Tuesday, 13 July 2010

On Religion and Love

So how to start this one !! Religion is always a tricky subject- it's one of those topics that can be incredibly divisive. Not just about whether you believe or not, but also because of its nature and consequences. Wars are caused by it, terrorists are inspired by it, but in alot of people it inspires a compassion, grace and a love for fellow man. One thing is for certain- that those who use religion as an excuse for fanatacism are in the very small minority.
I go to church- I'm not in the slightest bit embarrased to admit it. In fact I'm incredibly comfortable in the way my faith guides me. If you'll allow (not that you have much choice!) let me tell you how I got to where I am.
I was brought up in the Catholic faith- went to Catholic schools both at junior and senior level, and then, like so many, I grew disillusioned with the church. Ultimately, I didn't know what to believe. Deep down I don't think I ever lost my faith but as a young man there seemed to be so many other things that got in the way. Girls mostly, but also there were other things that seemed to take priority- building a career, socialising, sport and a whole host of other distractions. Then I met my (now ex) wife and that pushed my life in yet another direction. When my son had been born and was growing up, and attending the same primary school that I did, I started reattending mass - something intangible was drawing me back. I still had my doubts- I don't believe anyone who says they never question their faith- but a ritual of worship seemed to make my life more complete. When my Grandfather was taken ill with a severe stroke, and was close to dying, it was the church and Jesus that I turned to for help and consolation, and the comfort that brought deepened my faith to the extent that I knew I'd never turn away again.
When I go to church and help with parish initiatives like the youth group and committee, I see a community that is united in the love and grace that Jesus teaches. Parisioners reach out to others- to those that are sick and housebound, to children, to each other. There's a wonderful sense of family, of closeness that unified faith brings. Everyone smiles, strangers are met with a warm welcome and generosity knows no bounds. This scenario is repeated thousands upon thousands of times across England, Europe and the rest of the world. Communities brought together by a common belief and doctrine, doing good works and helping their fellow man.
Of course, as we know form recent revelations, the church is not perfect. My argument is that in any institution, especially one so large as the Cathoilc church, is that there is always going to be evil somewhere- that's the way of the world. But that doesn't make the whole institution evil. None of us is perfect and religion helps us see that and try to right the wrongs we commit. It's all about learning how to love each other instead of loving ourselves. Whatever crimes are commited in the name of religion, we are taught that Jesus will always love us, and through the church I have complete faith in that truth. If that helps me and many others bring a little more love into the world, then how can that be so bad ?

Friday, 2 July 2010

England, Tennis....and Money

So this is where it begins I guess. Lately I've been thinking of doing something like this and never getting round to it- one of those things you keep putting aside like paying bills- but the time has come for me to get out there- you poor lot ! A little about me first- I'm 36, divorced, with a little boy who's everything to me. I suppose I should tell you that I'm religious- and that God may come into these posts- after all, he guides everything I do. I'm not some Ned Flanders type though before you all click the red cross- no judgements will be made !
So this week sport's been at the forefront of my mind- hard for it not to be what with the World Cup and Wimbledon in full swing ! And that's what I want to talk about- especially England.
We all know how bad they were, from the awful 0-0 against Algeria to the 4-1 drubbing by the dreaded foe- but just how did it happen? How did we get so bad? I think the answer lies with cold hard cash. Imagine getting paid £120,000 a week . Just try to imagine it . No, neither can I. A footballer gets paid more in one week than the Prime Minister gets paid in a year. They earn more in a year than most people would in a lifetime. For playing football. Now don't get me wrong- I'm a fanatical England fan but surely there has to be a limit! I don't know about you but I like to think I'm pretty good at my job- I work hard, I do long hours, and try to give that little bit extra. If Rooney, Lampard et al applied that philosophy to their jobs we'd be celebrating an England vistory in the World Cup final next week. Because that's all people would like them to do- do the job they're paid very handsomely for to the best of their ability- not too much to ask for surely ?
Contrast that with the tennis. Earlier in the week there was a match at Wimbledon between two guys who pushed themselves to superhuman lengths to try and reach the fourth round. They played a match that lasted 11 hours- the longest ever. On the second day of this marathon they played for nine hours straight- pushing their bodies and minds to the limits of human endurance. It was a joy to watch- two guys just doing what they do- but never giving in. Raising their levels of skill with every game virtually until they dropped. They weren't doing it for the money- they were doing it because it meant everything to them. What a difference from the shambles on Sunday- when eleven Englishmen played like they couldn't have cared less.
Because footballers have so much money now they've lost touch with the real world- a world where people have to go out and actually earn money to support their families, a world in which millions live in poverty, a world where for the vast majority life is a daily struggle. I'm not saying we're all perfect- far from it- but these men need to remember where they came from- mostly from working class, honest families.
Anyway, enough said for now- I'll post again soon and thanks for reading !