Wednesday, 14 September 2011

MP Wants Smoking Back!

"If landlords want a section of their pubs to be for smokers, then so be it. Non-smokers are not in the pubs and a lot of smokers buy their alcohol and stay at home." Karl McCartney MP for Lincoln.
Nobody made our MP issue these bizarre statements that fly in the face of all of the health advice we have received. I am concerned, by the by, that many of our young children (who are the most vulnerable with their small lungs) are still exposed to this danger. Further more, as someone who smoked for thirty years and regularly enjoys the excellent real ales of the Golden Eagle I know he is quite inaccurate. My local has smokers and non smokers in more or less equal measure. I equally value The Gateway, both pubs are near or within my Ward. I have every sympathy for smokers, I found this a difficult addiction to break and I am disappointed that my MP is not supporting me or organisations like Phoenix or local GP's who will try to help people stop but instead he is giving succor to the tobacco companies. If you want to give up please contact your GP, All our doctors in the City are genuinely committed to help. Lets be clear, all of the reputable medical authorities now oppose smoking as likely to lead to things like lung cancer. You don't see many doctors or nurses smoking these days. While smokers should be supported Karl is wrong to offer this false and health damaging prospect of reversing the legislation brought in on a free vote of all MP's with majorities for this current law in all parties. I want Karl to support the health agenda that saves lives rather than encourages ill health. I am very disappointed in his irresponsible approach to the health of his constituents.

A Very British Coup Rewound

Sadie Smith of Total Politics has reviewed the reissue on DVD of this great political classic of the late 20th Century. The original book written by Chris Mullen MP  to my mind is up there with House of Cards. I enjoyed the style and literacy of Sadie's article and I will confess I had not watched this series since its original broadcast. My difficulty is that Sadie dismissed the work as a sort of left wing chick flick, a fantasy of the 80's left. I said in response to her article (which is here): "If my memory is accurate  however then I would disagree with the analysis at a number of levels. The most important point is that when reviewing an historical work from the 1980's its important to do more than look up the date when the Berlin Wall fell. There has to be some valid reference to events and attitudes at the time of screening. Its also important when reviewing a screenplay not to assume that the author of the book (Chris Mullen MP) had total control over the screenplay". Alan Platter in fact deserves a good mention too. I went on "Having read the book (a deliberate comedy) and watched the TV series (a dark and insightful reflection of the times) I can tell you they are quite different creations. I am guessing that Sadie is too young to remember the period so this tells us more about her current (understandable and valid) views than the drama itself." I have now begun to watch the series again, its here by the way on Channel 4 if you want to refresh your memory.
Lets move on from Sadie then, however reluctantly. Looked at from the other side of a Labour Government which Chris Mullen's PM Harry Perkins would have seen as left wing Tory Government (if such a thing is possible post Heath) A Very British Coup is a serious reminder of the way we where in the early 80's. It is; sumptuous, stylish; a period costume drama of the highest standards. I remember when watching it then wondering if we would ever see a Labour Government of any kind in my lifetime. I was to wait nearly a generation. I don't share the view that the Blair/Brown Government was a sell out or a total disaster although morally, as always, and common to all previous Governments of all hues, it had blood on its hands, in our case, in the Middle East. Is it possible to have a British Government that is different?, Well, this is the story of one that tried to be. Its power of prophesy is outstanding. The Dirty Digger plays a major role and is even mentioned by name along with his creature The Sun. Don't rely on me or Sadie, do the unthinkable, go here or buy the DVD and watch it yourself. I would be interested to know if different generations to mine found this excellent piece of drama as fascinating and enjoyable as I still do.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Lincoln a new Mass and our German Pope Heads for the Land of Luther

A German pope heads for the Land of Luther

An interesting article on Pope Benedict's approach to Vatican II and Martin Luther (above) prompted by his visit this week to Luther's home ground comes on the day my little family and I experienced the new Mass for the first time. Its also a week when I have completed an article on the Festival of Islam here in Lincolnshire (which I attended) and made initial contact with the newly launched Bridge Community Church in my City Council Ward.

There is an obvious and less obvious common theme in all of this. The obvious theme is the world of faith, the question posed by secularists will be "not so much faith as fiction" of course. While on the subject of secularists I see some rewriting of history by the elegant but occasionally inaccurate Jeremy Paxman. In his otherwise excellent series "The Victorians" he describes the end of Christianity occurring. While in the 19th Century  there was all sorts of fascinating things taking place, not least the rise of the Methodist Movement as a serious social force (unmentioned by Jeremy) and Ouija boards (which he does mention) the majority of Victorians went to Church. Its easy Jeremy, get over it. I digress, but in a good cause, despite my irritation go and watch the series or read his excellently illustrated book, more here.  

The less obvious theme is about how we deal with change, do we oppose it, just express cynicism (the easiest, best fun but ultimately lazy approach) or embrace it. Dr Joe Nason writing in "Thinking About Management" says "the broader our knowledge base, the more eclectic our reading, the greater the exposure to ideas that allow the generation of alternative insights into how we make sense of our experiences".
(Golding et al 2000: 40)
I know Joe, he is at the heart of the MBA course and business school here in Lincoln at our University and likes to challenge the gray matter, to wake people up from the stupor that sometimes passes for that thing called opinion (informed or otherwise). The clue to understanding the new Mass is contained in the opening responses to Vatican II. The translation from the Latin was strongly criticized by traditionalists as inaccurate. Causing particular ire was the translation from the common prayer and response: Dominus Vobiscum (The Lord Be With You) which was Et cum spiritu tuo (and also with you). More accurately this should read "and with your Spirit". Surprise, surprise, the new Mass corrects the inaccuracy. More seriously, the prayer common to all Christians as stating our most basic beliefs is the Creed. It began Credo in unum Deum, that is "I Believe in one God". The new Mass has replaced the erroneous "We Believe" with "I Believe". This theme operates throughout, its not difficult but its not a big thing either I think.  

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

So, as Joe has indicated, wide and eclectic reading and knowledge, understanding the history and context is key to managing this change. Who raised issues regarding Vatican II? Vatican II "breathes the air of Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit, but not enough of Martin Luther". Who was this? Yes, the man who became Pope Benedict, Servant of the servants of Christ, speaking back then. Now then, this goes a little beyond some name changes does it not. Is the Pope going to place within the Church a deeper recognition of Martin Luther? Will that conflict with his predecessors view that Luther was “heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears and seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth”. Clearly Pope Leo had a different approach. Which brings us to my contact with the Bridge Church, impressively evangelical and a child of Martin Luther's revolution (also they look like being great fun). I look forward to talking to them.  The Living Islam Festival represents the other challenges Pope Benedict faces. Early in this Papacy Pope Benedict unintentionally gave some offence to Muslims which he has tried hard to correct. It was small beer however against the widespread prejudice and baseless assumptions of terrorism that 9/11 and the London Tube Bombings understandably evoked. Over 1000 practicing Muslims live in or around Lincoln. That's a substantial part of my community. Understanding these people of the Book and the message of peace I encountered at the Festival is important if we are to continue to progress as a civilized community. Welcoming Muslim involvement, ensuring freedom of worship and increasing public consciousness of this positive faith that is entirely compatible with all of our other communities has to be an important set of activities in our common journey to a better City.  While we think about that my spiritual leader is visiting sites of Lutheran significance and will be speaking on this hitherto fairly unexplored topic in modern Catholic circles. Where will it all lead?