Sunday, 22 November 2015

New church ad 'banned' in cinemas





Today’s news that the Church of England has had its latest ad campaign banned by the cinema advertising authority has an irony to it.

Anyone who has seen the advert will realise that it’s harmless. In fact, it’s so anodyne that it even got a ‘U’ rating from the British Board of Film Classification before it was stopped. Compared to a lot of the horrific and gory images which flood Facebook these days it’s like banning the Countryfile calendar.

Ban the Facebook post which is titled ‘Terrorists playing football with the heads of Christians’ (which I was shockingly naive in believing was going to be a nice interfaith football match between religious leaders). Forgive the black humour as we forgive those who write black humour against us.

Of course, I’m being disingenuous – it isn’t discrimination because no faith (or political party) at all is allowed to advertise in the cinema. You can aggressively recruit young people into the army in cinema adverts. But some things are not allowed and so they are not truly ‘banned’ or ‘censored’ so much as subject to a kind of strange cinematic tradition. Like so many of the arbitrary rules which fill our lives.

You know, sometimes I feel alienated from my own culture. It shouldn’t be that way. But when a harmless advert gets stopped it simply makes you question why these rules and traditions are there.

Come to think of it – isn’t the C of E supposed to be broke? Where did it get this advertising money from? How much does it cost to advertise before the new Star Wars film? What would Han Solo do?


It all makes me want to turn to the dark side.

Think happy thoughts.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Short story - The Shade of Hades




The Shade of Hades


“Then I said, ‘Sir, may I ask you, please, to explain to me what happens when we die, when we must each give back our soul? Will we be kept at rest until the time when you begin to make your new creation, or will our torment begin immediately?’”

Apocrypha - 2 Esdras 7:75



It is said that when a person dies they do not enter heaven or hell immediately. It is said that during the time between death and the final judgment there is an interim period. They say that people are separated into two camps like the removal of goats from sheep. One group rests in paradise, as if in a walled garden, protected. The others are confined within caves in Hades or left to wander. And when this happens the soul of a person waits.

But it isn’t necessarily so. Nobody knows for sure as the way across the final river rarely has a return. 


The irony was not lost on the dead man’s soul. She certainly had no body left (souls are always female). There was a moment of joy. She had survived death – she had half-hoped, half-believed it to be possible. That was when the words came in a deep, low, fatherly voice, which held more sadness than malice.

“You only get to keep what you have given away.”

A particular judgement. A ‘chicken soup for the soul’ judgement as kitsch and trite as it was moralistic. For a moment the soul wondered if she had heard the voice once before. It seemed to her that the voice had haunted her dreams and the deep places in her life, a half-forgotten memory of a life before birth. But everyone knows there is no such thing.

And the joy was pushed aside by the tone of the voice. The man had been afraid of something like this, some kind of moralistic nightmare in the afterlife. What he hadn’t expected was the confinement. Or the thirst. Such a great thirst, as if her throat, what was left of her throat, was a dry sepulcher, blocked by a stone.

It had simply been a deep, matter-of-fact voice. If nostalgia were personified then it would have been that voice.

The cave was completely dark. Truth be told, the cave was completely dark except for some glow-in-the-dark stickers. But even though these stickers which lined the rough walls had an inner glow, the light was not enough to illuminate anything beyond the boundary of the soul’s confinement. The stickers seemed mischievous, as if they were winking somehow.The soul of the dead man knew that it was a cavern because her invisible hands fumbled and scratched at a dusty, cold, rocky floor. She could see nothing except the stickers. But she could feel.

At first there were simply tears. Feelings of regret and despair, of a life lived badly. ‘There is more shame than glory,’ thought the soul as she cried. The tears were a small mercy at the time.

Eventually her invisible hands grasped further into the darkness, reaching one of the stickers – all of the stickers had been part of a childhood gift made to another child as a birthday present (because the man had stopped giving presents when he grew up). The sticker was shaped as a cartoon ghost, part of a set of scary Halloween stickers that had once been highly sought-after in some playgrounds by a certain kind of child.

“Remember,” the sticker seemed to whisper, as if suddenly serious.

