!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

World Economic Crisis, UK austerity cuts and Binary Economics

Seven Steps to Justice

On a day when our UK Tory Government has announced cuts of £2billion to previously planned public expenditure, because of lack of funds, I am forcefully reminded of Rodney Shakespeare and Peter Challen's book, Seven Steps to Justice.

Published in 2002, this deserves a much wider readership and recognition than it has received.
A short book, it has a wealth of profound insight and potentially far reaching recommendations for a fundamental change to our current financial systems, whilst written in an easy style that is accessible to all, without requiring any deep financial or economic background. And all this in just 150 pages.
The review by Wayne Strugeon provides a good summary of this book's main thrust. Another essential review is that of Norman Kurland, President of the Center for Economic and Social Justice Washington.
The key issue exposed by Shakespeare and Challen is that our current banking system creates money. Not only that, but it then claims ownership of that money by charging interest on it. What is more c. 97% of the money created annually comes from that banking system, with interest, and just 3% is government created, without any interest charge. Why does a government have to pay interest to the banks? Why are we almost totally controlled by the banks? Two good questions!
The authors go on to propose a neat alternative, which they have called Binary Economics, based on Louis Kelso's model (elsewhere described as the Third Alternative Economy.) The main object of this style of economics is to ensure that all individuals have access to earning through both capital ownership and the provision of their own labour, the only two ways, the book tells us, that we can genuinely earn.
The benefits of such a system are several. Most importantly, as the front cover notes, there would be two basic incomes available for all, capital ownership for all, a proper and fair deal for all women, and they even dare to propose solutions to the problems in the Middle East and Kashmir, based on this new style of economy. How wonderful is that?!
Unfortunately such radical proposals tend to get ignored because too many people caught up in the present system have too much to lose if the system changes.
Can we afford in the present world economic crisis to ignore other ideas? Let's at least open the debate.
If you have got this far, you may like to pursue the topic further in a blog of the Global Justice Movement, The Just Third Way.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Monsanto and Haiti and terminator seed

Yesterday the God's Politics Blog in my Blogroll reported the protest by Haitian farmers to the gift by Monsanto Corporation of "conventional hybrid" seed. This seed, the farmers point out, is sterile and the farmers therefore have to buy more seed every year, not being able to harvest their own seed from the first year's crop. This obviously increases the farmers' ongoing costs substantially and traps them into further costs.

The story on Monsanto's own site seems to paint a rosier picture. They say they have donated "conventional hybrid" seeds to Haiti - $4million's worth. That sounds very generous. But is it as generous as it seems?

What exactly is a "conventional" seed? Conventional in my dictionary means following custom or convention - from a customary practice. I suppose if anything is followed for long enough it becomes conventional, but surely that does not necessarily endorse it as a "good thing?" Because hybrid seed cannot be used to breed more seed for the next crop, it has been called Terminator seed.

It seems to me that these seeds donated to Haiti are Terminator seeds by another name. And the Haitian farmers clearly think so too.

But see Monsanto's own take on this. They seem to be congratulating themselves on their generosity. And they remind us that in 1999 they made a commitment " not to commercialize sterile seed technology in food crops." Making a gift of such seed to earthquake-stricken Haiti may not be commercialization but is surely a cynical exploitation? Or am I misunderstanding something?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Irises in the sun

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Truth about the Oil - the real leak size

I may have said this before but all who are interested in the Truth about the current big Oil story should follow the planet thoughts of David Alexander and get on his email list for regular updates.

Here is what he has just sent to me:

"Greetings. It would be worth reading recent articles at http://PlanetThoughts.org in order to get a more accurate sense of the REAL situation regarding oil, fossil fuels, corporate behavior, and peak oil. Since May 14th I have been writing or quoting about these matters, including three new articles today on coming to terms with the true leak size and upcoming criminal charges, added peak oil predictions by conservative energy industry groups, and the similar or greater risks with nuclear energy. There are content-rich videos connected with each of these articles.

All in all, the fossil fuel business and the nuclear industry should be shunned by all. Why they are NOT universally shunned could be an interesting study in societal inertia and excessive trust in authority ('the FDA/MMS/NRC said it's safe, so it must be!'). But that is for another day.

I urge you to follow the links and read the truth and spread the word!

Monday, 7 June 2010


These are so beautiful. If you look carefully you can see the bee in one of these flowers. Actually there were lots of bees around these flowers and in the end they starting buzzing me - angry at my close presence no doubt - so I prudently moved away!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Leonardslee Gardens

Blogger and image uploads

For the last week or so I have been frustrated in my blogging efforts. For some reason the new blogger editor, which is supposed to have far more and better features than the old editor, does not allow photo uploads. What is more, I am finding that there are actually far fewer available features than with the old editor. After a few days of fretting I have found that reverting to the old editor is at least enabling me to upload photos again - so by way of a practice run, here is something from my flower collection! These were taken at the wonderful Leonardslee Gardens, in Sussex a week or so ago. A visit is strongly recommended for any one in that neck of the woods - before the gardens are sold and become unavailable to the general public at the end of June - a sad day indeed for garden enthusiasts!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Oil and BP and the Gulf of Mexico

The CEO of BP, Tony Hayward, is reported as saying that the ocean is big and the oil doesn't amount to much! What a gaffe!

To help you understand the real and awful truth behind the Oil leak have a look at this Infographic on the PlanetThoughts.org site.

And join their site for continual updating on environmental issues.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


I cannot believe what I have just heard on the news. We are watching helplessly whilst the most appalling environmental disaster is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, and who knows what the final extent will be of the damage to our planet and our wild life. And all the news item could concentrate on was the billions of pounds wiped off the share price for British Petroleum, the effect on the value of pension funds, and the effect on the stock market generally!! Where should our priorities be?

Then I heard someone describing his experiences in Antarctica - one of the most beautiful places on earth, and one of the last places on earth to be unspoilt by human activity, but for how long?

And remember that BP wanted to drill for oil in the Arctic!

When are we going to learn and curb our greed and our madness and secure some sort of future for mankind? Because rest assured, as James Lovelock has reminded us more than once, Gaia can survive quite happily without us. We should remember this as we continue to destroy our habitat.

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



with vapor trails


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