Monday, 2 December 2013

Smashing Pumpkins

It is the best part of a year since this blog last bloviated.
Well, we are now hanging out the shingle again. The reasons for the lacuna are too boring to go into.
...Unlike this story from Yahoo a day or so ago.

Pow! Smack in the middle. Nose!
Pow!! Upper and to left. Eye!
Pow!!! Upper and to right. Other eye!
Powpowpowpowpow!!!!! Below in a line. Mouth!

I have often pondered the mysterious American love of guns, but suddenly it all comes clear. They are to make funny faces on pumpkins with. 
This makes perfect sense, within the context of America. 
A pity though, that this instructional video only came to light after the shooting of Trayvon Martin - or Mr. Zimmerman, the intrepid gunman, might have used it as a logical reason for blowing the lad away: 
"I mistook him for a pumpkin." 
Why did you do that? 
''Because he was unarmed, like pumpkins are. And kind of orangey-brownish coloured." Happily for American justice, such a defence was not required. 
Although it is no less reasonable than the one employed.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Gina and Evelyn and God Revisited.

Gina: Unconvincing as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I thought.

A disturbing story. How many times might I have been married when I wasn't there?

Well, as if that wasn't enough, Toad has folded in his resolution not to comment on CP&S. And is now filled with shame for his irresolution and rashness.
But it's simply not worth it. And I shouldn't do it. But I am weak.
Not only that, but I've started re-watching Brideshead Revisited on Youtube.
This is likely to prove practically a lifetime's work, between firewood cutting and dog walking, as it is 14 hours long in all,
I have seen about four hours worth so far.
It was first shown in 1981, and is a magnificent achievement.
In these sordid and crisis-ridden times, the mere idea of such a vast and costly project would be considered a crazy dream.
Watching it today, the splendour and near perfection of it all, the beautiful sets, the quality of the acting, the elegant direction, I feel rather like some gawking peasant in the dark ages looking at the Aqueduct in Segovia, and wondering what kind of superhuman beings could have wrought such a marvel.
It's what television drama ought to be about. It covers, as far as I can see, every line and nuance of the Waugh novel, something no cinema movie could even hint at, then or ever.
I did wonder if such a comparatively trivial work was worth the effort, but that is, I think, not a fair objection.
Yes, the characters are - almost without exception, detestable - but that only makes the whole thing irresistably watchable, and true to the source material.
And yes, the deathbed re-conversion of Lord Marchmain is absurd. But it is absurd in the book, as well, along with Waugh's philistine snobbery and pretension.
I suppose if it was re-made today, it would be called, "I'm a Catholic celebrity - get me out of here!" Because that's the theme, really. Some things never change..

Monday, 28 January 2013


A person who shall be nameless, Jim - in fact - has written asking me why I no longer post on Catholicism Pure & Simple.

A look at the latest sample will put you straight, Jim lad.

Wherin a certain Father Dwight D. Longenecker, (I kid you not) offers his eager readers a sample of his latest book which appears to be a brutal and unscrupulous rip-off of Poor Old, Long-Dead (half a century), Protestant, C.S.Lewis's Screwtape Letters.

This is what literary depths Catholicism has sunk to since Lewis's death.

This is the best their intellectuals can do, it seems. Dig up Lewis, dust him off, and set him shambling around his fevered inner world of demons, hobgoblins, boogy men, devils, and afeets (my favourites).

Better hope Cecil's lawyers are dead as well. Lawyers can be the very devil.

What persuaded me that I was not only wasting my time, which is inexpensive, but also wasting my brain - which is also inexpensive, but in dangerously short supply these days -  on CP&S, was an offer of a very nasty looking crucifix for, as far as I remember, 17 euros, which had an indulgence built in.
At which point I saw the light, or, as the Faithful would have it - the dark.

I still look at it most days, (CP&S, that is, not the crucifix) and am mildly interested to see that John Henry, an old chum on there, is - like me and the dog in the Sherlock Holmes story, no longer barking in the night, at least not a present.

Maybe just too busy, though, wrestling with The Devil.
I can sympathise.

(Is it necessary to believe in Satan to be a Catholic? I can't remember. Probably.)

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Answers in Genesis

Many thanks to Kathleen on CP&S for running this link on there.

It sets out, neatly and concisely, a very great many of the objections I have regarding organised religion.

It's this kind of material that makes me increasingly confident in the total implausibility of it all.

Here's just one example:"True, the earth and animals too have a place in God’s economy, but essentially, the world was created as a place for man to live (e.g. Romans 8:19–22)." A year or so, I would probably have laughed that off with a mild joke. Now it seems open and pernicious nonsense and the root of much contemporary evil. I honestly believe that and, instinctively and viscerally, disagree with the idea.