The soul of the man tried to find her body but could see nothing, even when she brought a finger close to the dim glow of the sticker. She was invisible, of that she felt sure – she thought she must simply be the memory of the man she once was. Perhaps she was a hovering orb or a butterfly. They always said that butterflies represented the soul. Except there was no flying to be done. And there was no free blue sky to soar into. There was darkness and there was confinement and there was fear.

She fell to the floor in despair. And that was when her invisible hands met something on the ground.

Coins. Handfuls of coins in a pile. The clinking of the coins echoed around the cave. The ghost of hands the ghosts of coins, the ghost of an echo.

A shifting. A movement and the soul pressed herself against a wall, still cool and rough to the touch but offering no comfort. Falling back to the ground she resumed her crawling. The soul thought back to her lifetime and fumbled around in the darkness sobbing. And then her hands touched something else on the floor. The shape was familiar. It was a packet of cigarettes and around the packet there were tens of loose cigarettes on the dusty ground. How the soul longed for one of the cigarettes - but there was no source of fire. Was there even breathing, or simply the memory of the breathing?

Still it was dark. Did time have meaning here? Did a sequence of events take place which could be formed into any kind of story? Perhaps that was what hell was – a place devoid of story. Certainly it seemed that it was a hell and it seemed as if time crouched motionless like a thief. All things had been stolen from the man. His health, his life, his friends and family. His possessions. His many, many possessions.

The soul stayed like this for perhaps a day, holding her soul-shape with crossed arms and rocking backwards and forwards. The weeping continued and the soul considered that this was her fate for a life lived badly, with regrets, with roads full of twists and never straight. That was when there were roads. Most of the time it had been climbing over all kinds of fences that should never have been climbed, ignoring warning signs and zig-zagging through places that were not straight and narrow. Or walking the wide open highways.

In life he had not been a kind or particularly generous man. He had been rich. But he had not been evil, he had never gone out of his way to harm others (although that may have happened on occasion). He had been born into a wealthy family. There had been big mistakes. He had held little faith in a God of any kind. He hadn’t even believed in an afterlife. But the past meant very little. Except that, in the perpetual present of the soul’s situation, the past now meant everything.

What kind of moralistic punishment was this? But there was no room for anger, only regret. And the thirst. And the waiting. 

Waiting.

There was no sun to mark the passage of time but there were noises in the cave. Somewhere on the other side there was a ticking. It had tormented the soul for the first day (had it been a day?) when she simply rocked and sobbed. The ticking had been like a voice saying - 'no-hope', 'no-hope', 'no-hope'. In the end the soul of the man gave up the crying and forced herself to explore the cave again. Her shadowy hands caressed the dusty floor and she hoped to find some kind of light.

There.

There, a bottle.

A bottle. In an instant the bottle was unscrewed and lifted and the liquid gulped down. The taste was of vodka and within a few moments the soul had swallowed half of the bottle. Perhaps it was only the memory of vodka. Perhaps it was only the memory of the pleasure in getting drunk, but the soul remembered and the vodka gave comfort. It was in that moment that she decided that she would try to hope in hope, if such a thing were possible.

Still there was the darkness. And the soul of the man began to ask questions. What else was in this cave with her?

Her invisible hands frantically felt further into the darkness, fumbling against furniture. There was some kind of chair. Why was there a chair? Was she to sit on it? The strange thing was that the chair felt familiar. It was then that she remembered it. It was a broken chair with a missing leg that had been taken to a charity shop when the man was upsizing. It was useless. 

And then the soul began to understand. She was in a dark cavern surrounded by the things which she had given away in her lifetime as a man. How slow she felt in this dark epiphany. That was why there were so few things.

Perhaps she slept. Time seemed to pass. Strange visions seemed to mock her in the darkness. Above all there was a sense of despair and hopelessness. That she was condemned to remain in this state forever. The didactic intensity of it all had a sting to it. The walls of the cave seemed to bulge. Perhaps it was imagination, but it was all that she had. Imagination and the ghosts of the things she had once given away.

