Monthly Archives: April 2020

Love Warrior Speaks Out against enforced testing, tracing and treatment

I am deeply, deeply concerned about proposals for conditions of lifting of the lockdown – which many of us feared far more than the virus.

I’ve heard it said that the priority is saving lives – but it should be to protect life, a meaningful one with full human rights. The handling so far and proposals erode our basic freedoms and wellbeing.

Community testing can easily be community tyranny – such as army administered drive through tests (which trap us), or admission otherwise barred if we don’t comply.

We also show our deep discomfort about contact-tracing apps on our phones, and how the information is mis/used. Those we contact do not opt in and we fear for arbitary arrests and containment, and of targeting specific groups of people deemed to be a threat.

We have also long been concerned about vaccinations and other enforced treatments, such as what happens to us if we refuse or appear to test positive.

This gives the state, police, and army powers, takes away ours, and gives the government samples of us and allows it to know who we know.

We query what the tests actually show, what they really do, and what is really happening.

Whistleblowers have come forward in security and science. I heard the words of doctors asked to cook figures; experts in the field who say that the lockdown has weakened our immunity and prolonged the time needed for the virus to stop; who query the level of contagion and type of contact needed to be infected; that projected figures are exaggerated and that tests and vaccinations are not necessary nor effective, and often harmful; and as well as the fear many are living in, that health issues are caused by unhealthy substances in our environment, especially wi-fi. Some of those coming forward include Rashid Battar, Derek Henry, Wolfgang Wodarg, Scott Jensen, Knut Wittkowski, and some of these can be seen on the OpenHand website.

These links to YouTube and social media often suspiciously disappear.

All the official remedies have assumed face value and allopathic models, as well as total state control.

Many health professionals are saying that naturally building our immune system whilst avoiding the unnatural substances in our world, like fluoride, chemicals, coating of pans and tins, smart devices, and 5G, as well as restoring calm, balance, and at least some freedom (especially to be outside, with others than just our household) would better ways to combat the disease.

We ask that 5G does not come and for extra care about what is being sent through out airwaves. Some can already feel and hear strange things…

We ask that this is not a time for bullying or division (I know people whose benefits have been refused or threatened during lockdown!), not a time of telling on our neighbours or setting our own against us.

We ask that this city and country leads (whereever you are) by imposing no enforcement, roadblocks, uninvited home visits, or incarceration; and instead looks to why this virus is here and what we can learn from it.

[On Sunday afternoon, I’ll have a sermon to share]

Leave a comment

Filed under medicine and health, society

St George – do we like him, or not?

I was almost thirty before I knew when my nation’s patron saint’s day was. I discovered it by accident by visiting a cathedral on this date = 23rd April.

 

George – who took over from St Edmund as England’s mascot – is less well known and celebrated here than our Celtic neighbours’ saints. Pubs in England will promote St David, St Andrew, and St Patrick’s days, but in school I was never asked to make a St George’s day thing; never attended a party for him as child nor adult. I’ve not seen the St George flag – a white background with a red cross – hanging out on this day, any year.

 

In Britain, we don’t use our national flag that much, unless there’s a royal occasion. They appeared at the most recent royal weddings, for which we all got a holiday; for the Queen’s landmark milestones, and on her palaces.

 

The just-for-us English Georgian one is seen in one of three contexts: six nations rugby, the football world cup; or by nationalists such as the English Defence League who march occasionally, proclaiming messages that most of us consider dangerous, for they are unwelcoming of other nationalities which live among us. Hence, there is concern and derision for this use of the flag and perhaps why, when it’s not an international sporting fixture, that we don’t display them. Note that whereas it’s considered a sign of national pride for our Celtic neighbours to get their flags out, it’s been noted that in England, we must have the pan-island Union Jack (which has the Georgian cross in it, combining England and Scotland’s flags but not Wales). Perhaps this point is why people like EDL do attract a following.

 

There is a fourth place that we might encounter St George – in churches. He’s not that common as a dedication for parish churches, unlike Mary, Paul, Peter, Andrew, Trinity.

He’s not found by fishing ports, like Nicholas, nor town gates like Botolph and Giles; not popular in a region in which he lived like Cuthbert or Edmund (in Northumbria and East Anglia respectively).

 

In English cities of multiple medieval parish churches, only Norwich has any Georges (2 out of 31); none of London’s 39, York’s 19, Bristol’s 14, Cambridge’s 15, Ipswich’s 12 (I’m allowing ruins and chapels as well here)… not in any of our other cathedral cities or county towns… save Canterbury, whose George in the high street (1 of 12) was obliterated in the last war.

 

Even checking the lost churches of these cities, which sometimes doubles the amount of dedications, I found only one George, ever, in London (in Botolph Lane) out of c100 parish churches in the old city; and nor could I swiftly think of any just outside it. None other of Norwich’s total 63 medieval dedications, nor any of its monasteries, were to St George. There’s one at Stamford (Lincs)… but not many in England, and I can only think of them in towns, not rurally.

The most famous English church dedicated to George is the chapel at Windsor castle. This vast perpendicular space is at the heart of the country’s largest castle and one of the places we most associate with our monarch, now and historically. It is from here that knighthoods are dispensed, in the order of this patron saint, which involves garters – yes those sort!

