Category Archives: Opinion

Unveiling a Parallel

By Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant, published 1893.

Once again I find myself adding a book review to my Christian themed blog, before I add it to my book review blog. I add it here because of the comparisons Unveiling A Parallel draws with Christianity.

Unveiling A Parallel is billed as a romance. Some might say it is science fiction, as it is set on the planet Mars. Some would call it feminist literature, if the term “feminist” existed in 1893. I describe Unveiling A Parallel as social-science fiction, that just happens to be set on another planet.

Remember as you continue that Unveiling a Parallel was published more than a century ago. The society in which the protagonist finds himself is still a stratified society, in which there are rich and poor, servants and masters, characteristic of the era in which the story was written.

The reader is not told at any point the protagonist’s name, or how he comes to be on Mars. The story begins at his arrival on the red planet.  It goes on to recount his experiences with the “Marsians” whilst amongst the people.

The Marsian people are humans, who have evolved entirely independently of the humans of our planet Earth. The differences between the peoples are in intellects and social orders, not in any physical aspect that defines a human being.

The traveller’s male pre-conceptions, of how a society should function, based on his patriarchal Earth background in a male dominated society, are challenged from soon after his arrival on Mars.  As he begins to get to know Mars’ people, he finds an egalitarian, equal society where the female of the species is the equal of the male socially and morally, without needing legislation to achieve it.

It is also interesting to see the protagonist’s observations on religion, specifically Christianity, as he begins to come to terms with the “Marsian” society in which he finds himself.

Unveiling A Parallel is not SciFi in the form that readers of such as Asimov, E E Doc Smith or Larry Niven would probably appreciate. It is, to a greater extent, commentary on the differences between societies, that have evolved in different places, under different conditions and traditions.

“You worship the man – the God, if you will, –
instead of that for which he stood.”: – Severnius.

Individuality

The myth that brands need you to believe and something they might prefer you to forget.

2015-08-20 20.41.09-2A marketing ploys used by major brands is to suggest that by purchasing their product(s), you are showing your individuality. They want you to believe that by buying their brand, you are not just one of the crowd; not just a sheep blindly following everyone else but that is exactly what you are doing.

If you believe what brand advertisements want you to, your not just ‘one of their crowd’ you are gullible too, because you do not see that you are just part of a crowd, albeit a distinct crowd. Even being in distinct crowd does not demonstrate individualism, perhaps it might be described as tribalism.

Even manufacturer customisation of a product does not make the buyer more individualistic. He has simply bought an option offered by the designer/maker, an option that anyone else can buy too, so it is not individual.

It is possible to be an individual and still buy a branded product, if you evaluate it in relation to other products that fulfil the same function or need. If you just buy it because of the brand, the advertising or the crowd that like it, you’re just another ‘sheep’.

It is worth remembering that a brand was originally an identifying mark, burned onto an animal, by its owner to identify it as his as distinct from anyone else’s, it was not to make it different from any other member of his heard. The owner of the brand was individual, its wearer was just another anonymous animal in the heard or flock of livestock.

In relation to today’s ‘brands’ that is not too far from the truth. The ‘brands’ owners want you as part of their heard, controlled and corralled. Of course they employ different means of shepherding you in the right direction, with their clever advertising but essentially, they try to steer you in the ‘right’ direction just like a flock of sheep.

Do you still think you’re showing your individuality by buying branded products? In the case of fashion clothing, buying a brand, such as Nike, Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Conran, Gucci or any one of tens, hundreds of others, could almost be equated to wearing a uniform. Whose uniform are you wearing today?

Brexit

One Christian’s Point Of View.

The United Kingdom, for it still is at least nominally united, is a country in which the majority of citizens are no longer practicing Christians. That same majority does share a Christian heritage, and almost all of our law is based upon Christian principals.

One year after the Brexit referendum, I am struggling to see how those principals are being applied both to our European neighbours, it is probably no longer correct to call them our partners, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, to our own descendants.

At a personal and individual level, the majority of UK citizens still tend to behave in a fairly Christian manner. Corporately as a nation, we seem to have become self obsessed and selfish. We want what we want and do not care what anyone else wants. At least not the 27 other, soon to be, remaining members of the European Union.

Might the UK have inadvertently done a little harm, primarily to itself, that resulted in a greater good? As a country, we have single handedly succeeded in uniting 27 other member states into a closer union against a former friend.

I find it disingenuous that our politicians and leaders continue to refer to Europeans as “our friends” when nationally we have behaved and are continuing to behave toward them in such an unfriendly manner. It is to their credit that they remain friendly to us, if no longer actually friends.

It appears that one of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, for the vote to exit the EU is the issue of immigration. What has happened to our Christian principals of welcoming the stranger? We need immigration. We need it for our NHS, which without immigrants would not function.

We need immigrant workers for farms and care services, because too many of our citizens seem to think themselves too good for what they see as such menial tasks, yet they still moan that immigrants are taking British jobs.

I think that in some peoples minds refugees are little different to immigrants. We conveniently forget, unless somehow directly and personally confronted by refugees, the vast difference between simply trying to improve ones situation and fleeing war, famine, oppression, torture, injustice leaving everything behind apart from the clothes they stand up in.

