Fundamental points of a life – part 1

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I dislike fundamentalism.

I agree with what a great man once said, “…we have some — many — who believe they possess the absolute truth and they go on sullying others through slander and defamation and this is wrong. Religious fundamentalism must be combated. It is not religious, G-d is lacking. It is idolatrous.

In my experience a true relationship with G-d is built upon uncertainties, paradoxes, doubt, loss of faith as much as having faith. G-d is found in a “Cloud of Unknowing.”

That said, there are certain memories we retain  (usually from pre-puberty) and we will always refer to, subconsciously or consciously, in difficult times, as a foundation for our lives.

What we learnt as children becomes our fundament.

Ironically, what I learnt as a child is taken from religious fundamentalism.

I grew up in a fairly religious family: obligatory church – twice, some times three times every Sunday, every Holy day (and, as a choirboy, every baptism, wedding and funeral). Any spare time on a Sunday was filled by Sunday School. As a 7 year old, I could quote huge passages of “The Book of Common Prayer”.

One on my list of memories, comes from a fiery sermon given by  a holiday replacement for our local vicar. What separated him from all others was that he was a Jew.

His chosen text has become a fundament of my life:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

[Galatians 3:28]

 

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Pro-Israeli fears of Corbyn are silly

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I do not share Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Israel.

However, I do not think they are anti-Semitic. They are just different from my opinions on Zionism. They are held by many, also Jews, also Israelis.

That said, I do not dismiss that there are some who share his views only because they fit within their suppressed (or overt) anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, I am tempted to assume they hold their positions more because of their ignorance rather than these racist tendencies.

Yet, in the final analysis, it does not matter. Especially to Zionists. This realisation makes me describe any “fears” as silly.

The raison d’etre for Zionism is the need for Jews to have their own state. To no longer, be dependent upon the whims of other nations and races as to whether they may live as they wish  – or even live at all.

For almost 70 years, the State of Israel has been the refuge, defender and representative of the Jewish people. Nowhere else. No political leaders have tirelessly promoted the defence and views of Jewish people than those elected within the State of Israel. The State of Israel with its independence is the Jewish people. There is a relationship with the Diaspora that is unique, supportive and powerful.

Therefore, I do not give a pig’s ear what anyone, especially from the colonial power from which Israel emerged, thinks, says or does concerning the State of Israel.

If threatened, the State of Israel will defend itself.

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Priest murdered by an Algerian

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Fr. Charles de Foucauld was murdered on December 1, 1916.

He has been an inspiration to me. I have tried to be like him. I tried to be one of the Little Brothers of Jesus. I have also failed.

However, this failure has not been without……..to understand: read his story, his writings and see the work he has inspired.

Blessed Charles Eugène de Foucauld (15 September 1858 – 1 December 1916) was a French Catholic religious and priest living among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916 outside the door of the fort he built for the protection of the Tuareg, and is considered by the Catholic Church to be a martyr. His inspiration and writings led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus among other religious congregations. He was beatified on 13 November 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Charles de Foucauld was an officer of the French Army in North Africa where he first developed his strong feelings about the desert and solitude. On his subsequent return to France, and towards the end of October 1886, at the age of 28, he went through a conversion experience at the Church of Saint Augustin in Paris.

In 1890, de Foucauld joined the Cistercian Trappist order first in France and then at Akbès on the SyrianTurkish border, but left in 1897 to follow an undefined religious vocation in Nazareth. He began to lead a solitary life of prayer, near a convent of Poor Clares and it was suggested to him that he be ordained. In 1901, at the age of 43, he was ordained in Viviers, France, and returned to the Sahara in French Algeria and lived a virtually eremitical life. He first settled in Béni Abbès, near the Moroccan border, building a small hermitage for “adoration and hospitality”, which he soon referred to as the “Fraternity”.

Later, he moved to be with the Tuareg people, in Tamanghasset in southern Algeria. This region is the central part of the Sahara with the Ahaggar Mountains (the Hoggar) immediately to the west. Foucauld used the highest point in the region, the Assekrem, as a place of retreat. Living close to the Tuareg, and sharing their life and hardships, he made a ten-year study of their language and cultural traditions. He learned the Tuareg language and worked on a dictionary and grammar. His dictionary manuscript was published posthumously in four volumes and has become known among Berberologues for its rich and apt descriptions. He formulated the idea of founding a new religious institute, which became a reality only after his death, under the name of the Little Brothers of Jesus.

On December 1, 1916, de Foucauld was dragged from his fortress by a gang of armed bandits led by El Madani ag Soba, who was connected with the Senussi Bedouin. Their intention was to kidnap de Foucauld, but when the gang was disturbed by two guardsmen, one startled bandit (15-year-old Sermi ag Thora) shot their prisoner through the head, killing him instantly. The murder was witnessed by sacristan and servant Paul Embarek, an African Arab former slave liberated and instructed by Fr de Foucauld.

His life goes on

Charles de Foucauld died alone, and without the immediate fellowship of others sharing his practice of the life of Jesus of Nazareth and hospitality in the desert of Algeria. Yet he was successful at inspiring and helping to organize a confraternity within France in support of his idea. This organisation, called the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, consisted of lay and ordained members totaling 48 people at the time of his death.

