Tag Archives: catholic

Thinking isn’t Always the Answer

The old chap used to be a great reader of the small ads at the back of magazines, until the print got so small he couldn’t read them anymore.

One of them in a farming magazine caused him to whistle and read it out loud. “What a rip-off”, he exclaimed as he read out: “ Someone to look after our small farmlet for six weeks – three children, two dogs, three cats, a pig, five goats, two guinea pigs and eight hens. “ They’ll be lucky” he scoffed.

My response was “ Fancy getting a stranger to look after your children.”

Until that moment, I had thought we thought alike. But this was a eureka moment, when I realised that everyone looks at everything from their own perspective and experience. And we ‘re also influenced by the thoughts of others, and then they get another twist as they go through our lens of perception.

I had a discussion with a fundamental Christian the other day, who felt that only people who had a relationship with Jesus would be ‘saved’. I supposed this meant that they were the only people who were going to escape hell. Everyone else is doomed. I protested that if God was a loving God, why would he want to make most of his creation miserable, but I only got chapter and verse back from the Bible, (and the veracity of the Gospels, the first of which was written ninety years after Jesus’s death, is another story).

Dipak Chopra has discussed people’s perception of God, which goes through different stages as they change and deepen their spiritual life. The most basic beliefs  are those of a punishing judgemental father, he suggests, but as people  move deeper into their spiritual understandings, they do actually reach a point where God is indeed loving and inclusive, rather than excluding.

It’s always amazed me that though people believe in God all over the world, unless they use the same word for God as us, they are not OK. So Christians call the Creator God, Muslims call Him Allah, Jews call Him Jehovah, American Indians call Him Great Spirit. And according to some fundamental religious beliefs, if people don’t speak English, and therefore call God by a different name, they are heathen. Similarly many Muslims who call God Allah believe that people who speak another language and personify Him with the name of God, are infidels – unbelievers.

And then there are the divisions among Christians, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, while the Muslims are split down the middle between Sunni’s and Shia’s and then sects within those groupings.

The same stuff goes on with politics – sometimes religion and politics are intertwined). One set of people have one set of beliefs and others think differently. That would be okay, but we judge people who think differently from us, and fear  and condemn them.

One of the basic differences between the East and the West according to Erich Fromm, philosopher and psychologist, is that the Christian ethic is based on what we think, while the eastern ethic is based on what we do. (I think he was thinking of Buddhism)

If we didn’t think the right way, in the past, it has meant burning, and torture and outlawry… it was very dangerous to think differently, no matter how virtuous your life. I don’t think there is a similar history in the east of being killed because of how you think. And yet we still have conflict between Muslims and Hindus and other religions.

Queen Elizabeth the First refused to go along with the hostility between Catholics, Protestants, Puritans and others, saying she didn’t want a window into men’s souls. She was right, our souls are our own business. Our actions are what matter, even if they are reduced to the lowest common denominator of the Golden Rule.

‘Do unto others as you would do unto yourself’, is a dictum which sounds a little like self interest. The other injunction,’ love your neighbour as yourself’, has  a deeper resonance… if it means what it says, it means we love ourselves, no ifs or buts, no inner jabs and put-downs: “ you shouldn’t have said that, you should do this, you ought to , you didn’t “…

I love the words from Rose Macaulay’s Towers of Trebizond: ‘One mustn’t lose sight of the hard core, which is do this, do that, love your friends and like your neighbours, be just, be extravagantly generous, be honest, be tolerant, have courage, have compassion, use your wits and your imagination, understand the world you live in and be on terms with it, don’t dramatize and dream and escape…’

Later she writes; ‘Life, for all its agonies of despair and loss and guilt, is exciting and beautiful, amusing and artful and endearing, full of liking and of love, at times a poem and a high adventure, at all times noble and at times very gay; and whatever ( if anything) is to come after it, we shall not have this life again.’

Yes, life is to revel in – no ifs or buts or second thoughts!