So she stretched out her hands once more and found a notebook and pen, a gift to a business partner. To survive, even to survive as she was, she opened the blank book and ripped out some of the pages. She scrabbled around on the floor with pieces of paper. The papers blurred in and out of her consciousness like a dream – like her mind was a mobile phone screen about to fade to darkness. A timed-out mind. She felt her thoughts slipping away, falling slightly to the right as a bone may shift in a socket and she fought to retain her sense of self. What could she write? What kind of plans could be made in this state? What kind of things could she read to help her? And still nothing could be seen. Perhaps she could do something. She drew a picture of the cave as she imagined it. She listed the things that were in the cave, exploring them piece by piece. She could see nothing that was written or drawn.

There were not many things in the cave, the cigarettes, a few bottles of alcohol – given as bribes usually. The glow in the dark stickers which winked and whispered. A second hand TV and a broken lawnmower which had never worked. A few other garden implements – kitchen utensils, the stump of a tree (a gift the man regretted when tree-stumps became fashionable in gardens). But at least it was another place to sit. He had tended to only give things away when he was compelled to do so or when it had been necessary to look good. Charities had never been in the man’s thoughts. He had chosen not to make a will – perhaps if he had he would still be surrounded by all his possessions. Despite this, the man had never considered himself a miser – he merely considered himself prudent – a man of shrewd business sense.

How the soul regretted her stingy prudence now. So few things in her cave. The thought cut her – that she had been surrounded by the best in cars, houses and technology – the lair in which she had lived her life as a rich man. And now this. Now there was not enough. She had thought nothing eternal. As she thought of all this she felt that the ghosts of her hands were clenched tight as if still trying to grasp, as if still holding on to what remained. Life had been so dear and so intangible.

The soul rebelled once more against the forced morality of it all and she swore out loud. The echoes of her curse filled the almost empty cave and she began to cry once again. Biting against a God that had abandoned her in her greatest need. Kicking against the remains of a light now gone.

It was inevitable. The man had rarely prayed in his lifetime. It had been a conviction of his not to. It had always felt too much like a surrender. The man had been strong, the need to pray had rarely been there. Help had not been needed. But now the need was there. And it was now that the soul of the man prayed. She begged and pleaded for an escape. She asked to be alive again. She asked for help – anything. But there was no answer. She felt separated from God, as if he could not or would not hear her prayers. In the end she began to cry again. The tears were a small mercy.


There are those who say that tears are like a telescope or magnifying glass. Like a glass that can bring heaven closer somehow. Teardrops fell onto the ground, mixing with the dust.

And the teardrops seemed to speak in another whisper, a whisper which contained mercy, like a bottle containing water for a thirsty man.

'Deeper, dig deeper.'

The idea formed – it fell into her head with the voice of the teardrops. As if an angel had let a droplet of water fall from a fingertip into the mouth of a parched, thirsty throat.

The kitchen utensils included spoons and knives. She could dig.

Scrabbling over the dusty floor she felt for a spoon. And suddenly one was in her hand. And so the hope of hope of hope returned. Like moonlight from behind a cloud.

The digging took a long time. A very long time. She got through a lot of spoons and knives. The bottles ran out. It became a temptation to despair and fall into madness and the soul devised new, imaginative ways of keeping herself sane. She didn’t entirely succeed in this. Especially after the first hundred years.

Of course she went mad. But the tunnel which she dug away at, clump by clump gave her some small comfort, some sense of purpose. There was, at least, no physical pain. There were none of the usual needs of life. Did life continue in the world she had once known? Were people born and did they die and did they share the same fate? Could others see them, as if they were gazing into a magic pool from some paradise which she was denied?

And there were times of despair, but in that sense it did not differ to the before-time. Had the memories ever been given away? There seemed so few of them as time passed. The upward slope was easy enough to navigate. It became a metre long, then two metres and so on. The clumps of earth began to fill the cave, burying the ghosts of the things given away. The soul didn’t sleep. Or if she slept she had no memory of the sleeping.


Who knows how long it took? Who knows how full the cave was of soil from the tunnel? Time and space began to hold no meaning. The only meaning was the hope in the hope of hope.

And it took a long time before the soul broke through.

When she knew she had broken through she began to tug away clumps of earth with the echoes of her fingers. And these fingers touched other ghostly fingers. There was another soul. There was someone else. The invisible hands grasped each other thirstily. The comfort from the touch was indescribable after such a long time. Like drinking after intense thirst. And then there was a hole large enough to see something. The other soul had a light which lit up the cavern and the silhouette of the shadows which they had become. But the other soul was as ghostly as the soul of the man. 

