Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trailers in town

For the second day in a row, the Royal Marines recruitment team had a huge mobile trailer outside the east end of the church, with a simulator machine mounted on it, as an 'experience' on offer to people interested in their promotion. Fortunately it was not really noisy in operation, and didn't distrub the calm of the church during worship. With classic incongruity, there was a green liveried City Council mobile trailer parked next it it, promoting free give-away mobile ash trays for smokers - part of an assault on our slovenly city. I was amused by the printed notie stuck on the side of the vehicle, announcing it to be the Council's 'mobile wheelie bin consultation trailer'. Now I know every bin is registered and has its own bar code, but I didn't realise they had rights to be heard as well ....

I popped into the city centre manager's office this afternoon, to catch up on the news. Things are moving fast around town with less than a month to go before the Big Opening season starts. Ever planning well ahead, Paul, asked if we were OK with having the outdoor nativity set in the tower garden again in the run up the Christmas. The answer of course is 'Certainly', despite last years's vandalism problem. This time the stable front will get that most modern of conveniences - perspex glazing - to hinder infant Jesus theft and other late night outrages with bottles and cans. Well, one can but try.

On the way home I went for a much needed haircut. In the course of conversation the barber told me of a small discovery made in town areas with garden areas which had originally been fenced off, then the enclosure was enhanced by planting privet hedges. Apparently this resulted in a plague of dumping rubbish bags over the hedge in the gardens. It was discovered that if there were only railings and no hedges, dumping did not occur to the same extent. The out of sight, out of mind philosophy, I guess. I must check and see if the churchyard gets any less rubbish dumped in it now that the bushes and trees have been extensively pruned.

With just a bit more free time than usual ,I'm greatly enjoying Hans Küng's book 'The beginning of all things' - Science and Religion - at the moment. It's a slow, read, because you have to stop and think about what he says, not least because he summarises ideas clearly, making them worth pondering on. His approach has for me shed some new light on the idea that atheism is a set of beliefs and commitments that are as fervently and religiously held as anything conventionally regarded as religion.

Küng points out that what most does humanity a disservice is the passion which holds to any set of beliefs exclusively, without taking into account what value other sets of beliefs might contribute to understanding life and making the most of it. Any kind of belief can all too easily become idolatrous, whether it's a matter of atheism or some version of 'true faith'. He searches for a higher truth that is in effect beyond belief as commonly understood. This makes good sense to me. Even if it is a challenge to conventional notions of orthodoxy, it concurs with what mysics of all faiths and none have sought to express down the ages.

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