The Curmudgeon


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Luke 17 xxvii-xxxvii; Luke 18 i-viii

After telling His disciples that the coming of the kingdom of Heaven will be a massacre along the lines of the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jesus tells a parable about a judge who neither fears God nor respects humanity. A widow importunes the judge about her case, and eventually he resolves to give her justice for the sake of a quiet life. Hearing the judge's decision, God boasts that He will quickly give justice to His elect, but nevertheless questions whether His avatar will find faith among the people of earth.

In the parable, assuming that right is on the widow's side, justice is done without recourse to either holiness or philanthropy, and is thereby shown to be a mere earthly luxury. The judge acts from pure self-interest, and would no doubt be undiscerning enough to give justice to anyone at all, whether or not they belonged to God's elect, from the same tawdry motive. Holy vengeance and holy favour, by contrast, are both purely arbitrary, as Jesus has just emphasised in His foregoing remarks about His Father's approaching kingdom of flood, fire and brimstone.

The Saviour's own attitude to the importunities of needy women is apparent from the episode of the Canaanite woman, whose cries for help He seems happy to tolerate indefinitely. Hence God's rhetorical question at the end of the parable: Jesus eventually helps the woman not out of a desire for peace and quiet, but as a reward for faith and flattery. It is these, and not mere earthly notions of what is just or unjust, that carry weight in the kingdom of heaven.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Not Quite His Sort of Latin

Having recently been sidelined over the Irish Question, the Imperial Haystack will soon be biffing off to Latin America which, although full of foreigners, has the indisputable advantage of being a very long way away. The Haystack will lay a wreath in Argentina, to commemorate the sainted Thatcher's famous victory over the forces of Michael Foot; and will also be visiting Peru and Chile, apparently in the hope of persuading their respective governments to throw money at British bankers once Her Majesty's Government runs out of taxpayers. The Haystack's accustomed humorous plain-speaking on such matters as the humane virtues of Augusto Pinochet and the hilarious racial characteristics of the dago species will no doubt go down a diplomatic treat.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Renewed Consolidation for Sustainable Pacification

Since the late Head Boy, with his famous good judgement and veracity, declared Victory in Afghanistan four years ago, it should come as no surprise that the Recrudescent Imperium has been called upon to double its military presence in that ever-fortunate country. Happily, thanks to the joined-up thinking which is nearly as common in Her Majesty's Government as joined-up writing, Britain's armed forces are shrinking while being simultaneously engaged in twenty-five separate bits of overseas liberation, peace-keeping and democratisation training. Despite the swingeing cuts initiated by the late Head Boy and his chums, and despite the inevitably entertaining combination of ministerial outsourcing and Capita's computer skills, they are also failing to recruit and suffering some little irregularity in the old moral fibre. Nevertheless, prompted by the megalomaniac squeakings of his hydrophobic head-tribble, the Trumpster keeps on ordering his subordinates in Downing Street to send reinforcements and help the Kabul democracy to prosper. It is to be hoped that the Ministry for Wog-Bombing can scrape together sufficient wherewithal to mount one final glorious crusade against those mad mullahs and their terroristic minions who, even after all these years of Western guidance, are still not civilised enough to realise that they've been beaten in a fair fight.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Woolly Thinking

City parks in Rome are becoming overgrown because, despite the past several years of fiscal discretion and technocratic efficiency in government, the authorities cannot afford to pay anyone to look after them. Lacking the entrepreneurial gumption to implement a British solution such as flogging off the good bits for development, walling off the rest and hiring a private security company to keep out the poor and incentivise "voluntary donations" from visitors, the ruling Five Star movement is considering the use of sheep and other animals to keep the grass under control. The proposal has been greeted with derision in some quarters: "What will we do with the faeces left by the sheep?" asked one worthy who is apparently unaware that animal faeces are biodegradable; while a political opponent asked if the mayor would also be providing geckoes to get rid of summer mosquitoes. All irreverence aside, it remains to be seen whether the Roman authorities will have sufficient vision to recruit assistance from the Vatican, and thus provide constructive employment at last for one of the world's most concentrated populations of shepherds and crooks.

Me at Poetry24:
Pharisee and Publican

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Many Are Called, But...

In an unfortunate reversal of the Saviour's sleight of hand with those loaves and fishes, the bounty of a Brazilian evangelist seems to have resulted in a paucity of dupes. A film about Edir Macedo, bishop, sometime jailbird and alleged money-launderer, has sold nine million tickets, but consistently plays to empty cinemas. Critics have also been unkind; according to one, Nada a Perder "leaves the impression that art was less important and the film was made to glorify the protagonist and his religion," not unlike the Gospels. Satan's minions are already putting about the fake news that large quantities of tickets have been purchased by the church itself; and this despite the church's setting up of an initiative on behalf of the needy, to which the needy have apparently responded by not attending the spiritual banquet. Since Macedo claims almost ten million followers, the church may also be wondering why the last million have failed to make due fiscal obeisance; particularly as the film was promoted and partly funded by Macedo's own TV channel and released, with superb self-effacement, on the Easter weekend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Blue Pencil Event Horizon

Let it not be thought, just because Her Majesty's Government has issued a belated though doubtless sincere apology for its complicity in kidnapping and torture, that genuine British values will be permitted to slacken any further. A request under the Freedom of Information Act, by a professor of international history at the notoriously subversive London School of Economics, is to be shrugged off as "vexatious" by the Cabinet Office at a hearing tomorrow. The information under restraint relates to the dewy-eyed bromance between a grinning, authoritarian torture fan and war criminal and the late Colonel Gaddafi; and Her Majesty's Government has so little to hide or to fear that the amount of space-time continuum necessary to redact the relevant papers would place the civil service at risk of gravitational collapse.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Compliantly Hostile

