Monday, 23 March 2009

A story

It was a time of great turmoil in the world. There was war and rumour of war, and famine, pestilence and catastrophe stalked many lands. Many people sought to escape hardship and persecution, and travel to lands where providence had been kinder. And so it was that three hundred people found themselves on the border of a country far from their abandoned homes; and they encamped there and waited to see what fate might befall them.
And one day two luxury coaches pulled up at the camp and stewards in smart uniforms came out and announced that there were places in the new country for one hundred people. So the first one hundred people were taken to a great country house, where they were greeted at the entrance by the owner of the house, with all his staff arranged on the steps below him: “Welcome to my home; as you can see, there is plenty of room for you all, and my staff here will see to your every need. All I ask of you is that you must obey the rules of the house.” And at this point the owner held aloft a small booklet. “I am sure you will be very happy here.” And so it was that the first hundred found themselves in their new land.
Then later, at the border camp, two government officials arrived, with clipboards and notes and announced that places had been found for one hundred people, so long as they could afford the train fare and accommodation. So the officials vetted and selected one hundred people and told them how to get train tickets and where their destination was. The one hundred people eventually found themselves at a large hotel, where they were invited to the main reception room and greeted by the hotel manager: “Welcome to our hotel; as you can see there are plenty of rooms for you all, and you can purchase all the goods and services you might need right here in the hotel. All we ask of you is that you pay for your room and services promptly.” And at this point the hotel manger held aloft a large card titled 'Current Tariff'. “But you must also make sure you do not disturb the other guests, or be a nuisance to them, and then I am sure you will be happy here.” And so it was that the second hundred found themselves in their new land.
Back at the border camp, there then arrived a number of people in a motley collection of cars and minibuses, and one of them announced that they would take all the rest to their new home. They arrived at the central square of a large town, where they were greeted by the town mayor, who was with a large number of the townspeople: “Welcome to our town. We have some land where we will help you build your own homes. In the meantime enough rooms shave been offered to keep you all comfortable. We look forward to learning about you, and to your contribution to our town.” And then a child from among the last hundred smiled and shouted: “Yes! lets build our new home together with you.” And so it was that the last hundred found themselves in their new land.
Elaborated from ideas of Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi, in his book “The Home We Build Together - Recreating Society”.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Matters of interest?

Friends may find the following site of interest
I say this having recently discovered it and reading some of the material.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Big Bangers

Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) coined the term Big Bang as a descriptive tag for the theory of the origin of the universe first proposed by Georges LemaĆ®tre (1894–1966). Hoyle did not intend this term to be pejorative, merely as a means of outlining the difference between LemaĆ®tre’s theory and his own, the Steady State hypothesis, which held that even as distant galaxies were observed to be rushing away from each other, matter was being steadily created in the space between them.

It occurred to me that the same sort of difference exists between views, not necessarily of the end of the universe, but of how the Kingdom of Heaven may arrive. Some people believe that at a point in time (to be announced) Signs and Portents will start to happen (or have already started to happen) which presage the beginning of the end of the sinful, secular, Satan-led phase of humanity’s existence on Earth, as was foretold in the scriptures, especially in the Book of Revelations. Opinions vary at this point. According to some believers, God will raise the Faithful (‘Us’) up to Heaven – the ‘Rapture’ – while the Earth is purged of sin and sinners (‘Them’), making it fit for Him to establish His rule on Earth.

Personally, I think that the mistake here is to conflate the life of the spirit with some sort of cosmic political event. What worries me is that the End-of-the-Worlders seem to welcome the prospect of the end of all things, beginning with the Battle of Armageddon, and ending (they hope and believe) with the Truly Faithful receiving their just reward. They seem to be saying, “Bring it on.” For this reason, they may not be very concerned with the need to conserve the planet as a sustainable home for future generations, but may even be happy to let it all burn.

I have begun to believe that the second coming of Christ, or the arrival of the Kingdom of God, or however it is best to name it, may not be a simultaneous, world-wide event at all, but may happen here and now in one person, there and at a different time in another – a steady state, a gradual advance of the awareness of the spirit. I see myself as a Steady Stater, rather than a Big Banger.

I was delighted to find, in her introduction to ‘Islam – a short history,’ Karen Armstrong outlining this: “In the gospels, Jesus often went out of his way to explain to his followers that his Kingdom was not of this world, but could only be found within the believer. The Kingdom would not arrive with a great political fanfare, but would develop as quietly and imperceptibly as a germinating mustard-seed.”