Thursday, 27 September 2012

Why Islam Does Not Impress

If you are prone to acts of violence when your beliefs are challenged, I have no time for you. If you seek to silence those who hold a view contrary to your won, I have even less time for you. And lets be honest, if you're intent on suppressing those of dissenting voice that alone smacks of fear and, dare I say it, a tacit lack of confidence in that which you profess to hold dear. Now here's the thing. I don't want to silence you. I uphold your right to your beliefs so long as they are not held at the expense of others. What I will do, however; and what is essential for a functioning democracy is to be able to express oneself without fear of violence or repercussion. Regarding Islam, I do not believe its truth claims, and I happen to think some if its teachings have incurred a terrible cost to the advancement of society. I'd like for Muslims across the globe whom disbelieve to feel able to come out into the open without fearing death or torture. That to me would be progress. And I'd like zealous believers to be less lightweight when they are challenged, too. Children lash out and paddy when they don't like what they've heard, but you're men and as such you need to act like men. Real men. Stop all this violent silliness and gird your proverbial sides. Any fool can burn a flag or go on the rampage; how about instead you try touting your beliefs into the global market place of ideas and see if they withstand scrutiny? At present, the lack of respect many Westerners feel towards Islam is probably bolstered by the endless histrionics we see whenever the Prophet is offended. We don't take kindly to being told what we can and cannot think, and we already have laws that guide us regarding what we can or cannot do. These aren't perfect, and they are open to revision, but we have chosen them above theocracy. I do not believe in Islam. I am unable to respect the teachings of Islam, and that is my right as a citizen of the democratic west. Please try harder to understand this, and find a more persuasive method of seeking to advance your ideas.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


I have woken up to myself. It has taken years, and I am no longer in denial as to the central tenets of my character. I owe nobody an explanation for what I am, nor justification. What others perceive about me is up to them; I won't doff my cap to your standards or promise to play by your rules. I've not interest in lamenting a past that I cannot change, nor grieving over what has been lost. I have no bitterness towards those who've wronged me, and can truthfully observe that such a list would be ridiculously short anyway. If I succeed, I shall enjoy the feeling; If I fail; I shall do so in the knowledge that it will never be for lack of effort. I have many talents I'm familiar with, and I expect one or two I'm yet to discover. Conversely, there are things I'd like to improve upon but suspect I never shall. I'm an eclectic mix, a messy canvas, and the paint isn't dry all over. It's a work in constant flux, in need of revision and reflection. That's just fine with me.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Kinky? Say's Who, And By What Authority?

You can say what you like about 50 Shades Of Grey, but you have to admit that its bought kink into the mainstream. About time methinks; why shouldn't consenting adults express themselves in creative and satisfying ways? I bet the majority of couples have experimented with bondage and role play, and it's high time we stood back from social stereotypes and just relaxed into ourselves. I personally find women with a naturally dominant sexuality and psychology incredibly attractive; I like confidence in a person and I find someone who knows what they want intoxicating. Once again, I'm contemptuous of the traditional image some may form at this point; I'm very much a man's man. It's just important to me to have an adoration for the person I spend my life with, and I enjoy treating my wife like a lady and putting her on a pedestal. As you all know, I don't do social convention, I've no interest in remaining on the dull side of some imaginary social line, fearful I have to be a certain way or act in accordance with certain expectations. I much prefer the wild woods of the unconventional, the place where people can just be who they are and not feel compelled to play by unspoken rules. I'm not just taking about gender stereotypes now, I'm thinking about all aspects of life. I bet every person who reads this feels trapped by the expectations of others in some small way. I'm convinced some of you are afraid that if people knew you, really knew you they'd think you weird or warped or whatever term you want to apply. Here's a plan; don't worry about it. Have sufficient confidence in who you are and walk your own road. So ladies, if you're sexually into 50 Shades and want a man who can speak into that part of your psyche what is stopping you? And guys, if you'd prefer a dominatrix over Julie Andrews any day of the week then crack on, fella. We have to be ourselves. We're the best and only people for the task. Can we please move on from these prisons of self denial and false guilt. Ignore the unseen line. Cross it. You'd be amazed what lies beyond.

