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Monthly Archives: May 2011

We said farewell to a friend yesterday evening who is returning to Georgia USA. Randy is an uber smart guy. He flies apache helicopters, is a graduate of the US Academy at West Point and has been through one of the US Military’s most rigorous academic programmes of teaching and study. He delivered the most striking speech at his farewell supper last. It was not impressive rhetoric, as others had displayed, or humorous anecdotes, with generous plaudits, but simply impressive in its brevity. He simply said, “I first give credit to God and then to my family, I wouldn’t be here without either of them”.

Just think about that. A man who has all the world expects. A beautiful wife, three children, one on the way, admirable talent, intellect, and good looks. Oh yes, I forgot to mention he’s a good looking fella. And he believes with all his heart, strength and mind that he has a Father in Heaven, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, who loves him beyond all measure.

Now the world would like you to believe that he is a deluded fool. There has been so much ink spilt by atheistic philosophers and authors, seeking to explain why someone who is clearly sane and in charge of their faculties could believe in these stories.  They seek to suppress the truth by telling us that religion is a private matter, that the state and religion should be kept seperate, and it is impolite to discuss religion at the meal table. But what if Randy, in his public declaration of the sovereignty of God, is sharing the Truth? Surely it much be at least intriguing? Even the possibility that you could have been sold lies and that there really is source of love, justice and truth is enough to make you wonder who this man Jesus is that they call the Son of God.

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Which books would you recommend future generations read? Do you have a canon of literature that has contributed to forming your world view? You do, I just wonder what it is. Perhaps Bella and Okay, or Nuts and Mens’ Health of maybe Homer and Dostoievski.

My neighbour each day is a Polish gentleman called Jan. His canon is:

  • Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath
  • Humans’ Fate – Maxim Gorki
  • Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
  • The Witcher – A. Sapkowski
  • Illuminatous Trilogy – R A Shea
  • String of Light – Poetry by R Herbert

I guess we can add to this a canon of movies. Mine would start with Sixth Sense and that haunting and profound line from the boy, “I see dead people”. There is so much information in that line. I daren’t unpack it for fear of spoiling the plot for those who haven’t seen it. However, I also see dead people, sons and daughters of wrath, who see the futility of life and their burden is great. I asked a friend yesterday, “what do you live for?” He couldn’t answer.

Have I told you how I struggle with blogging? It is so self-indulgent. The paradox is I would love to be able to read the thoughts of my grandparents, learn of their experiences, get insights into their thoughts so recording my thoughts seems necessary. It has been said that never has so much been written, be so many and read by so few. There is piece recorded by Solomon in Ecclesiastes, that says there’s an endless supply of books and reading them will grind you down (Ecc 12:12). Just as you need to take care not to believe everything you think you should be careful about what you read.

Turns out the Chairman of the IMF has found himself entangled with the law, and he has a reputation as an adulterer. Seems the Governor of California has been struggling to keep his promises and a women around the world continue to be deceived. How much longer are we going to persevere with this nonsensical enlightenment experiment that seeks to resolve the world’s problems through education, challenging authority and human reason? Are not feminism, humanism, environmentalism and any number of cause’isms’ proving futile?

All I do is present the evidence, anecdotal and photographic but nevertheless know your struggle. The lies the world present are attractive, convincing and sophisticated, that’s why we believe them.  The good news is that nothing I can say will convince you one way or the other, I am nothing but another weak and deeply flawed man, transient in this world for a fleeting life.  Only a supernatural miracle, an intervention from the source of love, compassion and justice will change corrupted hearts and minds.

If, as you claim, your beliefs are the consequence of evolutionary natural selection, then you are genetically programmed to believe what you believe and by your evidence you’re screwed. I’m in the team that says you are in fact gifted the freedom of will to choose. You can be liberated from the lies and nonsense that cause such suffering, but don’t expect for one moment that your fractured and limited reasoning will allow you to understand how it happens. 

This is a snatched window of opportunity. My work has taken on a pace that rather hinders my opportunities to write. When given the choice between reading or writing I choose to read these days. The thing is that while I may have a romantic notion that my thoughts may be of some passing interest to the following generations, I cannot imagine 100 years from now in 2111, my great grandchildrens’ children will have any interest in my experiences. Just as I rarely give my grandparents a passing thought, I will be nothing but a historic allien to following generations. And that’s just fine. A new generation needs to focus on what it is becoming. Let the dead bury their dead, life is for living.

The people in Hindu Kush are survivors. When you are up againstpeople who go into battle with sandles in mid winter you know you have a tough adversary. The longer we reinforce the cultural stereotypes of the soft, comfortable, self serving West, the worse conflict will become. Killing is killing, whether it’s the killing of innocents or  the guilty. If you stoop to the level of your enemies then expect to be treated as you treat them. Soldiers, policemen, and judges are an essential component of living in a corrupted world but if you want fairness and compassion then you treat people with fairness, not matter what they have done to you. The cycle of violence can only be broken by someone who has a vision of future peace. Now, seeing as history has shown that mankind cannot deliver that peace that leaves you the choice of a Divine authority or a bleak outlook for mankind. Now the question is, in a world of competing truth claims, are you going to rely on your own intellect, which let’s face it, you have proven time and again it’s flawed? or maybe you’ll choose a broad consensus of people who have impressed you with the quality of their theories, ideas and philosophies.  That’s a problem because we have previously determined that lies are appealing, why else would people believe them? Or are you going to, for the sake of your soul, and the lives of those you love, examine the evidence? Not gather opinions, read loads of books, but look for the evidence, down through time?  I ask because that’s what I am doing and it’s a riot, the history of mankind is an incredible story!

