The one and the many

It’s an ancient conundrum. What do we strive for? The common good or the betterment of the individual? From the ancients till now we’ve been struggling with it.

However what is clear is that today in Britain the individual is the centre of discourse, politics and theology. The common good is quietly being dismantled, evidenced by the shackling of the BBC and the tearing down of the NHS.

I see Socialism as the formalisation of the common good, denigrating the individual.

I see Capitalism as the formalisation of the individual, denigrating the common good.

Both are inherently dehumanising from a Christian perspective. It’s easy to say that God, the Trinity should give us the right balance. Yet, there is much resistance in church to think through stuff. Better an easy answer rather than an embodied struggle to listen to and practice the life, Father, Son and Holy Spirit gives us. Lord, have mercy

A current creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
who sits seemingly silent while men shout in his name.

I believe in Jesus Christ, supposedly his Father’s true representative but seemingly so different,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the teenager Mary,
suffered under Pontius, the man who represents all earthly and churchly power,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
and he is not here, his absence is painful
and he will hopefully come to make everything good
and he is supposed to be present with the suffering
but I don’t know.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the utter rubbishness of the Church,
the broken communion of saints,
the mending of all brokenness,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. A wisp of hope.

It sounds like…

When someone tells someone who’s written a piece of music ‘it sounds like…’ then three things are happening…

  1. It’s a compliment. For somehow it reminds the speaker of greatness and therefore is a compliment.
  2. It’s an insult. The musician is seen as copier whose own skill is somehow only aspirational to the ‘great’ that the speaker has alluded to. The musician’s own skill is immaterial.
  3. The speaker isn’t actually listening. Instead of listening to the ‘now’ of sound, the speaker needs to immediately refer to the speaker’s own past, own experience and own opinions rather than listen to the sound and give attention to the one producing the sound.

I’ve been on both sides.

40fied

I have been fortyfied. It happened a couple of weeks ago. Most of me was dreading it. But the day itself was great. It was lovely to be with people from all sorts of stages of my life. I had a childhood friend, two from Bangalore and and more recent friends. I enjoyed it muchly. I must say I’m thankful. I’m relatively healthy and fed. My children are too.

My dread of turning 40 is similar but different to others. I’m not that fearful of the aging process. I’m not fearful of death. My dread has to do with where I am now in comparison to my peers. Yes it is that comparison thing. My dread is essentially a marker of shame. For not having a job. For not owning a house. For holding on to addictive thought patterns that hold me down. Turning 40 has punctuated and affirmed this shame.

My being like what me is burdensome to others too. At 40 I would’ve liked to have been helping others and supporting others. Instead I’m the one being held. If there was a tangible reason for this then I could accept it but it all seems to stem from my poor, daily choices. My choices affect others, primarily my wife and children and I live with that shame every day. And yet, I don’t change. I remain the same, I whine without action.

I would have liked to have become a more mature and stable person in my forties. That seems simultaneously within my grasp and as far away as ever. I’m increasingly unsure of most things. Only my wife and children provide the reason for me to get out of bed in the mornings. There isn’t much else. But for now that’s what there is and that is what I hold on to. Maybe that’s what the 40s are about. Holding on.

Leave… probably

Despite my best instincts I’m thinking of voting leave for the upcoming EU referendum. Those who know me might be a bit surprised. After all I’m a left leaning British Indian and aligning myself with Farage and Gove seems a bit odious.

It is. I intensely dislike the ideas the Farage and Gove put about and instinctively I should be dead against immigrant bashing, little Englander toting, Hitler invoking politicians who have ruined our debate, our school education and our housing system.

However leaving the EU is not just about immigrants or a false sovereignity. There are a few left wingers who like the idea of leaving but again Farage and Gove and their screeching campaign make it difficult for any sense to be heard.

Jenny Jones is probably one of the more prominent ‘Lefties’ who are going for an out vote. Paul Mason and Larry Elliott give good reasons as to why we should leave.

I think the main public arguments are fairly disheartening. Leave speaks almost exclusively in terms of immigration. Remain talks exclusively in terms of economics. So that’s it? It’s just about foreigners and money?

Behind these public facades there are deeper issues at stake. First, at the heart of all the passion is a search for identity in a globalised monochrome world. Second, there is also the mad all encompassing religion of neo-liberal capitalism which has swept across the earth devouring everything in its way. Both are interconnected and actually the good arguments for Leave and Remain are interwined with each other in combatting these twin problems.

Remain’s good argument should be that we should stay together in order to cooperate in multiple ways and protect our values. Leave’s good argument should be that we need a sense of freedom over our destiny in order fulfil our potential.

I think in that sense I’m slowly heading into my faith values here. As Christians I think we should stand against the powers and dominions of this world. Right now for the Western church the hidden and real danger is neo-liberalism. This is the beast of our time. And the truth is that the EU doesn’t really stand up to this mad form of capitalism. It only reinforces it. Remain’s constant harping on about the economic argument only shows how enthralled we are by this god.

We are told that the EU is a good way of protecting our values but increasing evidence shows members shunning liberal values by stifling human rights and a free press. Hungary and Poland are the prime examples here. So by staying who are we staying with and who are we staying for?

Leaving the EU I think will be at the very least will be or should be a call to a sense of purpose as a people which flows against the neo liberal capitalist tide which only wants one large common market to sell each other to each other.

I think a Remain vote will infinitely strengthen UKIP. A Leave vote might completely rob UKIP for a reason to exist. The Scottish referendum’s remain result really strengthened the SNP and wiped out Labour. I think if we remain Labour will lose out the most. The Conservatives will only be seen as honest folk who stood for what each believed in while the Labour will look like an ideological dinosaur.

A Remain vote will increase the animosity towards migrants. It’s easier to hate people coming when in when you feel you have no control over who comes in. Leaving might (and I say might because deep prejudice takes generations to get rid off) allow a softening towards migrants as there is at least a feeling that the borders aren’t wide open.

Leaving is a stand against a false god. But for the current campaign they’re just resurrecting the old gods of nationhood and fascism. I think at the core maybe the question is whether being part of the EU is any good for our humanity or are we just pacifying the gods of money and unaccountable power?

Honestly I don’t know and I’m probably far too idealistic and I might even change my mind. But in the likelihood of a Remain vote I’ll probably go with Leave.