Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Meaningless and Useless Life of a Man Named Ratzinger

After the shocking and unprecedented pronouncement of the retirement of pope Ratzinger, comes an even more startling statement from the self-appointed ambassador of god.

"I will retire and dedicate the rest of my life to prayer" announced the pontiff.

It appears Josef Ratzinger is not about to undergo a life change and become useful. He was never into change. He was never useful.

Educated to teach the meaningless and insignificant topic of theology (*), Ratzinger went on to become a priest and quickly climbed the slippery rungs of the Catholic ladder all the way to the throne of The Vatican.

A man whose delusion prevented him from becoming a useful member of society, Ratzinger has caused more suffering than most. His stance on contraception and condemnation of the use of condoms has encouraged the spread of AIDS that is ravaging the African continent - ironically the only part of the world where support for  christianity and catholicism is on the increase.

On the subject of homosexuality, widely accepted nowadays in tolerant societies, as it should be - a phenomenon observed and studied in hundreds of other animal species as part of normal behaviour -  Ratzinger said  ""although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder"

This from a man who has done so much to protect members of the clergy accused of sexual crimes against children and each other.

The pope has not only alienated the gay community; he has also offended Islam by saying in 2006 "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".

And he has offended the Jewish community by reappointing the excommunicated holocaust-denier Bishop Richard Williamson.

But the ultimate act of hypocrisy from the man who tells his followers to place their faith in god - that god will protect them from all evil - is that he himself chooses to place his trust in the 2" bullet-proof glass of his popemobile!

One would have thought his omnipotent boss would protect him. But then the pope is anything but a fool.



(*) Theology as an academic pursuit is what I consider a total waste of time and brain-power. No possible benefit to humanity can come from studying theology. Theology does nothing to ameliorate the human condition and even less to alleviate suffering and world poverty. As a study subject I consider it as futile an endeavour as spending years studying the life and times of Harry Potter...or Father Christmas...or Cinderella...or any other mythical concept.

Note to readers: Your comments would be much appreciated - I need views and opinions to help me with  the book I'm writing. 

:)

Monday, 25 February 2013

Like Tears in The Rain




Last night as I lay in bed, memories of a time gone by entered my head. And then I wrote this poem:

***

Like Tears in the Rain

Back in time, when love was our bond
we'd plan trips to places neither of us had been
And we'd laugh and cry, but most of the time
we were somewhere in between

One Autumn evening, I witnessed our fall
and all our plans oozed down the drain
Sentiments that were meant to last forever
were washed away, like tears in the rain

:(

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Gratitude is the saving grace





Life is wonderful.

Second only to my family and friends, life is the most precious gift.

Nature has been kind to me. My genetic replication has had few glitches along the way; none serious enough to cause me health problems.

I am grateful.

I had the good fortune to be born to parents who loved and nurtured me, allowed and encouraged me to think for myself.

I am grateful.

I had the good fortune to be born into a society where I was free to express myself and question everything from injustice to religious beliefs.

I am grateful.

I have two sons and a daughter who have grown into the kind of wonderful human beings any father would be proud of.

I am grateful.

I have an older brother who loves me as I love him, who nurtured my talent for music and who still helps me for no recompense.

I am grateful

I have a father any son would wish to have. A man with the dignity, sense of responsibility and style I have always looked up to.

I am grateful.

I have an ex wife, mother of my first two, who still checks up on me, insists on helping and has the uncanny ability to know exactly what I'm in need of most.

I am grateful.

I have lost two beloved younger siblings, victims of  unforeseen and tragic accidents - but they were my loving brothers for so many years.

I am grateful.

I have lost my dear mother - but I will always have her with me, in my heart and mind, as a constant reminder of all that is good in humanity.

I am grateful.


I have numerous friends whose love and support have been a constant source of comfort through the good times and the not so good.

I am grateful.


I have shared most of my life with women who have taught me much, and, most importantly, allowed me to experience the immense pleasure and fulfilment of intimate love.

I am grateful.

Life is indeed wonderful...

...and I am eternally grateful.

:)

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Wealth or Happiness?