You need a guide, through this history, who has a proven track record and who has delivered results. Can you think of a greater love than someone who has died for you? What if I told you that Plato, Neitzche, David Hume, the Dali Lama or Richard Dawkins were blind fools? What if I told you that when the blind lead the blind they end up falling in a pit? Just asking.

I am rubbish at those ‘where were you when’ questions. It wasn’t until the other day that I was reminded we were returning early in the morning from Phil Bigland’s  wedding when we heard about the death of the Princess of Wales. Therefore, it’s best that I record I was living and working in the shadow of the Hindu Kush when Prince William married Kate Middleton, with Harry as his best man and just a few days later Osama Bin Laden was killed.

The photos are chosen to capture the reactions from different communities. Now, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the West is developed. Not a point of view I ascribe to as it happens. We are supposedly the enlightened ones who model to the ‘developing’ world civilised behaviour (sic). Now imagine someone you loved died. How would you react if your neighbour threw a party to celebrate, coming out into the street to metaphorically dance on your loved ones’ grave.

Imagine the Muslim world’s confusion if we had mourned the death of Osama. That we recognised that while he was evil and deserved to be brought to justice, his death is no cause for rejoicing. Osama had family who have lost a husband and father, he has followers, many innocent, who loved him, and these people are grieving. Are you comforted by his death?

How would you react to someone throwing a party to celebrate your grief? Resentment perhaps. An inclination to seek retribution? Why is it that throughout human history we fail to consider consequences? We go crazy in the moment and often pay a price that we can ill afford.

These are people who support the flying of airliners packed with passengers into areas of dense population. You dance in the streets at the death of Osama and you are behaving at a level they empathise with. And they are likely to respond in the way they know, revenge. It is only right that the President and his team look concerned. 

Had we responded with compassion, with acknowledgement of the loss, and with an appeal for reconciliation to end wasted lives then we may have helped quelled the fire in our adversaries bellies, not stoke the flame of conflict. There may still be a chance. Let’s ask, what’s the wise thing to do? Discuss.

Back on April 8th I posted a blog exploring the mindset of an atheist friend https://thewisethingtodo.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/keeping-them-shorter-in-the-hindu-kush/

Having read the piece my friend wrote a retort that he invited me to publish. Here is an accurate transcrpt of his letter to me:

“I wish to thank Adrian for flattering me with a reference in a recent blog, we are indeed good friends and I am indeed an atheist unfortunately this is where any agreement in Adrian’s comments ends! I believe that Adrian with best intentions in mind, has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar once again. Why once again? Adrian and I are regular correspondents and I seek to spot where Adrian falls short in reason and uses trickery to deceive his readership. For my part I often see two groups of Christians using scripture to justify polar opposite points of view, sometimes even the same scripture! Both parties claiming often through scripture how wrong the other is. The point is there are only three outcomes, that one or the other is right or that both parties are wrong.

On this occasion Adrian uses an analogy, my criticism of analogies follows much the same as scripture. On this occasion Adrian’s point relies on anyone who is not “on the team” cannot “appreciate the game plan”. Many philosophers have delved with the issue and not many agree with Adrian that one can only perceive something through experience alone, otherwise known as empiricism. Most, like Kant, agree that it is possible to have a ‘a priori’ experiences. His theories allow for ‘concepts’ , that is rules which allow us to recognize similar intuitions and to make sense of our intuitions (the raw data of experience).

The idea that I am incapable of having intuition of the ‘game plan’ is a poor one. It would be like me arguing that you (unless you are fortunate enough to be an Aston Vill fan) are incapable of understanding how they play the game. You may not want to, or hold the skills to do so, but I would leave it to you to decide if it were ‘beyond’ you. I would say that only a Villa fan could properly appreciate was it is to understand the essence of the club. Even if this were true, experienced commentators, who are not Villa fans, would be very qualified to speak about ‘the game plan’.

So this is where I stand, although I am not a Christian, I do read the Bible, I do listen to and read religious and philosophic media and feel that I am as qualified to understand the ‘game plan’ as most.

Of course this is not why Adrian used this analogy, it wasn’t to show you how impoverished I am without Jesus’ word, although this may have been a useful (for Adrian) side effect. It was to say to you that the testimony of a non-Christian is practically worthless, because, “they do not understand the game”. And there lies my chief criticism. You should open your eyes to these tricks and properly assess what your faith relies upon with reason and an open mind. More importantly, you should encourage others, particularly children, to do the same. The ultimate result in not doing so is to allow your moderate faith to be abused by others in the name of fundamentalism. I ask, not that you renounce your faith, but you are alive to other possibilities and views and do not allow the wisdom that those who are not with us, are against us, or as Adrian puts it “need to be on the team”.

The big idea is that every day is significant. Whether it’s the day of a royal marriage or the death of a fugitive they each count. The reaction to the death of Bin Laden is interesting.  Should we rejoice? He was a husband and a father. There are people who are going to grieve at his death. There are some who will be living under the missapprehension that he has gone to heaven to be with God unaware that rejection of the Truth will lead them to follow Osama to Hell. Is that a reason to rejoice?

Whatever the appropriate reaction we can be sure that there will be a reaction. The question is how are you going to react for it is the reaction of individuals that is going to steer the course of world history. As insignificant as you feel you have role in shaping the future. Our reaction, how we are seen, and the words we choose count. This day is significant, as is tomorrow, for the choices we make today will create your tomorrow.

What’s the wise thing to do?