Category Archives: Humanity

Significance

Mankind’s place in creation.

Pale Blue Dot photograph of Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by Voyager 1 space probe

I think that everyone likes to think that they have some significance, that they mean something or contribute something, that their life has some meaning. At some stage in each life, I think that everyone contributes something to some degree.

For most of us individually our significance is probably within a relatively small circle of people, friends, our employe, maybe clubs we’re a member of. We contribute to the significance of those groups of which we are members, communities, charities, political parties for example.

For a few people, politicians, national and global business leadres, top sportsmen and women, they are individually hugely significant, perhaps too much so especially sportspeople and entertainers.

Often the degree of significance grows with the size of group perhaps even country, sometimes by population sometimes by wealth, But what is the significance of humanity?

We almost certainly overstate our global collective significance. Human arrogance perhaps? I think that the picture I’ve included with this post might be a reasonable illustration of humanity’s significance in the great scheme of things. Can you see the pale blue dot? That’s us, planet Earth.

The picture was taken at the edge of our solar system. The next nearest star to our own sun, Alpha Centauri, is 4.3 light years away. Our sun is roughly 8 light minutes away. Beyond Alpha Centauri are billions of other stars at even greater unimaginable distances. Is this the real measure of humanity’s significance?

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Advocacy

Representing humankind.

In human terms, an advocate is usually one of two things. An advocate may be a person who promotes a cause or policy for an organisation. He or she may be a person who represents the interests of another individual. In the UK, one of the most recognised types of advocate might be a barrister, representing a client in a court of law.

There are other types of advocate, some of which might not be recognised or called as such. A public relations officer, spokesperson or communications director all fit the dictionary definition of advocate for example, representing the views of a company or perhaps political party. Their job is to put across to a wider audience, the public perhaps or company shareholders, a position or proposals for the future. It might be to justify previous actions.

When Jesus said that an advocate was coming, it is assumed he referred to the Holy Spirit. I assume the same and am not aware of anything to contradict this assumption. In terms of human understanding, might this be some of the most literal words in the Bible? It seems to me that the Holy Spirit in terms of advocacy fulfils our human definition.

There are of course  major differences in the advocacy provided by the Holy Spirit. Human advocates are, on the whole, paid for their services whether representing an individual or organisation. Human advocates perform their duties as a job, or career. They do not need to believe in who or what they are representing. They fulfil a contract.

The Holy Spirit is not paid in any monetary form. Perhaps the best description of the Spirit’s actions on our behalf and God’s is a vocation, perhaps almost its raison d’être.

The Holy Spirit presents our human case to God, representing us both individually and collectively. That same Spirit promotes, and explains, if we take the trouble to listen and understand, God’s plans and policies to us us for the future of the world and the human race. The spirit acts both for us and with us, helping us to come closer to God.

More About My Other Family

Not so much family values as, ‘The value of family’.

I make no apology for returning to a subject I’ve written about before, under similar circumstances. The difference this time, the medical treatment was planned, not an emergency admission. It was, though, at short notice; I was offered a cancellation slot for cataract surgery to my left eye.

If you read Entertaining Angels blog regularly, you might already know what I mean by “My other family“, if not then I’d better explain.

My blood relations family is small. There’s my wife and I, and my brother whom I rarely see. None of us have children. My wife has a brother too. Both our brothers live over 80 miles away and both work. We each have cousins, who we rarely see. But, these are not the family this post is about. This is about my and W’s other family, our Church and Mothers’ Union family.

This time around, I was able to make a few basic preparations prior to my eye surgery. Even a cancellation slot gives a couple of days notice, unlike my previous emergency admissions.

I’ve been home, at the time I write, two days since the cataract surgery to my left eye. Already I’m blessed with help I’ve received and further offers of help if we need it. The offers of help that I have not, yet, taken up, are not perfunctory expressions, as may sometimes be the case. I know I can count on them all.