 

George lived in the 3-4th centuries, thus before English parish churches were conceived; rededication is possible. So it is significant that someone who became and stayed our patron and who died 1700 years ago, whose Order is 700 years old, has few churches to his name.

 

I noted that from Georgian times, George does appear in new churches, and not just Anglican ones. A Unitarian in Exeter, a German Lutheran church in the city of London, bear the name George, when saints and people’s names are unusual as part of these denominations’ titles.

 

In Bristol, England’s then second city, there’s a regency St George near the centre (and an area to the east); there’s a contemporary one in Brighton’s Kemptown (a town created by a George); a late 19th C monster in Jesmond, Newcastle – home of the Geordies; and there are three in Edinburgh’s new town (18th and 19th C), a building venture dedicated to King George. Glasgow has a 19th C George in the Fields and its original sibling, a more central late Georgian George, which like in Edinburgh, has its own square – a royalist, unionist statement. There’s an 18th C George at Great Yarmouth, home of Nelson’s naval hospital and column.

Georgian churches – from the era – are traditionally English; solemn, quiet, not given to fuss; upright pews for stiff sitting, lips and values; orderly; places for mayor’s swords to rest in public ceremonies celebrating status; cerebral, but not given to displays of public affection, or the indulgent colourings in of our Victorian or Catholic, ahem, neighbours…

There’s a couple more Catholic churches dedicated to St George – such as Southwark’s RC cathedral and again in Norwich – not centrally. These are later 19th C dedications.

 

I note that George is not a British monarch’s name until the German house of Hanover takes over the throne; and that four kings are named George in a row; and then George returned last century to make an Edward sandwich (our first king, who built the palace that became ‘mother of all parliaments’) when we were being very imperial and class and might driven. And it’s a George who instigated a cross for military bravery in the last war. Hmm…

————

 

I was feeling uncomfortable about George the dragon slayer and this sort of Englishness.

 

I wasn’t sure about the dragon, who is the symbol of our neighbour, Wales. Note that name means ‘foreigner’ (a name given by the English to those whose self moniker means ‘fellow countrymen’) and this dragon seems to be about squashing threats of those that are different or other. I note too that dragons are important symbols to China and elsewhere.

 

I was further appalled to check the official St George website, royally appointed, who is trying to promote this under proclaimed saint, and their version of the dragon myth:

 

Pagans placate a sleeping dragon (well, let it sleep then!) with an unwitting sheep in order to get their essential supplies; and when sheep run out, they turn to the women. If the princess hadn’t drawn the lot to be dragon fodder – no doubt a good looking one – would St George have turned up to rescue her? On a white horse!! And killed the blessed thing (NOT on his horse) so that the villagers could get the water that the dragon nested by. (Was there no other water source? No reasoning and negotiation? No befriending the dragon?) Oh, and this feat naturally got the wayward barbarian Pagans turning to Jesus (well, the religion named after him) since the dragon slayer was of course already a convert…

 

So blonde, tall (Aryan) George, in his pennant shield with traditional armour on the horse (supposedly female fantasies), is usually depicted killing some poor alien beastie below him (not even what the story says), looking ugly and in agony. Supposedly too the picture of chivalry, and symbol of crusaders (more attacking foreigners and ‘dragons’ in the name of Christianity)…

 

Then I read a little more about Georgie not Porgie and felt a little more comforted.

 

One – EDL fascists – he’s not even English! (He’s from Turkey and lived in Persia, a part of the world you’re often harsh about). Ironic for crusaders then…

I bet we don’t even say his name right here.

 

But – I began to like his story and feel he is especially appropriate. Converted to Christianity, swift riser in the Roman army… still bored and cynical (when’s the dragon coming?). Well, the real dragon of George’s life was his emperor, Diocletian, who persecuted Christians in times of unrest and who were standing up to his harsh regime.

Then there was a supposed plot against Diocletian’s #2 by Christians – note there had to be reasonable reason – and so churches were shut (ringing any bells?) and scriptures burned; citizenship, if not life, would be forfeited for those found foul of the Emperor’s decree.

George wouldn’t do the worst that he was asked to by his paymaster, and in fact, he took down some Roman posters. But his paymaster was in the city, and George knew he was about to be cooked goose… Indeed, despite his brave and reasoned arguments, and his former favour, Diocletian put him to death for refusing to renounce his faith.

I’m now suspicious about that as a reason for martyrdom… rival Edmund claimed that too.

But… regardless of whether my facetious retelling (based still on the royal St George website) is true, it’s interesting that this is what the official fans purport and this is what the Catholic church canonised him for.

Not only courage, but compassion. Not for mass conversion, military might or beastie brutality, but for refusal to comply with unjust orders, to order his 1,000 men to bully citizens, and to renounce his faith and principles. George was willing to also disobey the scriptural mandate (did it yet say this, or was that later king’s scribes?) to obey earthly authority, but George must have felt that as this clashed with what he felt God was asking of him and what he lived by, that he must follow his God and his conscience. And he even told the Emperor off for his unjust rule.

Now I’m impressed.

Maybe this George is worth giving attention to afterall.

I hear that he has long been revered, not just here, but in many parts of the world.

May we and would-be Diocletians continue to remember him.