I was asked recently by a friend, the hypothetical question - if I had to choose between wealth and happiness - what would my choice be? My friend was attempting to lift the gloom and raise my spirits and no doubt expected an instant reply that could be used to argue in favour of my present situation. As you know, I am presently undergoing a difficult transitional phase of adjustment to life in London.



After much deliberation, this is how I reached a conclusion.

The time in my life when I had the most disposable income was just after I sold my house in London, back in early 2007. The time of preparing a planned family move to Madeira. Those were stressful times and full of uncertainty and disagreement that led to the eventual breakdown of my marriage.

Although it was a time of affluence, when I could buy all I needed and a lot of what I didn't need, I remember mostly being unhappy, uncertain and unfulfilled. It was clearly a time of wealth without happiness.

Not something I want to experience again.

In contrast, the happiest moments in my life were in the last 18 months, when, as a single man living in Madeira, I lived a life full of music, constant socialising and making new friends.  The money was just enough. A case of having everything I needed but not necessarily everything I wanted.

Something I long to experience again.

As Mick Jagger once said "you can't always get what you want...you get what you need" defines perfectly my experience in Madeira.

The obvious conclusion is I want happiness, with or without wealth. But should the two ever combine, which I hope they do, I can't imagine ever asking for anything more.

:)










Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The meaning of life - Update



I wrote a post titled The Meaning of Life a couple of years back, and after re-reading it, decided to add a few more relevant points and some wonderful photos for your enjoyment. As we live and learn our ideas evolve along with everything else - at least it does for some of us.

Love and compassion - no god required

**

The Meaning of Life

Life has no meaning. Life needs no meaning.

Life's meaning is living life.

And that is why scientists and doctors, philosophers and deluded religious thinkers, have failed to come up with an answer. Life is for living, to the best of our ability.

We are not here for any purpose other than living the life bestowed upon us by Nature.  The gift of life comes with no conditions attached - never has and never will.

Nature has not given us or any other animal a life in order to indebt us to itself - it has no such agenda.

Nature expects nothing more from us than to live life. And when staying alive is not an option, it will absorb and recycle our remains and turn them into new life.

Nature has no bias towards good or evil, straight or gay, black or white, man or ant. It does not discriminate between the rich and poor, the giver and the taker, the maker or breaker; not even between the living or deceased.

Nature did not favour Mother Theresa over Adolf Hitler, or Florence Nightingale over Josef Stalin - it simply recycled both in the same uncompromising way it will recycle all of us.

Nature expects nothing but continuation and ensures life's longing for itself is the ultimate driving force - without judgement.

We are here to live the life we inherited, and if in the process we send forth our DNA by procreation, fine, if not, fine, there will be no retribution.  Nature bears no grudges and harbours no vengeful thoughts.

As social animals, we have developed laws and regulations, morals and activities likely to enhance our existence. All social animal groups display the same characteristics. You will find love and compassion, justice and fraternity in all animal social groups, from a pride of lions to a colony of ants, from a human village to a meerkat colony. Nature has bestowed upon its creations intelligence and common sense.

Humans are inherently good natured and will continue to strive to  improve the lives of all who share this great natural world of ours. Humans or any other animal group does not need to invent an almighty god to acquire morals and guidance, it needs only to study the world around us. The answers to social success are already available, one only needs to study Nature to get the answers. For examples of social cohesion and mutual benefit cooperation, look no further than a colony of Emperor penguins; or a band of gorillas; a school of dolphins, and countless more.

Here are some displays of friendship among animals - and no god-given moral code required!











Nature has one commandment; 'Let there be life'.

Humanity needs only to add another;  'Treat others as you'd like to be treated'.

:)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Tears...of a convivial man


Below is a short poem I wrote last night.   It reflects my struggle in adjusting to life here in London after being away so long. A reflection of my homecoming.

What is "home"?   

Presently, home is a house, like all others. A structured shelter, devoid of meaning and soul unless those I love most enter and dwell within.

And that...is not happening.

***

Tears

Tears flow gently
warm against my skin
sudden and intensely
tears from deep within

Tears flow gently
as messengers of doom
proclaiming intently
my self-imposed gloom

Tears are still flowing
Details are washed away
but memories remain sowing
tears for another day

***

And as each day passes, the more I question the wisdom of my decision. 

