April 25, 2005

United Church of Europe

I'm still glad that Bishop Hilarion did not become the diocesan bishop of Sourozh, as the Moscow Patriarchate had originally intended (dissing Archbishop Anatoly in the process). It would have led to the Russification of the diocese, which as an predominately ethnically English group wouldn't have been a good thing.

However, I have been impressed with his Eminence in his current role as bishop of Vienna and Austria, and Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions. With a hat tip to the young fogey, I have read an interview with Hilarion from yesterday in which he discusses the pontificate of Benedict XVI and Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical relations.

Hilarion represents the Moscow Patriarchate at the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Commission - the body that hashes out all the differences between us. However, he also proposes a European Catholic-Orthodox Alliance to present a common front on social and ethical issues. Despite all of the theological minutae dividing us, Hilarion notes, "The social and ethical teachings of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are extremely close, in many cases practically identical." From this he wisely reasons:

The rationale behind my proposal is the following: our churches are on their way to unity, but one has to be realistic and understand that it will probably take decades, if not centuries, before this unity is realized. In the meantime we desperately need to address the world with a united voice. Without being one Church, can we act as one Church, can we present ourselves to the outside world as a unified structure, as an alliance? I am convinced that we can, and that by doing so we may become much stronger.

With the positive attitude of Benedict, if Hilarion can keep Alexy in tow, there is real hope of rapprochement between Rome and Moscow. And if Rome and Moscow can get along, this will go a long way to the normalisation of pan-Orthodox relations with Rome (insofar as there is normalisation of inter-Orthodox relations, of course).

Most of all it will unite the 280 million European Catholics and the 200 million European Orthodox against the common enemy.

Posted by david at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005

Countdown Continues

Only five weeks to half-term.

Posted by david at 08:19 AM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2005

The Armchair Conclave of the Culture

The Times religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill wasted no time slamming on the election of Pope Benedict:

It is hard to see how the hand of God could have guided the 115 cardinals to elect a former member — albeit involuntary — of the Hitler Youth who believes homosexuality to be an intrinsic moral evil, other religions to be defective and other churches — including the Church of England — not proper.

...It is also conceivable, seeing the way that the white smoke was blowing, that Cardinal Ratzinger simply adopted the persona of a ruthless conservative in order to rise to the top, and will now use his new power and freedom to usher in an era of enlightenment.

Then again, maybe not. After all, is the Pope a Catholic?

Of course an Anglican of Gledhill's stripe would have a hard time imagining the Holy Spirit wanting someone who calls sin sin. But just in case you don't realise how bad this is, better link it in the same sentence with Hitler Youth. That's right, if you think homosexual acts are sinful, you are just a little bit like Hitler.

And at the end of the day, he's a Catholic. Stupid unenlightened Catholic.

Try hiding your feelings a little, you silly woman.

The same newspaper then trotted out a quick set of quotes from those who are not happy about the election of Benedict.

“We consider the election of Ratzinger is a catastrophe . . . I think that even more people will turn their back on the Church”
Bernd Goehring, of Kirche von Unten, German Christian group

I translated this group's webpages into English. They aren't just against Benedict - they are against the idea of hierarchy and the papacy.

“We can only hope that Cardinal Ratzinger does not follow the same course as John Paul II”
Christian Weisner, chairman of We Are Church, international Christian organisation

Who is "We Are Church"? From their website:

In the Easter season of 1995 a small group of lay and ordained Catholics in Innsbruck, Austria, used the method of a petition drive to call for a more loving, democratic, and generous church. In the spirit of Vatican II, they asked that Rome (1) equally respect all the people of God, whether lay or ordained, (2) grant full equal rights to women, (3) lift mandatory celibacy for priests, (4) encourage a positive understanding of sexuality, and (5) teach the gospel as a message of joy.

In other words, a bunch of pseudo-Catholics who want gay and women priests and for the Church to repudiate the word of God.

“It seems that he is too conservative. Hopefully the Holy Spirit can help him to change”
Jurandir Arauj, National Conference of Brazilian Bishops

Hmm... National Conference of Brazilian Bishops. Must be good guys, right? Not exactly.

As the American TFP website noted: "For nearly five decades the left has been trying to impose a socialist and confiscatory land reform on Brazil.

