Monday, 31 October 2011

King Gambrinus

(Gambrinus: A legendary Flemish king who was said to have invented beer.)

King Gambrinus wobbled into the hall where all the assembled court dignitaries were gathered. The wooden door slammed behind him and, momentarily, he held his head in his hands. This jolt caused something to stir within his royal veins. He staggered to a thin window, and vomited. This truly was the work of a king who had had a very good dinner. A poor, startled, serf below looked up, shook his fist, then recognising his master slunk off, not daring to vent his anger.
King Gambrinus himself also slunk, in his case to the floor, vomit still dribbling from his mouth.
“Hic,” groaned the king.
The Queen rushed forward; but even she dare not touch. “Master, master,” she wrung her hands, “what ails thee?”
“I've invented…” The king unable to continue fell asleep. No one dare touch the crumpled royal heap sprawling on the floor.
All night the hall shook and throbbed to the king's snores. Early in the morning the queen entered the hall and watched over him. Throughout the morning she watched as he slumbered. Around midday the king began to stir.

Book Review – Dear God by Eamonn McCann

Eamonn McCann takes us through a wild romp describing the shear insanity of religion. Mostly he targets Catholicism in his home country of Ireland; but, along the way, he also manages a few detours to other parts of the world. What's described here, obviously, has its analogues for other religions and countries; there's nothing that special or original about Christianity or Catholicism. No religion has a monopoly on lunacy.

Dear God: the price of religion in Ireland is pieced together from snippets of journalism McCann has produced over the years. This does give the book a sense of immediacy and of dealing with hot political topics. However it also results in some deeper issues being overlooked. For a source for some of the articles see here where the story is continued and other, non religious topics, are also discussed.

So much of religion is bizarre. It almost appears the more weird the ideas espoused the more this demonstrates commitment to some lunatic faith. If you're totally wacko then you're a real believer and to be honoured. In itself this may not matter and could be dismissed as a few harmless cranks. But many of these cranks have quite offensive political ideas. Most of those lionised by the church recently have been extreme right wingers and some downright fascists. Quite how embracing former Nazi sympathisers and making them venerated saints enhances the church is hard to explain. It's not the kind of advice any reputable PR company would give to its corporate clients trying to make its way in the modern world.

Marxism is not just about poking fun at religion; entertaining as that can be. Equally, if not more, important is explaining why so many still believe. After all religion fails so many tests: logic, rationality, the remotest connection with the historical record. So poor is the connection with reality that some theologians suggest treating religious texts more as fables with a profound moral meaning. If that's true then why believe one set of fables over another. Alas, this book does not really go into this question of the persistence of religion. A useful starting point might be found here (and by someone with similar ideas to those of McCann).

All religions force feed their followers some form of family values. Some of the most moving sections here show how Catholicism has torn many families apart. The gamut runs from everyday oppression and subdued violence of religious run children's care homes through to the abuse, both physical and sexual of children. And along the way we find priests cohabiting or using their position to gain sexual favours. With all this immorality you wonder how many Christian types really believe in God or eternal punishment in the afterlife. In all of these cases little concern has been given to professed family values and indeed the real life families of the victims.

Have these relig-idiots no shame? The answer is a resounding: NO. Those who practice institutional religion never themselves act as if the religion they preach is supposed to be true; or is something they themselves should follow; it's always something to control the lower orders. And above all protecting the institution of the church counts above everything; there's a lot of power and prestige at stake, and often cold hard cash as well. Doctrine and humanity are well down the list.

This book is a great read with some wonderful descriptions. (And just the occasional klutzy sentence, every half dozen pages or so, where McCann seems to have become carried away by his bravura style. Or is it that, as the book is made up mostly of journalism, there has been little editing applied.) A book well worth digging out.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Moment

It is not so much,
To wait, to view a vision.
For a brief glimpse,

To lightly hold hands, briefly.
For you so little,
It would mean so much for me.

It is not so much,
To ask, to plead, beg, to hope.
To dream again, soon,

Of crushing the tears inside.
For you so easy,
For me, alone, impossible.

A moment of your time,
The most precious thing of all.
Is it not so much?

Friday, 14 October 2011


Earth's free Millennia
The Origin of Species
Evolution rife

We emerged
Mankind now rampant



Thursday, 13 October 2011


Outside my window
a modest patch of grass
rough cut; weed ridden.

Through this a slab path
dark grey from the night dampness
to two bungalows.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Powdery blue, white, shielded denim, the blond energetic, ecstatic, how could you, joyous
They're together, the rapture

A sight so wondrous
Watching, stunned, enthralled
To dream, to touch, then...

Bright red, thin black, shining flowery silk, the black responding, enthusiastic, so amazing, brilliant
They're together, the rapture

Beautiful vision
Watching, staring, mesmerised
To dream, to touch, then...

Friday, 7 October 2011


Looking out, hidden:

The final flourish,
Late summer sunshine fading.
Wind, gusty, colder.

The old oak, sways, majestic.

The sky greying; light rain.
Reflected off window tops,
Pink distant sunshine.

Leafs near cascading.