Defences of Atheism 

My previous post on atheism provoked quite a lot of comments. Atheists are obviously very attached to their position.

A lot of the discussion came from my asking, what is this god you don’t believe in. It seems to come down to not accepting that there is some superior being, a sort of philosophical Brexit, taking back control by the new god science from sclerotic old religion.

This still appears to me a rather limited perspective. What about the mystery that always lies at the heart of existence – such as the uncaused cause that came before the big bang. What about the reality of spiritual experience, attested by the personal experience of so many over the ages. What about the inner of things, eg consciousness, that cannot be explained by materialistic outers.

An immanent and transcendent one God offers one perspective that would relate to all these. I’m not saying I believe or have faith in this perspective, but it does appear a valid position. I’m more inclined to the view that consciousness is as much part of reality as matter, ie everything has inner and outer, the whole being a mysterious evolutionary  emergence (see eg Steve McIntosh’s book in recent post). I’m still open/agnostic to the concept of the one God.

I’m not clear whether atheism has anything to say here, other than cling to its scientific materialistic certainty. But no doubt I’m misrepresenting atheism and some kind person will enlighten me!


Driven grouse shooting

Further to my post on the inglorious twelfth, I note that the petition to ban driven grouse shooting is to be presented to MPs on Tuesday 18 October at 2.15pm. MPs will hear from Mark Avery, the petition creator, and representatives from the RSPB, the Moorland Association and the Countryside Alliance.

Driven grouse shooting is a particularly obnoxious case of the gratuitous shooting of wildlife for ‘sport’, where the grouse are actually ‘driven’ by beaters towards the waiting guns. Peculiar to the UK, this ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management tailored to the raising of this one particular bird, reducing the natural habitat and said to increase the risk of floods and greenhouse gas emissions. It may be no accident that many recent floods have been in lowlands near to northern grouse moors, the sport of the rich leading to the misery of ordinary people.

Predators are eliminated in large numbers in order to protect the young grouse – foxes, stoats, and illegal killing of protected birds of prey including threatened hen harriers, eagles, buzzards… Mountain hares are killed because they carry ticks that can spread diseases to grouse.

Hen Harrier

Particularly gruesome is the use of pole traps, which will smash a bird’s legs when it lands on them. See eg raptor persection UK.

Although many of these activities are illegal, there is no effective action to curtail them. It seems the landowners and their gamekeepers can do just what they like.

You can watch the parliamentary session on Parliament TV: This appears to be a somewhat convoluted process as ‘the transcript of what is said will help inform MPs taking part in the House of Commons debate’. The parliamentary debate will be on 31st October.

Don’t hold your breath; the vested interests will be fighting hard to preserve their nasty little ‘sport’.

Featured image of landrovers in grouse shooting party by Peter Aikman,
and of hen harrier by Andreas Trepte, both via Wikimedia Commons

The Presence of the Infinite

presence-of-the-infiniteReview of the book by Steve McIntosh, subtitled ‘The Spiritual Experience of Beauty, Truth and Goodness’.

This is in some ways a very theoretical and philosophical book about spirituality, a bit dry. In other ways it is frustratingly vague, in setting future directions for the evolution of spirituality but not being very specific.

Yet in other ways it is very practical, pointing a clear direction for the development of human consciousness, exploiting the fundamental attractors of truth, beauty and goodness (see Goodness, Truth and Beauty) as a direction, a sort of ‘gravitational attraction’ for consciousness. It is worth reading just for this, building on the work already published in Steve’s earlier book Evolution’s Purpose, reviewed here.Read More »


Eggs on stalks

green_lacewing_eggsGranddaughter discovered eggs on stalks in her garden activity centre, that indispensable adjunct to the modern American family suburban garden. There were lots of them, in lines and in groups. What were they?

Daddy came to the rescue and consulted the modern oracle (search engine). They were the eggs of the green lacewing, a remarkably beautiful insect.

It is also a useful insect, an avid eater of aphids, whitefly and other pests – to the extent that you can buy lacewing eggs to distribute around infested plants. The lacewing larvae soon hatch and commence eating ravenously.

Lacewings may become even more useful. German chemists are investigating the composition of the silk-like stalk that holds the eggs. Ultimately a new synthetic silk may emerge.

But note that the vernacular name for these insects is “stinkflies”, because of their ability to release a vile smell when handled.

Intriguing, beautiful and useful. What more could you want!

