• I Rat!


    I’ve long been a fan of science fiction. One of the best authors is the late Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992). The Three Laws of Robotics (often shortened to The Three Laws or known as Asimov’s Laws) are a set of rules devised by science fiction author Isaac Asimov. The rules were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround” (included in the 1950 collection I, Robot), although they had been foreshadowed in some earlier stories. The Three Laws, quoted from the “Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.”, are:
    First Law
    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    Second Law
    A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    Third Law
    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    Professor Asimov was an Ashkenazic Jew and this fact lends an additional relevance to this post. Jewish people – particularly Ashkenazic Jews are either familiar with boundaries and borders or the concept of same.

    I was born in Leeds and my family home was on a boundary. That boundary lay in the middle of our road. The road rand North/South and we lived on the eastern side. The houses on the eastern side were even numbers. The houses on the western side were odd numbers. I lived in #22. My very good friend, an Ashkenazic Jew was older than me – by 26 days.

    One of the things I remember from my childhood was that my friend learned Hebrew because he had Hebrew language tuition organised by the local Jewish community. It’s not something I remember very often but was remembered when I wrote a recent post commenting – among other things – about the use of the Cornish language (the language of my ancestors) on Truro’s public transport system. Unlike my friend I never learned my ancestral tongue.

    One thing about the English language is that it is now used internationally. Sadly, the use of that language is mainly American English and not British English. Whichever version is used however there is a basic problem with the language – it lacks some precision found in other languages. A superb example of this is to be found in a biblical reference used in yesterday’s post which quoted Mark 12, vs30&31.

    I make mention of this because friendship and charitableness can like tossing a pebble into a pond, have ripple effects. My friendship with the Jewish boy living over the road have a very very important developmental impact on me. This because my friendship with him stopped me from becoming anti-Semitic. This because I had to deal with a couple of bullies – who co-incidentally happened to be Jewish. They were not bullies because they were Jews. They were bullies because of other things in their young lives that made them so. Suffice it to say I dealt with the bullying problem which was a very valuable life lesson learned.

    Bullies take many forms and one of the most widespread and insidious forms of bullying is political correctness and the zealots who propound it. It’s cowering victims not only include vast numbers of ordinary people who “keep their heads down” but businesses who feel forced – or not forced but want to earn “brownie” points with “the powers that be” – to make politically correct policy announcements.

    Of course, there is nothing new about any of this!

    That’s the thing about reading the Bible. Its about “us” then. Human beings have not really changed.

    For instance, in the first half of the 20th Century (1900 – 1950) it was quite common for large businesses to appoint non executive directors from the ranks of the aristocracy or the kin of Royalty to “earn brownie points”. Expect to see large businesses in the future appoint persons deemed by the politically correct to be excellent “representatives of diversity” such as prominent homosexuals, lesbians, ethnic minority persons, persons with the “correct” views (e.g. Green) as non executive directors.

    Of course, as a white male heterosexual churchgoer I’m not going to hold my breath whilst expecting a telephone call or email appointing me to such a position!

    Of course, as a white male heterosexual churchgoer I’m “fair game” to the comedians that BBC2 likes to spend my TV tax on! This because black lesbian atheists are a protected species and under no circumstances can be lampooned or ridiculed!

    Returning to the issue of borders/boundaries the border of which I was referencing was the ward boundary between Moortown ward and Roundhay ward. We lived in Roundhay ward. My friend lived in Moortown ward. So what? It’s just that Moortown ward was and still is an area with a high Jewish population.

    I grew up in a local community with a significant Jewish population. The co-ed day school I went to had a significant number of Jewish children. We did not (1960-1972) have significant numbers from other ethnic minority communities. This is NOT the situation today.

    My friend and his parents were not Orthodox Jews. They wore their Jewish identity lightly. My parents were both devout Methodists. Mum was a local preacher. My father was a quite man and bore his witness by helping others. I was a very typical lad of my generation. Churchgoing was practised because I was living with Dad and Mum and there was no real choice – when young. When I reached my teenage years there was a choice and I chose other things. That meant that I did not abandon church going but I cut it back substantially and developed into a “hatches, matches and dispatches” person.

    I now attend church regularly. So what changed?

    Well in one way, not a lot. In another way, Anno Domini – as my late father was fond of quoting which was a favourite for him to say “getting old”.

    Did I have a Damascene conversion?


    I can best describe it by paraphrasing a former Bishop of London who being very politically correct described his sexual orientation as “….a grey area….” For me that “grey area” is not my sexual orientation but my faith – or what passes for it.

    For me, I take very much on board the famous quote of Blaise Pascal (19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662) the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, writer and Catholic theologian:

    “Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.”

    Now Pascal’s quote is clearly self serving. It is not a very principled philosophy! It is the philosophy of survival. I write this as I do not want people to applaud my churchgoing as somehow laudable. If one likens what many refer to as the “End Times” to a sinking ship, I am a rat – hence the paraphrasing of the professor’s famous novel!

    Of course, Pascal’s quote has an obvious flaw, which the theologian Pascal would have known – that his “wise wager” is nothing more and nothing less than the “tickbox theology” of the Pharisees that the Good Lord took them to task over! Were He two use 21st Century English he probably would expound the doctrine of “walking the walk and not talking the talk” and that goodness comes from a generosity of heart not a from a calculation of mind.

    The internet is infamous for being the cyber-repository of self appointed prophets suggesting one dystopian future after another. If you believe them all we are being killed off by COVID-19 vaccines, taken over by aliens, turned into robots before being finally killed of by a giant asteroid destroying the planet!

    Well, look on the bright side!

    No need for funeral arrangements and best of all, the ultimate way of evading Inheritance Tax!

    How good is that!

    But on a more serious and sombre note, there are very worrying developments.
    Herewith a Guardian report from 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/12/rise-in-numbers-of-jews-leaving-europe-for-israel-is-not-an-exodus
    Since 2017 the situation has got worse. A lot worse!
    Herewith two very concerning posts from “North the Elder” and “North the Younger.”
    GOTO: https://www.turbulenttimes.co.uk/news/front-page/politics-poisoning-the-well/
    GOTO: https://www.turbulenttimes.co.uk/news/front-page/a-line-has-been-crossed-we-can-be-tolerant-no-more/

    Of course, very few will want to try and do anything about the above as they do not want to incur the wrath of the politically correct!

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