I hardly dare open my mouth . . . .

“Do not cast me aside in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails.” Psalm 71 v9 from yesterday’s Morning Prayer.

And I would add “Stick with me, God, as I get more and more confused by modern life.”

I’m beginning to feel a misfit in more than just the Anglican community at the moment.  People say and do things which seem to be considered important and here I am failing utterly to understand what on earth is going on.

For the last couple of weeks I have been musing about what I have called to myself “The Case of the Barrister’s Photo.” You may remember it. A female barrister posted a picture of herself on something called Linkedin. (My grandson explained that Linkedin is a kind of global address book for professionals. So, if I needed a barrister I could look on Linkedin and choose one. Except that I don’t think it would be my place to do so. I think it would be my solicitor who did that.) Anyway, a second, male, barrister called the picture “a stunning photo” which upset and demeaned the first barrister so much that she demanded an apology.  In fact, the incident was so offensive that the whole affair featured on Newsnight. Now that is serious and makes me extremely worried  about just what one can say these days to avoid giving offence.

On Thursday at 6.00 I shall be going to my usual Welsh Class in the village. It is a brilliant course, great fun, and an opportunity for me to mix with a much younger generation. However, the course is strong on conversation and to encourage this we read dialogues together and engage in rôle play. This week we will be doing comparisons and I have been checking up on the dialogues.

“You’re looking much better, I must say.” “You look much younger, if I may say so.” “I like your hair better cut much shorter.”

I know I can make those sort of personal remarks to the other two Golden Oldies but I’m worried about upsetting the rest of the class who are young professionals half my age. If a barrister is demeaned by a comment about “a stunning photo” whatever will a consultant anaesthetist feel if I tell her she’s looking very good?

So if anyone understands what was going on with Linkedin and can explain it to me I shall be very grateful. By 5.30 pm Thursday, if you could, please.

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Loving Care Not Lethal Cocktails

Thank God compassion and common sense prevailed during the vote in the Commons on the Assisted Dying Bill.

Thank you to all those MPs who voted with compassion for the hundreds of people dying at this moment. Young as well as old know they only have a few more months to live, and yet can rejoice in every single day. They have been spared unimaginable worry and distress.

Try to imagine what it would be like for, say, a thirty five year old mother of three with inoperable breast cancer, if that Bill had become law. Already, you can’t help feeling anger, loneliness and despair. Your family assure you that you’ll never be a burden, that every moment you are with them is precious. But, if death were an immediate option, which, Heaven forbid, in those lowest hours before the dawn, you might begin to add guilt to your other miseries. You wrestle with thoughts of the cost to your family, in terms of money; even more in terms of stress, fatigue and anguish. They’re going to lose you in the end so . . . . maybe you should get it over and done with right away?

What about the cost to the NHS? Your drugs, your nursing care? If there’s no hope for you couldn’t the money be better spent on more doctors, more nurses, improving ambulance waiting times. Imagine, lying sleepless in the wee, small hours, worrying that perhaps you are being thoroughly selfish clinging to life. If the law allows it, perhaps you should just tidy yourself away for everyone’s benefit. No, never. The law must continue to make it impossible in such cases.

Thank you, too, to the MPs for their common sense in rejecting a bill as ill thought out as this road sign.          

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The Marris Bill was designed to help those with only six months to live. Actually, that is an extremely difficult thing to predict even for a highly trained and widely experienced palliative care team. And I’m confused by its limitations. Surely, if we truly need a bill like this every condition should be considered and catered for.

It wouldn’t help you if you suffered from locked in syndrome, for example, because you wouldn’t be able to administer the drugs yourself. You would need a professional to do it for you, and that would not be suicide but euthanasia. And what about people with mental health problems? They may feel desperate but they don’t have a terminal illness.

Nowadays, medicine and science seem to have the answers to almost everything. We manipulate procreation with gay abandon. We are learning how to  make the paralyzed walk, the deaf to hear and the blind to see. Just like Jesus Christ!

Politicians are not God, not even politicians with the initials JC. Nor are doctors gods, but surely, with so many skills, they can help people to peaceful and serene deaths with loving care, not lethal cocktails.

Does Marriage Work?

DOES MARRIAGE  WORK?

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Engineers will tell you, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Wise advice.

You invent something to do a particular job and if it works well then stick with it. Of course, you can make improvements. Cars are definitely better with modern brakes and power steering, though I’m not sure about electronic handbrakes. New jobs and problems demand new inventions and new solutions. On no account be tempted to tinker with the original. In this multitasking world people have also invented multitasking appliances. But have you noticed, such things are rarely satisfactory. For example, combined salt and pepper pots never work as well as the individual salt shaker and pepper grinder.

I’ve no idea who invented marriage. Many thousands of years ago; certainly, before the geniuses who wrote Genesis described the union of Adam and Eve. Early couples faced a problem, which was how to nurture and bring to maturity those little creatures that they kept creating. The best way to achieve this was to commit themselves to a secure partnership, which would last through two or three generations. That model of family life may be thousands of years old but it still works. So don’t fix it!

Okay! I know it’s an ideal and many of us don’t manage it. But it is still a proven fact that children brought up by two heterosexual parents in a stable long-term committed relationship are given the best possible start in life. I know there are many children who are extremely successful although brought up by a single parent; similarly, other children thrive although they have a multiplicity of parents and a plethora of half and step siblings. Nevertheless numerous careful studies tell us that the old-fashioned nuclear family of mother and father and child or children works best for all concerned.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Matt 19:5

A man and a woman can become one flesh because they fit. Turkey bastingin not an alternative.

