fredag 24 juni 2016

The Secret People by G K Chesterton

SMILE at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget.
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.
 
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget. 
 
These are the first and last verses. The ones in the middle are rambling and frankly, reprehensible, with a nasty line about a cringing Jew. Too often, Chesterton lets himself down. But the first and last seem pertinent this morning.

A map of political failure



Islands of yellow in a sea of blue. The metropolitan prosperous surrounded by the left-behind rest. Areas with good infrastructure embedded in tracts with poor roads and run-down railways. The yellows will benefit from HS2. Everyone else gets nothing. It is a map of the economic failure of the past seventy years.

By removing some of the obstacles to the necessary reforms, Brexit might help to turn things round, but it will still take a lot of imagination, intelligence and hard work. Whether the British have what it takes is another question.

tisdag 21 juni 2016

Listen to Soros - vote Remain

I am sure George Soros (or should it be Tsures - צאָרעס, the word means "misery") has everyone's interests at heart when he urges people to vote Remain, but how many other people appreciate that? Soros warns that "The Brexit crash will make you all poorer.".

Wouldn't politicians and other commentators who are so widely mistrusted do better to keep quiet if they want people to do what they say? Or do they not even realise that they are not trusted. Anyway, here is the link to his piece, but you will not be allowed to comment.

However, his reasoning is interesting, since by implication he suggests that Brexit would remedy some of the long standing weaknesses of the British economy. First, he predicts a fall in house prices, a bubble value if ever there was one. Second, he refers to the drying-up of capital inflows - which have been a major factor in the large-scale purchase of UK real estate by foreign "investors", particularly residential property in London, an influx of finance which has helped to make housing in London unaffordable for people working in London.

A third point, which is not altogether congruent with the other two, is his projected fall in the value of the pound, which he predicts could go as low as 1 € to the £. If this were to happen, British producers would enjoy an immediate and substantial competitive advantage. Euroland countries might then apply protectionist measures to punish their own people by depriving them of lower-cost UK goods. However, a lower £ would give a boost British tourism and other invisibles, eventually driving sterling back up again. In the meantime, British firms would be able to make use of their other competitive advantages - the English language and proximity to ports - to develop trade outside the EU - ie most of the rest of the world. Outside Europe, British consumers would also gain access to food outside the tariff wall.

I wonder how much Soros stands to lose from a Brexit vote?

söndag 19 juni 2016

What would The Archers be without the tune?

This famous signature tune tune was written twenty five years before it was chosen for the BBC's longest-running radio soap, The Archers. This is the story. The music was picked at random by the producer, whose budget would not stretch to paying a composer to write something specially.

What would the programme be without it? A couple of weeks ago I wrote an blog piece about why the Introit should be sung. The Introit music is the signature tune for the Mass, and sets the theme for the day. Unlike the Archers' tune, the music was composed with the aim of setting precisely the right mood for the theme.

Guardian writer slags of Catholic church

That is not exactly news but this time it is because of a "shameful silence". The author writes "The Orlando killings would have been a perfect opportunity for the church to condemn the deep-rooted prejudice in our midst".

Because of its timing, it is only today that the first opportunity would have arisen to pray for the victims at a Sunday Mass. I would be surprised if prayers were not offered at Masses on the following day. Only a couple of days before, I was at a Mass where the sermon was on just this point - it is a lie to accuse the Catholic church of being anti-gay.

lördag 18 juni 2016

torsdag 16 juni 2016

The Catholic Church at Skövde

Katolska kyrkan - Skövde

It is good to see the Catholic community flourishing in what is said to be the most secular country in the world. Skövde in the west of Sweden has a small Catholic congregation using a church quite recently converted from a an old church hall. It really is quite an attractive building. There is a very small pipe organ which has a lovely tone. The work has been done to a high standard

However, the building would benefit from a re-ordering, with the altar re-positioned against the wall and the tabernacle immediately behind. The lop-sided position of the tabernacle (to the right of the sanctuary) is ugly and confusing. The tabernacle should be in the same position as the Ark is in a synagogue, where the Scrolls of the Law are the focus and given pride of place. The position of the tabernacle - indeed, the entire architecture of a church, is a theological statement.

It would also be helpful if the pot plants were removed from the altar step so that communion could be received kneeling. It is astonishing how much harm and confusion the misinterpretation of archaeological evidence has done. We need to get ourselves back on track.