:(

Friday, 15 February 2013

100 Words: When the sun went down

I met her * at Estudasses Bar.  I was with brother and a mutual friend when we were introduced.

I liked her instantly. Her beauty and raw energy immediately turned her into the focus of all my attention.

Note to reader: Anonymity is prudent in uncertainty

To say I was drawn to her dazzling smile is an understatement.  And in that 'sawdust-and-dodgy-character' bar, only she sparkled - like a diamond over scattered wood chips.

We spoke of our love of London and music, and music we love.

She is gorgeous, captivating and a talented singer.

Love her.

I came to London.

Can't get her out of my mind...don't want to


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Compassion: Friend or Foe?

Just finished watching an interesting documentary about Abraham Lincoln and certain aspects of his character sounded remarkably familiar. I'm not for a moment comparing myself to the great man - I am not that conceited - but I realise now we have a lot more in common than I at first imagined.

But even more interesting than realising we share a lot of political common ground, Abe being a Republican (albeit moderate), was to find out he suffered serious bouts of depression throughout his life.

Courtesy of www.inspiralyogatherapy.co.uk

Lincoln is not alone among great figures from the past when it comes to depression. It is a known fact that countless altruists throughout history suffered from the condition; Florence Nightingale being an example that springs to mind.

If one is caring and is genuinely interested in helping others and would like to rid the world of  all suffering, then depression seems to be the most likely outcome. Closely followed by disappointment.

How sweet are these? Love 'em

It reminds me of the frustrated atheist who once said "If I could end all suffering, I would - that's the difference between your god and me".

Depression is a common clinical condition that can be treated with psychotherapy and, more frequently, drug therapy. And there, maybe, lies the problem.

If, as I suspect, depression is more likely to strike sensitive people, those with ample empathy and who may even be lacking in self-esteem, then I can't see how chemical medication can be of help.

I would have thought drugs merely disguise and suppress the symptoms.  A radical change of thinking and mindset seems a lot more likely to bring about a solution to the problem.

Maybe depression is a sad consequence of having compassion. Maybe it is synonymous with feeling empathy. If so, is it an illness or a gift?

I know little about the condition, as you can tell from my simplistic approach, but I am interested.

OK!  I am a little worried about it, now that I've gone and changed my life-style completely.

Lincoln immersed himself  in work, as a helpful distraction to keep depression at bay. I have - until two weeks ago - been doing the same with constant and endless socialising.



Something I can no longer do while here in London.

Just as well my wandering days ain't over.

-_-

Monday, 11 February 2013

Humour is ONE OF the spices of life

Here are some "funnies"  I found and want  to share.


If it was as simple as that...
And the white dot to the right of the smaller book
is the tiny book titled "What Women
Understand About Men"


But the runaway winner is *drum roll* THE POPE'S RESIGNATION!!




What a brilliant headline from Friendly Atheist! So appropriate given the sex scandals in the RC church!

I just think he's retired because he wants to spend more time with the kids!


:)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

From London, with love

Coming up to two weeks in London and I'm missing my friends in Madeira even more than I thought I would. The worst times are when I'm home alone, in the evenings - something I never experienced in Madeira. I was never home alone in the evenings in Madeira.

"I dedicate this heartfelt post 

  to the ones I miss the most"

Lisandra
Lisandra...you  more than anyone else, know how I feel about so many things in life. As I feel I know you too. I miss our long conversations. I miss hearing you sing and play guitar. I just miss you...terribly.



Claudia
Claudia...I know you're no longer in Madeira but I feel I should include you in this post as you were very much a part of the Warm Up gang. I loved our chats and our singing together. I'm glad you're over here now, and look forward to seeing you soon when I get down to Basingstoke. You always made me smile even when I didn't feel like smiling.


Carla
Carla...towards the end of my stay we didn't see as much of each other as I would have liked, but you did live out of the way - out in the sticks. I miss our long long nights when the booze flowed as freely as the conversation.



Rubina
Rubina, I'm glad you returned from university in the Algarve before I left. I've only known you briefly, fleetingly, but I feel I got to know you in the short space of time. I miss our breakfasts on our way home from a night out.


