You don’t have to be religious …

… To work out some things in life just cannot be explained.

When I was a kid, back when I had to run away from dinosaurs and there was no McDonalds or Sainsbury I had some really crazy wishes for a kid growing up on a council estate.

  • I want a 4 bedroom house
  • I want a new car
  • I want children
  • I want to be happy
  • I want to see Disneyland
  • I want to be married

Let me tell you how that worked out:

  • I have a 5 bedroom house
  • I get a new car every three years
  • I have 4 children and 4 grandchildren
  • I am happy
  • I have been to 4 Disney parks (some many times), just two to go!
  • I have been married to a lady, I have been civil partnered to a man, I am now married to a man

Now, what I had in mind as a kid is not how it worked out. To my immature mind I thought we just aspired to something and there would be no cost, there is always a price to pay and those who know me, know some of those prices I have paid.

Every parent says the same “I don’t care what they are as long as they’re healthy”. Well, mine were not healthy, they all have problems, some more than others but, I am grateful for having them. I got the house because not all my kids were healthy. I get a new car because I now am not healthy. I am happy because what I have outweighs what I suffer. The Disney parks, well, they’re just a huge bonus, even I wonder how that happened. Being married, yes, I also got divorced and dissolved (eww) but, that’s OK as we’re still friends. For sure there was a lot of intervention for me to find Dennis, it’s not like our eyes met in the store! He lived 7000+ miles away!

I wrote something earlier, read that:

Sa bata pa kita gisultihan kita nga mosalig nga ang Dios mag-atiman kanato
Samtang nagkadako na kita, ang mga katingad-an nga wala damha nga mga butang mahitabo
Mga butang nga dili nato mapasabot sa bisan unsang paagi gawas sa, nangutana ko sa Diyos ug nahitabo ra.
Samtang kita adunay mga anak, ang Dios nagbilin kanato sa pagpadayon niini
(Kinahanglan naton ang responsibilidad sa usa ka butang)
Samtang sila nagtubo siya mibalik ug diin kita nagkinahanglan kaniya, siya anaa.
Sa panahon nga kita moretiro na ug modawat sa pagka senior
Makataronganon ang kinabuhi
Atong naamgohan nga ang mga importanteng butang sa kinabuhi atong naangkon.
Nasayud kita nga gibayran nato ang bili sa Dios alang niadtong mga butanga ug, OK ra.
Nakakat-on mi nga magmapainubsanon.
Nakakat-on kami nga magmapasalamaton.
Ang akong nahibal-an labaw sa tanan mao
Kung kita naghunahuna nga ang Dios maghatag sa atong kinabuhi sa mga ganti
Sayop mi.
Ang iyang gibuhat dili kaayo klaro apan kini mahitabo.
Dili perpekto ang kinabuhi pero, nakakat-on ta gikan niana.
Usahay ang kinabuhi lisud, kini makalilisang, kini makalilisang
Naglisod mi
Kita makakat-on gikan niana
Unya kita molingi ug, ang atong kinabuhi mao ang kinabuhi nga atong gipangayo.
Bisan kinsa nga naghunahuna nga ang Dios walay bahin
Nagtuo ko nga mahimo nimong gimingaw ang usa ka daghan sa dalan!

When we are young we are told to trust that God will take care of us

As we get a little older, strange unexpected things happen

Things we cannot explain any way other than, I asked God and it just happened.

As we have children God leaves us to get on with it

(We have to take responsibility for something)

As they grow he steps back in and where we need him, he is there.

By the time we get to retire and accept being a senior

Life makes sense

We realise that the important things in life we got.

We know that we paid God’s price for those things and, it’s OK.

We learnt to be humble.

We learnt to be grateful.

What I know more than anything is

If we think God is going to pave our life with rewards

We are wrong.

What he does is never so obvious but it does happen.

Life will not be perfect but, we learn from that.

Sometimes life is hard, it’s awful, it’s terrible

We struggle

We learn from that

Then we look back and, our life is the life we asked for.

Anyone who thinks God played no part

I think you may have missed an awful lot along the way!