To Give Without Gain

I've just been really moved by the following quote; "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him" Don't read on just yet. Read the quote again, and appreciate the personal challenge that such a statement poses. In light of this I can only reflect on my own selfishness, and it causes me a real unease. I can understand why the historical Jesus compels many, for his was a life devoted to the ultimate expression of this. Ok, I know that history tells us the Gospels probably only contain a bit of historical truth, but there remains something to admire in any individual who can look beyond them-self and willingly give with a relentless persistence. I can't do it. At least not for long. I seem to have a certain amount of empathy which when expired permits of no further activism. Sure, I try to show kindness and be available for people, but how often do I actually pro-actively do it? And do I actively seek out opportunities to give of my time? It occurs to me that females are traditionally much better at this than men, which I suppose has some evolutionary origin. Women appear better at looking outward, of being sensitive to those around them. This is a quality I greatly admire. In fact, I dislike people who appear unable to look beyond themselves, the kind that never ask another how they are, or be just a bit sensitive to the dynamic of the environment around them. Now whilst I'm mindful of my own selfish core I do retain a genuine interest in the lives of others. When I ask how someone is I'm generally prepared to invest my time should the answer not come back as the default "Fine" Sometimes people aren't fine. Sometimes somebody to listen to them could mean the world, the difference between a bad day and a slightly better one. I want to be the kind of person who makes people's bad days better. I want to be outward looking and attuned to things beyond my own ego. I'm not always successful, and boy I'm a work in progress. But hey, we've all got to start somewhere.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

I Think I'm Done Here.

I've spent a lot of time blogging about religion. I've aired pretty much every grievance, considered all the arguments, and emerged with my views fairly well formed. Not, I hasten to add, so carved in stone that I'm immune to new evidence; it's just I don't have much else to say on the subject. I feel I've taken things as far as I can go, having spent long hours wrestling with the issue. I expect I've alienated a fair few, and entertained others. Point is, I'm all out of interest in the subject. I feel as though I've truly moved on. I'm purged of the delusion, I'm no longer a recovering Christian but fully recovered. The spell, or curse, is broken, and the silliness of my former worldview is as clear to me as it could possibly be. I leave behind many who've not shaken the bug, and I wish them well. If a dose of the Gospel gets them through the day then whatever. It's up to them how they see the world. For me, it's truth first, and wishful thinking nowhere. I can't do it. I won't. It seems wasteful and just a bit loony to me. Besides, the more I learn, the more interesting the world becomes. Lots to think about, lots to engage with; my fascination with religion was taking up precious hours of my life. So I'm done with talking about it. Bored with talking about it, actually. There's no God shaped hole in my heart, just a rich vein of enthusiasm for the journey that I'm on. I might, from time to time comment on particular religious inanity, and I certainly won't be extending faith one iota of respect. But those will be exceptions rather than the rule. Life fascinates me. People. Sex. The human condition. And when I have something I want to say this is probably where I'll still say it. It'll just be a bit less frequent. And I'm going to have to be in just the right mood. So apologies to those expecting me to be always ready to pick away at the low hanging fruit of religion; the target has become too soft and rancid and icky. My country is post Christian, and the States is finally cottoning on, too. The world has woken up and is wiping the sleepy dust of muddled logic from its eyes, leaving a diminishing percentage believing that organised religion has anything to bring to the big questions of the 21st century. The ship has sailed, the flight has left, the train has left the platform. The world is moving on, and as such so am I. Sayonara.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

