19/11 Ground Zero – 2010 – Photos.

During our trip to New York in 2010 we had to visit ground zero. The debris had been cleared and work was proceeding to make it into the Memorial Park.

It was a very powerful experience to look out at that place where those two enormous skyscrapers had stood.

It sent my mind tumbling through a lot of thoughts and questions:

Great sorrow for the tragic loss of life and the immense suffering.

Sadness that the event should have created the knee-jerk response of the ‘War against Terrorism’ with it’s two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – both illegal – both only serving to exacerbate the situation and inflame the Middle East and Islam – exactly what the terrorists wanted. The only ones to benefit were the radical Muslims. The reverberations still resonate.

Disbelief at the mentality that enables someone to deliberately fly a plane load of people, including women and children, into a building. How callous and uncaring can anyone become? How hate-filled? How zealous and arrogant? The very worst side of human nature.

Disbelief at the cold, calculated planning. It’s on a par with the mentality that builds concentration camps, creates killing fields and uses blanket bombing, napalm or drones. It’s evil.

Despair at religion where fanatics believe that by doing evil they will achieve ever-lasting life. Such gullibility. Such naivety. Such stupidity.

Despair at the cruel, barbarous violence of mankind. We operate on revenge and inflicting pain. It is a stupid vicious cycle we need to grow out of.

9/11 signified the nadir of humanity for me. That and the two wars have made the world a much worse place.

When will we learn.

 

I Ain’t Afraid – Roy Bailey, Martin Simpson and John Kirkpatrick

Religion should be a personal experience – all too often it is used to control, tyrannise and oppress. Too many wars – too much violence, too much hatred and division.

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I ain’t afraid of your Yahweh, I ain’t afraid, of your Allah, I ain’t afraid, of your Jesus,  I’m afraid of what you do in the name of your God.

Poetry – Bums in the Air – A poem about religion

Poetry – Bums in the Air – A poem about religion

Bums in the Air

People are great joiner-inners. They go with the majority. I find it quite startling to see how conservative and fundamental things have become. Back when I was a lad my Muslim friends were all westernised. They didn’t take their religion to extremes. The girls did not go around in head-scarves let alone burqas. In Islamabad University in Pakistan the students wore jeans, T-shirts and listened to the Beatles, Stones and Pink Floyd.

How things have changed.

The children are taken off to their Madrassas where they are subjected to religious indoctrination.

I see families walking down the street, in the summer heat, with the poor woman completely enclosed in heavy black robes, breathing stale air behind a mask, while her husband is cool in T-shirt and jeans.

I am a believer in freedom but I hate misogyny, indoctrination and superstition.

In my view spirituality is about harmony with nature and the universe. Religion is about power, indoctrination and division.

 

Bums in the Air

 

Bums in the air

Indoctrination everywhere.

Allah and sweet Jesus,

Jehovah

And God above.

How absurd they look

With their array of holy book.

Spouting words

From Neolithic lords

Dressed in fancy costume –

Medieval bride

And modern groom.

 

Opher – 14.9.2016

Pete Smith’s cartoons of genius – Religious Lies strangling us.

Pete Smith’s cartoons of genius – Religious Lies strangling us.

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So much to see in this image. The person runs through the tangle of life with the question WHY over his head and MEANING and TIME before him, using the LI of religion as crutches while his head was caught in the noose of GOD. God with the knot of infinity – the unsolvable conundrum.

MUST DO THIS – WHY – WRONG

Spirituality versus Religion

Spirituality versus Religion

Primula auricula Grey Hawk Unknown Border saved from a Rotary Club car park plant salePhotographs – Richard Duffy-Howard – award winning photographer – https://loudhailer.net/

I am an extremely spiritual person but I am totally opposed to all organised religion.