It was this group, and specifically the efforts of Louis Massignon, the world-famous scholar of Islam, and a best selling biography written by René Bazin in 1921 – La Vie de Charles de Foucauld Explorateur en Maroc, Eremite du Sahara – which kept his memory alive and inspired the family of lay and religious fraternities that include Jesus Caritas, the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus, among a total of ten religious congregations and nine associations of spiritual life.

Though originally French in origin, these groups have expanded to include many cultures and their languages on all continents.

The 1936 French film The Call of Silence portrayed Charles de Foucauld’s life.

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The classic summer cucumber

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Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae. It is a creeping vine that bears cylindrical fruits that are used as culinary vegetables. There are three main varieties of cucumber: slicing, pickling, and burpless. Within these varieties, several different cultivars have emerged. The cucumber is originally from South Asia, but now grows on most continents. Many different varieties are traded on the global market. In North America, the term “wild cucumber” can refer to plants in the genera Echinocystis and Marah, but these are not closely related.

Earliest cultivation

The cucumber is listed among the foods of ancient Ur, and the legend of Gilgamesh describes people eating cucumbers. Some sources also state it was produced in ancient Thrace, and it is certainly part of modern cuisine in Bulgaria and Turkey, parts of which make up that ancient state. Cucumbers are mentioned in the Bible as one of the foods eaten by the Israelites in Egypt. From India, it spread to Greece (where it was called “σίκυον”, síkyon) and Italy (where the Romans were especially fond of the crop), and later into China.

Robert Daniel, in discussing an ostracon dated to the second half of the third century AD, has suggested identifying an otherwise unknown word, ολγιττα, with the Arabic al-qitta’, the common word for cucumber.

According to Pliny the Elder (The Natural History, Book XIX, Chapter 23), the Ancient Greeks grew cucumbers, and there were different varieties in Italy, Africa, and Moesia.

Roman Empire

According to Pliny, the Emperor Tiberius had the cucumber on his table daily during summer and winter. The Romans reportedly used artificial methods (similar to the greenhouse system) of growing to have it available for his table every day of the year. “Indeed, he was never without it; for he had raised beds made in frames upon wheels, by means of which the cucumbers were moved and exposed to the full heat of the sun; while, in winter, they were withdrawn, and placed under the protection of frames glazed with mirrorstone.”

Reportedly, they were also cultivated in cucumber houses glazed with oiled cloth known as “specularia”.

Pliny the Elder describes the Italian fruit as very small, probably like a gherkin, describing it as a wild cucumber considerably smaller than the cultivated one. Pliny also describes the preparation of a medication known as elaterium, though some scholars believe he was referring to Ecballium elaterium, known in pre-Linnean times as “Cucumis silvestris” or “Cucumis asininus” (“wild cucumber” or “donkey cucumber”), a species different from the common cucumber. Pliny also writes about several other varieties of cucumber, including the cultivated cucumber, and remedies from the different types (9 from the cultivated, 5 from the “anguine”, and 26 from the “wild”). The Romans are reported to have used cucumbers to treat scorpion bites, bad eyesight, and to scare away mice. Wives wishing for children wore them around their waists. They were also carried by midwives, and thrown away when the child was born.

Modern Times

Cucumbers are used as a substitute by the media for “real” news in the Summer months.

 

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QUEEN APPOINTS COMMUNIST PM

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Staff applaud Theresa May, and her husband Philip, walk into 10 Downing Street.

Contrary to all expectations, a short meeting with Her majesty the Queen, has transformed former (Conservative) Home secretary Theresa May into Prime Minister May, champion of the poor and dispossessed.

Prime Minister May said afterwards, she no longer is for the “privileged few” but she is for you and me struggling to make ends meet, out there in the real world. No longer will she persist in the age-old Tory tactic of divide and rule; she is for Unionism – “the Conservative and Unionist party“.

The pound has fallen, yet again, as this news sinks in to the fat cats and their professional gamblers.

Has PM Theresa May been seduced by the sartorial excellence and erudition of Jermy Corbyn?

Is this the beginning of a great cross-party conspiracy: a “union” of purpose to make our government a government “by the people, for the people“?

The only pill to cure Brexit?

Watch this space.

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Tom Watson discusses the Labour leadership

billybOur secret rapporteur recorded tho following conversation before Tom Watson (aka Billy Bunter) disappeared into the House of Commons’ tuck shop.

““I’m thinking it out, Toddy,” he answered, without moving. “Can’t say I like either of the beasts much! Of course, in some ways, Birdy would make a better Form captain than Jerry.”
“How do you make that out, fathead—I mean, old fellow!”
“Well, Skinner thinks that if Birdy gets in, a man will be able to dodge games practice without being reported to Wingate.”
“Oh crumbs!”

That consideration, evidently, had a strong appeal for Bunter!

“Still, Jerry’s’s not a bad chap in some ways!” said the fat Owl. “He’s a good deal more civil than Birdy, if a fellow drops into his study to tea.”
“Oh!” gasped Toddy.
“And—he’s not reeking with money like Birdy, but, he’s a jolly good deal easier to touch for a small loan when a fellow’s been disappointed about a postal order,” added Bunter thoughtfully.