From the beginning, the so-called Catholic left, and particularly the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB), has been the leading proponents and the most important driving force of that policy."

“A missed opportunity”
Tony Kerrigan, of Marie Stopes International, the abortion charity

Who exactly do the folk at Marie Stopes think would be a good Pope? There may be shades within the College of Cardinals that are more liberal than others, but I can't imagine that there was a single cardinal that would have supported the biggest infant slaughter operation in the UK.

“Time will tell whether he will be as committed as his predecessor to the improvement of relations with the Jewish people”
Isaac Herzog, Israeli Housing Minister

And he is relevant how?

It is interesting that after the weeks of eulogising John Paul II of blessed memory, the press are now attacking his successor for being too much like him. It's like, yeah, yeah, JP was great and all, but even though we aren't Catholics, we know what kind of person is best to lead the Church. Of course he would have to abandon all Catholic faith and doctrine and give in to the hedonism of our humanist, relativist culture, but is that too much to ask? Having some sort of absolutist as the head of the Catholic church is cramping our sinful, godless style.

Yes, it is lunacy. "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

Posted by david at 03:12 AM | Comments (2)

April 19, 2005

Habemus Papam

I wrote a lengthy comment on the election of His Holiness Benedict XVI, but I accidentally hit some sort of keyboard shortcut to the back button and lost it all.

After I wrote it, I noticed that everyone else I read has a blog entry of the same title. So much for originality.

I have to say that I am not as pessimistic as Jan Bear about Benedict's views on the reunification of East and West. I don't think that the Orthodox in the US would simply be absorbed in the Roman administration.

The Orthodox would never compromise on the married priesthood. It wouldn't have to do so. Because Rome already has set the precedent of using married priest with the reception and regularisation of former Anglican priests as Western rite Roman clergy, there is really no problem. It would provide an opportunity to introduce married priests en masse into a Western Church that can't find anyone willing to give up sex - at least of the adult consentual heterosexual kind. Orthodoxy could be the salvation of Roman Catholicism in the developed world.

May God bless His Holiness Benedict and guide him in the ways of truth.

Posted by david at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2005

Richard and Judy and the Faux Prodigy

I find it very irritating when some TV chat show like Richard and Judy finds some little kid that they think is so brainy and amazing and show him off. Last week they had a three-year-old who could name four countries, counted form one to ten in Spanish (with his mother saying each word before he said it), and he could name the letters in "Richard" and "Judy".

Why haven't they found my child? Aidan just turned three and he can spell out words and read them. He understands why "P" makes one sound and "Ph" sounds like "f". If I wanted him to count in Spanish I could get him to do it in a morning. And four countries? Four? We've stopped counting countries with Aidie. He can name six continents. He can identify all of the countries of North America (including all of Central America), some of South America, much of Europe, Southeast Asia, a few bits of Africa, and of course Australia.

Mrs H has insisted that I include a disclaimer that she does not approve of my boasting. In the same breath, she made sure I remembered that he doesn't need the map to talk about countries. He thinks about countries in terms of events and news stories. For example, if he sees big waves on the telly, he asks if that's Indonesia and comments that it is where the tsunami was and that lots of people died. He talks about which countries are next to other countries. He remembers what colours they are on the political map.

Just now, Mrs H said, "What's a red country on the map?" "Honduras." "Is the United Kingdom red?" "No! It blue!" "What's a red country that starts with Red Robot?"(the phonetic character) "Russia!" Then I asked, "What colour is Thailand?" "Brown." "What is between Portugal and France?" "Spain!"

Aidan started nursery school this week. At last he will start learning things. I forgot to ask the school about their world geography curriculum. I don't want him falling behind.

Mrs H won't let me ring Richard and Judy so they can have an actual smart child to show off to the British public.

Posted by david at 11:01 AM | Comments (1)

Numbering My Days

With the comments going on in a previous post, I should mention that these ages come from one of those inter questionaires - in this case The Longevity Game which I found over on Philippa's blog. I originally left my age prediction there.

After filling in the questions, it says I should live to be 82. By altering my answers, I can see what I could do to increase the amount of time Mrs H has to care for me in my dotage. If I'd eat more than five portions of fruit and veg a day, it would go up to 85 - did have five yesterday, so I'm going in the right direction. Don't tell Mrs H, but if I also lost 25 lbs, it would go up to 87. If, in addition to all that, I didn't have a speeding ticket in last three years - which would be the case in about three years, except for the continued proliferation of cameras - and could change my exercise from "Not Active" to "Somewhat Active", it would go up to 91.