My spirituality is also based on a numbers of things:

  • Wonder and awe at the incredible splendour of the universe – the macrocosm and microcosm – black holes, galaxies and quarks.
  • Wonder and awe at the beauty of nature – life in all its forms
  • Creativity in all its forms – art, poetry, dance, writing, architecture, photography, film,
  • The splendours of natural phenomena, landscapes, seascapes, trees, rocks, gorges, mountains, lakes ……
  • The wonders of consciousness
  • Love

I do not really care if there is a god or not. It is of little importance to me. I want a secular spirituality. I reject all religion for a number of reasons

  • I believe all the religious books were written by men. None are the word of god. (This is evident to me when I see the way they were written, who they were written by and what previous texts they were based on).
  • I believed organised religion is used for power and to promote division and hatred for personal gain (status, power and wealth).
  • Religion is used to prevent any opposition to a state’s power.
  • The fear principle of heaven and hell is psychologically damaging. No sane god would create such a thing.
  • Too much religion is sectarian and thus creates division and fosters hatred.
  • I think the indoctrination of children is obscene child abuse
  • To live for a possible after-life (which I do not believe exists) can prevent a person from experiencing the short life we have
  • Following all the multitude of different rituals, dress codes, eating restrictions, prayers, (each religion has its own set of instructions from ‘god’ – all different) etc. is risible.
  • Much of religion misses the point of spirituality

However I know some people gain personal fulfilment by following a religion, find companionship and psychological reassurance. Religious people can be spiritual, kind, generous and tolerant.

 

My spirituality creates a wealth of warmth and connection. It is a positive affirmation of life. There is no division, hatred or need to justify it. My spirituality exists and requires no god, purpose or imposed morality. The morality I live by comes out of it. I respect and hold as precious all living things, fellow humans and the world around me. I’ve no need to put that into commandments.

I have no need for religion. I have no time for superstition. My universe is a world of wonder to be investigated, marvelled at and enjoyed. There are many things to be understood. I have a life to revel in it.

Anecdote – How I passed my Religious Studies exam due to divine intervention.

Anecdote – How I passed my Religious Studies exam due to divine intervention.

anecdotes BookCoverImage Poems & Peons BookCoverImage

How I passed my Religious Studies exam due to divine intervention.

Religion and I have never got along. I think I was born a heretic. Either that or I am a blasphemous pagan at heart.

Through school I suffered the excruciating assemblies with their hymns, prayers and bible readings. I abhorred them. I also despised the RE lessons with all their bible bashing and indoctrinating rhetoric. My brain was impervious to religion. It bounced off.

Then when I was fourteen I discovered I did not have to do it at all. I could get a dispensation on religious grounds. All I had to do was induce my parents to sign the relevant form or write a short note to the effect that they wanted me out of all religious practice. Problem solved.

Except it wasn’t. For some obscure reason, that I do not understand to this day, my parents, who brought me up with a liberal, unindoctrinated perspective, and respected my views, refused to write the note.

That made it even worse. So I dug my heels in. I went to see the RE teacher and explained to him that I was categorically not going to do the RE. He could do what he liked. I was not going to budge. After a lengthy argument we came to a compromise. I would attend the lessons and give out the bibles. Then I would sit quietly at the front and read. That suited me fine.

So while the rest of the class filled exercise book after exercise book of boring comparisons between the four gospels I read great Science Fiction by Arthur C Clarke, Robert Sheckly, Asimov, John Wyndham, Philip K Dick and Robert Heinlein. I reckoned the content of fiction in my books was superior to the fiction in theirs.

RE was a subject that was sat earlier than the other subjects. We took our O Level at Christmas. I was surprised to find that my name was included. I went to see the RE teacher to point out the error. I had not done any RE; I should not have my name down for the exam. He huffed and puffed and did not like to admit his mistake. He told me that it was easier for me to just go through with it rather than trying to scrub me from the exam at this stage. I shrugged. I wasn’t bothered.

The night before the exam I borrowed a bible. My mum found me looking through it.

‘What are you doing?’

