Radio Ulster Talk Back host
image from www.bbc.co.uk
that they make you ask yourself “What have we become?”
One such story was on her programme “Talk Back” last Friday at noon. The background was reasonably simple; a pregnant woman had gone into a Belfast restaurant with friends to have lunch. The pregnant woman who “was so big she could be seen from space,” asked for a drink of water.
Amazingly, the restaurant would serve the woman a drink of tap water. They would sell her water but not from the tap. What was even more ridiculous was that this Belfast restaurant let the woman and her friends leave the premises and take their business elsewhere.
In fairness to the restaurant, a representative of their business, one Brendan O’Neill, came on the show to give their position. The poor man was defending the indefensible and the attitude of the people Wendy brought on showed this.
One man, Rory McShane, who was a solicitor and whom Wendy had asked about the legal position on giving a drink of water, said that the restaurant was not obliged to give water to anyone. However, he did say that from a business and social point of view it was a “mortal sin” to refuse the woman.
At this Brendan O’Neill said what was the most revealing statement in the whole discussion: “As an atheist I would not worry about that!”
In nine words, “As an atheist I would not worry about that,” Brendan O’Neill summed up the whole difference in the world view between an atheist and a person who believes there is a God. Now, before I go any further I have to say that I know nothing about Mr O’Neill, he may be the most caring and giving man there is, but that is not the point.
The point is that the world view of the modern utilitarian mindset (where everything must have a value and viewed with an eye for profit) and that of the more primitive, and some would say old fashioned view that there is a God and that this God laid down certain rules and regulations about caring for our neighbour.
In the modern atheist world, people do not count. Profit is the motive and people are seen only as a means to the end; the making of profit. In a land that is awash with water, a pregnant woman could not be given a drink unless there was a profit gained in their action.
We do the same with our children. If any one of them said now that they wanted to be a priest the parents would most likely say, “Don’t waste your life on that.” An act of charity or a life of service is seen as a waste.
Villages die because people can save a penny going to the shopping centre. Shop workers have to work Sunday because Sunday is a shopping day now and shops have to reach their full potential. Big stores with easy credit at high interest, banks and financial institutions with hidden charges, all these and many others, are ways of exploiting people for gain.
But that is the life we choose in our modern world. The idea of giving a glass of water to a pregnant woman is old fashioned and not cost effective. It would cost money to pay a waiter to carry it to the table and later clean it.
However, if there are any women out there, pregnant or otherwise, and if they are in the Clady area and need a cup of water, then they can call at Casa Turlough where I or my dear wife shall furnish you with a drink of water, free of charge.
I’ll listen to the promise of a man who lived a couple of thousand years ago: “If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones........”
You know, with all this recession and financial crisis stuff we could be heading back to the dark ages. Did you ever wonder how the “dark ages” got their name? Well I think I have the answer.
It turns out that in the middle of the dark ages a huge gamma ray blast, the type of thing you see in Star Trek, hit planet earth and put out all the lights. Better than that we know the date the rays hit us from types of carbon and beryllium atoms in the ice and in trees.
“These isotopes are created when intense radiation hits the atoms in the upper atmosphere, suggesting that a blast of energy had once hit our planet from space.
Using tree rings and ice-core data, researchers were able to pinpoint that this would have occurred between the years AD 774 and AD 775, but the cause of the event was a puzzle, said the scientists.”
The dark ages didn’t end for another two hundred years so it must have been some blast. We live in an absolutely amazing universe. We have everything from gamma rays to teapots and crocodiles.
In the town of Big Creek in Ohio an 18 inch crocodile was found in the sewer system. The poor wee thing was almost frozen and nearly dead.
"We have a lot of interesting things that come through the sewer system and we see a lot of things out and about. An alligator though is certainly a surprise," said NEORSD spokeswoman Jean Chapman.
It turns out that the crocodile was probably thrown down the toilet after being bought for Christmas and not wanted. They should have a slogan out there, “A croc is for life not just for Christmas.”
A crocodile in the sewer; it’s like the Mad Hatters tea party. Or as the Mad Hatter said to Alice, “But for a proper cup of tea one would need a golden tea pot; to drink from anything else would be inferior.”
The Golden Teapot
Co Derry, Ireland
Puffs of steam peeping from
the spout every 20 seconds.
Now it so happens that I know where a Hatter, mad or otherwise, could lay their hand upon a golden teapot. In the year of Our Lord 2013 or 2013C.E. there is a year of culture in Derry and as a contribution to said year an ancient monument of the city, one Golden Teapot, has been brought out of storage.
2013C.E. is the modern way of saying 2013AD. CE stands for Common Era. The poor old atheists can’t even acknowledge Jesus in an abbreviation, AD, Anno Domini, the year or Our Lord. But I digress. Back to the Mad Hatter and his golden teapot!