Peter Todd gazed at him. Bunter evidently had his own original ideas about the qualities that were required in a Form captain!

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UKIP has produced its plan for Brexit

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On instigation of Brexit paragraph 50, UKIP will immediately introduce the following bills into Parliament in order to ease the burdens of the British public and increase employment.

  1. The instant return of Pounds, shillings and pence.
  2. The banning of all decimal terminology. The use of the words centigrade, grams, centimeters, meters and kilometers together with liters etc to be considered a hate crime against the British way of life. 
  3. The reintroduction of steam trains with sole purpose of returning the words “train spotters” to mainline culture and allowing Nigel and Michael to indulge their weekend passion.
  4. All TV fiction to adhere to the production values of “Midsummer Murders”. If by any chance a writer might introduce a “coloured” character, the role must be approved by UKIP on the guidelines of “he realises the errors of his ways”.
  5. All British holidays have to be to places that sell “chips” (being called pomme frits is not good enough). The penalty for breaking this law is a hundred percent tax payable to UKIP’s beer fund.
  6. All foreign languages to be forbidden in British schools. If English is good enough for us, the Aussies and the Yanks, then its good enough for everyone. The “free periods” thus created to be  replaced by such subjects as “dressing as a Englishman should and not imitating a greasy dago”
  7. All permitted music on the radio to be strictly 4/4 (emphasis on the “on beat”) or preferable 2/4. Waltz is also allowed. However, any sounds called jazz or considered to have its roots in jazz, to be banned. There must be brass band music at least 50% of air time.

I think we have covered the seven important points (two more than Boris). End of discussion.

 

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The UK has become a Mad-hatter’s Tea Party

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The Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet hold similar meetings

The UK electorate has thrown the British people though the Looking Glass with the recent referendum on membership of the EU.

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

The Tories have lost their head. The Labour Party is loosing its.

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Off with their heads

As Boris Johnson said, “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

Good advice for the future is on offer everywhere.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where –”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” UK remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Nigel Farage: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said UK.

“You must be,” said Farage, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

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Referenda are un-democratic – more so than the EU

Referenda are the tools of the mob. Those who believe everything can be settled by a simple “yes or no” – a binary solution to the complexities of politics.

Referenda as a precedent produced the people’s courts of Communism. They have their basis in the wails of the Colosseum rather than the debate of the Senate.

A society built upon referenda would:

  1. Hang murderers
  2. Castrate sex-offenders
  3. Crucify child molesters
  4. Chop off the hands of thieves
  5. Force tax-avoiders to spend a day naked in the stocks and be publicly humiliated, pelted with rotten fruit and excrement (my own particular wish).

Fortunately, we live in an enlightened society. We recognize that matters are often complex. To every complaint, there is another side. Matters are decided by discussion between learned council. Judgement lies with a jury of our peers. And finally, punishment is decided upon by those respected for their fair wisdom.

The parameters for our behavior are decided upon in a similar way. We elect political representatives upon whom we trust to inform themselves on matters, form an opinion and debate vociferously until a decision is obtained. We have a system that gives equal power of debate to those who may oppose a particular point of view. We expect that decisions are made based upon knowledge, conscience and common sense.

Referenda allow for non of this. They are the batterings and abuse of the hustings. No time for true debate; over simplifications; lies; fear mongering; argument without responsibility. Yet on this basis, decisions are expected to be made.

How can they be correct? or informed? or sensible? The only criteria they satisfy is that they are popular – which brings us back to the 5 points above – they too are popular.

No. All complex political decisions on the welfare of a country – its membership (or not) of International organizations etc, must be made by the land’s elected political representatives.

That is the parliamentarians’ job.

Sovereignty lies with parliament, not with the people.

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I have read the arguments: VOTE STAY

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You will see it makes sense.

This week, we Britons face the biggest democratic decision of our lifetimes. The outcome of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union will shape our politics, our economy, our society and our role in the world for decades to come. We must be clear about what we would be turning our back on were we to vote to leave.

Much of the case to remain in the EU has been framed in terms of the economic risks of Brexit. Membership of the world’s largest single market has played a critical part in Britain’s transformation from the economic malaise of the 1970s into the world’s fifth largest economy. No one can predict exactly what the costs of leaving that market would be, but there is little doubt that they would be significant. The Bank of England, the IMF, the World Trade Organisation, the OECD and the World Bank have all warned of the risks. Nine out of 10 of the 600 economists surveyed for The Observer last month think Brexit would damage Britain’s growth prospects.

But the European Union was always much more than an economic project. It was an idealistic undertaking, born out of the desire to never again see the continent racked by war.

This is easily forgotten in an age where the idea of European nations warring against each other seems inconceivable. But our continent faces newer, global challenges: the risks of climate change; the mass movement of people fleeing conflict and abject poverty in Africa and the Middle East; the deadly consequences of microbial resistance; the question of how to hold to account corporate behemoths that trade across national boundaries. The need for a collective of countries to find ways of acting together has never been greater.

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