I explained that I had my RE O Level the next day. I had been intrigued by a couple of things. I looked up to find out what the Transfiguration was all about and I checked out what Jesus said on the cross. – ‘My father why has thou forsaken me?’

I always thought that was a strange thing to say. It seemed to suggest to me that at the last minute he was having doubts and had realised that it was all bollocks.

After ten minutes I became bored, which amused my mum no end. She knew what felt about the bible.

The next day I took my exam. We had to answer four questions out of five. Question one was about the Transfiguration. Question two was about the words Jesus had said on the cross. Question three was about a psalm I knew well from assemblies. Question four was a parable that I was familiar with. It was easy.

The next term the results came out. Only a third of the class had passed. I was one of them.

I have a qualification in Religious Education. I bet my RE teacher was as pleased as Punch.

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Anecdote – Buddha and god

Anecdote – Buddha and god

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Buddha and god

As an antitheist I do not believe there is a god, certainly not one who has created man in his own image or who is concerned with the lives of men. I see no evidence of the universe having been created by some super being; neither do I see evidence of intelligent design around me. If man is made by divine hands then they are clumsy hands indeed. I myself can think of many great improvements to the human form – perfection it isn’t. No. The more I learn the less I am convinced. What I see is religion of all types constructed by man.

Yet I do perceive the possibility of some mystical force at work, some force present in sunsets, rocks, trees and majestic views that I would call ‘wonder and awe’. I do also sense a force at work within the psychology of people creating synchronicity. I, much to Andrew’s disgust, refer to this as the prevailing zeitgeist. I tend to think that this mental emanation will at some point be recognised by science. But maybe I am wrong. Science is in its infancy. It has much to discover. The field of consciousness and psychology is too new to have yielded all its secrets. The future will likely reveal a lot more.

Even as a young man, when I was a spiritual zealot, eager to follow in Kerouac and Ginsberg’s wake, to gain satori and see the universe through the eyes of Zen, I was sceptical of god and derisory of the god of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. His many faces seemed absurd.

I was greatly moved by a tale told to me by a Thai monk called Vorosak Candimitto. As a young man, besotted with Kerouac and Ginsberg, I was on a personal exploration into spirituality, the mind, mysticism and the void. I tried meditation and tried to still my mind to discover that truth within. I enjoyed it but soon moved on. Eastern meditation seemed inappropriate to the life I was leading. I wanted instant nirvana or nothing. That’s Western mentality for you. As for religion and god – this is what Vorosak told me: –

‘One day the Buddha was sitting with a number of learned men. One asked of him:

‘Is there a god?’

The Buddha thought hard before replying.

‘If you were shot with an arrow which had pierced your side, before having the arrow removed by a physician and the wound treated, would you first enquire who had fired the arrow? To what family did he belong? To what caste? Where did they come from? How many members did the family have? From what trees were the bow and arrow fashioned? From what animal were the guts for the bowstring created? Where the metal for the tip had been mined? Who had shaped the tip? From what bird had the feathers for the flights been plucked and who had manufactured them? Likewise the glue to hold them secure?’

The Buddha looked at the wise man intently.

‘Before you have the answers to your questions you would be dead.’

I liked that parable.

At the end of the days it is not about what you believe, how you’ve prayed, whether there is a god or not – it is about how you’ve lived your life, whether you’ve lived it to the maximum and whether you’ve been a force for good or evil.

No sane person would believe that any god would build a wondrous universe and then expect his creations to bore themselves to death in prayer and ritual, hate others and kill in his name. That is straight out of men’s warped minds (men – generic). If there is a god (which I do not believe for one minute) he would want you to live, love, build and enjoy.

So ISIS and all religious nutcases, indoctrinated fools and evangelical idiots can go hang – I’m for life.

Poetry – Give me wonder – a poem for ISIS and other fanatics.

Poetry – Give me wonder – a poem for ISIS and other fanatics.

Give me wonder

I wrote this for ISIS and all religious fundamentalists.