It is actually a very beautiful thing, hanging proudly above a jewellers shop in the town, between two large second floor windows. The teapot must be about four feet tall and is perfectly proportioned in its bright yellow colour. There were people out taking photos of it when I saw it and it is certainly worth seeing.
Derry culture; have a cup of tea. Belfast culture: no water at the inn.
Mind you, if you had a golden teapot above you’re shop door in Italy you would have a few questions to answer.
In the latest crackdown on the Mafia in that country, the police and revenue people have begun targeting what they believe to be Mafia funded companies. They even have a separate government group called the “National Agency for the Management of Assets Confiscated from Organised Crime.”
It’s a bit like the Criminal Assets Bureaux in the Free State.
Thankfully such agencies are not needed here. There were never any businesses funded or started by “you know who.”
However, I hasten to add that this was not for any altruistic reason; it was simply that our collection of freedom fighters and criminals saw it coming. “Saw what coming?” I hear you ask.
Why, our Triple Dip recession, of course. We in the UK are now into our third dip in output in a row. A Triple Dip sounds like something you would ask for when you are buying an ice cream, “Could I have a triple dip with that please,” and it would be funny if it were not for its seriousness.
This recession malarkey has been going on for years and it does not appear to be coming to an end. While it may have a funny sounding name, thousands if not hundreds of thousands shall lose jobs or have to take a severe cut in living standards.
A recent report in the New York Times showed that in the US, industrial workers were earning less now in real terms than they were in 1966. Any comparison here would be similar. We are the first generation from the beginning of the industrial revolution that shall leave our children worse off than we were. And we know we are doing it!
My generation, born in the fifties, watch house prices like a hawk; we follow every item of news about increase or decline with glee. We want the price to go up because it makes us feel rich and secure.
But increased house prices prevent our children from getting on to the property ladder. We protect our overtime, our pensions and our perks, while we watch our children head off to Australia.
And we hoard our money in the bank, afraid to spend it and get the economy moving because the Triple Dip recession fills us with fear.
Why do we live in fear? Why do middle aged people who have their families reared hoard money and worry about the future? Sure, these are bad times, but we shall get through it. Recessions come and recessions go, I’m not going to spend whatever years I have left worrying about money and stuff like that.
This closing off of ourselves, this battening down the hatches mentality, is getting us nowhere. The whole of western society is changing. God and our neighbour, as we saw in a restaurant in Belfast last week, have been thrown out the window. The desire for ever greater profits has taken over.
But what is the change in western society? That’s the question that the politicians and bankers can’t ask, because the answer is too terrible for them to believe. And yet the answer and its solution are very simple.
Image by Peter Schrank
Our economies cannot go on growing forever. There is a limit to the amount we can grow. Our populations, our factories and our ideas are not young enough, fresh enough or vital enough to keep us up with new vibrant areas of the world.
India has 750 million young people under 25; they are highly educated, motivated and their society still has some integrity.
The EU now accounts for 19% of world economic output. By 2050, in the lifetime of many of us and definitely in the lifetime of our children, the EU portion of the world economic output shall have shrank to 9%.
We cannot go on living the way we are and at the standard we have come to expect. Even the British chancellor admits that it shall be 2018 before we see any real recovery. Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, says that European economies shall be stagnant this year and that world growth shall slow to a crawl.
And yet we are surviving. When shall people catch on that we don’t need constant economic growth and ever bigger houses and cars to live well?
It used to be that a good second hand car was enough, next any new car was a bonus, and then it had to be a BMW. Now if it ain’t a BMW X6 you are ashamed to be seen in it. Utter insanity.
I think I’ll sing a song.
“Where have all the bungalows gone, long time passing?
Where have all the bungalows gone, long time ago?”
Did you catch the tune?
The serious point I’m trying to make is that we are all going to have to adjust to a society where we shall have less and where our expectations shall have to be lowered. Actually this is good news for us, the ordinary working people.
image from www.secretsofthefed.com
Like most of you I have never been rich. Also, thank God, I have never been poor. The adjustment to a more cautious, prudent society shall not be a huge adjustment for me. Strange how we began this column with a story about an atheist and a glass of water and how now we come to a point where the best reference we can make is to monks and nuns.
When they take their final vows, monks and nuns take a vow of poverty. This vow does not mean that they live on nothing or that they never have anything. It means that the monk and the nun should aim to live a life that shows the world that enough is enough, that we don’t need excess and that we can get by on what we have.
They bear witness to the fact that we don’t need a sitting room where you could play five-a-side football or a car with a driver’s seat as far above the ground as the cockpit of a Concord. We can live very well if we can content ourselves with less.
People have always been greedy. It is not a new phenomenon. But those who are going to be successful in the next few generations are those who can adapt to doing with less.
The greedy person shall never have en.......
“Sorry, have to go now. There are a dozen pregnant women at the door looking for a drink of water. This is my chance to make a handy score of quid; eat your heart out, Brendan.”
“Our God is a great God.”
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published in Observer Newspaper group, N.I.
31st Jan '13