And then the author, one Prof. Randle-Short, apparently - gravely tells us:"Adam mirrored Christ the man of Galilee even more nearly than Christ would have resembled his own half-brothers. If this is so, it seems almost blasphemy to consider Adam sired by a shambling ape."
It would be, I suggest, hard to find any ape more shambling than, for example, myself. Or Randle-Short himself, I shouldn't wonder.
Most apes are very nimble indeed. Any fool knows that.

Since I retired, about eight years back, I've been thinking about God, as we envisage Him, a very great deal and the more I do so the less likely it all seems to become. An honest God may well be the noblest work of man, but we haven't succeeded so far, I believe.

I'm also beginning to think Dawkins is emerging as a major figure of our times, and for history. Rather like Huxley.
I might ultimately be proved wrong of course, but I'll be long dead and won't care.

The article above is forced  - yet again - to dig up and dust off poor old C.S.Lewis, dead himself these many years, and set him tottering shakily about, muttering to himself: "..A clever waxwork can be made so like a man that for a moment it deceives us; the great portrait which is far more deeply like him does not."
So what? A painting is not like a waxwork, We know that.

Well, what's the alternative? Chesterton? And Lewis not even able to swallow Catholicism on his own behalf.
Did try though. Inbedded tribal loyalties were too strong.
That's what it's all about, really.

Dawkins is alive. I think he will go into history rather like Shaw, Wells and Russell. Quoted less and less frequently as the years pile up, but respected.
And remembered.
Why do the Christians, let alone the Catholics, currently have nobody of his stature?
Can it be the "material" they are obliged to work with?

Under the skin

"There is still an enormous abyss in what truly distinguishes man from ape, primarily man’s ability to “know” and “love” God. Only man was created in His Image and Likeness."...Declares one of my friends on CP&S. It would be bad manners to post a piece like the following on a Catholic blog, I think. Imposing on its tolerance. But it needs to be said

And there is still an emormous abyss between lobsters and horses, or rabbits and sharks, or oak trees and mosquitos.
But they all have a common ancestor, along with the detestable human being..
So, we must all be made in God's likeness, if any of us are: from ant to aardvark..
Could God be a giant lobster?

But I think that would be looking down the wrong end of the telescope.

The logical way to look at it is, that if the CP&S crowd are correct and we are made in God's likeness, then God must be a semi-sane, vicious, illogical, cruel, arrogant, aggressive and ugly monster like his beloved and chosen humans.
Gorillas are none of those things, sadly for them. So, no "immortality" for them.
Even if they are exceptionally badly behaved.

Each of us humans God loves to bits, it seems, and "wants" us to be happy.. No matter how disturbingly near some of us are to His own image.

Personally, I'd far sooner spend as much of my time as possible in the company of less intelligent, less nasty, less self-deceiving, and better looking members of our great world family of animals.
Like dogs or monkeys, lizards or goats.

We are the 5th ape. There's still a slender chance one of the other four might yet evolve into "consciousness" in a decent fashion.
And become immortal as well. When you think about it, there¡s no more practical chance of mankind "knowing and loving" God than there is of a flea "knowing and loving" a dog.

I suppose that what it boils down to, is even if we are made in God's image, there's no reason to condemn any of us to eternal damnation on our looks.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Education: A Wonderful Thing Wasted on the Young

I'm still brooding on the video of Dawkins from the earlier post here.

Dawkins naturally caught some flack recently - and many a wail of "Persecution," when he said that giving a child a Catholic education was a form of child abuse.
It does seem a bit  far-fetched, but when you think about it a little more, he has a point.
But that goes not only for Catholic "education" but for any other kind of "education" with an agenda. Many Muslims, Jews, Lutherans, Mormons, Quivering Brethren, whatever - choose to ensure their kids get their heads stuffed with the particular brand of nonsense to which they suscribe.
Would any Catholic want his kid's head to be stuffed with Quivering Brethren nonsense? I think not!
And vice versa.

I speak as one whose own head was duly stuffed by teams of nuns and priests from the age of five.
At seven I was told that, if I died in mortal sin, I would burn in Hell forever.
It wasn't intended to be cruel, but was it? It certainly rattled me a bit at the time.
And I'm reminded of one of the ladies on CP&S who, at enormous expense, no doubt, sent her boy to a top Catholic public school to be subjected to the requisite stuffing.
Unfortunately, by some mischance, or mischief, one of the masters there was an Atheist, and stuffed the lad's head with that, to great effect and much dismay.
Nonsense, to be sure, but the wrong brand of nonsense!