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Needing something to cleanse the system after all the rich foods we’ve been eating over the holiday period, I went to this drink at the back of my recipe book. The blueberry has lots going for it, including a function of cleaning up damaged proteins which can reduce the brain’s efficiency by interfering with the sending of nerve signals. This amount is enough for six.

Tip into the blender, 125 gms of fresh blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries with 400ml of cranberry juice. Add two cups of de-seeded and cubed watermelon, blend until smooth, and drink at once. I sometimes use frozen fruit, and also vary the berries, blueberries being the constant.

Food for Thought

I don’t know where I found this, but it always makes me giggle… some twitchers-as birdwatchers are known – travel all over the world to complete the list of birds they want to see, and establish records for having seen the most birds…the most famous is in his nineties, with the longest list completed!

*Epitaph for a hurricane-chasing birder (not original):
Here he lies
A little wet
But he got
His lifelist met.

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Awards Are Awesome…And…

I have mixed feelings about all awards, not just bloggers awards.,

We’ve just had the New Year Queen’s Honours list announced in this country, and as usual the people who’ve had successful careers – many of them having made pots of money – have had the top honours and titles. At the bottom of the list were the people who deserved the top awards – people who’d loved and fostered 150 children, someone who’d worked teaching oldies how to keep fit for 57 years, a solitary SPCA worker, who’d rescued countless animals…

When it comes to bloggers awards my feelings are mixed too… not, I hasten to say, because the wrong people get them! But when I was ten my father sent me to a convent school. The nuns were mostly French and Belgian, but the bane of my life was not a nun, but a bigoted Irish maths teacher – the only person there who was not a nun.

She made up for it by being far more religious than the rest of them put together, so that even in the middle of long division she’d stop us all to stand up and recite the Angelus. Everyone loved it, because we stopped doing maths for about five minutes!

I had three strikes against me as far as she was concerned. I was hopeless at maths. I wasn’t a Catholic  – and secretly refused to pray as she instructed,  for my non-Catholic parents – I just didn’t believe they were going to end up in hell and pits of flame.

The third strike and final nail in my coffin came in the middle of a maths lesson when I became so angry at hearing history being twisted, and how beastly we Protestants had been to the “puir” Catholics like Guy Fawkes who’d tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and other famous plotters, that I rebelled.

I stood up to answer back with Bloody Mary’s burnings, the Borgia Pope’s poisonings and the Spanish Inquisition’s torturing and burning. (Thanks to my grandmother’s book shelves I had all the information at my finger-tips.)

I got no further than the Inquisition, because she clapped her hands against her ears and cried out in her thick Irish brogue to the rest of the class: “Oh what a pack of Protestant lies!”

No-one spoke to me for a long time after that. The worst thing was the regular and ritual public humiliation of being picked for teams of rounders and netball. The nuns would choose two girls to pick their teams. One by one the team leaders pointed to their best friends, their next best friends, the people who weren’t any good at games, and finally I was left – to tag onto one or other team. Always last to be chosen – if you could call it that – the most unpopular girl in the class.

This preamble is actually about Awards!

I was bowled over by the generosity of Stephanie at http://kokopellibeefreeblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/acknowledging-the-acknowledgement/ and oawritingspoemspaintings   who each gave me an award on my first day back at the office – I mean blogging! I love reading about people’s awards, and learning things about them, and reading the blogs that they nominate.

I totally get what a great idea it is, what a gift it feels to those who receive the awards, and what a gift too to the blogging world, as we are given the opportunity to explore new blogs we otherwise wouldn’t have come across.

Like everyone else, I’m always tickled pink when someone thinks of me too, and it’s always rather moving to read what others have to say about one’s blogs. The generous recognition from fellow writers, and from what feels like family is very precious.

But when it comes to dealing with awards, my heart sinks, and I feel overwhelmed. I’m so kack-handed that my computer skills are zilch, and I simply can’t work out how to deal with the technical side of it all.