So have a go, and leave youir predictions here if you like.

Posted by david at 09:46 AM | Comments (2)

Conservative Campaigning

As I've already mentioned, the General Election is set for May 5. The campaign is in full swing. As much as I like to vote, I'm almost glad I haven't become naturalised yet.

As a Republican, I should be a natural Conservative voter. Unfortunately, even though the party is on its third leader since it left Government, it still doesn't have its act together. I wonder if it ever will get it together. The problem is that they just don't stand for anything.

They have no room to be any more fiscally conservative than our Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.

They don't want to be morally conservative. That's not to say there aren't many great moral conservatives in the parliamentary Conservative Party. It is just that these are not election issues here and they would not be welcomed as such. It is just as easy to be openly gay or support abortion rights as a Tory MP as it is in the Labour Party.

The only thing that the Tories have left are scare tactics - not unlike Democrats trying to scare senior citizens in the US with fears of Republican plans for social security. The billboard that I drive past every day on my way home from school is about MRSA - the hospital superbug that kills loads of folks in this country because nobody bothers to clean wards and beds and hands and scapels and that sort of stuff properly. So the message is vote Labour and you will die of MRSA.

The real populist issue the Tories are pounding on is immigration. Too many people are showing up in our country and they don't look like us, or even if they look like us they dont' talk like us, and somebody has to keep them out. They are gonna take all the dole money and there won't be anything to pay the good decent layabouts of who were born and raised in this country.

We all know these foreigners are lazy, because why else would they have suffered hardships and privations to get to this country? If they have been persecuted in their country of origin, what does the Labour Government do for them when they get here? Put them in detention centres. Locks them up. Obviously this is too soft. There must be harsher ways to make these people stay away.

Okay, so they get jobs. But what do they end up doing? They take these jobs from British people. Okay, these are back-breaking jobs like picking soft fruit that no able-bodied Brit will do. Maybe that means we shouldn't grow soft fruit in this country. Why can we just import it and let the fruit pickers stay in their own country?

So that's the Tory election tactics in a nutshell. The immigrants are coming! The immigrants are coming!

Posted by david at 02:26 AM | Comments (3)

April 15, 2005

The Countdown

It is now only six weeks to half-term.

As you can tell from my lack of posting, it has been a busy week. Now this weekend will be a combination of completing job applications, finishing Year 10 reports, and Liturgy.

Posted by david at 11:27 PM | Comments (4)

April 10, 2005

Back to the Chalkface

The Easter holiday has come to a close.

Tomorrow it all begins again.

Posted by david at 11:35 PM | Comments (1)

Education Economics and the Election

As the General Election looms, I was thinking about how the main parties have shifted around the political spectrum.

It used to be easy. The Conservatives were conservative. Labour were socialists. The Liberal Democrats were liberal.

Now on economic issues, Labour are conservative. The conservatives are liberal - or are they even more conservative - or are they sometimes socialist - it is difficult to keep up. The Liberal Democrats are the new socialists.

I thought about how higher education funding had changed. Under the free-market Tories, he State paid people to go to university. Once the socialist came to power in 1997, they started by removing the busary. Then they introduced tuition fees - £1000 per year. Then they introduced "top-up" fees. These are fees charged by the university where they think they need extra money to keep running. Of course all the universities have decided that they need the extra money, so all but eight will be charging the maximum extra £2000 in 2006.

However, going into the General Election, it is only the Liberal Democrats who have a policy of scrapping the fees.

Labour have wanted to make higher education available to everyone. To that end, they have lowered the standards far enough to get 50% of the population in the hallowed halls of the university. They will even give them loans to pay for it. Student loans. That's the way to bring everyone prosperity.

And of course when all these university graduates hit the marketplace, there will be lots of jobs for them. Higher pay. Right. Because the entire economy is going to be different and no one will need to do all the jobs that were done by school-leavers. Or school-quitters. Or school-leavers that should have been school-quitters or at the very least put into entirely vocation education tracks.

Of course there won't be the jobs out there for all the uni grads envisioned by the Government. But there will still be the loans to repay.