Leave a comment

Filed under society, spirituality

Tough Love isn’t love, it’s nannying

This might be a snaky logic one – a whole slither of snakes with tails in their mouths…

I did an internet search on the phrase ‘tough love’ and there were many results, from parenting and recovery (where it has its source) to foreign policy, health and government, to relationships.

None were from sources I particularly esteem.

“Tough love is no love at all” and its synonyms also rendered results in all the same spheres. There were many addiction recovery advocates who were firmly against, as well as those working/with depression and dementia who described the greater suffering this stance causes.

The first site in the latter category I found is no longer there, or I would like to have named the author and linked to it with her permission. She was hugely honest and said that she realised that the tough love she dealt in her relationships wasn’t love, but her pain, fear, her need to be right; and what she’d considered ferocity of love was really insecurity, arrogance and self righteousness.

Once she realised that real love isn’t tough, but gentle, she transformed her fractured relations.

And I thought: this woman is spot on.

Tough love is a lower energy response. It is what transactional analysists would call parent/child mode. I…your mum, teacher, ruler, boss, doctor, priest, law maker/enforcer know better than you.

And as your friend, sibling, partner, counsellor, I also assume a role of power over you. The playing field is tipped, and you’re slipping to the bottom end. You’ll fall off unless you do what I tell you to. I, with my greater experience, training, qualification (do you have that, really?) and the position I’ve been given (by you?), have rights to do this.

I explored a judge’s right to have power to enforce medical treatment – which I think should be zero – and this is pertinent as we face this multicountry viral problem. I’ve been researching vaccination, aware that what we may assume is a must and is safe and good for us may be something quite else. It is another example of the state’s power over us, taking sovereignty of our own choice and bodies away from ourselves to a ruling class that many of us didn’t meaningfully choose. I’ll have future examinations of the necessity, type and role of the state…

The Nanny State answer is the assumption that they – leaders and scientists and doctors – know better than I what is good for me, and then the really manipulative one: you (or your kiddie) will harm me (or my kiddie) if you don’t have this vaccination. Thus I’m going to need to make you to somehow, by fines, exclusion, or injection by force. You know the last of those is rape?!

Nanny States aren’t, for me, the ones that ban public smoking but those that have sin taxes – such as on sugar, which I’m not convinced is the evil made out to be (I’m far more worried about the unnatural substances in our homes) – and attempt to stop eating on public transport; those with laws about age restrictions, wearing helmets, and yes, whether we have to have particular tests and treatments… in short, narrowing our choices from how you cross the road to what shots (of any kind) we have. I note that there’s inconsistency: compare the UK and the Netherlands: one bans cannabis and prescribes motorcycle helmets; the other bans jaywalking and prescribes ID carrying.

But like all these others, nannying comes from not only arrogance but fear. It says – I dare not give you choice because I don’t trust you; or what I really mean is that my power over you might be diminished if I gave you choice, and you might not choose me or do what I say, and then, I’ll have no confidence. I don’t really have much in you, or in the possibility of other possibilities.

It might say: I feel responsible, or perhaps, more truly: someone else will hold me responsible and I can’t handle the guilt (or bad stats or telling off) I’ll get if I don’t intervene.

Nannying leads to tough love, for it says – you must do this my way, or there are repercussions. On even an interpersonal level, it’s often about punitive measures or exclusions, perhaps hoping that it makes the recalcitrant return to prescribed behaviours. Of course, there’s a chance of harming them and your relationship irrevocably.

The prescriber, the nanny, the tough lover isn’t prepared to see that their idea of right, truth, best practice and what this person (or people) need isn’t necessarily what they think; and that their way of getting it might be closer to a grown up tantrum than anything we might seriously call policy. I will arrest you, fine you, turf you out, not speak to you, stop your money, invade you, watch you, drag you to where I think you should be…

Often, this is into a system which in itself needs scrutiny. I’m alarmed that homeless people as well as those on benefits and deemed to be addicted or ‘a danger to themselves’ are told: this is what you need to do to get our help – you may not have asked for it. They often have to sign a non negotiated agreement. And there’s often ‘loved ones’ who push towards these systems.

Such systems themselves need tough love.

As this time will show us more than ever, there’s not one way to do things, and the way that we’re used to doing them may not be shown to be a valid one. There’s subjugation of will, the normalisation of the nonconformist, the use of threats and force to gain desired outcomes – desired for those dictating and enacting it, not those on the receiving end.

Does this really come out of care? There is a fear of loss, but this is actually exacerbated by tough love behaviour rather than alleviated. If you’re ill, and someone tells you that you must undertake prescribed procedures in order for them to continue with you, you not only risk them not continuing with you but in not continuing – for such a response jeopardises recovery. And what you enjoin might actually have a deleterious affect. You don’t know everything about another person and we are all so diverse. That’s why I’m a passionate advocate against one size fits all solutions and systems, to this virus and to what we build after it.

There is healing which harms,

remedy which ruins

imperatives impair

Real love gives freedom and agency and respects choice and differentiation

Love is gentle, not harsh; it sees people as equals to cherish, not inferiors to instruct

Love doesn’t have requirements, especially not self serving ones

Tough love is no love at all, but need

Well, the snake has been more singular and straight than I expected, but we need to keep mindful of serpents, and keep being wise and asking questions…

Leave a comment

Filed under medicine and health, relationships, society

Easter 2020 sermon

‘Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and others came to the tomb while it was still dark’ and every year for over twenty years, I have risen at daybreak – not a natural act for me – and gone outside to a special place to commemorate those women’s silent bravery and the first hope of Easter. This year I am on hill overlooking my city.