Nadia
Nadia...my tea-drinking buddy and chef extraordinaire. I lost weight as soon as you left Porta XXXII Restaurant. I got you addicted to black tea with milk (very English) and that despite your early objections. You were convinced tea was medicinal and coffee recreational. I miss our profound conversations. See you soon, in London, when you when you come over.


Sofia
Sofia...I find it impossible to feel miserable when you're around. You are like a burst of sunshine on a cloudy day. You're always happy, even when arguing with Nadia :) And you can certainly handle your drink...apart from that night in S Vicente...out of the car window...I won't say more.
"You'll remember me when the west wind blows, upon the fields of barley"


Mimosa
Mimosa...I miss our coffees in Camara De Lobos and our trips to the various village fĂȘtes. You and I would carry on talking while the others who couldn't keep up would fall asleep. You're a kind gentle and sweet person and I miss you.


Juan
Juan...keyboard player of the highest calibre and with the integrity to match.  I used to call you brother for a very good reason. You're one of the nicest, kindest guys I've ever known and I can't wait to see you when you come over on holiday.


Magda
 Magda...I never saw enough of you, but you had your reasons. Still, the time we spent together was pure joy. Now its down to Facebook chat until my return visit. I'll try to get there for August and the village fĂȘtes you like.


Kat
Kat...I only got to know towards the end but you left an indelible impression on me. I'm glad I persuaded you to get up on stage and sing - and you did it brilliantly - and now I hear they can't get you off the stage for love nor money! You're a lovely, funny and talented person.


Alejandra
Alejandra...I've only known you a short while, but as I write this I am missing you terribly. Thank heaven for Facebook. I can't wait to see you when you come over. And, I never never never never never never never ever exaggerate - apart from when using the word "never"  :p

PS. the only reason I've left you until last is because we've only just stopped chatting, a few minutes ago.

:(

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

There's profits in prophets

Why were all prophets invented/created in the Dark Ages?

Or, to put it in historical context, between 1,500 and 5,000 years ago.

The answer, I suspect, may lie in the word "Dark".




How strange that prophets were created by the very few people who were able to read and write back in the dark days. It is estimated that only a small percentage of the populace were literate.

So, say if 90% or so of people were illiterate and possessed the intelligence and wherewithal akin to present-day chimps, what does that make of present-day believers?

Are they just shaven chimps?

Depilated chimp descendants?

Or are they just plain lazy and unimaginative people with no mind of their own?

I believe the latter.


And prophets were conveniently created at a time when human rights were virtually non-existent. When women's importance in society ranked just bellow that of cattle (as in present-day Islam) and children were seen as a burden and vulnerable prey (as in present-day Catholic Institutions and Sharia Law).



Oh yes, it could only have happened back in the days. A time when gullibility reigned supreme. A time when the uneducated revered the few who could speak and write, and the eloquent were instantly deemed as divine.

In all, the Dark Ages were the perfect time to create Gods and Prophets. It simply couldn't happen today.

Can you image a news flash on BBC proclaiming "Important announcement, a Prophet has just emerged in the Middle-East village of Bethlehem, south of  Jerusalem..."

It just wouldn't happen. And for a very good reason. We've come a long way since. At least some of us.



Now, in the Enlightened Era, prophets are used to generate profits...and war...and prejudice...and bigotry...and divisiveness...and suffering to name but a few, but at least no more are being invented.

Phew!

:)

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Surrounded by beauty

Not a single day goes by when I don't feel overwhelmed by beautiful things.

Nature is a great font of beauty - from the iridescent colours of a butterfly's wing to the bruised look of a sky behind storm clouds, the endless catalogue of wonders on display never ceases to amaze me. The resplendence of Nature is truly magical and awe-inspiring.

From magnificent landscapes... 




to amazing animals....




from the micro...

and macro...

to the mega...

from under the oceans...


to human achievement...


and beyond into the Universe...




back to earth and beautiful people...
like my cousin Lisandra
and my friend Claudia
and my son Matthew...


A wonderful and magical world. 

Nature;
 Sublime, incredible, amazing, all powerful and...
completely true!


With so much wonder and magic all around us, it is sad to think some people choose to overlook it all and seek inspiration and meaning from a mythical
heaven and it's omnipotent imaginary occupant.


:)