Tales From the Bitface (Posts about religion)https://devilgate.org/enContents © 2020 <a href=”mailto:martin@devilgate.org”>Martin McCallion</a> Thu, 11 Jun 2020 22:38:41 GMTNikola (getnikola.com)http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rssMilkman by Anna Burns (Books 2019, 10)https://devilgate.org/blog/2019/07/21/cite-milkman-cite-by-anna-burns-books-2019-10/Martin McCallion<figure><a href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/IMG_2962-e1564523591154.jpeg”><img src=”https://devilgate.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/IMG_2962-e1564523591154.jpeg” alt=”Anna Burns’s Milkman alongside a lemon” width=”600” height=”450” class=”size-full wp-image-5791”></a> <figcaption>Anna Burns’s Milkman alongside a lemon</figcaption><figure> <p>This is not mainly a book about <a href=”https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Troubles”>The Troubles</a>; nor about religion or politics, though it is about all of those. It’s a book, above all, about gossip and rumour and silence, and the harm that those can do to a person, to a society.</p> <p>The unique approach — no-one is named, almost no proper names appear — I found quite endearing. And far from obfuscating things, it many ways it makes the story <em>easier</em> to follow. Instead of having to remember whether Mary, Margaret or Roisin is the oldest sister, it’s “first sister.” “Oldest friend;” “maybe-boyfriend.” Honestly, all books should be like this. Relationships are important, after all.</p> <p>Though you can also see it as a sly reference to the common complaint about living in small communities, that you’re always someone’s daughter, someone’s brother — never yourself.</p> <p>Anyway, Booker Prize winner, and all. Dead good.</p> </figure></figure>Anna BurnsBooksbooks 2019Northern Irelandpoliticsreligionthe troubleshttps://devilgate.org/blog/2019/07/21/cite-milkman-cite-by-anna-burns-books-2019-10/Sun, 21 Jul 2019 13:49:04 GMTJerusalem by Alan Moore (Books 2017, 5)https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/11/22/jerusalem-by-alan-moore-books-2017-5/Martin McCallion<div><p>Yes, it’s halfway through the second-last month of the year and I’ve just finished my fifth book. Five in a year. That’s very poor. But this book was a large part of the reason for that.<sup id=”fnref:time”><a class=”footnote-ref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/11/22/jerusalem-by-alan-moore-books-2017-5/#fn:time”>1</a></sup></p> <p>At over 1000 pages of very small text — close to a million words, I’ve heard — this is a mammoth work. It’s also really, really good.</p> <p>As befits such a large work, it is a whole made of many parts. It’s split into three main sections, with each of those having eleven chapters; along with a “Prelude” and an “Afterlude.” The first is a series of short stories or vignettes, most of which are not obviously connected. They are all set in and around an area of Northampton called the Boroughs, at various times in the past and present.</p> <p>In the second we find out what happened to Mick Warren, the closest thing we have to a protagonist, after he died aged three, before he came back to life again. The third brings it all together, after a fashion. Moore has always had trouble with endings — just consider the mighty <cite><a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmen”>Watchmen</a></cite>, whose ending was actually improved by the movie.</p> <p>Did Alma Warren’s pictures save everything, and stop the destructor? Of course not: it always happened that way and always will. That’s the central thesis of the novel, the idea of <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternalism_(philosophy_of_time)”>eternalism</a>, that time is static, and we only experience change because we happen to be moving along that axis at one second per second. This is of course similar to the viewpoint of Dr Manhattan in the aforementioned <cite>Watchmen</cite>, so we could suppose it’s a worldview that Moore has had for some time, though in his acknowledgements he suggests that he came to believe it during the years he was writing <cite>Jerusalem</cite>.</p> <p>There is a chapter in book three that is written in the style of Joyce in his <cite>Finnegan’s wake</cite> days. It’s hard work to get through, but well worth it (though with hindsight if you were to skip that chapter I don’t think you’d miss much of the plot). Anyway, it’s a monster work, and well worth the time it takes to read.</p> <div class=”footnote”> <hr> <ol> <li id=”fn:time”> <p>To be fair, spending a lot of time reading on the web, plus some reading comics, etc: these also need to be considered. <a class=”footnote-backref” href=”https://devilgate.org/blog/2017/11/22/jerusalem-by-alan-moore-books-2017-5/#fnref:time” title=”Jump back to footnote 1 in the text”>↩</a></p> </li> </ol> </div></div>BooksJames JoycemagicmysticismNorthamptonreligionsfhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2017/11/22/jerusalem-by-alan-moore-books-2017-5/Wed, 22 Nov 2017 22:10:48 GMTReligion, Faith Schools, and ‘The Great Pumpkin’https://devilgate.org/blog/2014/04/15/religion-faith-schools-and-the-great-pumpkin/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><p>Another from the “never posted” series. Again, I don’t know why I didn’t post it. It seems pretty finished. It’s also wildly out of date, stemming is it does from 2006. 