Usually, I replay my 7 Sayings compositions for Good Friday and add my Easter Day piece, and then later join with other Christians. But of course, I can’t attend worship with others this year – and it seems incredible that churches have been told not to open on their most holy day, the fulcrum of our faith.

This year, more than ever, I felt the need to speak about the meaning of Easter, and this year it will be physically, visibly felt. We are still in the tomb, for most of us round the world can’t meet to celebrate this feast, but we can prepare for the bursting forth in subversive victory by planning for it in our collective cocoon, doing the inner work until the outer can physically manifest.

I’m proud that there are Particular Baptists and Priestesses listening to this, and I’m glad to have brought you together, for this is a common purpose that we need to work towards.

Whether we recognise the phrase, we are all Lightworkers, here to usher in a new kingdom.

God has especially intervened in his – or her – relationship with humans three times: when he first made us; when he sent Jesus; and…now. The New Age isn’t a ducky hippy fantasy – it is here. I believe there are three covenants that God made with us: one with a particular people, although I think God has always been broader than that; and then he opened to the door to the Gentiles in the new testament, so that inclusion was through belief in Jesus… and now I think God is saying: open the door.

Perhaps the Particulars will particularly flinch at the suggestion, or I think assertion, that there is but one God; and whatever we call Her, that we are using different dialling codes to the same exchange.

I have come to understand that God’s essence isn’t judgement and exclusion. His prime attribute isn’t holiness, or even power… it’s love, Love with a capital L. And today we don’t proclaim good news because you have to accept serious bad news first. It’s not – believe or else; feel guilty and let that dictate your acceptance of God’s gift with not just strings attached, but thick cords. That cannot be grace – or a healthy relationship.

Today, the temple curtain in our sadly empty churches is rent in two: God isn’t held in the Holy of Holies for priests – or priestesses – alone. She’s not even in buildings, beautiful as they often are, which can be shows of strength and privilege, and doors that can exclude as well as give sanctuary. God is out in the world, within our walls and yet beyond them.

And God is birthing, through us, not 5G – the next level of technological connectivity, which very much concerns me – but 5D, the 5th dimension. For me, higher D is about living in a consciously soulful place, seeing one’s story arc from an authorial point of view, more and more in tune with what SARK calls “your inner wise self”, or Spirit, and not what traditional Christians would call ‘worldly values.’ It is a greater focus on the unseen and immeasurable.

Events over the last year have started to push me out of the 3D world, the ‘lower energies’ as those card carriers of the woo woo community (like me) would say. I’ve discovered that even having a lifelong faith doesn’t mean you’re always living at a higher level, just as those who don’t consciously have a faith, especially not my faith, can walk a higher path.

I believe, with many others, that this is the time when our old structures will fall, to be replaced by ones which are rooted in different values.

I was asking myself what I would do if I was tasked with responding to the virus. And my first thought was: breathe, then pray. I don’t know how many world leaders did that, but it’s something we’re not encouraged to talk about. We’re also not expected to talk about feelings, especially not love, in politics or business or education or health. We disregard the nonquantitive, non empirical, the non corporeal. And I think this is where we have gone wrong.

I was first drawn to the Green Party – of which I now consider myself ‘a candid friend’ – because the first policy document of theirs I read 10 years ago hinted at spirituality, and it also began by asserting the equality and value of all living things.

We’re so used to systems where not everyone matters and not everyone wins. We are run by wanting money in one way or the other, by what we own and who owns us.

This time has brought up the issue of personal sovereignty versus the executive powers of the state – even to close the churches on this most holy holiday. Although it is largely voluntarily to stop the spread of the virus, I am mindful that there are times when churches have been closed on government orders purely because they were disapproved of. I am not advocating selfishness and lack of responsibility, but I vociferously believe in our own agency especially over our own bodies, homes, and the healthcare we choose, and our right to worship, our right to think for ourselves, and I do advocate doubting until personally satisfied.

I think it’s vital that we remain aware and that what emerges out of this cocoon time is not a new normal where we no longer meet in person, mingle in groups or crowds, that everything we do is electronic which can be traced, with even greater reliance on technologies that are harmful to our health; that we remain compliant out of fear, and even begin to fear each other.

I want there to be an openness to ancient ways as well as new, to diversity and divergence. I’m reminded of that film and book trilogy by Veronica Roth about a dystopian post traumatic city which is divided into factions, according to personal traits. The leaders are desperate to keep everyone in their factions, and despise and fear those who live outside the neat systems put in place by the city fathers. But – plot spoiler alert – our heroine, who is one of the dreaded Divergents who don’t fit, discovers that the city fathers designed this system so that society matured when it realised that Divergents were the key, not the enemy.

Those who didn’t fit the system didn’t threaten it, they completed it.

I think this is a lesson our world needs, for it is in the throes of hoiking out our divergents for fear of the new world that they especially might midwife. But we need to celebrate those we formerly thought of as aberrations, not fix and suppress them.