This would be a shocking state of affairs were it not so funny.

I'm also minded to re-read "Hard Times," where Gradgrind insists on children being taught only facts. This also seems a bit limited, but when you consider what religious, jingoistic, racist, sexist, tripe children have been force-fed over the years, maybe he had a point.

In one of Waugh's "Sword of Honour" novels, Guy Crouchback's father, an ex-schoolmaster, is told that ...
"This school's aim is to make the boys fit to succeed in the modern world."
"That seems to me to be a very wicked thing to do," is his reply.

So, what should children actually be taught?
Maths? Surely.
Reading? Surely.
Hand writing? Why bother?
Art? Hard to teach.
Music? Maybe.
History? Why?
Science? Too controversial?
How to navigate the net? Probably.

I have several schoolteacher friends. Their input here would be much appreciated.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Darwin/Dawkins for Dummies

I found the first seven minutes, as Dawkins talks with the youngsters, deeply depressing. But not deeply surprising.

But then, I wondered, why was it that at their age or even younger, I was almost eager to dump what I had been taught about God, which was already becoming hard to swallow? Must thank my Catholic upbringing for that, I suppose.

I remember being in the Natural History Museum at no more than 12 years old, possibly  onlly 9 or 10, looking at the skeleton of a snake and thinking that it was remarkably similar to that of a human, minus arms and legs, of course, but a skull and a backbone.

Nowadays I can see that Natural Selection does not rule out the existence of a god, or gods. But it certainly puts it into question, big time.
The real religious problem it raises is when - and how - does the "Immortal Soul" whatever that is, get in?

The video here has given me increased respect for Richard Dawkins. It's one of three, all well done, and Dawkins himself is a top class presenter - dedicated to his subject, but not carried away; lucid, articulate and compelling.

But what strikes me as truly admirable is that  he is willing to subject himself to a variation of intellectual martrydom by voluntarily speaking with the most detestable people imaginable to pursue the truth.
Saintly conduct it seems to me. And his old-fashioned, British good manners never seem to fail him.
Clearly what set him off on his anti-god crusade originally was the increasing, blinkered, vicious imbecility of anti-Darwinists.

He, and that includes we, won't win.
Mindless stupidity will always trump reason.
Always has. 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The World: It might have been made for us

We always had Grace At Mealtimes in our house...

Donald, on here points out something I heard the late Christopher Hitchens assert in a in a old YouTube debate I was watching only the day before: That the idea of a "virgin birth" might well spring from a misstranslation, as what Mary actually was, was an "unmarried woman" rather than a necessarily a virgin.

Well, maybe, but I haven't got that far into Holy Scripture yet. Nor, to be honest, am I ever likely to.
 I'm still trying to cope with the idea that the entire universe was put here for the sole benefit of Homo Sapiens.

The Moon, for example was created, designed, actually, by God simply in order that people could write silly songs about it. Intelligent design at work. Right down to the fact that it rhymes with "June."
Did you really think that was an accident? No, mate. All part of God's Great Plan.

To begin at the beginning, in fact. Where God says, "Let there be light" before He's created any light sources. Of course, it's not to be taken literally, well not that bit, anyway. Other bits, yes.


Again, can it be concidence that Dog is God spelled backwards? Apparently, yes. Or the Spanish for "Dog" would be "Soid."

So the question is, how are we to know what to take seriously, and what not?
Listen to what God tells us, apparently. But then, how are we to know if what God tells us is really...Oh, shut up, Toad.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Islam for Dummies

I thought this well worth watching. The presenter is a bit off-putting, to me at least, but it's very well done. Takes an hour, though, so make a sandwich first.
The whole series is rather good.

Interesting to think that if you'd had the misfortune to have been born in Europe around 750, the least horrible, most nearly civilised, place you could find to live would have been Cordoba.

Although I no longer "post " on CP&S, the offerings there are getting splendidly loonier and loonier and the urge to comment is correspondingly powerful.
However, my strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure. So I will resist.

One of the latest is about a wax figure of Saint John Bosco with, apparently, some bits of bones and tissue of the saint stuck inside, which is travelling Europe to be venerated.
Take a look. The interior of Liverpool Cathedral (familiarly known locally as "Paddy's Wigwam")  in the accompanying photos seems to be lit like a rather tacky disco.

Sunday Morning Fever.

It is advertised as the British leg of a world tour. Bit like Black Sabbath. No mention of a Tee-shirt, though.

STOP PRESS: CP&S has now topped even that with one on profanity. Toad is - naturally- lost for appropriate words, by Jove.


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Gay's Not The Word. From Now On, At Least...