J&T collected me from the hospital and took me home, guiding me while I had the dressing on my left eye; I couldn’t wear my glasses to see from my right while the dressing was on my left. My short sightedness is severe. Without my glasses, I guess I might be classed visually impaired.

M and L have each already taken Cookie, my dog, for walks and J and Ja have each done bits of shopping for me. That just the help I’ve had in the few days since my treatment. Ju will take me shopping next week for a big shop and I’ve had numerous other offers that I can call on when needed.

Whilst I think I might manage ok during recovery from my surgery, my ‘family’ make it possible to do more than just manage. Their support is a blessing and kindness to W and to myself, and are there for us and for each other. Thank you to all my family who care for us.

Humanism

How Humanist Are You?

That I’m taking a look at humanism should not suggest any doubt or move away from my Christianity. I think it is helpful to understand other belief systems, as well as my own faith. If you are interested too, you can try the free online course I am undertaking INTRODUCING HUMANISM: NON-RELIGIOUS APPROACHES TO LIFE.

The very first thing I noticed. in the introductory video of the course is that, aside from not believing in a deity, a lot of what humanists believe does not seem to conflict with Christianity, or other religions.

Humanists are much more committed to testing everything, acquiring scientific evidence for what they believe. The italics for believe are deliberate. For a religion, I use the term advisedly noting they have certain religious type characteristics, requiring testing and evidence, they refer to beliefs an awful lot. If “belief” is necessary because some elements cannot be objectively demonstrated and proof provided through evidence, then how is humanism different from any other religion or belief system that has elements that cannot be proven objectively?

I was interested to take part in the How Humanist Are You quiz that is on the Humanist UK website. The first time I took the quiz it told me that I am, apparently, 71% humanist. I suspect that might be a higher percentage than some self professed humanists, but the quiz itself makes me uneasy.

The quiz is of the multiple choice answer type and, one answer can be selected to each question. It seems to me that a number of potential, relevant answers are missing. Some of the allowed answers are not mutually exclusive, so more than one could be ticked if the design of quiz permitted it. I ‘believe’ the quiz to be deliberately slanted to suggest a humanist viewpoint at its conclusion. Of course according to humanists my ‘belief’ is as valid as theirs.

I took the quiz a second time, selecting alternative answers where I would have ticked two for the question, if the quiz permitted me to do so. I received a new score of 55% humanist.  So perhaps, averaging the two attempts, I am 63% humanist.

In line with the humanists’ own contention that everything we ‘believe’ should be tested and be evidence based, where is the evidence that the quiz is fair? What tests have been done to prove that by entering every possible combination of answers the results show a linear progression of 0% to 100% humanist?

As I write I am at the end of week two of the online course. This post will be updated if my views change as the course progresses.

Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow

Or it might be too late.

2015-02-18 15.50.45-1Note:  This post was written in 2015, but remained unpublished until 2018.

We all do it at some time. I am as guilty as anyone else, for putting things off to do later. I expect we all use the same excuses too; Another day won’t matter. I’m too busy just now, he/she always asks for it before it’s needed anyway. I’ve used all those at one time or another, and probably a host of others too that I cannot remember. I think that, more often than not, putting something off is really just a matter of procrastination, or plain laziness.

While only time will tell if I am cured of this laziness, at least for the foreseeable future I will not be putting of until later actions or jobs I can undertake today. And the reason? Simple. An incredibly graphic, distressing example of what can happen.

My online friend of more than 6 years, a wonderful, kind, caring and warm lady, started to suffer pains that made it hard for her to walk and move around; she could still sit in relative comfort. Later, in October, she had a series of medical investigations and in early November was informed that she had an inoperable, cancerous tumour. She was offered chemotherapy and radiotherapy but declined any aggressive treatment, opting only for pain relief. Her prognosis was to expect approximately 12 months before the condition was terminal.