In traditional Easter theology, this is a time for overcoming the Enemy, and this year, more than ever, it’s a time to remember that our God has overcome death, fear, illness, and evil.

In Tom Robbins’ novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, he says that the enemy is not all the ‘others’ – other nations and ethnicities, the other sex, the other class, the other sexualities, the other faiths, and whatever else we may divide ourselves into and want to blame and set ourselves against. He says ‘the enemy is the tyranny of the dull mind’.

Philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote of ‘the banality of evil’ – that the ultimate darkness is not often charismatic or potent, but simply dull conformity. For her, it was the inability to think which made the execution of evil possible. And I would argue, to feel…. Outrage at injustice, but also love, a love that can’t allow injustice but that can still love those who do it, and have so much love that it pulls perpetrators out of their actions into wholeness, out of our own dullness into awareness.

I began by mentioning Mary Magdalene – and I’m almost done. Mary has become more and more important to me over the years, especially when I began embracing the Priestess path along side the Christian one. Elayne Kalila Doughty calls the priestess path ‘the vow to walk as love’. I have taken that, and realise I can live that without a dog collar or a torque.

I’ve learned, or am learning, that the telos of love is to love without needing a response; that love can take many forms, and at this time of ascension, that we are especially called to expand our expressions of love beyond the factions laid out for us by old paradigms – for perhaps those who laid them out also had the notion that the ultimate maturity was when we learned to live beyond them. Much of our love, like our law, is possessive, exclusive, right and wrong, win and lose; it requires permission, it has territories, it’s proprietary.

I believe that today we celebrate the rising of the One who burst all that. I think his relationship with Mary Magdalene was one that defied categories. Jesus isn’t to me just the Christ Conscious one; for me, he is God, who rose in physical form, and what he embodied and taught is something we can share in, as Mary did – for she best understood him and preached his message. I see her as a special messenger, perhaps being to the Trinity what the RAC claimed to be to the emergency services. (Yes I did just say that the Trinity is a 4 leaf clover).

I’ve been watching Xena: Warrior Princess. I see myself as Warrior Priestess. Xena and her companion Gabrielle – whose love also defies categorisation – commit to following the Way of love and light, overcoming darkness in the world and themselves. They knowingly go to their crucifixon, followed by an incredible act of love and forgiveness, transformation and resurrection – just as we remember at Easter. I’m more convinced than ever that death is not the end and that and Love goes on, not just for Jesus, but all of us.

The Easter sermon that I best remember is from Durham Cathedral in 2005: that when Mary asked Jesus if he was the gardener, she was kind of right. Jesus is making a new creation and asking us to be part of landscaping, planting, weeding, watering and hoeing… for soon we shall be picking. I know I’ve barely quoted the Bible – and I enjoy biblical exposition – but I’m seeing that we’re called now to a faith beyond just the Book, beyond the words we call God. So as we awaken this Easter Day 2020, let us awaken in all senses, and have clear vision, and courage to love, to be the change in the world we seek, and with Jesus and Mary, be bringers of a new age.

Listen at https://yourlisten.com/BetweenTheStools/easter-2020-with-music and https://artradio.tv/elspeth-rushbrook (yes this site is safe but a warning comes up if you click this link direct from WordPress)

Leave a comment

Filed under medicine and health, society, spirituality

7 Sayings – new music and words for Good Friday

Between The Stools launches here

This year we remember that not only will Sunday come for us in all senses, but that it has already come

Here are links to the service. Imagine me on a hill overlooking a city….

https://www.artradio.tv/elspeth-rushbrook/ 

It’s the audio (headphones symbol) under Artwork called 7 Sayings, also on the site’s home page – there is sometimes a security warning but I believe the site is safe (it is better when not accessed direct from this page)

or http://yourlisten.com/BetweenTheStools/7-sayings-2020

Easter image

(Any tech issues please email the above. There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over these…!!)

There’ll be another link early on Sunday morning

 

Leave a comment

Filed under spirituality

Holy Week 2020: it’s table turning time

Last year, I wrote about Table Turning Tuesday and I’d like to expand on that this year.

I said, I’d like to see those doves (from the Temple) scattered.

This is the year for scattering the doves, the year we can’t go to temple or church, most of us.

This is the year for examining those practices of ‘temple’, whatever that would be in any of our lives and cultures, examining those pillars to see if they still stand up and what it is they’re holding.

There’s nothing like a pause, having to close doors, to make you think about the practices we have, what’s held within and without those structures.

 

Here are some things I do not want to come out of the lockdown period:

-Greater state control and watching

-Greater police powers

-Greater reliance on and misuse of technologies (drones, tracking, facial recognition/biometrics are all misuses)

-Abolition or discouragement of physical money because cash is easier to budget, easier to help neighbours at this time, anonymous, and I’d like to see a return to the principle of Gold Standard so that you have physical monetary value, not hypothetical economy which creates more crises

-Less agency over our own bodies and choices

-Thoughtlessness for neighbours: as hotter weather and a bank holiday weekend looms, inflicting the smell from braziers and barbecues, throbbing bass lines and power tools or loud conversations isn’t fair, especially if those around you can’t get out, and are trying to work or are ill. This feels especially harsh this Holy Week for those unable to go out to worship

 

What I do want to see come out of this virus:

-Citizen’s Income – an unconditional support for each individual

-Abolition of all unnecessary fees, from late library loans to tax returns

-Abolition of debt collection and bailiffs – there is ALWAYS another way

-Abolition of cutting off utilities and more reasonable pricing…are these resources really something to have harnessed and sold back to us?