Posted by david at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

The Remnant

I was persusing the Onion Dome tonight and was looking at the Disgrunts™ page. This led me on to the Euphrosynos Café, which I had seen before (from a link posted on some way-too-serious newsgroup).

Yes, it appears that most of the Orthodox are not Orthodox at all. If it isn't bad enough that all the papist and Protestants have departed from the faith, now that most of the "Orthodox" are on the "new" calendar, the only real Orthodox are ever tinier, more splintered groups, as everyone else has fallen into heresy.

Yes, apparently there are a handful of navel gazers who have mastered hesychasm and HTML and constitute the true Church.

This is not the first time I've seen this. In my Presbyterian days, it was the TRs and BRs (that's Truly Reformed and Barely Reformed) - or strict subscriptionists to the Westminster Confession of Faith and loose adherents to the same. And even within the TRs, there are those who more-Reformed-than-thou - usually a cappela Psalm singers.

When I worked in the Christian bookstore in Arkansas, I used to have a lot of customers who were Independent Baptists. They were also known as Baptist Briders, because they believed that only members of Independent Baptist churches were the spotless Bride of Christ.

Then there are the Society of St. Pius X Catholics. Or the Church of God of Prophecy. Or any number of other groups convinced they are the True Church.

But back to the Orthodox. The last thing the schismatic Orthodox groups (I'll just call 'em like I see 'em) want is for anyone to get along. The idea that there would be any unity is the dreadful heresy of ecumenism. They always seem to think that any reunion within the Church is clearly a sign of the Last Days. No, what Jesus is really after is to whittle the His Body down to one little parish with half a dozen people and a bishop who have gotten rid of everyone who doesn't follow every canon of every council. Then they can be the Holy Athonite and Optina True (Really, Really True) Russo-Hellenic Exiled Orthodox Church and the rest of us can live in fear of damnation.

Posted by david at 12:55 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2005

The Importance of John Paul to Orthodoxy

Some of my Protestant readers may be wondering why, being Orthodox, I have been following so closely the events surrounding the death of the Roman Pontiff. Is it just because he is a great Christian leader? And important world figure? No.

It is true that in many ways Protestants have more in common with him than the Orthodox. In the oft-trotted out words of Russian theologian Alexis Khomiakov:

All Protestants are Crypto-Papists. To use the concise language of algebra, all the West knows but one datum a; whether it be preceded by the positive sign +, as with the Romanists, or with the negative -, as with the Protestants, the a remains the same.

In other words, both share the same Western theology, with or without the Papacy. Or as is often said to explain Khomiakov, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are but two sides of the same coin.

But an even deeper underlying fact should not go unnoticed. Even though the theology of the West may have drifted (or perhaps more accurately has not been kept in check by the East), and the communion has been broken for centuries, the Patriarch of Rome is still the successor to Peter's chair. Were he in communion with the other patriarchates, he would be primus inter pares, first among equals, displacing the Patriarch of Constantinople who would then play second fiddle.

As Orthodox, we don't have any problem with the plain language and, until sometime after 1517, the universal understanding and of Matthew 16:17-19. The keys were given to Peter as the leader of the Holy Apostles.

John Paul understood the importance of the unity of the Church. He sought out Orthodox and tried to build bridges wherever he could. It was the Orthodox who were always suspicious. Probably something to do with the Council of Florence in the 15th century. The Orthodox have very long memories. Some are still smarting from the sack of Constantinople in 1204. (I wasn't born then, so I've gotten over it.) Some are just stubborn.

For many Orthodox, the only hope of reunion is for the Patriarch of Rome to accept Eastern Orthodoxy with all of its theological developments since 1054 (while at the same time denying there have been any developments), and simultaneously discarding all of the theological developments in the West over the same period. This ignores the differences that developed before 1054.

I think even the idea that Rome has been willing to make concessions to become communicable with the East is itself viewed with suspicion. Concession is not a big concept in Orthodoxy. On the local level there is a lot of it in the name of economia. But it is not a ecumenical concept.

I know there are more webpages than you can click with a mouse expressing all the differences between Rome and the East.

As well as advocating the solution, John Paul may have contributed to the problem. By helping to bring down Communism, he created the problem of Catholics having freedom to worship as Catholics in Eastern Europe. The Orthodox, who, though repressed and persecuted were sanctioned by the Communist regimes, were used to having a monopoly.

