Thursday, 17 April 2008

Theologian needed

This is a very dull blog, I fear.

But if there are any theological experts out there who understand this kind of thing, I really would like an answer, or at least an opinion.

Yesterday, when George W. was schmoozing with Pope Ratzinger, he said he agreed with the old Pontiff that relativism was a Bad Thing.

Scarce 50 years ago, when I was at a Catholic school in London, the priest who taught us Religious Knowledge (surely an oxymoron?) told us, among other things, that Limbo existed and that eating meat on Fridays was a sin. Later in life, in the States, friends told me they were taught that the meat rap was, in fact, a mortal sin. I seem to remember it being venial, but that´s not the issue here.

Now, I gather, Limbo either never did exist, or else they have shut it down, and meat eating on Fridays is off the sin list. Am I right?

Because if I am, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of relativism. If believing in Limbo was relatively right then, how can it be relatively wrong today? And what happened to the sinful meat eaters up to when they re-wrote the score?
Are they still doing time in Purgatory? At least until that goes to hell the way Limbo has?

Can a sin stop being a sin without relativism getting involved? Not as far as I can see.

I suppose Galileo was relatively wrong in his day. Maybe, for Ratzinger, he still is.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Birds, Women, Guns, Bibles and Dogfights.

Four topics today.

1: The Peaceable Kingdom, as my wife calls our set-up here, has a new member, a canary. He is grey-ish and looks more like a sparrow, but he sings like nothing on earth. Provisionally, he is called Bob (for Dylan), but that might change. Camaron (for De la Isla), Jussi (for Bjorling), and Sidney (for Bechet) are contenders. Placido (for Domingo) would be the obvious choice, but we have already given that name to a wild bird who likes to warble in our garden.

2: A couple of days ago now, President Zapatero presented his new cabinet. Out of 17 ministers, nine are women. Just in case George Bush is reading this, that is more than half.
One, a 37 year old, clearly about six months pregnant, is now the Minister of Defence. Another, at 31, is the youngest Minister ever in Spain and possibly the world, for all I know. Apparently, the snide comment in Madrid, is along the lines of, ¨Plenty of women, but no fat ones.¨ Nor, as a columnist for El Pais pointed out, no elderly, disabled, homosexuals, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, or extraterrestrials, either. Call that inclusive?
For readers from the Midwest, (more on there later) I must point out that the writer was being ironic.

All this is excellent, particularly when today´s news featured a couple of elderly men jointly responsible for a good percentage of the planet´s current woes - George Bush and Pope Ratzinger - were no doubt mutually congratulating one another on the mess they are making of things. Bin Laden was absent - more pressing things to do, no doubt. I wonder how much coverage the Spain women story got in the U.S. Must have a look later. Less than the old Pope, I expect.

3: It looks as if Barack has shot himself in the foot with one of the millions of guns the embittered old men in the Midwest own and rejoice in. Not that he was wrong, pointing out that America´s post-industrial towns are populated with embittered gunslingers. The trouble is he was exactly right. And telling the truth is political suicide in the States.
I speak from experience. I lived in Toledo, Ohio, then in Jeanette, Pa., and have known, and drunk - and even worked, with many such folk for nearly twenty years. They are often eaten up with anger and frustration over life. The world beyond means nothing to them. Hillary - or at least her team - almost certainly know Barack is correct. But they can now get all huffy about him insulting the poor ex-working man whose job is now in China, partly thanks to Bill Clinton.
Rifle in one hand, Bible in the other. Salt of the earth, don´t you know (the embittered old men, that is, not Clinton).
It has also been said that Obama´s remarks will give these voters in Pennsylvania the excuse they were looking for not to vote for him. This is balls. They don´t need an excuse. These kind of guys would never have voted for him anyway. They will not be too keen on voting for Hillary, come to that. McCain is their man, if Bush and Cheney are not an option. Rifle in one hand, Bible in the other.

4: Back to sanity.
Rebekah has just come back from walking the dogs. Tim got in a real knife and fork session with one of our neighbor´s dogs, a noted canine thug. Tim sent him scuttling with a bloody face and a torn ear.
Happy days in the Peaceable Kingdom.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Gut Reaction

It has been an exciting ten days, or so.
On good Friday I noticed that, to put it crudely, my shit was amiss. There was blood in it. This can be a bad sign. The same thing happened for the next four days, over the Easter weekend. I did not want to spoil the weekend for Reb, who was enjoying the parades of bleeding Jesuses and weeping Virgins, so I waited ´til Monday to tell her, as we were enjoying a tinto in the bullfight bar, in Palencia, surrounded by pictures of men in embroidered outfits being gored.
She took it well, and Tuesday we went to the local health centre in Villada and told the doc. He filled out a form and said to get over to the nearest hospital, which is also in Palencia, ahora mismo, which means right now. We were admitted promptly and I was told to get undressed and put on a dopey robe that was open all down the back. Some hours, and tests later, I was told I would be staying overnight at least, issued with pyjamas, a toothbrush and toiletries and put into a ward with a nice man called Cristi who worked for Renault and was having trouble with his groin.
After a not too uncomfortable night, and more, pre-dawn, tests, I was told that things were ´stable,´and I could go home and come back next week (today) for some big-time probing.
Which I did. They knocked me out and rummaged around inside. I didn´t feel a thing not even after I came round. Quite enjoyable, in a way.
While I was getting dressed again, the doctor told Reb, ¨He is all right, but he shan´t drink more Whisky, Orujo or Brandy.¨ I think he meant ¨shouldn´t.¨ Not a mention of my favourites, Gin and Vodka, but I suspect it is just that my vocabulary of booze is bigger than his.
Orujo, by the way is the local liquor. A couple of friends make their own in their barn. It seems that calling the hard stuff ¨Rotgut´can be literally true.
Anyway, I shan´t fail to do what the doc demands.
And I will drink a toast to the local health service.
In wine though; not Orujo, or Vodka, or even Gin.