I decided I would try to visit her. She lived in The Netherlands but this did not matter, I had plenty of time to make arrangements and occasionally visited Maastricht for concerts. I could call in on her way back to the ferry at Hoek-van-Holland. Even if I took a pessimistic view, I reckoned I would have  six months leeway to arrange a visit.

On the 6th January 2015, when I logged into our online meeting she was not there. Instead there was a message from her sister, saying that my friend had been taken into hospital. The next day a further message informed me that she was in a coma and not expected to survive. The following day …. well, you can work it out.

My friend had survived only two months from her diagnosis, not the year projected by the doctors, or even my pessimistic guess of six months. I did not see her before her death, all because I put off taking the appropriate action until ‘tomorrow’.

Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest
not what a day may bring forth – Proverbs 27:1 

Poppies

Lest we forget.

These hand made poppies are each added to the memorial on the anniversary of the death of the serviceman they commemorate.

Poppy day, more correctly Remembrance Day seems to cause some controversy these days. Most recently I saw that someone had said they thought it was glorifying war. What poppycock.

Maybe I should say before continuing that I was born after World War 2. Like the great majority of people today, I have no direct experience of war beyond news reports so also like them I will probably never understand it’s full horrors and sacrifices.

My father was a conscripted soldier who served in Burmah in WW2. He was not killed or injured but he never spoke of his wartime experiences to anyone I know of, in or outside our family.

I choose to wear a poppy though many will not, that is their choice. I wish they would wear a poppy. I will not run them down, argue with or insult them for not doing so. Nor do I expect someone who does not wear a poppy to lambast me for wearing one.

We live in a free country, where we can choose to wear or not the poppy, freedom fought for by the men for whom the poppy is worn. The Independent newspaper asked “when does the time come to shift the emphasis away from the past and into the present? My answer is that the poppy is the present.

What kind of country would we be living in if we had lost those terrible wars? We almost certainly would not have the freedom we enjoy now. We are not just remembering the dead. We are remembering what they did for us, why they gave their lives to give us a free country to be proud of. Suppose Hitler had won the war. Imagine the kind of regime  we could be living under now.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

From Laurence Binyon’s poem, For The Fallen. These lines form the fourth verse, though apparently they were the first to be written.

The Time Machine

A timeless story, old and new.

No, not a review of H. G. Wells book of the title, though inspired by it. A previous post also inspired by The Time Machine is here.

As the time traveller in the book is unnamed, I have adopted the name George for him, as used in the 1960 film The time Machine.

When our time traveller George arrives in the year 802,701 his first impression is of a kind of future Eden. An impression soon dispelled. But what did the people of the time, the Eloi think of George?

The Eloi were, even by today’s concept, a primitive people. Humanity had apparently regressed even though they were so fare into the future. They had lost or abandoned the accumulated knowledge of history. There seemed to be no technology, no weapons. a peaceful race, at least on the surface.

What would this seemingly primitive people think of our time traveller, George?

Maybe they would consider to be a harmless eccentric, with strange ideas and clothes not quite fitting in with their society. A bit like Jesus in biblical times, not quite fitting in with society.

The Eloi people had, apparently, no knowledge or concept of Jesus but I think it might be possible that George presented a Jesus like figure to them in some ways.

George came amongst them with what to them would be radical, new ideas and thoughts. He upset the established order. Became, in a way, their protector or perhaps ‘Good shepherd’. He was a teacher. The time traveller was able to perform what, to their eyes, might seem like miracles; the Eloi people had not seen matches before to light a fire.

The peaceful Eloi were under the malignant domination of the Morlocks, an underground race feeding on the Eloi treating them like cattle, a source of food and forced labour. Like Jesus tried to show the Israelites how to stand up to the Romans, occupying their land, and their own priests, the Pharisees, George tried to show the Eloi that they did not need to submit to the Morlocks.

Might this portrayal of the time traveller as such a figure by H. G. Wells have been deliberate? Was Wells’ choice of name for the Eloi people chosen from the words Jesus is heard to have said at his crucifixion?