Another shadow. Another shade. Waiting.




“One day the Venerable Macarius of Egypt was walking about the desert and found a dried-out human skull lying on the ground. Turning it over with his staff, the saint heard a sound, as though from a distance. Then Macarius asked the skull: "What manner of man wast thou?"

"I was the chief of the pagan priests that dwelt in this place," it replied. "When thou, O Abba Macarius, who art full of the Spirit of God, pray for us, taking pity on them that are in the torments of hell, we then receive a certain relief."

"And what manner of relief do ye receive?" asked Macarius. "And tell me, what torments are ye subjected to?"

"As far as heaven is above the earth," replied the skull with a groan, "so great is the fire in the midst of which we find ourselves, wrapped in flame from head to toe. At this time we cannot see each others' faces, but when thou prayest for us, we can see each other a little, and this affords us some consolation."

Eastern Orthodox



Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Blog Entry 100

This is my 100th blog entry.

I'm working on a few new writing projects including a couple of book-length projects. I will also be publishing a halloween story here on October 31st (as it has become a bit of a tradition to do so).


But for now I'm going to publish a poem here (as poetry has eluded me for a while). It is dedicated to my lovely wife, Jen.



Gardens

Your love to me is like the summer rain,
like beautiful rain pouring down,
like an applause of the rain pelting my leaves,
like the mercy of rain saturating the soil of my soul.

Your love to me is nourishment,
each droplet is unique, like a snowflake,
and each droplet is a diamond, inscribed with kindness,
but neither hard nor cold.

And my heart is your secret garden,
which contains seeds of love which are too often hidden,
containing small beginnings,
which flourish because of your gentle rain.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Where do we go from here?


This is the 99th blog entry on Stories Make the World Go 'Round.

A single question presses to the front of the queue, like a pushy shopper - 'Where do we go from here?'

Providing we survive the blood moon prophecy and Jonathan Cahn's apocalyptic predictions for this September, I suggest we attempt to heal, learn and grow - even if everything else in the world conspires to prevent this.

Think happy thoughts.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

If Your Life Were a News Site...



If your life were a news website, what stories would it contain each day?

Perhaps the main story would change for each day. Perhaps: ‘Lack of sleep causes our hero to feel lousy’ would be today's headline.

There would also be other stories which recurred in the same way that the world news has recurring themes. ‘Still looking for work’, ‘Still grieving', 'Still sick'.

Then there would be the days that some disaster strikes. ‘Best friend dies’. Or ‘Car crash’ or ‘Serious illness strikes’. Stories which would rumble on for weeks and years and wounds re-opened and griefs which never heal. In the news of our days each and every day.

And you, the hero or heroine. A whole world of stories from small filler articles about headaches through to the quirky and strange incidents which can fill life.

Other characters recurring in the stories. And the persistent tyranny of bad headlines which will not go away. ‘Still looking for a miracle’. Stories so continual that we would bore of them and fail to read them and instead turn towards the better stories, or take an interest in someone else's personal news website.

There would be bad news and good news and mixtures of the two. Each day a whole new set of stories, with the regular columns, mixing fact and opinion. Comment and hard news. All kinds of stories for one reader. An audience of one it may seem.

And perhaps pictures too. And video. Things we play over in our minds again and again, things which make us cringe and things which make us happy. Working under the weight of guilt. Bad scenes, scenes of which we are not proud.

Maybe even there would be adverts in this news site. Maybe the adverts would be just right: ‘Would you like a holiday in Nova Scotia?’ ‘You need kitchen roll, stick to your usual brand’. Things we buy and sell, things we want to buy but can’t afford.

An intrusive pop-up reminding us that our lives are limited and mortal. A copyright disclaimer, ‘All rights reserved’ and thoughts about the rights and needs which we are denied. Or the rights which we assert. Or the right to be unique when there are so many of us.

When every person may have a similar website with similar sounding stories - even if they are in a different language and there is no Google translate available.

And when those other people shared their own websites there would be feature articles which they would be happy for you to read and there would be articles which they would never want you to read. And there would be hidden stories on pages which are unpublishable, archived pages, draft pages. Like the dark side of the moon.