-Rethink of rent and mortgages, which are too high

-A shift in medicine from biology alone to energy

-Rethinking government and education and many of our practices

-Caring for those in our community, including in unofficial ways

-The enjoyment of stillness and the environment (built and green); the pleasures of walking

-Creative ways to be together, and a new joy in doing so when we can again

-A greater emphasis on spirituality

I’ll be back on Friday evening 7.17 GMT with my 7 Sayings service, and again on Sunday morning

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under society, spirituality

Thoughts on how le virus is being handled

I’ve been doing much and varied research from pandemics to papers to polemics to priestesses…

It’s not that I wish to play down those who are suffering from Covid-19 or worried about loved ones, but some numbers suggest a different perspective:

As of 17th March, according to an unsourced graphic in the Daily Mail, there were about 1500 cases in the UK and 54 deaths. There are 67m of us.

 

I don’t know if I can trust those stats (I usually don’t trust that paper), but if so, less than 0.000025 have been infected, and my calculator doesn’t know how to show how tiny the 0.067 of those dead out of those infected is in the overall population. It’s less than a millionth. In my region, 1 in c5m has died – one 5th of a millionth.

What are the overall deaths in that period, and of what? How significant are these covid deaths?

I see that the numbers have risen quickly, but then the chart is designed to show that and there’s been a sudden awareness (heightened by the media and then the closures and then testing).

On Tues 25th, the Guardian showed 8000 cases in UK – that’s still 0.0047, although it’s grown again… and now there’s figures of what the projected deaths would be if we didn’t all stay in…

I also read from multiple sources that last year’s flu season saw 26,000 deaths in this country.

I wonder if coronavirus is the only condition that sufferers have – often it’s cited that those that contract it and die have other health issues.

Countries want to seem powerful by taking action and showing that they’ve implemented a solution and to have low stats – not to be the place infamous for infection.

I wonder if high figures are used to justify harsh means.

I am wondering about the difference between testing positive and contracting the illness in a serious way, and the veracity of the claim that low to no symptom carriers do meaningfully infect others. By meaningfully, I mean that they exhibit unpleasant to dangerous symptoms.

There is a difference between infection and contagion. Is infection truly proven, or circumstantial? Is infection in fact by the power of association – such as we’re seeing through fear? I’ve been looking into why the germ has such power in our medical model, and into the work of Antoine Bechamp, Louis Pasteur’s rival, whose work was largely passed over for a more lucrative model.

Is the positive test indicative of something else than dangerous infection? Why can some people carry the illness and not show any signs?

I heard – from an unspecified personal source – that in one European country which now has police-enforced lockdown, a group of four young people breaking the curfew were picked up and all tested positive. The message: renegrades are dangerous: they are our enemies. (And ‘Stay in, or else’ as one British headline put it). But I read: this is spin. Why were they picked up rather than sent home? (And wasn’t being in a police car causing possible infection to all?) Did they have to be tested – isn’t that intrusive? And there’s a backlash against younger people. “This is the ultimate test for selfish millennials” a British newspaper that I deplore headlined an article. Younger generations might question more, rather than being selfish. I wonder what the demographic of that paper’s readership is, and if it’s boomers, then that’s the last bastion of wartime compliance…. I shall come back to this topic sometime.

That group of young men needed to be shown to be not just nonconformists – if they were safe to be out, so might the rest of us be, and the measures thus shown to be unnecessary. They had to be shown to be dangerous. All four of them tested positive?! So I’m suspicious about this story, and certainly its use in the PR campaign.

Should it be up to the government, or WHO, to impose nationwide policies and restrictions?

Isn’t this a time to involve natural health if allopathic medicine is so overstretched? I read it was used in China, very effectively.

It seems that many are voluntarily observing advice, such as self isolation, social distancing, and better sanitation, and many public places had closed before they were made to. I am very concerned when armies and police get involved, because their presence against their own people – and their training and mindset – is undemocratic.

It’s not a democracy, it’s a tyranny.

I note that the countries who’ve taken a controlling approach to lockdowns include those that have (had) dictators or been under occupation. Denmark has passed a law regarding mandatory vaccination – and it also is proud to have eradicated ‘Down’s syndrome’ babies – which is an ugly and forceful stance on ‘health’ that correlates. (‘Down’s syndrome’ people are beautiful souls of pure love, which we need more of).

The time I was proudest of those countries was when they stood against Hitler. Their leadership and armies wouldn’t comply. Ten years ago, the Greek police wouldn’t over plans for forced vaccination.

There are parallels with that time and now, and the courageous work of medical journalist Jane Burgermeister.

It’s disturbing when resources can be found to control your own in the name of public safety.

Many of us can see that this could be martial law coming in through a back door, and we wonder if it wasn’t deliberately left open. We fear each other, even loved ones, and this makes it hard to reach out and show love, especially if the net is being censored. Solidarity is built when we reach out to strangers, not when we’re afraid to touch them. We recognise too that our ministers, our police and army, as well as health care workers are all people too and that they are part of us.