The current Brexit related debate is regarding the rights of EU citizens to stay in Britain, those that wish to, after Brexit is final. The Christian, human, reasonable and caring action to take would be to unilaterally guarantee the existing rights of all who opt to stay. It would also be an excellent gesture of goodwill for the forthcoming negotiations.

UK is, at the time of writing, the fifth biggest economy in the world; sixth if the EU is treated as a single economy. A large part of our prosperity is due to our membership of the European Union, even though we are a net contributor to its budget. Immigrants helped build our economy so we owe them a quid pro quo for that. Will UK still be so prosperous one year after Brexit? Our economy is less than one fifth the size of that of the EU and one seventh of USA USA. We need EU, to secure good trade deals with bigger economies, more than they need us.

British politicians talk about Brexit as the will of the people. I can’t and wont deny the democracy of leaving the EU, it was a vote in favour of leaving. It was hardly an overwhelming margin voting to leave at 52% to 48%. Leavers consider it a victory. I cannot. I can question if there should have been a referendum at all.

In a democracy politicians are elected not just to carry out the will of the people but to do what is best for the nation they are supposed to serve. Unfortunately what is best, or necessary is frequently not popular That includes taking difficult decisions. Those decisions are frequently taken on the basis of information to which the population is not privy.

In the case of Brexit, I think politicians abrogated their responsibility to the referendum, instead of taking decisions they were elected to take. The British public gave the politicians a perfect scaprgoat; the British public.

Brexit does not affect only Britain. Brexit affects 27 other countries detrimentally. Even if I were not looking at this from a Christian perspective, I cannot see any basic decency, respect and fairness with which we have should have treated our neighbours?

In a few years Britain could become to Europe like the Isle Of Wight it to Britain; a quaint little place to visit but mostly ignored.

The Trinity

Mind you don’t get burned.

If you say trinity to a Christian there is a good chance that he or she would think of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three-in-one and one-in-three. Trinity in unity. But, what might a non christian think of?

There are many, many things that come in threes, some real, some fictional.

  • Three bones in an ear
  • Three wheels on a tricycle
  • Three legs on a tripod

If you remove one item from each of the groups of three, it becomes useless.

  • Take one bone from an ear, you cannot hear
  • Take one wheel from a tricycle, it cannot be ridden
  • Take one leg from a tripod, it falls over

In each case removing one of the three renders the remainder useless.

When I was at school, in the science lesson I remember being taught that fire requires three things to burn; fuel, heat and air (oxygen). Remove any one of these elements and the fire is extinguished.

Might fire be an, albeit very simplistic, analogy for the complexity of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the father being, perhaps, the oxygen (breath of God). God the Son providing the fuel (His word in the gospels). God the Holy Spirit being the heat (felt but unseen).

So if by taking away one element of fire it ceases to exist, what happens to God if one element of the trinity were missing?

As usual I have no answer but think it an interesting question to ponder.

Time

mv5bzgnkm2mwndatogewmc00zmu0lwfinmmtytllngq2yzdjztvmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzc5njm0na-_v1_A few years ago I wrote about time in the context of chronos and kairos, human time and God’s time.

I recently read what is probably one of the earliest stories about time travel, H. G. Wells novella, The Time Machine, published in 1895, from which I’m adding some thoughts.

Time is a human measurement, based on natural phenomena. The time the earth takes to travel around our sun is an (almost) fixed period. But the hours in a day are a human derivation. All of which might be completely arbitrary to God, for whom time is probably meaningless.

When the Time Traveller (he is unnamed but for this epithet in the original story) arrives in the year 802,701, his first impression might be described as a kind new Eden, or at least a heavenly place. The young population seems well provided for with no need to work. Their food and clothing are provided, there is no learning and are no scholars, there seems no need for them. They spend all their time relaxing and playing. That initial impression impression of the time traveller doesn’t last long

What the time traveller finds, once he begins to look a little closer at the future society he has landed in, is a world where there are signs of decay and atrophy all around. Humanity has degenerated to become lazy and indolent. With nothing to strive for, humanity has stagnated.

Worse. In the millennia since the time traveller activated his time machine and left victorian england, the humans in this false Eden have become like farmed animals, bred for a purpose. Time has turned the humans the traveller meets into domesticated herds of food, bred to feed the Morlocks, formerly human now a sub-human species living underground. How the Morlocks evolved is not explained in the original story (though an attempt is added in the 1960 film).

What crossed my mind as the story unfolded was the contrast with elements of biblical text. Jesus is the Good shepherd, caring for his flock and in turn after his ascension the flock must learn to care for one-another.

In Well’s story the flock has divided somewhere in the intervening years. What once might have been a shepherd class, caring for their flocks, have become subverted; breeding the flocks for their own use. They have become cannibals.

The Bible also tells of “a new heaven and a new earth”.But what at first appears heavenly could be deceptive, as we see looking deeper than the time travellers initial impressions of the distant future human society imagined in Wells’ novella.