Sunday, 27 January 2013

Morals, Conscience and Hypocrisy - where do we draw the line ?

A discussion on a writer's forum has me thinking. A comment I  made appears to be at odds with a number of views, so here I state my case.

 I think that attending a religious funeral, singing hymns and praying whilst having no religious beliefs yourself, is acting hypocritically. I would feel a hypocrite by attending a religious funeral where my own beliefs were different to the general belief of the deceased and the other attenders - whether that was Christian, Muslim, Humanist, Creationist, Hindu or any other religion that has a name to it.

I was brought up within the beliefs and attitudes of the Methodist Church. My father was a local preacher and played  the organ for weddings, funerals, christenings and Sunday services from around the age of twenty. He wrote and illustrated books on Methodism and the history of his local circuit. My mother

I was brought up within the beliefs and attitudes of the Methodist Church. My father was a local preacher and played the organ for weddings, funerals, christenings and weekly services from around the age of 20 yrs old. He wrote and illustrated books on Methodism and the history of his local circuit. My mother is 87 and religion and the church has been and still is a major part of her life. My own faith has grown, changed and been challenged (by me !) throughout my life. I have been a Sunday School teacher, church youth group leader, Brown Owl - when Brownies made promises to a god - and have tried to bring up my own children to know about and understand the beliefs of others and to be tolerant and sympathetic to all. I have also been a primary school teacher where I had to teach about many religions, their history and their customs and practices. 
I think of myself as being fortunate that at that time I had decided for myself my own views on religion and did not believe in a god as generally described, or Jesus as a divine being. It was more difficult for my truly Christian friends NOT to teach about their personal belief - as they felt it was their duty to their faith to do so. 
My father died aged 64 in 1988. At his funeral in the chapel where he had preached so many times and along with the organ that he had played so many times, I sang the hymns he loved along with my children aged 4, 9 and 11 and many others and prayed - or rather thought deeply about my father. But I felt hypocritical. By my age, there are more family and friends who have died and I send flowers and letters and visit the bereaved.
My mother, at 87 yrs old says often that she won't be here much longer, or it's time she wasn't here. We discuss things quite openly, and when I say what about me at your funeral when I don't class myself as a Christian ? Don't bother about a funeral then she, says - you can think of me just as well anywhere else.
None of us know when we or our loved ones are going to die - I might be dead before her and then the dilemma will be on my own children as to what to do about me ! Maybe we just have to wait and see how we feel at the time, and go with our conscience.

(This is solely my own opinion and thoughts and is not meant to sound "holier than thou" )

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Clearout or Waste ?

I started this post yesterday and today it’s in the news that as much as half of the world's food, around two billion tonnes worth is wasted. It's maybe coincidence (or one of those 'being drawn to things' scenarios) but it's relevant anyway.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers said "the waste is being caused by poor storage, strict sell-by dates, bulk offers and consumer fussiness". The study also found that up to 30% of vegetables in the UK were not harvested because of their physical appearance. The institution's Dr Tim Fox said the level of waste was "staggering".

World Food Waste I’ve just done the biennial food cupboard clean out.
I say biennial as I just can’t remember whether I did one this time last year or not but based on the ‘best before’ dates of more than one item, it seems as though if I did, I didn’t do it very well.In world food statistics I don't suppose my thrown out food plays a very big part but I have noticed that I have extras this year to chuck in the bin and 'waste'.As well as the obligatory unopened jar of pickled cabbage and a couple of opened jars of pickled onions.For those interested, or who would like to compare with their own, here is the full list :

2 tins of chopped tomatoes – out of date
1 tin of chilli beans  - too rusted to see date
1 tin of chick peas – still in date but not looking very enticing
1 plastic jar of instant hot chocolate mix – can’t think when or where this was bought
2 jars of pickled onions – opened
2 jars of beetroot – opened
1 jar of tomato and herb pasta sauce
3 loose Weetabix
quarter box of cornflakes
tub of glace cherries – from last Christmas
tub of mixed peel - likewise
4-6 broken cream crackers
2 pkts supermarkets own make cheese and onion crisps
3 squashed tomato ketchups from Macdonalds
pkt of salt – dry  and lumpy (who buys salt in packets ?)
half a lb of sr flour
foil pkt of something that should have been used long ago