2006! That’s eight years ago now! Where the hell does the time go?</p> <p>Anyway, the original piece follows.</p> <p></p><blockquote> Religion is much in discussion at the moment, it seems, and atheism even more so. <p>The Archbishop of Canterbury <a href=”http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2006/10/27/archbishop-warns-of-dangers-of-banning-veils”>has said that</a></p> <p></p><blockquote> the ideal of a society where no visible public signs of religion would be seen — no crosses around necks, no sidelocks, turbans or veils — is a politically dangerous one </blockquote> <p>But no-one has been trying to do that. True, there have recently been two cases in which employers have restricted what their staff can wear, with regard to items related to religions. Now, whether employers should be able to insist on such restrictions is one question, and a valid one to be asked; but it’s not something new, nor unique to religious clothes.</p> <p>And it’s not as if anyone other than British Airways has done anything to restrict the display of Christian symbols. The woman in question there was in a uniformed occupation, and the cross violated the uniform code. Case closed. Do you think it would have been any different for a police officer or ambulance driver? If you want to get the uniform rules in your job changed, speak to your employer, go through your union, or whatever: but keep the courts out of it. Similarly if you are in a non-uniformed job with a dress code.</p> <p>All of which is different from — almost orthogonal to — the case of Jack Straw asking Muslim women to remove their veils during a conversation (note: asking, not insisting; during a conversation, not forever).</p> <p>I got the impression from the radio news this morning that the ArchieCant was trying to play the “persecuted Christian” card, railing against the overwhelming forces of our secular society. But having scanned his <a href=”http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/638/both-crosses-and-veils-must-be-allowed-times-article”>actual article</a>, I see that that is not quite so. Rather, he is warning of the dangers of a society which only allows state-sanctioned religions to exist. Fair point, but again, not something that anyone is suggesting in Britain.</p> <p>There’s no excuse for a Christian leader to complain about his (and it is always “his”) religion’s place in modern Britain (or, even more so, America). The various Christian churches, and the church of England in particular, hold a remarkably privileged position in British public life, from the head of state being also the head of the church, through the tax-free status of religions, right up to the exclusively-religious nature of Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ (and that’s not even mentioning the ‘Daily Worship’ or the complete takeover from 8 on Sunday mornings).</p> <p>Then the Education Minister Alan Johnson has changed the former intent of the government regarding allowing non-believers (or different-believers) into new “faith” schools. Now don’t get me wrong: I am utterly opposed to “faith” schools: one great thing that America gets right, in my opinion, is it’s implementation of the separation of church and state that bans states from enforcing religious observation in schools, and I would happily see it removed from schools here. But we are where we are, and if there are going to be new, state-funded schools that base part of their teaching on a religion, then I think that the worst thing possible would be for them to be <em>exclusively</em> pupilled by kids from families who are followers of that religion.</p> <p>And remember I went exclusively to state Catholic schools in Scotland. </p></blockquote></div>Britain todaypoliticsreligionhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2014/04/15/religion-faith-schools-and-the-great-pumpkin/Tue, 15 Apr 2014 22:00:42 GMTLink: Do I know where hell is? Hell is in “Hello”https://devilgate.org/blog/2009/10/07/do-i-know-where-hell-is-hell-is-in-hello/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><p>God save us from crazy religious nutters.</p> <p>The title is taken from ‘Wandrin’ Star’, by the way.: <a href=”http://web.archive.org/web/20071215085841/http://www.mndaily.com/articles/1997/01/17/2982”>Do I know where hell is? Hell is in “Hello”</a></p> <p></p></div>Asideslinklooniesreligionwp-posthttps://devilgate.org/blog/2009/10/07/do-i-know-where-hell-is-hell-is-in-hello/Wed, 07 Oct 2009 15:00:08 GMTBritish Summer Time, by Paul Cornell (Books 2008, 4)https://devilgate.org/blog/2008/05/05/british-summer-time-by-paul-cornell-books-2008-4/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><p>Paul Cornell wrote some of my favourite episodes of <cite>Doctor Who</cite>’s recent years: ‘Father’s Day’, and the ‘Human Nature’/’Family of Blood’ two-parter. After the latter, I downloaded and read the ebook of his original novel (on which the episodes were based). So I came to this with some knowledge of his writing.</p> <p>But not with so much knowledge of his religious beliefs. I had some sense — from reading <a href=”http://paulcornell.blogspot.com/” title=”Paul Cornell’s blog”>his blog</a>, presumably — that he <em>was</em> religious, at least in a vague, Church-of-Englandy sort of way; but I didn’t expect, on picking this up, that it would have such a religious heart (or maybe ‘soul’ would be more appropriate).