Things I know.

  • If there is no God, how can there be an afterlife and, I know there is because I have witnessed it. I saw my granddad after he died, clear as day, when my mum was alive she told me that her old landlady promised that when she died she would make something move which didn’t usually move and they would then know, she was OK. Soon after her death a hot water bottle hanging on the wall, moved. When my mum died, before I knew she was dead, weird stuff happened. She was in hospital, I didn’t even know she was that ill. Her crutch which had stood at the top of the stairs fell over. I went to pick it up and her dressing gown fell off the door behind me and on a door I had not walked past. Those delays forced me to stay home an extra few minutes at which time the phone rang to tell me to get to the hospital. She had died just before they called me.
  • I overdid it with two of the children back in the 1980’s. We walked too far, I mean, miles further than we should and ended up on the wrong beach in Spain, the one which had no way to get back and it was really hot. I could see no way of getting back so I did a hail Mary, well, in the non religious sense and I prayed. Within a few moments a very random Spanish lady who spoke little English approached me and asked, was I OK. I don’t know how much she understood but she gestured for us to follow. She squeezed us into a tiny little car with her kids and drove us back into town and then drove off before we could say thank you. Intervention of a divine nature? I choose to believe that, yes.

There have been many similar experienced throughout my life. Everything I ever asked for I got. I say God has a wicked sense of humour because he did. This would be an example and a tiny one. I ask for a lottery win and, low and behold, I win the lottery. Sure, it’s ¬£1.75 but I wasn’t specific!

I always wanted to be different, right from as long as I can recall. My questions were answered years later. I was gay, I was mostly deaf, my eyesight is shite, I was born with really short legs, my teeth have always been terrible. So, yes, my feeling was correct and I am different. Perhaps I shouldn’t have wished to be because, this isn’t what I meant when I asked to be different.

I am no bible basher. I have no respect for any organised religion, absolutely none. I honestly believe they are all power hungry, dangerous and corrupt. But, just because they created their own version of things doesn’t mean that the basic of those things are wrong. What they are based on was pure. Things like us all being God’s children, us all being in his image and created equally.

None of those things sit at all well with my being condemned to hell for being gay. Nothing pure demands me to show pure devotion to the organisation with gifts of money.

No, I believe in the pure being, that the church is all around us, freely created. That we can speak freely, there are no rules on how to speak to God.

You know what? I also believe that we are here for a reason, we are here to learn to be better, to live a life we do not understand or accept. The homophobe must live life as a gay man before he can be reconsidered entry to eternity. The murdered must live life experiencing tragic loss … indeed, until we understand how to be good people without prejudice, we just keep living one life after another until we finally get it. I think I might still have a few more to go as I know I still have some prejudices I need to resolve.

Anyway, until than, thanks for reading

Reaction to Terrorism

The IRA (Irish Republican Army) managed to kill over 1,700 whilst waging was on the British in an attempt to create a United Ireland.

What did Britain do to bring this to and end?

There were a great many conversations both official and not behind the scenes with their political masters, Sinn Fein trying to broker a deal.

What did Britain not do?

Britain did not argue that they had a right to defend themselves, that all those living in Northern Ireland must travel to the south and then send in the bombers to flatten Northern Ireland.

Why did the British government not openly just bomb places where they thought terrorists might be?

Well, because terrorists look like the rest of us, they do not have any unique features which makes them easy to spot. There were some incursions into strongholds but they were generally a bit of a disaster.

What you see here is what the IRA very often looked like. Particularly they’d look like this at the funerals of their comrades.

Not that the civilians around them were not cowering in fear, they are clapping. This is the general story of terrorism. They succeed because they have the backing of a significant proportion of civilians.

In the 1930’s the Nazi’s under the leadership of Adolf Hitler came to power by distraction techniques. The populous were told that were it not for those ‘really’ in power (the jews), Germany would be a great nation, the World power.

Something very similar is happening in the United Kingdom currently. The government of the day will hide their own mistakes by blaming minority groups, immigrants, those on benefits, those who ‘won’t’ work for the problems of the country. It will also blame Covid-19 as well. What it will not do is say that leaving the European Union was a huge mistake.