(Then of course there’s the fridge and freezer, but  that’s another blog post)

Now, I know if I tried really hard I could make a meal out of this, maybe more. But there's been enough folks brought down with the Norovirus recently that I wouldn't want to be responsible for any more upset stomachs.
And yes, we all remember telling our parents that the poor starving children across the world are welcome to the dinner that we are refusing to eat.
So maybe this post is a bit of a guilt trip but, as with the 'starving children' thing, if anyone wants this bagful of 'waste' then I will deliver it (locally)

I resolve to not do any more 'big shops' online or otherwise.
I resolve to keep the cupboards stocked with only things I am likely to eat - or force onto visitors.
I resolve to stick to these resolutions, at least until the end of the month.

Menu for my dinner / tea today as follows :

boil in the bag kippers that have been in the freezer since last time daughter did shopping
mashed potatoes - that are turning green,but were like that when I got them
tin of peas - IN date 

The dog is having the same.
Bet you wish you were joining me ! 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Another Year -Let's hope it's a good one.

I've waited till today 2nd January, to write a blog about and in, this new year of 2013.
Not because I haven't any thoughts about anything - for a change, lately - but because I wanted to refrain from using all those more than well used phrases like "it's that time of year again" and "standing on the threshold" and "new beginnings" and all that stuff. There's been more than enough reviews of the old year in the media too over the last couple of weeks. The 100 best songs, books, films, tv progs, plays, E readers, Smart phones etc. Just name something and it will be in a list of "best ofs" I can guarantee. Then there's the lists of "famous" people who have died, and notifications of ones soon to be born.

It's natural I suppose to want to put the last 12 months to the back of our minds are rally forth with predictions, expectations and hopes for this next year. Mankind as a whole surely can not afford to continue with the destruction of ourselves and our world as we are doing. And yet new technology, different ways of thinking and different views on governing continue to emerge, as they have done since the beginning of time. (I was going to say, different ways of killing each other, but it's difficult not to sound sanctimonious by doing so).

This past year seems to have seen more bloodshed and more tears than many of us thought possible. We don't need to specify individual situations here - I think we all know where they are around the world.

Or maybe this is the point. 
Maybe we do have to discuss individual situations more than we already do. Maybe in the process of making this world global, multicultural and inclusive we are becoming less able to recognise that peoples and situations are different. Trying to make everyone and everything the same in the guise of inclusiveness, more than likely does not work. Treating different ailments with the same remedy is not always successful.
We can sympathise with the appalling situations in Syria, in Palestine and in Israel but we can't empathise unless we are personally involved. We look and listen today in horror to the stories coming out of Pakistan, India,  the Ivory Coast, the US and also Europe. But when all's said and done we can turn off the news, not read the papers and go online less ... we spend far too much time on the internet anyway, don't we ?

So what to do ? I make no pretensions to be able to answer that question. Many great people have and are currently always aiming to put and end to the bad and to restore and implement the good. They need our support in whatever way we can.

I've just watched an episode of  Nature's Weirdest Events. As well as exploding toads and plagues of insects it showed some very hungry polar bears coming onto land while they wait for the sea to freeze over. These bears, which would be expected to have immediately killed sleigh dogs they come across to eat, in fact changed their predatory stance and began playing with the dogs. Not only that but the polar bears return each year to meet up with their dog friends and play for hours on end. 

I'm not suggesting that we humans go out and play with polar bears (though swimming with dolphins and living with wolves is done often) 
Just that as always, nature has a way of showing us that often, animals have a better perspective on how to live life than we have. 

Here's hoping that this year takes mankind forward in our development and understanding of others and all that is around us. Perhaps, even if we don't make it 'happy', we can make the year peaceful and pleasant to live through.

Best wishes for 2013