Saturday, September 27, 2008

Egalitarian Spirit

How I long for the halcyon days. Suburban grounds and the sound of the crowd in my ear as I ride my bike around on a Saturday afternoon. Those were the days...

When I was a kid we lived pretty close to a grand old arena called Windy Hill. It wasn't called that because it was sponsored by the Windy Hill Corporation, but because that's where it is; on top of a hill that gets a bit of wind.

We lived so close to it that I could kick a footy around the back yard on a Saturday and pretend that the crowd was screaming for the goal I just kicked. It was fantastic. A kid's dream. We didn't need to listen to the game either (you couldn't watch it on the tele back then), we just watched everyone walking home or back to their cars. If the old lady that lived up the street was crying when she went passed, we knew Essendon had lost and that was that.

In those days it only happened on Saturdays too. They played all the games in one day and they played them in the heartlands where the common folk had cheap and easy access. There was no "Optus Oval" (Princess Park) or "Skilled Stadium" (Kardinia Park) but there was always the MCG, the ground you aspired to play at (except if you were playing Melbourne at home of course), but all the finals were played there because there was no home ground advantage, unless you were Melbourne, but that didn't happen very often.

We used to pack 110,000 in that ground for a grand final. You could take a full Esky and just about everyone, man, woman and child, did. What a stadium and what a day it was (but then so was boxing day in bay 13 for an Ashes game). You think the atmosphere is good these days? Well it isn't bad, but literally 100,000 people screaming "BALL!!!" is truly a sound to behold...

But times change and then business gets involved and a game "evolves", or more to the point, is stolen. Pretty soon the suburban grounds have been left for more salubrious venues, membership costs are prohibitively expensive and only 26,000 of the 90,000 seats available for the grand final, are available to the common folk. There'll be no meat pies and beer in the outer this weekend, but plenty of chardonnay, long macs and an a la carte menu in the corporate box. Back in the day, the only thing that resembled a corporate box was the members pavilion, and nuts to them!

Well, so much for "the common man's game". Just 26,000 seats this year. It's a disgrace! I heard that there were still some available though, for about $1500. The common folk have been shut out by cost and distance, but most of all by business. I call it the "Rollerball" syndrome...

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Christian Ethic

Christians are as christians do. Has that not always been the case? Allow me to draw your attention to the following headline:

"Archbishop in abortion law threat"

On the face of it, you could well be forgiven for thinking that the catholic church might have an issue with abortion. You'd be right too, but I don't really know why that is. I can't even find the word mentioned in the bible, and I've looked long and hard.

Caring for the sick and suffering on the other hand, rates quite a bit of mention in the bible, but there seems to be an issue here on earth. Some new laws may not fit with some religious ideals, or so it seems...

CATHOLIC hospitals might close their maternity and emergency departments if a proposed new abortion law is passed in Victoria next month, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has warned.

As much as I dislike religion, I have to admit that in the city I live in, there are some extremely good catholic hospitals. It would be a shame to see some of the better maternity facilities in this town close, not to mention much needed emergency services. But he goes on to say; "We might get out of hospitals altogether!" So there. How very christian.

In fairness though, there is a reason...

He said the law would require Catholic doctors and nurses with a conscientious objection to abortion to break the law. "This poses a real threat to the continued existence of Catholic hospitals."

Would it really? I can't imagine that any penalty would constitute more than a fine. Oh yeah... That would cost wouldn't it. How very, very christian...

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eternal Pastures

Once again the subject of eternity and the possibility of experiencing it, with god, has arisen. Once again, I've had to explain that really, I'm not overly interested in it. Why? Well let me take you back, about 35 years back. I was at Sunday school and we were learning about Jericho and it was a day and a lesson that got seriously stuck in my mind. But first, just a little about Jericho itself.

Jericho was and still is an amazing city. It is arguably the oldest inhabited city on earth and back in the day, it had walls so thick they could race chariots on top, or so it was said. Of course the remains of those walls and their foundations would tend to suggest that yes, they were very thick by the day's standard, but one chariot would have been a squeeze let alone a race. Nonetheless, they were massive and impregnable walls with lots and lots of people inside.

Now the valley of Jericho, in which lays the city, is in a region that used to be called Canaan. "Ah well, there's your problem!" I hear you say, and you'd be right. God had given Canaan to the Israelites, despite the fact that there'd been a race there, called "the Canaanites", funnily enough, for well, since before Abraham got there. One could almost say since the beginning even...

I got to wondering why god had to kick the Canaanites out so the Israelites could live there, so I asked. According to my teacher at the time, "because god wants them to" is good enough. But wasn't there somewhere else they could go? Well no, god said they were going to live in Canaan, so they had to. Oh...Ok...

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, one thing leads to another which eventually leads to a whole lot of marching, yelling and let's not forget, the blowing of many trumpets. Eventually god tells them to stop, then the earth shakes and the walls fall down. Then god tells Josh to get the lads in there and make sure they kill everybody, except the prostitute. God even keeps the sun up for a few extra hours so they can make sure they've killed everyone, which they do, which is extremely pleasing to the lord.

I didn't like the story very much, as you can probably tell. So I went home quite confused that day, wondering about some of the other lessons we'd had like "god is love" and "do unto others" and by the end of it, had come firmly to the conclusion that the god of the Old Testament was not "love" and definitely was not the kind to ask his acolytes to "do unto others as they would have done to themselves", otherwise he probably wouldn't have any. Well not for long anyway. I even thought for a while that there might actually be two gods, but then I got to thinking about the "There can be only one!" thing and thought better of it.

But so began my journey from theism to a-theism. I took the long and very winding route via church too (various churches in fact), and many years of study. I was genuinely curious, so I searched high and low to find god. I even became pentecostal (yep, with the AOG) but eventually found no evidence, not even a trace, of either he or his son Jesus.

Along the way, I'd also gained an education and eventually came to the conclusion that there are some simple facts that need to be considered where eternity is concerned:

1. The human body, including the brain and all the other organs and the thoughts and emotions they produce, works by producing and using certain chemicals which it utilises in producing responses via certain chemical reactions.

2. When the chemical reactions stop, so do we.

Simple facts out of the way, I have a couple of question:

1. Is there really any reason then to think that I'll still be able to think, let alone emote once my body stops working? Well no, not really.

2. If there was an afterlife, would I really want to spend it with the vindictive, petulant, two faced megalomaniac that seems to be the god of the Bible, Old and New? Well no, not really.

3. Does any of that stop me from thinking it might be nice? Well no actually. I like the idea of a personal beer volcano.

So no, I don't think there's an afterlife and my reasons for thinking that don't really have much to do with my second question, that's just me being petulant.

Eternal pastures are always greener, but whether they exist in any form other than wistful dreamings is a question that living mortals are simply not qualified to answer, as well as being extremely doubtful, which just doesn't help at all...

Excellent stuff! Gimme more...

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