Seeing each other as ‘other’ is exactly how we are able to commit abuses, even atrocities.

Seeing each other as fellows to connect and protect makes us handle events very differently.

Controlling measures shows for fearful leadership.

If countries or cities want to impress others with their leadership, they should be aware that totalitarianism doesn’t. We remember harsh regimes with a shudder. These are not times to emulate or leaders to be proud of. Their effects continued long after, and the memory remains permanently, as do the actions of individuals – such as those officers who dragged a couple from their home in China and left a disabled child to die.

Mussolini, Hitler, Henry VIII, Edward I, Bloody Mary, Franco, Hoxha, Ceausescu… we’ve heard of these and have a nifty negative opinion, even if it’s not very informed. S/he was the one that…

It’s these kinds of systems that will no longer work. Whether the virus is intentional or just has the potential to be used for control, I believe it actually can be the catalyst to break out of unjust, self-orientated institutions into better ways. I’ll have more to say on that over Easter….

So I’m not belittling the virus or the difficult job of how to deal with it, nor am I advocating breaking your country’s curfews (I neither condone nor condemn) and saying not to care about others and that the disease can’t be spread by contact; but I am questioning assumptions and models, thinking ahead on what might happen, how this situation could be misused, and I’m not assuming that there’s only one way to handle it. I will be discussing that too into my Easter message, which will appear here on Easter Sunday. There’ll be other messages during this coming Holy Week and a link to my Good Friday sundown service with my own music.

Leave a comment

Filed under medicine and health, society

Pastoral care is made to care

I’m going to tackle the subject that should be at the heart of ministry and was at the heart of my leaving the church of England. I think that lack of care is a top reason for retiring from religion, more than a disagreement over dogmas and personalities.

I’ve commented that policy comes before care in the Anglican church. We all have external pressure to conform to safeguarding standards. Of course I care about safety, but I have two points to say.

One is that the state doesn’t have power over any church or religious group. That’s very important.

The other is this over-prevalent term isn’t about safety, but conformity and avoiding blame. I’ve heard it said that being deemed too fat or thin is a safeguarding issue for school children, as is expressing potential self harming and suicidal inclination in creative writing. Hardly room for freedom of expression, and to be yourself! But then, institutions tend to fear that…

Safeguarding is a close relative of signposting. I amused myself writing about this for a short story competition recently, about being certified in the Art of Signposition. It’s like seeing someone drowning and saying, “I must refer you to this Life Buoy and the information by it. There is a Helpline Telephone provided. If you leave the water, you can use it. [I’ll stay here.]” There’s a fear that if you’re not Water Trained, you’re breaching your insurance or legal remit. You’ll hear my further thoughts what I think should happen in my Show the Love sermon.

So rather than catalogue more shocking comments from church people to me and others, I’d like to constructively say what should happen.

We might ask: do I have a duty of care to this person? Are they my remit? Wrong questions.

Beyond policy is a greater, more universal maxim: it’s decency.

Beyond canon law or the law of the land or even international law

is the Lord’s commandment: love one another.

If that is really what you believe God is and life is about, and you believe the Bible, then there’s no footnote which says: but you don’t need to if… Love isn’t easy pronouncements, dispensed like a vending machine or a tissue box. Love means you get your hands dirty.

I’ll be attacking Unconditional Love – I love you but I don’t like you – in another post.

But for now, I must start with the most obvious problem: prayer without action.

It’s like that clanging cymbal of 1 Cor 13 – empty. Prayer and action is excellent – pray for what you can’t change, and go and change what you can. Pray to be shown what you can do. If you’ve been in the ‘Church’ – perhaps any church – a while, you get lofty and use lingo. Although the woo woo amongst us (that’s me too) believe that statements are generative, it’s not comforting be told, “We hold you at the altar of our Lord, our light and our salvation.” Do that, and ask me for a coffee or offer to call me, or visit me. Do I need money or healing? Ask me that too, and be prepared to give it.

It’s particularly clangy to publicly ‘remember’ those with particular afflictions, and yet forget those under your nose with them.

Signposting might be appropriate if someone needs say, legal advice. But you might say – I know a good lawyer, or are you aware of that community legal project? Here’s the details. Signposting when the matter is care itself is more tricky. You may have something brought to you that you feel you can’t deal with on your own and is beyond your expertise. It might be wise and responsible in one way to say so, but this isn’t a gas engineer telling you need a plumber, or a General Practitioner telling you that you need referring to a hospital specialist. Note that I passionately believe that offering to phone to make an appointment and doing it without your permission are two different things, and that’s where signposting and safeguarding also go wrong.

What’s most horrific is being told by someone you’ve built a relationship of trust with says: you’re too much – go elsewhere. You trusted me to hold this, but it’s too heavy – I’m going to have to let go. You’ve had courage to tell me this, but it’s not safe with me – I’m going to have to tell someone else. I understand why the secrets of the confessional enjoyed by Catholics have been questioned because of all the abuse, but it seems unfair to destroy that secrecy, for there might be things we need to tell without fear of it being passed on.

