Posts Tagged ‘society’
Travelling on a Bank Holiday was not perhaps the best idea. Even the people at Birmingham New Street Station did not have full information. A group of festival revellers lay in a circle comatose, with a smell that suggested that personal hygiene had not been high on the activity list, as chemicals interacted with body odour in the stale air of the concourse.
So rather than getting in at half nine it was nearer to midnight – late running trains, missed connections and last minute changes all playing their part. Unexpectedly getting off at Plymouth when the train was suddenly terminated (supposedly going through to Penzance) hurriedly grabbing my laptop still playing “House”. Which according to a couple travelling with their daughter from Manchester meant I had missed a confrontation in the seats in front of me. Thank goodness for decent headphones.
They were on the train because, after the plane crash in Spain, the mother did not want to use their return flight to Newquay. Their journey by train was not quite uneventful on the safety front because opposite them two brothers had been drinking, and one of the inebriated gentleman offered his beer to his two infant nephews.
This resulted in language between the brothers that was colourful and the escalation caused the Father to suggest they calm down. To which they said wait till we get to Plymouth – we will have you. I had on my way to the buffet car passed these two men smoking out of the window (wondering if a body minus a head might fall behind me). Much as I would have liked to come to the aid of anyone in this situation I was at this moment watching “TB or not TB”.
At Plymouth I waited with the couple for the train to Cornwall. The brothers were no where to be seen. So instead of getting involved in a brawl I kindly took some offered humbugs and exchanged pleasantries as we waited half an hour for the last train to Cornwall.
So rather like the characters from The Camomile Lawn I got in to Penzance station near midnight.
Before vacating my seat I noticed that people were travelling from one end of the carriage to the other to get off. Picking up my bag at the other end I realised that was because two gentlemen were awe struck by the automatic doors and were giggling away as they used their bodies to stop the doors closing. In the face of such absurdity I decided not to travel to the other end and bravely did what any Englishman would do in the circumstances – kept a stiff upper lip and ignored their antics.
After nine hours travelling what was a short car hop to my final destination of St. Ives (no trains to St. Erth to get to St. Ives so I would have been stuck without transport). Offered a beer by my mother I politely said no, much to her surprise. After the experience of travelling I decided that sobriety and a good night’s sleep was in order.
Maybe hidden, but God is active in my life as well as those of believers according to Cardinal Murphy O’Connor. Apparently this means that I deserve respect on the basis of a super natural being that is involved in my day to day life – hidden so it cannot be observed, proved and known; only a mystery that can be appreciated as such.
The Cardinal believes that a secularist society is intolerant of religion. When really it is about not allowing religious sensibilities deny others their human rights and access to services and goods as citizens. You do not have the right to treat others unfairly because your faith apparently allows you to do so. Nor to encourage a policy that would reduce the use of contraceptives and increase unplanned pregnancies – a dogma that would make the human condition worse if realised.
If you are going to respect me perhaps try doing so by understanding the position that I hold. That by thinking liberty and freedom so important that a free mind should not be shackled by something which cannot and must not be questioned. That with an ability to reason it is entirely fair to hold any idea or pronouncement to account and ask for the evidence and to scrutinize. That the welfare of a people should not be sacrificed to a sky god whose evidence for existence is the same as if not being there at all. That in the public sphere ideas and principles should be as universal as possible – that is, they do not depend on someone having the same faith as you or believing that only one person or group is right unquestionably. That no human is a prisoner to the beliefs of another – that we are autonomous, individuals at our best when we respect our differences and not intimidated by not being the same.
[EDIT:Richard Dawkins was interviwed by John Humphrys about the cardinal here]
The full article from BBC News is below:
‘Respect atheists’, says Cardinal
The Archbishop of Westminster has urged Christians to treat atheists and agnostics with “deep esteem”.
Believers may be partly responsible for the decline in faith by losing sense of the mystery and treating God as a “fact in the world”, he said in a lecture.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor called for more understanding and appreciation between believers and non-believers.
The leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales said that a “hidden God” was active in everyone’s life.
The Cardinal’s lecture at Westminster Cathedral comes after a spate of public clashes over issues such as stem-cell research, gay adoption and faith schools.
Mystery of God
He expressed concern about the increasing unpopularity of the Christian voice in public life, saying: “Our life together in Britain cannot be a God-free zone and we must not allow Britain to become a world devoid of religious faith and its powerful contribution to the common good.”
Last year, he complained of a “new secularist intolerance of religion” and the state’s “increasing acceptance” of anti-religious views.
To stem this tide, he said Christians must understand they have something in common with those who do not believe.
God is not a “fact in the world” as though God could be treated as “one thing among other things to be empirically investigated” and affirmed or denied on the “basis of observation”, said Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor.
“If Christians really believed in the mystery of God, we would realise that proper talk about God is always difficult, always tentative.
“I want to encourage people of faith to regard those without faith with deep esteem because the hidden God is active in their lives as well as in the lives of those who believe.”