Fiddling While Rome Goes ‘Meh’!

Today the General Synod of the Church of England announced that it had decided that it would begin the move towards having women bishops.

This was, of course, a cause for celebration amongst those who felt the church had to move forward (the nose dive in attendance was being linked to issues such as women priests being a demonstration of the church being out of touch). The same news was greeted by more traditionalist members as a bad thing.

By the vast majority of people the whole thing was met with a supreme chorus of ‘Meh’… Essentially we don’t care because it doesn’t matter.

The traditionalists demonstrate one of the many things wrong with religion. The rules they feel they need to abide by are a minor comment in the Bible. 1 Timothy 2:12 states ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.’. This is pretty clear, and unambiguous. In terms of following what the Bible says the church should definitely not be considering changes.

But the realists in the church appear to have realised that this particular rule sticks in the craw of many congregations. Labelling women as never being able to take on the role of church leader feels unacceptable in a world where CEOs, Prime Ministers and Presidents can all be, and have all been women.

And this is one of the central problems with religions. The rules of religions are codified in some book, or collection of rules. But they brook no consideration. And given the age of most of these writings the rules that are listed are either weird or laughable. Some claim that the ten commandments are the basis for most western legal systems, but most of the commandments are about sucking up to god. No god before me, no worshipping false idols and keeping the sabbath day. Murder and adultery are forbidden in the commandments, but the owning, buying and selling of slaves is not forbidden, neither is rape. The rules are not fit for purpose, but there is no method available for updating them. This fact is especially the case in populations where the book in question considers the books as the word of god. Such beliefs are, of course, untenable when you consider the number of translations that each book goes through, and what known translation errors there are (Mary being a virgin? Please… the correct term would be young girl, but then that would undermine the Madonna worship central to Catholicism at a stroke).

Bill Hicks said it most eloquently.

“People ask me what I think about that woman priest thing. What, a woman priest? Women priests. Great, great. Now there’s priests of both sexes I don’t listen to.”

I don’t believe religions are on the verge of dying, but in a time of mass access to mass information, they must know they are looking into the abyss, and a period when they can only expect a stream of kickings.

How To Blow £14k in a morning.

We have a new group of researchers joining our department in the next month. They do work that involves large data sets and fairly big number crunching jobs, so they all need new, well specified computers. So this morning I had to order ten i7 PCs with SSD system drives, Raid drives for data storage etc. 10 of ’em at £1200 each (not including VAT).

Glad its not coming out of my budget…

But also looking forward to unwrapping ten brand new computers.

2013 Book Report 18: Safe House – Chris Ewan.

Read in the Kindle format, available here

A gripping espionage thriller set mainly on the Isle of Man. The story begins with Rob, the central character recovering from a bad motorcycle accident. He has only fleeting memories of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the crash, including the memory of a pretty young woman. However, the ambulance crew that rescued him have found no evidence of another person, and quickly write off his memory as false.

As he gets out of the hospital, Rob tries to piece together what has happened, going back to the house that he knows he had been at before the accident. Off the main road, and in a wood, the house appears abandoned, and the mystery deepens.

The story is taut and fast moving throughout. As characters are added into the mix it is difficult to know who might be telling the truth, and who might be lying. The information drip fed to the reader keeps them guessing as to who is to be believed and who should not be trusted.

As the book moves towards its conclusion, and as the story gets more frenetic the author manages to keep on top of the story, and it never gets confused or overwhelmed, and the ending is believable and understandable.

An extremely enjoyable read. I will certainly look to read more by Chris Ewan in the future.

2013 Book Report 17: I Fought The Law – Dan Kieran.

Read in the paperback form, available online here.

Looking at the other books that Dan Kieran has to his name, this one stands out as a little odd. The author of ‘Crap Towns’ has a history of writing what he himself declares to be Christmas comedy books.

This book started out in its earliest research stages being another of these books. The idea had been to find out all those strange, arcane laws which are still on the statute having never been repealed. And, having discovered these odd laws they would be drawn together in a comedic melange.

But early on, Dan makes a discovery about the rights of protest, and how the New Labour government of Tony Blair made a law specifically to persecute one protester which had the odd effect of criminalising everyone in the country except the one person it was intended to impact. And with this accidental discovery a new, far less throw away book was born. Is it funnier than it would have been in its original form? I don’t know. But it is undoubtedly a whole lot more thought provoking.

The idiocy of current laws is highlighted by a tour of the country, meeting those whose lives are blighted by these stupid laws. The easiest example to give is the person given an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) to prevent them from swearing, but whom has Tourette’s Syndrome.

I would suggest that the thrust of this book is essentially a call to arms for us all to challenge government, and to insist that ‘they’ work for us. The government may set the agenda, may control the laws and have force on their side, but they are few, and we are many. Of course we have to open our eyes, and start looking out for each other. Every day is a challenge. We are bombarded with the message that the people who we should be worried about are the scroungers, the takers, and the people who would drag us down. This book demonstrates that the real problem is those who want to grind us down from above. And the message is loud and clear. They have the media, the law and the money.

But we have our humanity, our good humour and each other.