Saturday, February 11, 2006

Watching The English? ~ How Fascinating!

Watching The English is the most brilliantly flippant, yet deep book. It is the dinner table physcologists version of Bill Brysons book, Notes From A Small Island in that it is flippant yet scientific! It takes the attitude that the best way to view the English, and to conduct a survey upon them was by seruptitious snooping and gazing and testing of ideas. An example of this was in the politeness section. The very nature of saying sorry is second nature to the English. A prime example, the author concluded, was when on pubic transport when someone knocks into someone else and the person who was knocked into always says sorry. Leaving the question what is there to apologise for - are we really apologising for being in the way of someoneelse who has fallen into us? Therefore the author took it upon herself to fall into people and see how far she could push it till they wouldn't say sorry. Indeed the problem was it took her a while to stop saying sorry herself! That sort of self-honesty about the realism, but questionable of method, scientific research is refreshingly honest. The book looks at love, life (both home and work) and a variety of other issues and the way that the English would react. The only problem with the book really wasn't the analysis, which was often scarily true, but the fact it was definatly a depiction of what it means to be white-english rather than any other extraction. therefore the ethnic mix and diversity that this country thrives upon wasn't fully reflected. That said it makes an excellent gift to give to someone that will leave them questioning alot of what they do, will guffaw into their dinner whilst realising a newaunce predicted in the book was true and ulitmatly will understand what it means to be white english. For then only by being secure in that can you stand up against rascism and descrimination. Take Care Y'All John

Methodist Council Preview

Right then, down to buisness straight away. This upcoming Methodist Council (16-17th feb 2006) provides some fascinating papers. Rather than go through each one in detail, I'll save that for my return, I shall outline some ones that have lept out to me..... - In the order they are printed - 1)Use of funds in relation to Israel and Palestine - This is a response to the Notice of Motion 28, (ie statement of idea that the church has to chase up and impliment how it sees fit) to the last Methodist Conference. It came from York and Hull and requests that the Methodist church examines any investments the Central Finance Board may have invested in companies that are deemed to "support the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip". Therefore, a rather similar situation to that faced by the Church of England this very week when it voted to no longer invest in such companies. 2)Team Focus Group One - Evangelism - This is the first report back from a grounclearing project, in light of the Team Focus document, that examined the way the church currently supports/funds/enacts a situtation and looks to see what it should be doing - a distinct difference one may suspect across all projects! This one is a discussion paper about what outcomes they have come up with but also as a trial to how the group has successfully grasped the "mind of the church" over the issue of evangelism. I shall be sitting down and going through this with a fine tooth comb to see how "out of the box" it looks - not in a buzz words sense but in creating new ideas and ensuring an environment where the new ideas are nurtured. 3) Review of Methodist Conference - At the last Methodist conference a review was reported back, about the true purpose and size etc of the Methodist conference. It contained challenges to us all and this current set of reccomendations from the working group also does. for the issues of speed, effeciency (with such a alarge agenda) and cost effectiveness can almost ensure that the true art of conferring (so making decisions by conference) can be lost amongst a well organised and souless event. Therefore another one for a fine tooth comb..... 4) Disability Justice Strategy - This paper comes from the work of the Equalities and Diveristy Officer, and it creates a series of recommendations that should broaden the participation and support on offer from the church towards people with disabilites. As someone knowing people with many differing disabilites, within my own family circle and beyond then I am particularily interested in this. This interest has lead to me putting forward my name to be on the focus group to evaluate the report that was submitted on this issue, a much longer and more rhobust document. There are one or two others but I am needing clarification sent to me about the true nature of the outcomes envisiaged so I wouldn't wish to mislead anyone about what they could mean! If you have any comments, questions or queries please leave them else email me.... Take Care Y'all John

First Among Muppets?