But the real nub of the matter, is that I flinch from trying to pick just a handful of deserving blogs from all the lovely blogs I read. I hate to think of people feeling they’ve been left out of the netball team, or left at the end of the queue… whenever I give a child a birthday present I give all the other children a present too.

I know we’re all adults, and presumably well-adjusted, integrated ones! But I simply don’t want to choose between blogs – some of which I read for their spiritual content and profundity, some for their humour and wit, some to live vicariously and savour life on the farm, or in the country, or exploring churches, or growing and cooking food, some for their glorious photography, or poetry, some for their quirkiness, intelligence or thoughtfulness, others for information I’d hate to miss, and others to share their insights, challenges and be awed by their courage.

Some I follow just because the personality of the writers is so gentle, good and sincere, that the world feels a better place for knowing that they exist. Each blog has its own perfume, and each one is so unique. In fact, I love you all!

So since I don’t want to fulfil the conditions of the awards, it’s not fair to accept them either.  So I must say thank you, but no thank you, for all the reasons above.

And as I step back from the awards, I want to thank the many generous and wonderful bloggers who have gifted me not just with awards, but with kindness and friendship and encouragement… if I start to name you, I will be doing what I dread, I might leave someone out! So congratulations to you all, my wonderful blogging family, and a happy new year of living, writing and blogging!

PS  There was a sequel to the story of the maths mistress. Thirteen years later, feeling like the cat’s whiskers in my expensive fitted green uniform, high heeled court shoes, and painted nails, fresh from London, I sashayed into the first school I’d been invited to speak at in my new job  on the Army Team of Lecturers. It was in remote country, and I was puzzled, because the children didn’t seem to be the right age group, and it was a shabby, run-down rather sad place. I wondered why I’d been invited.

The head mistress who greeted me and my film operator was a faded, vulnerable, and anxious middle-aged woman with an Irish brogue. I suddenly realised it was my old adversary, Miss Cummins. Intriguing as the coincidence seemed, I refrained from recognising her, and reminding her of her glory days in the upmarket school where we’d first met. The reversal in our fortunes seemed too painful to gloat over. I discovered that revenge was not sweet at all.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

I know it’s politically incorrect to dislike lettuce, but so it is for me. I don’t mind iceberg lettuce, love cos lettuce in Caesar salad, but arugula and all the fancy fashionable green leaves leave me cold. Unfortunately arugula has 70 per cent more calcium than iceberg, 50 per cent more magnesium, 40 percent more beta-carotene and sixty per cent more vitamin C. And since I have a generous neighbour who gives me the overflow of arugula from her garden, I feel I should accept fresh organic nutritious food, and behave myself!

I’ve now found a way of enjoying it. After reading that soup is the most efficient way of absorbing nutrients, I’ve created what I call green soup. Take one chopped onion sauted in butter, or leave it out and just use a leek, plus a stick of celery, some broccoli if you have it, and a potato for thickening purposes – all chopped.

Gently fry them in butter or oil. Then add some chicken stock and simmer until soft. Wash and tear the lettuce leaves, and put this with plenty of parsley and celery leaves into the blender with a cup of milk. Whizz till they’re blended, then pour this bright green mix into the soup, whizz the whole lot, and re-heat. (I don’t use parsley stalks as they can taste bitter.)

Season with salt and pepper. I usually add nutmeg, and sometimes a taste of sugar makes a difference, especially if there’s lots of lettuce. I add and leave out all sorts of different green vegetables, including asparagus. It always tastes fresh and delicious, served hot or cold. Sometimes there’s more celery in it, sometimes more leeks, sometimes plenty of broccoli – they all work. This is more than enough for two.

Food for Thought

The final piece of reaching for authentic power is releasing your own to a higher form of wisdom.                                                                                                                                 Gary Zukav,  born 1942.  Author of ‘Dancing Wu Li Masters’ and ‘The Seat of The Soul’. Popular and regular guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

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