Still the insistence of the rumbling recurring stories which cannot be ignored, which run and run and run with little editorial control. We could simply hope that one day such websites would be full of good news and that the stories of our problems would be settled and concluded, never to be read again.

And we would think back to our childhoods and how the stories were different and sometimes seemed better or worse in those archives, those forgotten editions.

But we get to do the writing and we get to set the agenda. Maybe some stories can’t be resolved, but we can include the gentler stories, we can include the stories we care for, which don’t bore us senseless with their brutality. We get to be the editors.

We may even be able to change the template and the wallpaper.

If every day your life were a news website – would there be continuity?


All rights reserved.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

One Riddle




It seems to me that few people are doing riddles these days so I thought I would give it a try. So welcome to my first (and possibly only) attempt to write a riddle. Well done if you figure it out...



There are four places to hide in a desert,
From the heat of the sun. Safe. Secure. Surrounded.
But you can’t hide in hills.
There are many hiding places in a wood or a forest.

Even numbers can offer a sanctuary…
You can hide twice in one.

So why can’t you hide in 1?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Changed ebook cover

I have changed a couple of my ebook covers to maintain a theme.

I also wanted to make 'The Owl Flies at Night' look a little more like the short modern ghost story it is.

So here is its new cover...












Saturday, 6 June 2015

Bees



It seems as if the bees read my previous blog entry and have gathered at my command in an outside log store (perhaps I should call them minions).

A few days ago I began to repair the old log store door (as it is falling apart). A small gang of outraged bumblebees suddenly surrounded me.

‘Leave... uzz... bee’ the bees seemed to say.

I realised that there had to be a nest somewhere in the dry logs and retreated (getting stung by a queen bumblebee as a child does not give you special bee privileges). After a bit of research I found out that the queen bee must have chosen the log store as a nesting site and I read up on the falling bee population in this country.

It was soon decided that the best thing to do would be to let the bees be. Smoking them out or having them destroyed would not be very bee-nevolent. Lousy puns aside – the research also brought up some interesting folklore and superstitions regarding bees. I was delighted to learn that the ancient Greeks thought that a bee which landed on a baby meant that the child would become a great poet. Unfortunately, they didn’t say what happened when the bee stung the child (maybe that child just thought he was a great poet).

There are many other superstitions regarding bees and most of them are positive. You know how it is with folklore and superstitions – almost everything that happens or everything you do means you are going to die imminently. If you accept some positive superstition do you have to accept all of the negative ones?

Borrowing from Greek mythology there is also a legend that a swarm of bees settled on St Ambrose soon after he was born, leaving behind a drop of honey. His parents considered this to be an omen of a honey-tongued future. And so it was.

No sting for Ambrose either. There are a plethora of other superstitions about bees, but few people bee-lieve them nowadays. (Sorry.)


So the bees are guests here for the summer. Later in the year they will have gone. The newly born bees will have flown away and the only existing survivor will be the queen bee who will fly away and hibernate in the soil somewhere. Queens have a habit of outliving the rest of us.



The Bumblebee Conservation Trust are a honeypot of information about bumblebees and I recommend them.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Shade of Hades




I designed this cover for my latest short story (which is titled 'The Shade of Hades'). Not quite sure what to do with it yet. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Bee-Man – Superheroes and Story

a bee



My parents told me a story about when I was a tiny baby. They said a huge bee, a bee bigger and fatter than they had ever seen before had somehow flown into my little bedroom and headed straight for me. The bee proceeded to sting me repeatedly. My parents found me bawling with a huge, dead bumblebee lying next to me, like some strange friend. They added (in that detailed way which gives stories a truth) that the bee was infested with mites. The bee had been so tormented that it must have flown into my room, stung me and died.

Ever since then I have had extraordinary powers. I grew up to become Bee-Man, able to fly, the ability to be impressed by flowers, able to bug people and sting my enemies (although only at the price of my life).

Obviously a costume was needed at some point. And every superhero (and supervillain) needs a lair of some kind to fight the forces of darkness (or light). And so the honeycomb was built.


Some of the above story is true but I do have a tenuous link with reality and so I have to admit that the superpowers have proved disappointing. They are as evasive as miracles.