Whilst we were part of the EU many industries sprung up and prospered employing a great many immigrants from within the Union. Many thousands of those left and suddenly, we do not have enough workers to operate in those industries we now rely on. The NHS, Logistics, hospitality, all of them desperate for workers.

Our economy took a nose dive and we have not recovered as the other power houses of the world have, we are still lagging woefully behind other wealthy nations but, it is not the UK Government but, the people who have caused this.

Back to Terrorism.

Decades ago the state of Israel was created, Great Britain played no small part in that creation. The trouble is, the land wasn’t empty, there were people already there. Conflicts came about, not to the surprise of anyone. The Muslim Arabs were pushed back into internationally agreed locations and that would be that except, it wasn’t.

Using the argument that it needed to create buffer zones to defend the country, Israel began building settlements on the land beyond their agreed border. They also refused to leave the occupied lands.

In the last decade, they ‘left’ Gaza, an area where these Muslims live supposedly for them to become their own country. Except, they didn’t really leave. They remained controlling every aspect of movement there with their military and checkpoints all over the place forcing the residents to justify themselves.

It’s way more complicated than that, there was and is wrong on both sides.

What the terrorists ‘Hamas’ did by killing so many innocents a short while ago was and remains appalling. The adopted typical terrorists tactics of targeting the innocent.

In reprisals, over 4,500 people in Gaza have thus far been killed by Israel in their retaliation on Hamas, the majority of those will be innocent civilians.

Is it proportionate? If we take it down to playground levels it’s like this:

You killed 1700 of my people so I am killing 4500 of yours, that’ll show you!

Of course, those figures will continue to grow. Inevitably, because it always is the case, Israel will kill many times more innocents than those killed in any terrorist attack by Hamas.

Does it matter in what way a baby is killed?

One side shoots the baby dead in the arms of its mother, the other side drops a bomb on the house of a mother carrying her baby. In both cases, the baby is just as dead and it achieved nothing except another lost life.

Personally, and I have heard this so much throughout my life, I am sick of Jewish people playing the victim card. Do they know what? It was not just Jewish people that were targeted by Hitler. The ‘Holocaust’ is generally taken to be the Killing of Jews by the Nazi’s (and their allies), over 6million of them and that is, in every way, appalling. There is no way any group can be compensated for that but, giving them their own homeland is certainly a worthy start.

However, it is estimated that a similar figure (close on 6 million) non Jewish people were killed by the Nazi’s (and their allies) also. The closest any of those got to being military targets were Russian Prisoners of War which amounts to around half the number. The rest were civilians ranging from political opposition, homosexuals, disabled people, gypsies, Polish People, ethnic Serbs, a small number (by comparison, of criminals), Jehovah’s Witness and black people. For some of those groups the best anyone can do is guess at the numbers as all records of them existing went with them.

Most of those groups were never compensated, many more survived inhumane treatment and torture, many used for medical experimentation. All of them victims of the same people and in the same war. A war which ended in 1945, nearly 80 years ago.

My point here is, absolutely, what happened to innocent Jewish people was the worst possible. There is no pretending it was in anyway ‘OK’ but, Hitler is dead, he lost, Germany is not the same country and the rest of the world should not have to apologies for ever more.

When a group of people portray themselves as victims, quite wrongly but ‘actually’, society will start to resent them. Right now it is seen and has been seen since 1945, that no Jewish person can be told they may be wrong ever.

Donald Trump claimed he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue in New York and still his supporters would support him. This is how it now feels each and every time someone says anything at all against Jewish people. We should be allowed to say that, you know what, what you are doing is a war crime, you have to stop and not be afraid of the consequences of that.

Ironically, the motivation, so he says, of Putin (Russia) is to get rid of undesirables on their border and to create a buffer zone around Russia so that NATO cannot threaten them. Sound familiar?

Hamas can only be defeated by killing every Muslim, there is no other way. Every civilian killed has a family member left behind now ready to join the fight against Israel.