</p> <p>Though I’m not sure that the Archbishop of Canterbury would quite approve — and I’m absolutely sure the Pope would not — of the theology.</p> <p>It’s a fine story of a woman who can read the patterns of the world around her, a space pilot from the future (but is it ‘our’ future?), a disembodied head, and four mysterious ‘golden men’, who might be angels, might be the biblical four horsemen of the apocalypse, or might be something else. It’s an easy read, and I recommend it.</p> <p>But does the religion get in the way of the story? No, not really; though it was something of a distraction at times for this atheist. It’s by no means preachy; indeed, you could argue that the religious interpretation of the events in the story is a <em>mis</em>interpretation. Though since that interpretation is the author’s, that would depend on where you stand on the whole postmodern thing about the author being irrelevant, and the reader entering into a dialogue with the text.</p> <p>The question for me on a personal note is, would I have approached it differently - or read it at all - if I had known about the religious content before I started it?</p> <p>The answer is, I would have approached it differently. And, if I hadn’t known the author’s work, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up at all.</p> <p>By saying that, I’m convicting myself of being likely to prejudge religiously-inspired fiction; well, yes, guilty as charged. Just as I’m likely to prejudge romantic fiction, literary fiction, heroic fantasy, and so on. We don’t approach anything in a vacuum, after all. Our past experiences, our expectations, colour our understanding and appreciation of any art. And we all have our preferences.</p> <p>Still, if I <em>had</em> known, and rejected this, I’d have missed out on something worthwhile. So that’s worth bearing in mind.</p></div>Bookspaul cornellreligionscience fictionsfhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2008/05/05/british-summer-time-by-paul-cornell-books-2008-4/Mon, 05 May 2008 10:46:37 GMTA quote from Ken MacLeod with which to start the yearhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2008/01/02/a-quote-from-ken-macleod-with-which-to-start-the-year/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><blockquote> Creation science is a purely destructive enterprise, like comment trolling or wiki vandalism. Its entire impact results from scrawling across the work of real scientists questions and cavils phrased in a manner just scientific-sounding enough to trouble anyone who knows nothing in detail about the field being traduced. </blockquote> <p><a href=”http://kenmacleod.blogspot.com/2007/12/spite-of-woo.html”>From the excellent Mr MacLeod</a>. Let’s start the year the way we mean to go on.</p></div>politicsquotesreligionhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2008/01/02/a-quote-from-ken-macleod-with-which-to-start-the-year/Wed, 02 Jan 2008 13:59:39 GMTA quote from Charlie Brookerhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2007/09/04/a-quote-from-charlie-brooker/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguide/columnists/story/0,,2145124,00.html”>Charlie Brooker’s screen burn | The Guide | Guardian Unlimited</a> <q>’Spirituality’ is what cretins have in place of imagination.</q></div>Asidesreligionhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2007/09/04/a-quote-from-charlie-brooker/Mon, 03 Sep 2007 23:26:57 GMTHomophobic Christianshttps://devilgate.org/blog/2007/01/26/75/Martin McCallion<div><p></p><p>I started writing this post while watching <cite>This Week</cite> again. This time they were talking, inevitably, about the new equal rights legislation (good legislation; from this government? Amazing.) The Catholic church is <a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6243949.stm”>trying to have itself made exempt</a> from the new law; and the Church of England has <a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6293115.stm”>come out alongside it</a>. Or at least John Sentamu has.</p> <p>It <a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6297107.stm”>looks like they’re going to be smacked down</a> for now, which is good.</p> <p>I was brought up as a Catholic, but I grew out of it, and am, like any sensible person, profoundly anti-religious now. And what I say to the Catholics who would try to destroy one of the few good, well-intentioned pieces of legislation that this government has brought in, is this:</p> <p>We here in Britain are trying to build a tolerant, inclusive, multicultural society. If you can’t work within that, within the laws and regulations that govern adoption, then you shouldn’t be in the adoption business. And if you don’t like the way our society is developing, maybe you’d be happier elsewhere. I hear they’ve got quite a theocracy going in Iran.</p> <p>Of course, there’s nothing to stop people saying the same to me, when I speak out against ID cards, for example. But that’s democracy for ya: full of contradictions.</p> <p>And anyway, it could come to that yet.</p></div>bigotrybigotshomophobiapoliticsreligionreligious idiotsUK adoption legislationhttps://devilgate.org/blog/2007/01/26/75/Fri, 26 Jan 2007 15:01:34 GMT