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Marriage works. Don’t fix it

NOT MY SORT OF FAMILY

Perhaps I should explain that my last post was actually my first post. I had intended to get this blog site perfect before I began doing any writing. However, the front page of the Diocesan magazine “Teulu Asaph” so infuriated me when it was called to my attention that I had to put something in writing immediately. Since then, instead of beautifying this blog I have been studying the whole of this Family magazine, (Teulu is Welsh for Family) which has reinforced my view that sadly it’s not a family I want to belong to.

So now let’s turn our attention to Page Two. The headline reads,

Bishop Gregory writes: The opposite of sex

The opposite of sex? Sexless? No sex? Celibacy. Brave man! Not many clerics would have the courage to write about celibacy these days.

Well, it seems I was confused. “The Opposite of Sex” is the title of a film about raunchy sex between people who are also loving and faithful. Nothing new there then. And nothing new in a further statement. “Sex outside of marriage has been happening all around us for 2000 years, among Christians as well.”

As it turns out that is all preamble. Now we get to the nub of the Bishop’s message and as it’s all about Christian family life let’s imagine the scene played out before us. Dad at the head of the supper table, Mum at the other end and assorted teenagers on either side. Dad proceeds to list the changes that occurred in the 20th century. (I’ll itemise them otherwise it may get a little confusing. The words in “ “ are all quotes from the Bishop.)

1) “The twentieth century brought change: sex before marriage is now the norm.” The family, busily loading their plates, accept this. However, Mum secretly plans to keep her beady eye on her children as long as they are living under her roof.

2) “People can divorce fairly easily and can marry again – and again.” Eldest son knows all about this. ‘There’s a boy in my class who has two stepmothers, and one is only a few years older than he is.’ ‘What does he think of that?’ ‘Oh, God! He nearly dies of embarrassment whenever she comes up to the school.’ ‘At least she comes up to the school. That’s good parenting.’ Dad approves. ‘Good parenting! She fancies one of the PE teachers.’

3) “Adultery, while not widely approved of is not met with ostracism.” Youngest son asks, ‘What’s that got to do with ostriches?’ Mum has something to say about this. ‘Couples should make much more effort to work things out. Divorce has a terrible effect on the children.’

Her children appear to know all about adultery and can cite many examples among their friends’ parents and also among their teachers. Here Mum gets some support when she condemns adultery, as several of the children have friends who have been deeply disturbed and upset when it has happened.

4) “Homosexuality has been decriminalised, and has ceased to be categorised as mental illness.”

The children are horrified at the mere thought of people being sent to prison or to mental hospitals for being gay or lesbian. Mum recommends they watch the film “The Naked Civil Servant” with John Hurt as Quentin Crisp. ‘We certainly wouldn’t want to return to those days.’

At this point Dad asks a big question. “Is this a sharp decline in morals, or rather, people doing more of what they’ve always wanted, and the decay of social inhibition.”

No response. The family are too busy helping themselves to seconds, so he goes on….

6) “Readily available contraception means that accidental pregnancy is less of a fear.” Mum is outraged. Has he any idea how many abortions are performed in this country every year? ‘The one bright spot, as far as I can see, is the fact that teenage pregnancies are down by 20%.’

7) “The empowerment of women means that they are no longer forced to remain in loveless or abusive marriages.” Again, the older children have first hand information. They have many friends whose parents have divorced, several times, but for none of those reasons. ‘What reasons?’ asks Mum. ‘Boredom.’ ‘Jack’s Dad wanted a younger woman, and then an even younger woman. Better in bed, he said.’ ‘Sue’s Mum just got fed up looking after the family.’ ‘Meg’s Mum went to live with another woman.’ ‘John’s Dad has rejected modern life and lives in a hut in the mountains.’

Dad makes himself heard. “Where is God’s will in all this? Scripture is our supreme authority in matters of faith so what does it say? Scripture doesn’t condemn sex.”

Eldest son protests. ‘The Bible could hardly condemn sex since it’s the method chosen by God for continuing the human race.’ Dad ignores him and goes on to explain that “The partriachs lived happily with three or four wives and had sex with their slaves.”

Mum makes her own protest. ‘If you’re thinking of following their example you’ll soon find out for yourself all about the empowerment of women.’

Dad raises his voice. “Scripture is strict when it prohibits divorce, but we have learned to privilege wider Biblical virtues”.

Eldest daughter, who is doing A level English asks, ‘What is “privilege wider Biblical virtues” supposed to mean?’ She, too, is ignored. “There are undoubtedly a handful of texts in the Old and New Testaments which are hostile – to speak bluntly – to men having sex with men.”

Youngest daughter, who so far hasn’t said a word, asks, ‘Why does that matter? I thought you’ve just proved the Bible is all wrong now.’

Dad leaves the table in a huff and the family relax and talk about the things that really interest them.

Mum is concerned about the phonics screening test. ‘Phonics alone is not enough. For lots of words you still need “Look and say.”’ Eldest daughter. “Well, at least you don’t have to worry about assisted suicide, Mum. I’ll look after you when you go gaga.’ Youngest daughter. ‘I thought these migrants were Muslims? Wouldn’t they be happier going to live in other Muslim countries where it’s warm? Germany and Sweden get ever so cold in winter.’ Youngest son. ‘Will I be sent home from school if I have a leopard skin haircut?’

END OF PAGE TWO STORY.

Page Three is the same thing in Welsh. On page four a theology student proves that we should allow same-sex marriage and on page five the vice-chairman of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales proves that we shouldn’t.

Page six has something to say about sin but I’ll leave that for another day.