Catholicism in a nutshell. A little, brown, probably poor, lady crouches to kiss the massive and imposing ring of the georgeously and sumptously-clad leader of Catholics in England. Whose hat comes to a point. Deliberately.
It is very difficult to adhere to my resolution not to post any more on The Catholic blog, especially when the latest story is that Gay Masses in Soho have been banned by the man in the picture above.
Now, you and I know that Archbishop Nichols pictured above is not actually in "drag," or "cross-dressing" here, like some of the erstwhile worshippers in Soho, itself the notorious moral sewer of London.  

But there are those who might just imagine such an absurd thing.
Ignorance, to be sure, but has The Church ever explained why it's necessary for the likes of Vincent to go about wearing such outre outfits?

If Gays dressed up as Cardinals or Bishops, or whatever, and started capering about blessing one another and kissing each others' rings in public, no doubt there would be some sort of uproar and cries of "Blasphemy!" and maybe even "Persecution!"
After all, what's sauce for the goose..(which is an expression that seems to have nothing to do with the case here.)
But, we must suppose Nichols did The Right Thing here.
I recall hearing  of one utterly disgraceful incident during Benediction, when, while an altar boy was proceeding up the aisle swinging the smoking censer, one of the congregaytion leaned over and whispered loudly, "Excuse me, Sweetie-pie, but did you know your handbag's on fire?"
But, when I come to think about it, I might have made that up.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


When I downloaded, this lovely picture it was captioned "Angry Jesus." Well, "grumpy" might be nearer the mark. "Miffed," possibly?

CP&S have reprinted this piece from "America: The National Catholic Review," a web magazine from, as one might reasonably expect, the U.S.

It is worth a read. And I have re-reprinted it, the link at least.
Spreading The Good Word!
The author - a Jesuit, may well I suspect, rue the day he wrote it.

It is, as you see, heavily ironic.
And several centuries in journalism have persuaded me that irony will  inevitably be taken literally by the vast majority of readers.
And the Jesuit will get a lot of frothing letters expressing horror at the willful misreading of Christ's message.
Personally I'm in favour of irony. Let the chips from the whiners' shoulders fall where they may.
But then, I'm not a Jesuit.

The illustration above also amused me; Jesus as what I've described before as "The Surbiton Hippy," though, as this is from America, let's call him "The San Francisco Hippy."
One thing he is clearly not is a Jew from Palestine. Not a swarthy product of the troubled and detestable  Middle East.

Wearing, it appears, a dressing gown over his spotless T-shirt, and with shoulder-length hair. And a goddam beard, already! Like Karl Marx! Probably a Commie!

It's the hair that gets me, though.
I enjoy imagining this "dude" showing up on the doorstep of some devout Irish-American Catholic, in Boston asking for a "...bit of bread, please, man.." only to be crisply advised to, "... go forth and multiply! " ..or words roughly to that effect,  "...And get a proper job, while you're about it. Long-haired bum."

But of course this scenario is not possible, as, thankfully, he'd never have got through immigration control anyway. Not looking like that.
So, that's all right.

Of course, there's always the chance that the Jesuit's offering will be treated, not with either approval or horror, but with utter indifference.
Could happen.
These matters interest me, but not, it seems, too many others these days. Which may be all to the good.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year's Revolution

Well, I, as Toad, have sacked myself from the day job on Catholicism Pure & Simple. I've been thinking for some months now that my presence there wasn't doing either of us any good.
Then yesterday, there was an "article" about a sort of crucifix which was so idiotic that it made me spit out the bullet, pull up the Rubicon, bite the drawbridge and throw the dummy out with the bath water, if you get my meaning.
Encouraging this lunacy had got to stop.

Exraordinary, that several regular contributors on the CP&S site are clearly intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate people.
But then, they believe things that a seven-year-old illiterate Patagonian peasant with a learning disability would find putting an undue strain to his credulity.

CP&S followed up today with a piece about Aids in Africa, illustrated by an absurd and practically obscene drawing.
Not that obscenity, in itself, really bothers me.
It's the principle of the thing.

The Catholic argument, against the use of condoms to help prevent the spread of Aids, seems to be that - very occasionally - they don't work. The condom breaks, or falls off, or whatever.

It's the same as  saying, "Let's not bother with seat belts, because they only prevent nine fatal accidents out of ten."
(Those figures are not "real" by the way, I made them up. To make the point.)

Enough of this tripe!

It's 2013!

And I have lived to see it! Only dimly, to be sure, but what the heck!

I'm not overly optimistic over what this year may bring the world in general, but we will soldier grimly on. We have no choice.

"Gods bless, us, every one, " says Tiny Toad.