By The Light Of A Silvery Moon

A pale full moon illuminates great swathes of night cloud, spectral and voluminous. One mighty behemoth is shaped like a giant starfish, it's ethereal tendrils stretching out across a silent immensity. Beyond flicker tiny ice white stars, the engine rooms of creation, so distant yet so powerful. Some gaze up into such skies and see inky darkness, cold and indifferent; yet I see life, I glimpse the unseen atoms that bind us all, the brethren that for us coalesced into things that live, that evolve, that imagine and ask questions of themselves. Indeed ask yourself, how great are we? How improbable, how majestic? So many drift through life with no sense of their inner grandeur or any wonder of what is around them. How impoverished is that? Not to understand what we are, or have at least some grasp of how we came to be?
I am stood in my tiny residential garden, the universe an immense dome above me, it's magnitude beyond the grasp of my tiny mind. Yet somewhere out in the dark splendour, some vast eons ago the processes that would lead to my becoming took shape. Only now are we beginning to grasp our true origins, the truth about how we emerged from, quite literally, nothing. From the quantum conundrum that even now our most advance theoretical physicists are trying to fathom, something happened that set the whole show in motion. No voice in the dark booming "Let there be light"; no place for tawdry fairy tales in the real scheme of things. Yet the truth, when we finally lock it down, will surely yield us facts so spectacular that we will marvel all the more.
Our planet is one of billions; our galaxy one of billions. Whilst rare, it grows increasingly likely that we are not alone amidst the void. Somewhere out there perhaps wander fellow lonely travellers, denizens in this universe. I wonder; are they conscious as we are? Do they yearn, wonder, caress, nurture?
Somewhere in the world tonight a young couple are kissing under the same moon as the one I stare at now, starting another journey in a life consisting of many journeys all leading to many destinations. Their story will be unique, as is your own. But please I implore you, when you look up into the night sky, and it affords you a glimpse of its essence, don't be so quick to look away. Stay outside for a while; put on a coat to keep you warm. Look upwards, look beyond, and seek to connect yourself with the greatest story of all. Those stars, those planets, the grass beneath your feet. All the same material, just formed in a different way.
Don't break this great connection too quickly. The world will still be waiting when you return.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

On Being New

I'm in a very interesting professional position right now. I'm very new in a role that takes a short time to understand, but a very long time to get proficient at. I have days when I think I'm moving forward, and days when I wonder if I'll ever get the gist. I am surrounded by more experienced people, many who have been in the job for decades, and right now they are quicker, slicker, and worthy of a lot of respect. The overwhelming majority have been brilliant in those moments when I've struggled, when the airwaves go crazy and everything happens at once. I hope that one day i am able to be as helpful to newcomers as many have been to me, because boy does it make a difference. I guess that working with a newbie is a bit of challenge if you've been at the same coal face for years, and I expect there's a lot of repressed frustration when the person beside you is slower and kind of chugging along, not quite as smooth and creamy as themselves. Hats off to those who've been patient with me, or who've given me some sound and non judgemental advice at the right time. I'm grateful beyond all measure. It must be very hard remembering what it's like to be new at something when you've not been new for years. I can remember a little of what that feels like when I tutored newcomers in the old job. I always adopted a gently gently approach, doing everything possible to get the trainee to take the psychological heat off themselves, because in all honesty this is the heart of the battle. Most, if not all people find it stressful learning something new, and the expectations we heap on ourselves often outweigh those expected by others. I've found the biggest battles during the last few months have been inside my head; frustration when I get it wrong; confidence drain when I wonder what colleagues must think of my clumsy efforts; and unrealistic expectations I heap upon myself. Truth is, I expect it's going to take a year before I'm even close to feeling at ease in this role, and that feels like a long way ahead right now. I've been out of training for less than a month, see.
Is there a point to this blog? I suppose I'm reminding myself that I have to be a realist, and perhaps if it helps others in their attitudes and approach to newcomers then it won't hurt. Learning something new is often gruelling, with a lot of internal an external factors at play. I think we need to be kind to ourselves, and hope that others show kindness, too.