My personal view is, Israel needs to be taken out of this conflict, they’re too close. Let them mourn their losses, let the rest of the world, NATO, the United Nations, the Muslim League satisfy the future of the Muslims living in Gaza and the West Bank.

Maybe, it is high time the lines, the borders are redrawn to include a new nation of Palestine giving to the Muslims a fair and equal share of the natural resources of the land for agriculture and industry to thrive with an international peace force. Israel should make her defences solid, impossible to be overcome and remain firmly within their own borders.

It is in neither the teachings of Allah or the words within the Bible which sanction the taking of innocent lives but rather, the interpretations of blood thirsty groups seeking their own agenda.

Why it’s gone wrong

Religion, faith, belief or, whatever we want to call it, well, it needs looking at again don’t you think?

“In the Beginning”

Well, I guess different faith system believe different versions of ‘the beginning’ but, even so, it seems a good place to start!

In the belief system I was thrown into as a child it was all very simple. It was never discussed, it was always these absolute facts:

God created man, man got bored so he created woman. Woman was weak and easily influenced and did the only thing God had, for reasons no one can fathom, told them not to do so, God cast them out.

Sure, that’s not quite any text I have read but then, let’s get something very clear here just adopting a little logic shall we. God did not write the Old Testament, neither did Adam and neither did Eve so, someone who was, without any doubt whatsoever, not there, did write it, indeed, several different people.

So, who wrote the early bible?

Safe to say, it was not the kids of Adam and Eve, shall we ignore the elephant in the room (except there were no elephants), the obvious somewhat weird relationship between Adam and Eve. Let’s take that a little further shall we, their kids, Cain, Abel & Seth, all guys. Adam and Eve supposedly lived 900 years, again, somewhat strange as no dating system yet existed. Yet, in those 900 years not one mention of you know, a girl. Had they a daughter then one of the other three, if not all of them, would have needed to have sex with her to begat the spawn of the planet and, if not their sister, their mother? I think we can say from all biblical references with the exception of Jesus, there were no virgin births and yet, pretty soon we had a heavily populated planet full of a lot of very bad people with the exception of Noah and his family. That God (or maybe not) that the incest had stopped by this time.

So, we have already established that really, the story of the creation was, for a very long time indeed, passed down through the generations and we are all aware of how well that works out for accuracy which brings into question a great deal of detail. But, this is what I was taught as absolute fact which cannot be questioned, indeed, I remember trying to a silenced room and then told not to question the word of God … except, it wasn’t the word of God. Way back I established that ‘God’ did not write it any more than he is writing this or, maybe he is, he works in mysterious ways.

On that note, one thing we are all taught as Christians is, The Lords Prayer which starts with this line:

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name

There we go, right there. We actually have no accurate record of God’s name, it certainly isn’t ‘God’ so, huge fail there. When were we given this because, sure as night as day, it was at a time when we surely knew the name of God? Jesus gave it to us so, in historical and literary terms, quite recently. So inaccurate were the writings of the New Testament, let alone the old, it was never mentioned, nothing, the name of God totally lost in time, the one thing Jesus told us to be hallowed about, we were meant to honour that name and there it was, Gone and the best we can do is to guess at it.

Interpretation or translation, take your pick

Much if not all of ‘the Bible’ was written in Hebrew, I am not an expert here and confess, some of it could have been written in Greek or, indeed, Italian or Latin, lots of different people had a hand in it.

Even if we accepted it was just written in a language we do not understand as, indeed, the way it was written really is very difficult to translate with any efficient accuracy. Even if we accept it had to be translated, how much can we trust those who translated it. Indeed, it’s rarely said to be translated but more, interpreted.

So, what’s wrong with interpretation?

It carries bias whether intentioned or not. For example, have you ever been in an art gallery and watched some ‘experts’ talking. They will say things, about a painting done hundreds of years ago, what the artist was ‘thinking’. That is an interpretation based on their own take on what they have seen or heard. This might not be an issue except that we are told we have to follow the Bible to the letter. But, what if the interpretation was just wrong? Not intentional, they just presumed it could mean one thing but it actually meant something else. The trouble is, the beliefs of the day will have clouded what they were have thought was meant.