The Catholics wanted churches returned that had belonged to them before the Commies took over. Even worse, the wanted to have Catholic bishops to lead them. The Orthodox, used to being the Church in those part, were, frankly, pissed. (They tend to treat Protestants in those countries the same way.)

So when it comes down to it, even when every layman with a website can't, the bishops can work their way around the theology. It's the turf war that matters. I believe that if it hadn't been for the Eastern European question, we would be much closer to communion than in 1990.

So why is His Holiness John Paul of blessed memory so important to me as an Orthodox Christian? Because he really, really, really wanted what Jesus really wanted:

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

John Paul saw this as an imperative. Most of the Orthodox do not. It is imperative that we do.

Posted by david at 12:58 AM | Comments (7)

April 08, 2005

Simple and Grand

I'm sure most of my American readers did not see the Pope's funeral. It would have been about 4:00 am EDT (3:00 CDT) when it began. Fortunately, I only live one time zone earlier than Rome. I'm sure that many of you will see a few bits on the evening news.

It was simple and grand at the same time. John Paul insisted that his casket be place on the ground rather than on a raised platform. The simple casket was then surrounded by all those important people. And by millions of lesser folk.

It was your usual funeral mass - except that the readings were in Spanish and English, the Gospel in Latin, and the sermon is Italian. Likewise the litanies were in Polish, Czech, German, Tagalog, Swahili, and Portugeuse. And the final prayers were in the Roman rite and the Eastern rite, with the Uniates singing "Christ is Risen" in Greek just like in the Orthodox service while they did their own censing of the body.

And then there were the crowds shouting for him to be made a saint.

Okay, it was pretty amazing.

May his memory be eternal.

Posted by david at 05:25 PM | Comments (2)

The World is Watching

Today's papal funeral is set to be one of the biggest funerals in history. Two hundred of the world's leaders, including the leaders of the world's faiths with many of the Orthodox patrirachs and heads of autocephlous jurisdictions, will have seats near the coffin in a special VIP section.

The capacity of St Peter's Square, with every body pressed against the next, is only about a quarter of a million. Because Rome has at least 5 million pilgrims right now, every piazza in the city is being fitted with a giant TV screen. The same thing is happening in Milan, Florence, Turin, Naples and Assisi.

This is a big deal. I need to go to bed now so I can be up to see the whole thing.

Posted by david at 02:29 AM | Comments (0)

Place Your Bets

I still don't know which horse to back in the Grand National tomorrow.

The first year I placed my token bet, there was a horse called David's Lad. Given that Aidan was a little over two months old, and that the horse was joint second favourite at the start, this seemed the obvious choice. Unfortunately he fell at the 27th fence.

I'm tempted to put my money on perennial entrant Ad Hoc - a joint second favourite with David's Lad in 2002, and also brought now in the melee at the 27th, but this year an outsider at 40-1. Because this was the name of my band, it would appear to be the one with which I have the closest connection. But even though I bet for fun, I would like to have a chance to win. That being said, my traditional £2 on an each way single at 40-1 would yield a tidy sum. £100 by my calculation. (£80 on the win stake and £20 on the place - am I right?)

As you can see, it is very unlikely that I will follow in the footsteps of my late great-uncle Butler Holford, who was a professional gambler.

Posted by david at 02:04 AM | Comments (3)

April 07, 2005

The Holy and the Unholy

One of the most of amazing things ever:

The queue to see the holy remains of John Paul, Patriarch of Rome.

One of the most disgusting things ever:

Robert Mugabe, dictator of Zimbabwe, sullying the funeral with his presence.

Posted by david at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Shoo! or Shhh...! How to Defend A British Home

In an article about the Florida legislation that allows a threatened person to respond with deadly force rather than first attempting retreat (and a chance of getting shot in the back), The Times noted that Florida, like most states, applies the Castle Doctrine regarding the right to self-defence in the home.

It then noted:

British victims of crime must wrestle with a series of moral and criminal guidelines before taking action against intruders in their homes. Latest Home Office advice suggests either making a noise to scare off the burglar or staying quiet in the hope that they will leave you alone.

Posted by david at 04:33 PM | Comments (2)

April 05, 2005

Barren Plains

Today we returned for another visit to the West Midland Safari Park. Unlike our previous visit, I was not very impressed. This time we weren't charged by a rhino. We weren't charged by anything.

