Continuing with the vaguely religious and spiritual theme I seem to be adopting, here’s something that has been very much on the radar recently: the supposed conflict between science and religion. Needless to say these are my personal feelings on spirituality, and are by no means definitive. Please comment and give your own views, either here and/or on the fourm.
Read the rest on the new site at http://novaedentes.com/blog/?p=404
So, banned in Catalonia, under threat in the rest of Spain, and increasingly popular in Mexico. The controversy rich pastime of Bull-fighting encourages strong feelings for both sides of the debate, but why has this apparent hang-over of a less civilised time in Europe’s history managed to thrive in the enlightened world of the 21st Century?
I get the impression that I haven’t written anything in a while. Whoops, just a bit busy with other stuff, and had a bit of writer’s block. Hey ho here goes.
Earlier in the week the Church of England took the landmark step to shatter the stained glass ceiling and paved the way for women to finally be able to be consecrated Bishops. This blow for equality comes after months, if not years of negotiation, prevarication, and resistance from conservative Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals. The one caveat remaining being the potential of male suffragans providing an episcopal service to parishes who continue to object to the idea, seems to have prevented the Schismatic bogeyman from rearing it’s ugly head.
It’s somewhat gratifying to see MY church moving towards common sense with this measure, especially when one considers that the theological objections toward a female episcopate are towards female ordination in toto, not any one order in particular.
These seem to stem largely from St Paul’s 1st Epistle to Timothy (2.12-14) which “commands” us to’ suffer not a woman to teach nor usurp authority over a man…’ The passage is at best a flimsy defence for the prohibition of a female presbyterate, since elsewhere in the bible (Judges:4-5) we are given a favourable account of the Ephraimite Prophetess Deborah and her leadership of the Israelites against the Cannanite king Jabin of Hazor. Also, we are told in the non cannonical Gospels discovered in the Nag Hammadi Library of the high esteem in which Jesus held Mary Magdalene.
The theological objections seem to smack of little more than the sanctification of a culture of misogyny rife within the Post-Nicene Church, and degraded Mary Magdalene from beloved of Christ to nothing more than a whore. And when they are applied to just one Holy Order they become even less credible. The Church could have done better in allowing women bishops at the same time as women priests and deacons.
In short, holiness isn’t linked to the presence of a fallus and a lack of breasts. God works through all of us and the sooner more people in the church realise this, the better.
Normally, Tatler magazine wouldn’t cross my radar, I know it exists, and tends to have high fashion shots of fairly attractive women in nice gowns, but haven’t paid it much heed (or indeed, paid for a copy!). Although an article in today’s Times by Sathnam Sanghera (“Getting off on the right foot – if Daddy’s rich enough” ) brought an article in this month’s edition to my attention.
The piece entitled “The Interns: Never have so many battled to get coffee for so few” highlights the apparent trend of rich socialites, epitomised (apparently) by The Hills star Whitney Port, who was an intern with Teen Vogue (spot the Condé Nast nepotism) and seemed, according the article, to spend ‘most of her time in the fashion cupboard wondering which Hollywood party to go to” This wonderfully vacuous caricature is then backed up in the article by real life (or rather as close as it gets in the world of the rich and pretty) examples of young rich things who seemed to do nothing during internships with various fashion houses; and waste what may have been a superb opportunity for someone who would kill for the opportunity to work with Jimmy Choo, or Armanni and work damn hard while they are there.
While this whole article may be nothing short of a reductio ad absurdum it still highlights a serious problem which faces many graduates and others looking to break into a particular industry. In many industries including, but by no means being limited to, fashion, journalism, PR and Parliamentary research/casework/general bag carrying, the only way to even have a hope of getting anywhere is through gaining experience through unpaid internships.
This immediately presents those who can’t afford to take the temporary loss of income that one of these internships would require with a problem. I recently took a weeks unpaid work experience with a local Newspaper in Croydon, and while, I learnt a hell of a lot and even got a byline story out of the deal, for which I’m grateful; I still had to take a weeks holiday from my distinctly less glamorous paying job. I’m just one example of a vast number of recent graduates that, while they have the talent to make such an internship go a very long way, simply don’t have the income in order to fund themselves for a week, a month, or even longer.
This hasn’t escaped the notice of the University Minister David “Two Brains” Willets who promised that the government would look into it as an issue lest, in Sanghera’s words ‘the country will soon be run by guffawing buck-tooth toffs’ and while rather unfair in the upper middle classes, he does have a point. One has to ask, what can the government actually do?
The most obvious idea might be to ban unpaid internships, and force businesses to pay a reasonable wage for the work done. Despite sounding as nice to someone in my position as the £7.00ph living wage promised by Ed Milliband, it would be equally as catastrophic. It would, instead of increasing take-up of internships of those of high ability and low income would force businesses to cut the number of internships, many choosing not to offer them at all, not being able to afford the cost of what is essentially a temporary employee.
Another position might be to leave the system as it is, for if one wants something badly enough, and is enterprising enough they will go for a position regardless. A key example of this is Chris Gardener, the protagonist of true story The Pursuit of Happiness . While some may have the drive to succeed we don’t live in a purely Libertarian state, and a purely Libertarian solution can’t work in our present system since, on a basic level, the Governement has a duty of care to it’s citizens and leaving them completely out in the cold isn’t the solution.
Perhaps the best course of action might be if the government were to expand such schemes as the Graduate Talent Pool and offer financial incentives to businesses to take on graduates who want to break into an industry, and can’t afford to take an unpaid internship, while giving the candidate the support they may need to keep a roof over their head. Yet can the government afford this?
Sufficed to say this isn’t a problem with a clear solution, and it can’t be solved in one blogpost. Out of the three solutions advocated however, the least worst is probably the third one. As ever comments welcome.
How Tories and Lib Dems can make natural reformers | Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
The brains behind The Plan and the Direct Democracy think tank Douglas Carswell and Dan Hannan write on how strong a force for localism the new coalition will be.
If there was an important story that was completely eclipsed by the latest Israel furore, it was the shock resignation of German President Horst Koehler, allegedly over troops being committed to the Afgan War. He tendered his resignation to the German people yesterday (May 31st) among a storm of criticism from fellow politicians.
The final push for Koehler was a radio interview where he stated that, for an export oriented country like Germany it was sometimes necessary to deploy troops to ‘protect our interests… for example free trade routes’. This, in a country where the mission in Afganisatan is viewed with the same, if not greater, contempt than here (the UK) wasn’t going to go down well and Koehler bowed under the weight of enormous criticism.
Despite the criticism, his resignation still came as a shock the the German press putting out headlines which varied on the theme of “Horst Weg?” (Horst Wy?) which, when politicians have stood their ground in the face of much worse onslaughts (Tony Blair over the Second Gulf War being the most obvious example), why has Koehler seemingly given up?
As with most things political, there is more to this than meets the eye. His resignation exposes rifts within the German Government, which aside from the pressure from fighting an unpopular war, is under immense pressure from having to act as Europe’s banker, propping up deadbeat states such as Greece, Italy and Portugal. If nothing else, this begins to expose the cracks that are starting to appear in the current administration.
Merkel, had pleaded with Koehler not to go, despite not responding to the original remarks. His resignation strikes at the core of her centre-right coalition, he was their candidate, his cold, sensible background in the IMF, gave them a sense of gravitas, and the steady-eddies that the German’s wanted. His resignation changes all that and could light the powder keg that is contemporary German politics.
Simmering quietly in the background this potential sickness at the heart of Europe’s head (as against Europe’s heart being France) has the potential to do as much damage as the rapidly devaluing euro if left unchecked. German politics might become “one to watch” again.