Is man sleeping with man as though with woman to mean a homosexual relationship? To many, of course, yes it does. Could it not mean something else though if we knew more about how they lived back then.

It was very much stated in a military context whereby men were having sex with each other not because they were homosexual but because they were horny and any port will do in a storm. What the passage was actually doing was telling civilians that they were better offering them up their underage daughters rather than making them do what was unnatural to them. Clearly there is something very questionable about selling off a mere female child to a bunch of soldiers but, this is what they believed was the right thing to do back then. From that interpretation, the whole notion that the author was attacking homosexuality is just incorrect. Much the shame as eating shell fish (I just had some prawns so I should clearly be put to death). Mixed fibres, working on the Sabbath (depending what you follow that is either Saturday or Sunday so difficult to know who should be stoned there)

Moving on

So, we had all that Old Testament stuff and much of it was really helpful at a time when coming up with any rule based system was problematic. Along comes ‘Jesus’ (Maybe not his real name, see accuracy of writing above), and he effectively acknowledged how useful it was but rather taught that his followers were now meant to follow his lead, he alone spoke for his father ‘God’ so, his words and his words alone were the direct words of God. As we established previously, very little in the Old Testament writings was said to be directly from God, yes, thank you Moses, I’ve not forgotten you’re part in this.

Since the coming of Jesus religious groups have been really busy.

The Jews argue that actually, Jesus was nothing special, a profit at best. The Muslims rather went with Allah, Latter Day Saints, John Smith other religions just going way out there doing whatever. The Catholics, bless them, still proclaim to have a direct link with God and claim to speak for him and, only they can rewrite the bible or add addendums to it because it was what God wanted them to do. The Church of England only exists because Henry VIII of England couldn’t get his own way and divorce his first wife.

Now, we can each individually decide which faith groups have it right and which wrong, I’d argue, most of them, the majority and the largest of them, have it wrong.

Who is right?

Effectively, no one can claim to be absolutely right and those who do must be absolutely wrong because, quite simply put, they were not there.

What most of these people taught us, add Jesus and Allah in there (Not sure what the Jews are holding onto to), both of those spoke of peace, love, understand, respect and so on.

Neither wrote anything, to my knowledge, about having to have strong religious leaders dictating to ‘their’ followers how they ‘must’ live their lives.

Jesus really gave people one simple choice, follow him and his way of thinking and, it’s all cool, you will be rewarded. He may or may not have mentioned heaven, that actually really doesn’t much matter. For Jesus, doing the right thing was the reward in of itself. Imagine if you had the power in yourself to improve the life of someone else, isn’t there a huge emotional reward in that? I know there is because of all those videos on TikTok showing people doing it and how many likes they get so … lots of people instinctively know that. It is this knowing which means we ‘get’ it.

Do we get it if we are mean to people all week then go to Church on Sunday, say a few prayers and go home ready to start another week of being mean? I think not.

So, what of going to church?

Back to interpretation again. Whoever said that ‘church’ was a building or needed someone wearing a dress at the front telling us what to do?

Have you ever just been out some time and suddenly you look around and everything is just perfect? That is the church of God, that is where you will find the meaning of the whole faith thing.

Take this, just a road. But look beyond, all that crisp whiteness, a perfect high cloud sky, that’s perfection right there, see beyond the barriers.

The classic sunset, trail lights from planes carrying people living their dreams, that’s the church right there

Water, all over the place providing and sustaining life, that’s where the church is, that is where we find our spiritual leader.

We can find the true meaning of religion all around us if we just look and this is what was trying to be conveyed over the thousands of years since anyone tried to tell anyone else. Stop, look, feel and understand. When you feel that magic, share it.

How has religion been corrupted?

Church of England: Only started so that one man could go back on a promise he made to someone. Several hundred years later it is ruled by an adulterer who married the woman he was having sex with whilst married, that’s not idle gossip, it’s the truth. But, at least I am free to say that.