I am remarkably lucky at the moment. I had, plop through my door, the balott papers that would enable me to choose the leader of the lib dems. Well, obviously, the rest of the membership (another 74,000 people) may choose to disagree with me but I will have definatly influenced the result. As part of the ballot pack was an "election statement" booklet. These are manifestos, of a sort, and they are produced as an outline and guide to my thoughts when casting my vote. I haven't voted yet and thought I would indulge you all in giving you a "digested" leadership manifesto from each. Incase you don't know what I am going on about, this is a rip-off of a Guardian concept of producing a summation of a book in 300 words and also one sentance. I am going half-way and doing a few (summation) sentances on each.... - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Menzies "Ming" Campbell
You should vote for me because I am a safe set of hands. I am not stating my own political view so shall claim to lead from the centre of British politics, rather than from a left or right perspective. I have a large group of "names" in the party supporting me so why aren't you?
Simon Hughes
You should vote for me because I am controlled radicalism. I am deciding the party should stroll in from the left. I have done everything (within politics) so know all levels and have the experience and passion to have authority in radicalism.. I have also produced a "everyone else can't win this" bar chart, ala a Focus leaflet, to show I am the real winner to back.
Chris Huhne
I am clean, newboy with a new style of doing things. I come from an economic background, but don't get put off as I also have ideas on our place in the world, poverty, environmentalism and federalism. Don't forget though, I have the background experience (in europe) which means I can be a considered and trustworthy breath of fresh air in British Politics (unlike a certain other new leader?).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - I think I have around a week left to make up my mind and would of course welcome any comments or discourse on who to choose. I am in a quandry and so may the fighting over my vote begin! Take Care Y'All John

Back to Life :back to reality!

Welcome back kiddies! Well I am typing up three blog entries today so click back tonight for a plethra of Methodist Council preview - Well fair State? and possibly a review from the Britishness stuff. Take Care Warm Regards John

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tolerance at What Price

I have watched the recent outporing of muslim fustration with some bemusement. This is, in part, due to the complete factionalisation that has occured. For those of you who haven't a clue what I'm on about a quick summation.... 1) A dutch newspaper prints a collection of cartoons which portray the founder of the muslim faith in a bad light. 2) This newspaper is the Dutch version of the Daily Mail 3) Two months after these were originaly printed the muslims world errupts in anger with protests from istanbul to islington. 4) In Britain, one of the main protaginists of the protests in Britain have been Hizb-ut-Tahir. 5) The protests reach a violent phase in some parts of the world and Britain experiences a split muslim community - some protesting and some saying now we need to debate this issue. My initial reaction to it all was that this was an absurd overreaction from a community that is so used to being under attack that it needs to apreciate satire when it is tossed at them. As a practising christian I am used to being continuoulsy mocked through all mediums for all the I belive in. Do I care , nope, for my religion is a personal thing? If someone is to practise their religion that it is a very personal thing and so this can spill over from the personal to the public. when this occurs what should happen? Should we disallow anything that treads on the toes of religions (particularily) we do not know about just to avoid offence or should we treat all religions the same? That line of argument only holds so far though...for the context within which the protests and also the inital publication took part is of pivotol importance. The country of origin is run by a hard core right wing government and the type of racism that Britain wished to outlaw years ago is still permissable there. Therefore the truly satirical nature in which the cartoons may have been concieved was lost by the fascist newspaper that printed them. Therefore they take on a differing and more harsher tone. The reaction within this country has been organised, mainly, bu Hizb-ut-tahir who are an interesting and controversial group. They are seen by some muslims as fascists and by others as true defenders of the true faith. The group has come into trouble many times, particularily over the usual religious issues of homosexuality etc, and strolled towards being on the banned list proposed after the 7/7 bombings but it wasn't. Therefore a completely differing spin can then appear upon the entire event as to whom the key players are. For suddenly these cartoons may have been used to push for two completely differing aims, the first to vilify the muslim faith and second to further the creation of a fundamentalist muslim state within the context of our own country by refusing any religious satire. Therefore this discussion takes us further than the cartoons - a line of discussion persued on radio 4 this morning asked if, instead, this was time for the muslim reformation to happen. now we have all had a muslim population within this country is it time for the reformation to occur for that true balance between secular and religious to be found to encapsulate the new religious dichotomy found within these fair isles. "DR GHAYASUDDIN SIDDIQUI, MUSLIM PARLIAMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN (On Hizb-ut-Tahrir) We have to realise that these are the same people, the fascist element within our community - these are the supporters of Bin Laden, Jihadism and so on and so forth. I think in the Muslim world the debate has to begin about freedom of speech, the right of writers and comedians to discuss things because they have to realise its value." Ultimatly I am in conflict and this conflict over freedom of speech is well summated by the following poem. For are we just upholding our rights to free speech or are we allowing attacks upon a specific segment of our society to continue, because we do not identify with that group? you comments would be most apreciated.... First They Came for the Jews First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. Pastor Martin Niemöller