This skirts the subject of self harm, and I’m going to say more about that another time. In fact, I’m writing another novel on it, but you can see some of my thoughts about it here. But I will say two things: firstly, take this seriously, and don’t downplay people’s pain. If you think they’re being an attention seeker, give them the attention they crave, and be prepared to believe that they might do what they say. This also applies to illness: don’t assume they’re hypochondriacs and exaggerators. They might really be that ill, or believe that they are.

Never call their bluff.

Yes, there are times you’ll need to call at funny hours and sit through the night with someone. And you really can save someone that way.

Ministers really need training in this, more than policies and what they’re not allowed to do.

I know people whom vicars have told to seek counsellors; those same people sought professional listeners for the damage that vicars did

I wonder why the counselling profession wishes to protect itself and expects ministers to state that they aren’t counsellors; and then that counsellors themselves have to defer to police and doctors, especially regarding self harm.

The licensing condition which makes it hard for counsellors and others to conceal such revelations is itself harmful. It causes more fear, less trust, and puts people in danger because they’ll be detained in the psychiatric system which is hard to leave. It is often abusive, as survivors in movements such as Mind Freedom International attest. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest is still flying with forced injections, ECT and lobotomies. So be very aware that when you contact police or mental health services about someone, this is what you’re likely sentencing them to. The system isn’t designed or run by people who understand nuance and diversity – and it’s often surmised that it’s meant to suppress rather than heal. The fact that therapists are also required to break confidentiality about confessions of terrorism and money laundering(!) says alot [sic] about what the government’s values are.

If you absolutely feel that signposting is necessary, don’t let go of them; and think about how you say it – for covering yourself legally and practising the Art of Signposition can sound like you’re dropping them, as well as legalese.

Whilst on that subject: apologies. “I’m sorry if you feel I may…” says, I take no responsibility for whatever you’ve levelled at me. I don’t recognise your grievance. It’s what companies say when they’re being titty – and trying to avoid liability. We’re Christians and human beings, trying to live authentically in love. So do better!

If someone comes to you asking for support, you are responsible for them – morally (whatever laws and codes of conducts say) and thus are accountable

 

Emails and listening

I’d like to run exercises for ministers and care teams. Read this email: circle the bits that the writer really wants you to respond to. Listen to this conversation: what’s this person really trying to tell you? Let the patter run, and you’ll hear deep wounds revealed. Learn that “I’m not too bad” might mean, I’m not too good. The last time I picked up on that, the person had cancer and other challenges. I’ve had a person tell me in the middle of jokes and impressions that their brother had died.

Some people like shorter communications; I make no apology for a long handed style (show don’t tell in fiction writing always takes more words). But there’s a fashion of efficiency which says: I’ll scoot through this long email/letter as I’m busy (never helped if it’s read on a phone) and distil my answer to a few lines. How economical I’ve been.

But you haven’t, for if you’ve not heard the person you’re replying to and have missed important points, you’ll just breed more emails or difficult conversations in the future; there can be a sense of continuing long division as things are unresolved. If the writer says it, they think it’s important, so don’t ignore issues because you don’t think they matter, or are tricky, or think it’s been addressed. Clearly it hasn’t been, so look again.

When you make a statement, it might sound really caring and spiritual to you, but be aware that it may not appear that way to the recipient, especially when it’s not accompanied by an offer. “I hope you’re well” doesn’t sit well when you could have said, “Do you have anyone to go to the hospital with you?” or “Would you like me to visit and pray with you?”

And “I hope you’re feeling better” isn’t the same as asking “How are you?” and being prepared to act if the answer is “I feel like bloody crap.”

Be aware when someone’s seeking reassurance, and doesn’t know how to directly do so from you, or tell you that they feel let down. “You’ve hurt me, where were you? Is that it?!” is quite hard to communicate, especially to clergy.

Ask after people directly, and not via 3rd parties. It hurts that someone’s only passed on a hello or sends their love… they know your phone number, don’t they? Would you let them have it if not? Third party enquiries say: I don’t really want to be involved, and so I don’t want to ask direct incase I don’t like the answer (ie I might need to actually do something), but I’ll kind of cover my conscience via a mediator. Not suffice. Also unacceptable is telling a third party and leaving it in their hands – not only does that betray confidentiality, you’re trying to wash yours of them.

And lastly – practical care. I’ll say more in my Show the Love sermon, but I’ll just end with: You can’t depart ere the service ends to attend to your oven if you’re in the ministry team. You’ve two families now. Use mealtimes as a way to connect and show care. Realise some among you can’t eat, and are fed up of dining alone. They might not be who you think…

It’s important to have resources to assist, more than new copes. Yes, even your church has poor people, or homeless people, or people suffering abuse. One vicar said her church was ‘overblessed!’ I said that she can’t really know her church.

A little sort of pithy poem to round off with:

It isn’t not adhering to safeguarding policies which put me at risk;

it’s not pretending to be a counsellor or doctor, it’s not that you didn’t refer or report me;

it’s not lack of boundaries, but that they were too high and self expectations too low.

Safeguarding is ironic, about protecting the profession and professional more than me.

It’s risky to reach out – and that’s deeply wrong.

I hope this lockdown period is time to alter for those at the altar – and all of us

 

I enjoy preaching to the converted 🙂 I will do again soon – it’s Holy Week next week and I have a service for you all

Leave a comment

Filed under society, spirituality