Catholic Church, they’ve added so many things to what their followers must and must not do as though they are the direct orders of God, most of those things go against what Jesus taught. They are also, as are other faiths, about any part of the Old Testament they feel doesn’t need to be followed and which does. They do not know, God does not directly speak to them or any part of their faith but they force their followers to believe it or be cast out. They have a huge wealth whilst people around the world starve to death. Their Pope makes is very clear he believes that homosexuality is a sin because those who the Catholic church chose to interpret the scriptures were told to latch onto anything which divided and weakened. Let us not be under any delusions here, to control people you must threaten them and weaken them, create division and force them to choose. Is this the art of a loving faith in line with the actual words of Jesus who said nothing about homosexuality, nothing about men being superior and so on. But, at least I am free to say that.

Muslims, That is about as much as I dare write about them, that certainly should not be right from any faith group?

Jews, Likewise, we are not allowed to say they do anything at all wrong, it’s just strictly not allowed. Anything they do has to be right, it cannot be reported otherwise, indeed, their belief system is classed by many as a ‘race’, a state which cannot be disagreed with. The holocaust only happened to them, not to the gays, to the disabled, to the Polish or, indeed, anyone Hitler chose to get rid of yet, it has to be seen as a Jewish thing, one only the Jews were victims of, they managed to get their own country on the strength of it! Crazy stuff. But, at least I am free to say that. though I will be condemned as wrong because, this is the way for some reason.

It’s an old clich√© but

Why can we not all get along?

The answer?

Religion stops us, we have to be right in our own faiths because that is what the leaders of those faiths tells us, only ‘we’ are right and ‘they’ are wrong. What if there was no ‘us’ but just ‘we’? Wouldn’t that make for a better place? Just people being kind, showing the love, getting along.

It’ll never happen.

Dear Mum

Dear Mum

When I had nightmares is was about losing you. I’d wake up sweating after you had fallen off a cliff or just stopped breathing reading your book (Catherine Cookson most likely). Sometimes, because of those dreams I’d just sit there watching you making sure you were still breathing. You were my world, my anchor, my rock.

I was growing up, I know I wasn’t being myself, I know that how I appeared to be was what Dad expected me to be, all the men in the family were real men, top of their sports. They were not like me, I was not like them. I wanted to have that conversation about how I felt different but, I had time, I knew I had time and, well, I was a long while off grown up yet and, things might change, isn’t that what they say? You never really know for sure, not whilst you are young?

Mum, I should have told you, I should have got to know you as an adult and not kept myself your little boy. It was my safe space, my sanctuary to come home to you, things as they always were, even with the upsets of the mid 1980’s you remained my mum.

Only once did I ever feel like I was a grown up with you, that night you sobbed to me about Dad, how you needed me to be strong for you, and I was. It felt amazing to be there for you and yet, I still didn’t commit myself to saying what I should have said. You never knew me and, I suspect, I never really got to know you as a woman either.

You last knew me as the immature young man rushing into a marriage, a kid on the way and making a mess of life. I didn’t think about you then, I didn’t need to, everything was going to be good. You’d have your first grandchild, we would find a way to make that work, you would get to spend some great times together. You would be his rock as you had been mine.

After that horrible morning a great many years ago this week I went back to our home. Your dressing gown was where you left it on the bed, I folded it up not knowing quite what to do with it. I cried. Your brush was in the bathroom with your hair in it, I cried again. So much of you was there except, you. You had been an angel in the shape of my mum and God wanted you back. It released you from all that physical and emotional pain and, for that, I shall always thank him, he did the right thing.

But, mum, I didn’t get to know you. I thought I had more time, I didn’t.

Mum, I am gay, I always have been as long as I can remember. Trying to be straight was so hard for me. Too screwed up to be myself, too afraid to make a leap of faith and trust I’d be held.

I am sorry, I am sure that where you are you see me. I am happy now. Being gay is only one part of me, I am the little boy all grown up. I still and always will need my mum. Thank you for the love you gave to me.

You would have liked Dennis I think, you would love your grandchildren and great grandchildren, they would have love you so much too.

I miss you mum, love you always

Your son, Steven