The psychology of superheroes is a clever one.  From the Avengers through to Strontium Dog and Beowolf there is a draw to this kind of character. Partly this is because we instinctively realise that we can be better than we are. And that our stories are not over. Although there may be more shame than glory in this world there is still the potential of doing great deeds.

Superhero powers hint at a new level of existence beyond the humdrum. Every time a superhero is knocked down they get back up. (And every time they are silenced they are able to speak again.) Nothing can stop them.

That is why it is so healthy (and not childish at all) to read and watch superhero stories – they draw us that little bit closer to wanting to do great deeds (unless, obviously, you identify with the supervillain).

The hints and patterns which are found in the superhero stories are not necessarily the wild goose chases or delusions which fade like mobile phone screens after a story has been told. They are not necessarily the red herrings of butterfly minds which would like so much for them to be so. There is a kernel of truth in them. These stories are so engrained within cultures and time periods. They are a mirror and a remembering of the stories and myths of heroes. They are what we could be.


And how can such superhuman powers be attained? There are patterns to our lives, there are threads of gold which link the love within our life stories. There are still mysteries and there are still supernatural elements to this world. Not all things are as they seem.

But sadly one of the side-effects of becoming Bee-Man is that I cannot reveal the true source of my power.

Think happy thoughts.


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Prayers in Councils




Some time ago I wrote an article about the prayers which took place in the Houses of Parliament. You can see it here. Because of my Pentecostal background I believe in the power of prayer and so I’ve taken an esoteric interest in an obscure bill which will now be made law.

So here’s the background in a nutshell – A bill was given royal assent on 26th March concerning whether local councils should be free to say prayers (any kind of prayer to any kind of god) before they make the decisions which make our lives hell. It also grants authorities to be present at any 'religious event'.

Over to Jake Berry MP (Cons) to explain the whole shebang: “I want to talk briefly about the purpose of the Bill, which will give local authorities the freedom to include prayers, other religious observances, or observances connected with a religious or philosophical belief as part of the business of that authority. The Bill will provide that local authorities in England may support, facilitate and make arrangements to be represented at religious events or an event with a religious element. I proposed the Bill because of a recent ruling made by the High Court. A councillor in Bideford town council attempted, through the courts, to put an end to the practice of the town council having prayers on its agenda, despite the practice dating back to the reign of Elizabeth I. As part of the High Court case, on 10 February 2012 Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that the council’s prayers as part of official business were not, in fact, lawful. In short, on a narrow issue of whether section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972 gave councils the power to continue with prayers, the High Court ruled that it did not; councils therefore had no such statutory power to permit the practice to continue. At a stroke of the judge’s pen, the High Court ended centuries of tradition in our country and put in doubt in the long-held practice of town hall prayers in local authorities.” 

You may be surprised to hear that prayer has largely been a choice of councils up until now (despite some recent controversy) and you may also be surprised to hear that the House of Commons (and Lords) also hold brief formal prayers (these meetings seem to be largely attended to gain seats in important debates rather than to petition God).

There was a campaign by the National Secular Society to petition MPs to prevent the prayers. They also covering this story. I’m like the obscure football player on the edge of a pitch, far, far away from the ball, perhaps supposedly marking an opponent. But enough of the football metaphor and back to the blog entry…


Who cares? For those of us who take an interest in this, it was interesting to note that the House of Commons was almost empty at report stage. Few MPs seem to care about prayer even when they claim to hold those involved in the latest disaster in their prayers. It is largely seen as an archaic tradition which is irrelevant to Government. Even the Christian community has mixed feelings on the issue. And perhaps it is the sheer effectiveness of councillors prayers which are in question. Many simply do not feel that prayers are effective or necessary when it comes to the life and death decisions which Government makes. Perhaps MPs are not the only ones who feel this way. It would be crass to suggest otherwise.

The new law gives Councillors the choice on whether to pray or not before a meeting. It allows Councillors of all faiths to pray according to their faiths and since there is no economic cost there was relatively little opposition. Prayers can be made in any faith (which is a slight change from the status quo). After the second reading one MP brought forward an amendment that the prayers should only take place with a local referendum for people. But this was rejected largely because it was seen to be costly.

