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A new year – time to start blogging again?

January 7, 2012

Sorry for the delays from my side. Although I am glad to be having this “conversation”, the practicalities of it hard hard to sustain with any kind of freshness. In effect what happens is that it becomes like writing an essay late on a Thursday evening. This doesn’t mean it is “stream of consciousness stuff” of course, as we both want to keep things balanced. That’s because, as I know you know, you matter, and my relationship with you matters. And of course these matters matter too!


Interestingly I find myself writing this contribution on the Christian feast of Epiphany, which is as you know about such matters as light, revelation, truth, and the value of searching for all of these. Although the Christian celebration starts with the wise men (magi) for me it encompasses all search for truth – which is what I think we both believe this “conversation” is about.


In that context I have to say that you last post contained two things that I had hoped the discussion between us would have moved past. Of course you may think that about what I write too, I do realise!


So what are these two? The first is the one about all the suffering “caused” by religion. Surely we don’t need to fall for that? The pains and injustices of this world are many and varied, and have at their root a whole range of issues, not just religion. What about the impact of politics, personality, power, greed, and philosophy? And please don’t forget that just as good things are done in the name of politics and because of some people’s personalities, there has been historically – and still is – a vast amount that is good and health-giving done through religion, such as education, lighthouses and hospices.


You then went on to use another old-fashioned concept – that one might conceivably need a “scaffolding” until you mature and then you discard it. That certainly read as being dismissive, judgemental and superior, not things I would normally expect from you!


So what exactly is your own philosophy? Is it really summed up as “take life as it comes – its all random and chance”? This is a serious question, because I know that you care deeply about people , that you have very high standards of personal integrity, and that you are very compassionate. Are those just chance? Or is there choice involved?


You see I do have a sense that the vast sum of suffering and inequality and injustice comes, albeit through the structures of politics and religion, from human nature and human choices. As has become a bit of a “slogan” with preachers “The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart”. People are intrinsically self-centred, which lies behind all violence. And of course it has often been suggested that humanity therefore needs either laws, or agreed moral codes, or an ethical framework, to try to contain this innate destructive drive.


Before I close this contribution, here are two other things to think about.


First, I have just read (as you know!), “Snuff” by Terry Pratchettt. I would be interested to hear you views on what he writes in this novel – alongside his usual comic take on the capricious nature of all known gods – about music. Here are bits from this novel:


It was the pure quill of music, a sound that came close to making you want to fall on your knees and promise to be a better person.

The music rushed in and, for a moment upon the world, lifted all hearts and forgave all sins

The music poured over us, sometimes soothing, sometimes blessing, sometimes accusing. Every one of us confronting ghosts, demons and old memories

We had been taken somewhere and brought back and we were different people, longing for another journey into paradise, no matter what hell we had to atone for on the way

As I say, your thoughts about all that most welcome!

My second thought is this. When we started planning a joint book, my planned direction was somewhat different to the way in which our conversation has gone so far? Would you be interested in me making my next post – and I’ll try to do it next week! the things I had drafted?

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