We bought a box of food to feed the herbivorous residents. Last time they were at our car from the moment we entered the enclosure. This time we were met by a lone member of a very large deer or cow breed - with these African animals you can never be sure which.

I'm not sure I'm happy with the idea of them charging me to feed their animals. Seems it should be the other way around. The tiny box of pellets we bought cost £2.25. That's right, on top of the entrance fee of £8 per person (aged 4 and over), we paid to do their job. And it's not like this rabbit food was anything special. We saw park rangers carting around wheelbarrows full of it.

Next time we will just take some generic pellets from the pet store. No one should say anything to us. After all, they didn't say anything to the people that were feeding whole unpeeled bananas to the giraffes.

Yes, they had giraffes, but only about three of them and they were at the end of the 4-mile, 90-minute journey. There were a couple of zebras as well. I can't imagine to where the animals from our last visit disappeared. It was like everyone was on holiday, visiting family in the Serengeti.

I was disappointed for Aidan, because he had been much younger on our previous visit - 3 months short of his 2nd birthday. He didn't even remember being there before. This time he had more of an appreciation for the animals - at least the ones that were there.

Every paid visit to the park comes with a voucher for a free return visit during the same year. If we take the opportunity to go back before November, when the park shuts for the winter, I hope there is a bit more excitement. By then Abby will at least notice what is happening and will be able to feed the animals, even if she will eventually forget the experience.

Posted by david at 11:16 PM | Comments (0)

Everything Changes

The cardinals meeting in Rome clearly didn' t take all things into consideration when they set the date for the Pope's funeral.

HRH the Prince of Wales has had to reschedule his wedding to Mrs Parker Bowles from Friday to Saturday. Not only does he have to go to Rome to represent the Queen, but his guest list would have been affected as well. Tony and Cherie Blair want to attend both occasions. (Blair already had to reschedule his announcement of General Election in the wake of the Pope's death.) And the producers of fine china in Staffordshire have had to manufacture entire new lines of commemorative plates and cups. Not that they will lose any money - the ones with the wrong date are now in great demand.

Of course other couples had already booked weddings at the Windsor registry office. I have been assured by the BBC that none of these have been cancelled due to the knock-on effects of the Pope's funeral.

And since the church blessing of the civil ceremony will be televised, this throws everything off at the BBC. Saturday is also the day of the most important horse race in the UK, the Grand National at Aintree. (It's the only race on which I ever place a bet, albeit usual about £4.) So, in order for the Grand National to be televised, it has been rescheduled from 3:45 to 4:10.

You'd think the cardinals would have thought of all these implications.

Posted by david at 10:40 PM | Comments (1)

De Facto Becomes De Jure

Askar Akayev, the leader of Kyrgyzstan who fled the country on March 24, has official resigned his presidency from exile in Moscow. Long after he was ousted, he refused to acknowledge his fall from power.

Now after talks with a parliamentary delegation at Kyrgyzstan's Moscow embassy, and after the country's Constitutional Court said he could legally resign in exile, it is official.

The presidential election will take place on June 26 instead of October 30 as originally scheduled.

Posted by david at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

Some Bets Are Off

It's not the holiest aspect of the selection of a successor to St Peter's throne. The cardinals may be sworn to secrecy, but the bookies in Ireland are already taking wagers on who will be the next pontiff.

The Washington Post has looked into this and with their thorough research discovered that Paddy Power, Ireland's largest betting company has Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, at 11 to 4. The Post also notes that Father Dougal Maguire of Craggy Island, Ireland, is a long shot at 1,000 to 1.

The name is spelled "McGuire", but Post staff writer Stephanie McCrummen missed one other detail. As Stateside viewers of PBS or BBC America might recognise, Father Dougal is a fictional character from the sitcom Father Ted.

McCrummen's a little inaccurate with the odds as well. Father Dougal was originally 100,000 to 1. A flurry of betting now has him at 500-1.

Posted by david at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

Old News, Good News, and Renting Asphalt

I found out today that the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) are moving toward independence. They may soon be free from Soviet dominance. At least that's what the magazine in the waiting room at the hospital said. It's always good to stay abreast of current events while spending those last few minutes on the month-long NHS waiting list.