The few MPs who were interested remarked that the bill was good because it is cheap. So worship (of a kind) does take place after all. Prayer is cheap according to MPs and although they consistently claim that their prayers and thoughts are with those who have suffered some injustice, in practice, based on the evidence of this debate and the lack of MPs attending formal prayers it would seem to be lip service only.

But it could be true that the issues on which the world swings start with small things like prayer. There are many people who believe that prayer changes things and that it is an incredibly powerful and spiritual force. MPs and Councillors seem to be reserving the right to pray, but not actively choosing to do so.

In fact you could say that they say they pray (when they say, for example, ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with…’) and yet they do not do so. I believe there may be a word for such claims.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Speculation




"It must be remembered, too, that the political condition of the country was such as constantly to agitate the public mind, and divert attention from spiritual things."

Handbook of Revivals:
Henry C. Fish



The above quote concerns an 18th century time period between America's spiritual awakenings. A spiritual ebb similar to that in which we currently live.

From Henry Fish's perspective it is the political sphere which acts as the true 'bread and circus' to distract people from more important, spiritual issues.


But let's be distracted for now...

There are 88 days to the next general election in the UK. It is highly unlikely that there will be a spiritual awakening or a revolution in this time period. I don't want to dishearten anyone, but it just is almost certainly not going to happen.

For the politically enlightened, most commentators concede that there are a few possibilities and variables for the future. Either Labour get in, the Tories retain power or else there is some kind of deal between parties again.

UKIP may be a political force, but few people think they will gain power. As of May we will almost certainly either have a Labour Government or remain with the Tories. Simply because this is how it seems to work. This is the most likely scenario. Please plan accordingly and vote with your conscience (of which you don't need another).

But the 'black swan theory' is a theory which suggests that the impossible shouldn't be ruled out (the idea being that black swans were thought not to exist until people spotted them and then everyone had to concede that the impossible is possible). So who knows? Maybe there could be a revolution under Russell Brand or a UKIP landslide. Maybe there could be a spiritual revival. Maybe there could be a new-age paradigm shift. Maybe the Queen could die. Maybe our personal lives could get so overhauled that we couldn't care less what happens in the country.

So we have to return from our bread and circuses to focus on the real things. We have to become or remain enlightened either politically or spiritually or else we are fast asleep, lulled into complacency by the eerie, comforting circus music which drones on and on and on...


As for myself, I am fast asleep. But at least I know that.







Saturday, 24 January 2015

My novel in print




Destiny and Dynasty is now published in print. It's available on Amazon now. The official date for publication was 23rd January 2015. The print version is £5.99.

I've also created a new website just for the book which can be seen here www.destinyanddynasty.com

I haven't had much time to market or promote the whole thing but hopefully I will be able to carve out a little time to do that in the coming weeks. But I will try to focus on some other topics for this blog as there are a lot of things I want to write about.

Click here to see it on Amazon.






Monday, 12 January 2015

Into the Woods we go again...







There are so many things which could be said in this blog - they range from comment on the report on the bill which has passed committee stage on prayers in local councils through to a criticism of the sheer scariness of childrens dolls these days.

And as one of the uber-fans of the musical 'Into the Woods' I could also whinge about the loss of the narrator in the film version. But it seems that Sondheim himself is complicit in the Disney decisions and I will spare you my rants. It's 'Agony' - for some feel that Sondheim has killed too many of his babies and the world has gone too far (Where is the intrusive narrator? Where are the best songs?).

I don't have anything useful to add to the existing comments on the events in France beyond saying that I feel too many people are affected by it. I wrote a parable called 'The Good Terrorist' some time ago and you are welcome to read it here. There is no particular agenda or message to it - I'm anti-violence so I have few ideological sympathies for either side (both of which use violence).

But my first novel, Destiny and Dynasty, has been published. I'm working on the print version which I hope to have available before Easter. If you need an escape then please read it.

Publishing the ebook was harder than you may think. There was a technological error which caused the ebook text to come out as grey instead of black. I spent the launch day uploading new files again and again and again. I did this ten times. In the end I felt that God himself was against the whole thing. Maybe he is, who knows, he is enigmatic and although I find him fascinating I do wonder at the things he allows.

I fear that I am a superficial oaf and I don't want to be that.

Think happy thoughts.