One reason why crime statistics keep rising, despite the nation's moral tenor leaping ever further into the empyrean castrato, is the fact that more crimes are being reported. With commendable initiative, various police forces have taken assertive action to deal with this trend, by looking up victims of crime on their national database and handing over anyone who seems a bit Windrush to the Ministry for Wog Control. A spokesbeing has proclaimed that "victims of crime must be treated first and foremost as victims," but the official guidelines stipulate that police can look up anyone they choose and make an arrest on swarming-horde grounds, provided only that there is "an immediate risk of harm to a specific individual". As a wog-hunting licence this could hardly be clearer, since each and every immigrant who remains at large in the Recrudescent Imperium self-evidently constitutes a real and immediate risk to the psychological well-being of the Prime Minister and much of the Conservative and Demagogic Unionist Party. Still, there may well be legitimate and understandable concerns over whether police forces are taking due care to ensure that whatever crimes against cockroaches they do condone are committed exclusively by genuine British nationals.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bad Theology

Text for today: Matthew 7 xii; Luke 6 xxxi

Jesus proclaims that we should do to others as we would wish them to do to us. According to Matthew He ascribes this injunction to the law and the prophets; according to Luke He enunciates the rule moments after telling the wealthy, the well-fed and the mirthful of the sufferings which their loving Father has in store for them.

As to the law and the prophets, the law commands that those who act on certain wishes be stoned to death; while at least one of the prophets says that the human heart is deceitful, desperately wicked and unknowable except to God (Jeremiah 17 ix). Since we cannot know our own hearts, let alone those of other people, it is difficult to see how we can estimate anyone's wishes with sufficient accuracy to oblige them; particularly if their tastes and ours do not happen to coincide. As often with the teaching of Jesus, it is tempting to see this commandment as deliberately setting an impossible task, in order to ensure a steady supply of penitent dupes for His nascent blood cult.

What, according to Jesus, is the nature of our wishes? People are evil (Matthew 7 xi); the things of men are Satanic and opposed to the wishes of God (Matthew 16 xxiii); people deserve worse than the massacred Canaanites and the Cities of the Plain (Matthew 11 xx-xxiv). It is even conceivable that there are some people so unworthy as to prefer ploughshares to swords, who would rather not have their families set against them (Matthew 10 xxxiv-xxxvii). There seems little reason for Jesus to require us to tailor our actions to such depraved preferences, unless perhaps He wishes to spare Himself the bother of looking after too many sheep.

But let us not be uncharitable. Of course it must be admitted from the outset that the commandment is meaningless. Taken in itself, it is neither sane nor benign; taken in the context of the Saviour's consistently punitive and fundamentalist doctrine, it looks like the purest hypocrisy. Nevertheless, this in itself may provide a paradoxical clue to His real intentions. Jesus openly admitted His policy of deliberately confusing and misleading the chaff (Mark 4 xi-xii), and since on this occasion He was speaking in front of a large crowd rather than to His chosen disciples, the most charitable interpretation may be that His statement is a harmless political anodyne, much along the lines of a modern demagogue proclaiming a new and radical preference for prosperity, fair play and the survival of the species.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Drained of Much Blood

Despite the Windrush persecutions being All a Terrible Mistake, they seem to merge rather conveniently with the Government's long-term plans for the National Health Service. Medical staff of the piccaninny persuasion are being assertively incentivised to stay at home or, if they must steal jobs from bursary-deprived British nurses, to refrain from polluting the Recrudescent Imperium with their horribly extended tribal families. The effect on the staffing crisis, which currently runs to a deficit of forty-three thousand nurses, has been most salutary; so naturally Her Majesty's Government is plotting to extend its compliant approach to medical staff who have the temerity to be Euro-wogs. At the moment the NHS is incubating 140,000 such hostile aliens, who for the moment must build their lives upon the somewhat sandy foundation of a reassurance by Caroline Nokes, the hapless Minister for an Unbloodied River Tiber, that their fate will depend on a future agreement which Her Majesty's Government cannot even agree among itself, let alone with the Brusso-Strasbourgian jackboot. Yet still, astoundingly enough, the Stalinist malcontents at the Royal College of Nursing persist in defying the people's will.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Keeping the Enemy Closer

Now that the important lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire have been learned (viz. that the rehousing of victims, far from being a priority, should barely even count as a concern; and that unsafe cladding should continue to be used unless residents are prepared to pay for its replacement), Her Majesty's Government has made a small condescension to the expendables and their families. The inquiry panel is now to include "people with the skills to examine the cultural and community reasons" behind the disaster, something the Prime Minister had previously refused to countenance. Being something slightly other than a born diplomat, and possessing an authoritarian streak nearly as wide as the yellow stripe running up her back, Tin-Pot Tessie presumably lacked the subtlety to see their inclusion as anything other than a hindrance to her will (in Modern Standard Whitehall English, the Will of the People) and an unacceptable adulteration of Sir Martin Moore-Bick's anticipated whitewash with a subversive touch of the tar-brush. Given the absence of much in the way of mind, heart or policy, her change of position is no doubt an encouraging sign; at least for anyone who believes that anyone with an interest in the larger causes of the disaster should be cosily outvoted and democratically marginalised, rather than excluded outright.