I also found out that the spot on my face is nothing to worry about, nor do I need to be concerned about a few moles that have popped up. I'm trusting this information was more up-to-date than the 1990 National Geographic in the waiting room.

Mrs H suggested that someone should arranged for more contemporary periodicals to be donated to the hospital instead being throw away.

I was late for my appointment because I couldn't find a parking space. I suppose if they keep the number of parking spaces down, then fewer people will show up for appointments. The NHS (or the local council) has given the car park to a private company. So, unlike other public car parks, handicapped motorists only get a concession if they are parked in the limited number of marked handicapped spaces.

Today I didn't make the cripple quota, so I had to pay to park. Of course being a cripple, I didn't think I needed to have any change in my pocket. So, late for my appointment before I even found a able body space, I had to get change for a fiver from the shop inside the hospital to pay £1.50 for up to three hours rent on piece of asphalt. As pay parking goes that's not a bad rate. I just shouldn't have had to pay.

Posted by david at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2005

Many Years

Today is my father's 73rd birthday.

We didn't get cards in the post in time. I just hope the presents got there.

Posted by david at 01:32 AM | Comments (2)

April 02, 2005

Memory Eternal

May God grant a peaceful repose and joy in the light of His Presence to his servant John Paul.

One in six people on the planet mourn the loss their spiritual leader. Everyone on every other blog has much more profound things to say about the passing of His Holiness. As I watched the extended BBC news coverage from Rome this evening, I could not help but tear up at times.

I realised that within the space of a year, the two leaders who are responsible more than any others for the reshaping of the world through the dissolution of the Soviet bloc and the defeat of Eastern European communism, Ronald Reagan and Karol Wojtyla, have passed from it. If you look at their backgrounds, it becomes obvious how God can take those from the humblest of origins and use them to change the world.

Posted by david at 10:11 PM | Comments (1)

Spam Attack

The porn spammers have attacked again. This time they have been doing it through trackback pings. They have left an average of about 63 links per entry. I didn't notice it at first because they did it on entries already archived behind the index page. Today I noticed that virtually every entry on the index had been hit.

I've disabled the trackback pop-up window, but there is no telling how long it will take to clean out the actual entries.


Posted by david at 07:38 PM | Comments (0)


I was listening to the commentators on the telly this morning pontificate on the pontificate that is drawing to a close. (How often do you get to use that word with both meanings in the same sentence?) Where do they get these people? Some woman, the importance of whom I am unaware (because I was listening and not watching, so I didn't see the identifying graphic), was going on and on about how this Pope had not been good for women because of his stance on abortion and the ordination of priestesses. Which Pope do they think was good then? When has any Pope ever supported their views?

What planet are these people occupying? They simply cannot comprehend that it isn't the role of the Pope to turn the Faith into whatever he fancies. They see so called dissident Catholics who favour these things and assume that once the "right" man comes along the Church will come along and get with the spirit of the age.

Now as an Orthodox person, I could argue that with the acceptance of the filioque in the 11th century and the doctrine of papal infallibility in 1870, the billion or so separated brethren under the patriarch of Rome are already sliding down the slippery slope. However, I would say that this slope is not a rate of descent that is even perceptible by those who want the Church of Rome to endorse or promote their perversions.

Posted by david at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

When You Have a Minute or Ten

The new David's Mental Meanderings is now online. It's a little longer than usual, so you might need to get comfortable.

Your comments, as always, are welcome.

Posted by david at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

Driving Up the Cost of Living

We got our new Council Tax bill yesterday.

Council Tax is like property tax, only everyone pays it, even if you rent. Properties are grouped in bands. We are in the second lowest band.

Though we have moved house a couple of time since we got married, we are in the same band as the first place we rented. In that time - almost exactly five years (for several months after we were married we lived in the rented room/house share that Mrs H already occupied) - our Council Tax bill (which includes separate charges for the police, fire, and local parish [a poltical subdivision, not the C of E church] has increased by 50%.

It used to be that Band "B" cost £60 a month. It is now £94 ($180) a month. The Shire's Council claim this year's increase is the smallest in history.

The only part of it that hasn't increased it the tiny parish charge. The £11.28 for the year has actually gone down by 33.4% this year. Strangely they've had to virtually shut down our excuse for a local library.

Posted by david at 12:36 AM | Comments (3)