Quote of the Day

Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell. PHiLOSOPHY and LiFE blog

Sunday, May 29, 2005

On Illness and Punishment

When they fetch up in hospital because of an illness or old age, some religious people ask, "Why is this happening to me?" and might add "I've been a good person."

Some have never thought about their mortality. Illness takes them by surprise. They have made no preparation. Illness and death is an affront to them and is outside the order of the world.

For some, what is happening to them is a punishment. They search their lives for some fault or sin that would account for their illness. They might even identify some past misdemeanours.

It makes me sad when I hear people intimate that God is sending their illness to punish them. I am sad that they see God in this light. What an awful burden to bear; how terrifying! I wish I knew how to ameliorate the damage of a lifetime's worth of a certain sort of, usually Christian, teaching. People who teach this are doing terrible harm. It is not a Christianity: it is just the old, merely human, 'eye-for-an-eye' desire for revenge projected onto God. God does not punish us for our sins. Jesus makes that very clear in his story of the (so called) Prodigal Son in Luke's gospel. The father, who stands for God, welcomes the wayward son with open arms and has no need to listen to his plea for forgiveness. Forgiveness is already present.

Of course, illness may be a consequence of how we have lived individually or corporately. Bad eating / smoking / drinking / exercise habits / ...; the build up of resentments / bitterness / loss / anger / sadness / ...; the deplorable way we treat the Earth, our home: all these may be the direct cause of illness. We might well see the way we act towards ourselves and the Earth in these respects as sinful and our illness is the natural result of our lack of care.

A better question then is "What meaning does this illness have for me?" or "What can God teach me?" or "How can I change my life?" God is that in the Universe which has the potential to offer clarity of vision and a new way of living.

Behind all this is terror: we do not know why we get ill and die; we have no final control over mortality, try as we might to combat illness or to find meaning. We have to submit to what cannot be named or questioned and for which we cannot make meaning. It is with this that we have to come to terms.

In the face of this, perhaps any meaning is better than none. Perhaps it is more comforting to belive in a tyrannous God who makes us ill as a punishment, than to accept that life is beyond our understanding and control. Guilt is easier to live with than groundlessness.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Too close for comfort

This is a story about a friend of mine, David Walsh, as reported in the local newspaper. People, sensible people, say he was foolhardy. I just wish I was that brave. Good for you David.

Heroic cleric stabbed 00:00, May 18 2005 by Mandy Little, Greenwich Mercury

A CLERGYMAN was stabbed in the calf after trying to thwart a knife-wielding robber in a restaurant. Rev David Walsh, of St Alfege's Church in Greenwich, is recovering at home after he was stabbed at Frederick's restaurant in Islington, north London, on Friday. Witnesses told how Mr Walsh, 46, tackled the robber who then plunged the blade into his leg. Angry customers brandishing chairs then turned on the raider. He fled before police arrived at the restaurant at around 4.50pm. Although hailed a hero for his good deed, Mr Walsh was modest of his brave actions. He told The Mercury: "A hooded man came into the restaurant brandishing a knife and I was in the way." Customers told police how the robber, wearing a balaclava, burst in and shouted at a female customer to hand over her watch. Mr Walsh kicked out at the crook and was stabbed in the calf. Other customers at Fredericks restaurant threatened him with chairs and tables and he ran out of the restaurant. No one else was injured in the incident and police are still hunting the suspect who it is believed escaped with a gold bracelet. Mr Walsh has been at St Alfege in Church Street for three years and is acting vicar since Rev Cannon Giles Harcourt left last year. He is resting and cannot walk at present. Police have described the suspect as a white male, aged around 25, and 6ft tall.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

On Blogging

Do other people go through a self-examination phase when they start blogging?

  • why a I doing this?
  • will anyone read this?
  • what will they think if they do?
  • does any of it matter?

I am sceptical about this blogging. It's rather stark at the moment, but I like the layout of my page and I've begun tweaking the style sheet in the template to make it how I want it to look. But style can mask deficiency of content. Is this is a (post-)modern issue? So much attention on how a thing looks, to presentation, to 'reinventing' a product or a personality, to corporate image, to the 'look' of a publication, the logo. We are drawn by the visual and delight in it: no problem there. 'Truth is beauty', and all that. Is there anything beyond the aesthetic here? Are the words worth writing or reading? Is it worth the disc-space?

Perhaps it is just another attempt to become immortal (Ernest Becker), or to construct a sense-of-self (David Loy), as is so much of what we do in our (little) lives.

On the vaguaries of Internet Explorer

I've been fighting with Internet Explorer, or rather, fighting to write HTML/CSS that IE6 displays properly. I use Firefox as my default browser and I wrote some pages that displayed well in it. At work, of course, we're wedded to all things Microsoft. Imagine my surprise...

I've now downloaded all the popular freeware browsers: Mozilla, Opera and Netscape. All are pretty much identical in their handling of the code. IE6, however, does something quite different in certain cases.

The good news: it's a great way to learn more, and better, coding syntax and techniques, and to join, however tangentially, the community of web designers who also know about the code behind the design.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

My first time

Thanks to John Davies for introducing me to the concept of blogging. It's taken me a long time to get here, John!

john Davies cartoonThis is an experiment for me: a chance to think out loud and not just let the thoughts wash around in my head. I'm interested to see where it takes me. I hope to get some more consolidated writing out of it.

I'm still spending far too much time at this ridiculous hour of the morning getting the settings just how I'd like them to be. I think it would be really hard if I had no experience of HTML and CSS. If you want to know more about these web technologies I've found loads of help in W3Schools, BlueRobot and CSS Zen Garden. The last two are worth a visit anyway: simply beautiful to look at. Web-design at its best.