I do not believe that life and joy can be spelt out in a doctrine. Life is sacred in a different way.

We do not have life and worship death. We have life to cavort in the wonder and majesty of a universe of marvel.

I do not believe in any joyless god who demands such mundane worship that it strangles the spirit. My sacred is in the sunset, the gorge, the mountain and tree – the things that raise the spirit and allow the mind to soar.

My wonder does not create hatred. It is not cruel. Neither does it make me virtuous or superior and reduce others to the level of worthless scum.

I want the ecstasy of now not the empty promise of some paradise.

I do not believe in paradise. Neither do I believe that any terror would open up those gates even if one did exist.

Those holy books of dead words betray life. They give the lie to all that lives and rob the world of majesty.

My holy is in life. My holy is real.

 

Give me wonder

Give me wonder –

I do not need your routine.

Do not break things down –

Build them up!

The sum is greater than the parts.

So fill me up

With discovery!

 

Celebrate!

Don’t drown me in hate

Or fill me, moribund,

With dead words

From days gone by.

Give me life;

Let me sing.

 

Fill my eyes with beauty,

Not tears.

I want to cuddle, not kill.

I want to live now,

Not in some fabled future.

Give me love.

 

Burn your books

And live.

They speak not of life but death.

They have no joy.

They reek of ritual

And are obscene.

Give me light

And breath

And hope.

I’ll live now!

I’ll live now!

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Opher 14.1.2016

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My beliefs – Faith Schools – How about if we had Fascist and Communist Schools?

My beliefs – Faith Schools – How about if we had Fascist and Communist Schools?

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I do not believe any faith schools, Sunday schools or madrassas should be allowed by law.

I believe indoctrinating children with religion or politics is an abuse. It should be a crime.

There are many religions and institutes that are dying to get their hands on our children and fill their heads with dogma. As the Jesuits used to say ‘give me a child until the age of seven and I’ll give you the man’. Unfortunately that is true. Once the impressionable minds have been poisoned with pernicious ideology they can never break free. They are stuck with it for life.

I believe children should be free to develop. They should not be indoctrinated.

I believe parents should bring up their children in a moral background with love, tolerance and equality as the basis. They should be taught to respect all people, races, faiths and creeds.

I believe schools should concern themselves with educating children, not indoctrinating them. Religion should be taught as a subject which covers all religions factually, never giving credibility or weight to one over another. I believe atheism and humanism should be part of that curriculum and given equal weight.

I believe assemblies should never be religious. They should be moral.

I believe that when a child reaches adulthood – I would suggest at sixteen- their brains are sufficiently developed for them to handle concepts as weighty as belief. Only then should they be subjected to religious belief.

I think that is people substituted politics for religion and we had communist or fascist schools set up to instil their dogma into our children we, as a society, might have a view. For me religion is even more pervasive and pernicious.

Poetry – Prehistoric policing

Prehistoric policing

 

Put on your veil!

Pray each day

And obey without ceasing!

Or else

You’ll be subject to

Prehistoric policing!

 

Read the scripture!

Follow the dogma!

Not to do so is a sin!

If you do not

You’ll be hammered with

Prehistoric policing!

 

Do not question

The tenets of faith!

Throw all logic in the bin!

Faith is not rational.

It needs to be enforced

With prehistoric policing!

 

Opher – 2.11.2019

 

 

I was driven to write this poem by a video clip of a poor woman who was shot through the head for going to the market without her veil. The Nazi religious police stopped her, beat her and forced her to her knees. They recited verse, gathered a crowd, put a gun to her head and blew her brains out – all because her face was not covered.

Across the world millions of women and children are subject to prehistoric policing. They are forced to spend hours memorising scripture. They are forced to wear heavy robes and full face veils.

This is not religious freedom. This is slavery.

These religious fanatics create a fascist tyranny! Their misogynistic view of religion is draconian and prehistoric.

Religion should be a matter of choice – not coercion.