Pictures via Wikimedia Commons:
Eggs by By Dinesh Valke from Thane, India
Lacewing assumed by Bruce Marlin.


A Sand County Almanac

sand_county_almanacAldo Leopold (1887-1948) was an American pioneer in environmental thinking. I have often seen his influential book ‘A Sand County Almanac’ referred to, but only recently read it. Here is my brief review.

This book gives a gripping insight into the development of the American environment and environmental thinking. We are still a long way from taking on board the practical implications of all that this wise observer of the natural world has to say.

To begin with, this is nature writing of a high order, based on close observation and immersion in the natural world. For example:

“Knowing the place and the hour, you seat yourself under a bush to the east of the dance floor and wait, watching against the sunset for the woodcock’s arrival. He flies in low from some neighboring thicket, alights on the bare moss, and at once begins the overture: a series of queer throaty peents spaced about two seconds apart, and sounding much like the summer call of the nighthawk.”

What is particularly striking to me is the insight Leopold gives into the gradual effects of the settling of America, in relatively recent times.

“In the 1840’s a new animal, the settler, intervened in the prairie battle. He didn’t mean to, he just plowed enough fields to deprive the prairie of its immemorial ally: fire. Seedling oaks forthwith romped over the grasslands in legions, and what had been the prairie region became a region of woodlot farms.”

In a relatively short time, the armies of hunters eliminated the previously innumerable passenger pigeon.

“Our grandfathers were less wellhoused, wellfed, wellclothed than we are. The strivings by which they bettered their lot are also those which deprived us of pigeons.”

Leopold gives particular insight into the gradual removal of the top predators – wolves and bears – from the US, inspired by an experience when he was young and shot things with abandon just like his fellows. This one was a wolf:

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes–something known only to her and to the mountain.”

The plight of wolves since then is vividly described:

“Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the southfacing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails.”

The result is, of course and explosion of the deer population, which destroy the trees and their own food source.

“In the end the starved bones of the hopedfor deer herd, dead of its own toomuch, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the highlined junipers.”

He similarly describes the plight of bears in his lifetime:

“In 1909, when I first saw the West, there were grizzlies in every major mountain mass… [at time of writing, 1949] only five states have any at all.”

This was all done with US government support:

“The Congressmen who voted money to clear the ranges of bears were the sons of pioneers. They acclaimed the superior virtues of the frontiersman, but they strove with might and main to make an end of the frontier.”

One thing that particularly struck me was his report on the Colorado river delta, that was a genuine wilderness without trails when he visited it with his brother as recently as 1922. Since the management of the Colorado waters, the building of the massive Hoover and Glen Canyon dams, the delta had actually dried out. Thus was wilderness casually destroyed. Recently, I read that limited water flow is being restored to the delta in an attempt to reverse this catastrophe.

Further insight into the destruction of wilderness comes from predator control:

“One of the most insidious invasions of wilderness is via predator control. It works thus: wolves and lions are cleaned out of a wilderness area in the interest of biggame management. The biggame herds (usually deer or elk) then increase to the point of overbrowsing the range. Hunters must then be encouraged to harvest the surplus, but modern hunters refuse to operate far from a car; hence a road must be built to provide access to the surplus game. Again and again, wilderness areas have been split by this process, but it still continues.”

Leopold reflects:

“Man always kills the thing he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”

“Paleontology offers abundant evidence that wilderness maintained itself for immensely long periods; that its component species were rarely lost, neither did they get out of hand; that weather and water built soil as fast or faster than it was carried away. Wilderness, then, assumes unexpected importance as a laboratory for the study of landhealth.”

There is much more in this book – the dimming of human awareness of nature, the separation from nature caused by gadgets and ‘sporting goods’ seen in any American mall, reflections on the behaviour patterns of populations of which individual animals are unaware, and so on.

Leopold concludes by highlighting the need to change our relationship with the land and develop a ‘land ethic’:

“The landrelation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations… There is as yet no ethic dealing with man’s relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it… All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to cooperate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for)… The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.”

“No important change in ethics was ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions… In our attempt to make conservation easy, we have made it trivial.”

The challenge for us all is clear, and this book is as relevant as the day it was first published.

Featured image of Aldo Leopold by Howard Zahniser
(NCTC Archives/Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons




The History of Modern France

history-of-modern-franceHaving visited France regularly for over 40 years, I really felt that, although I’ve picked up a fair mount along the way, I didn’t really understand much about how modern France came into being after the Revolution of 1789. This recently published book by Jonathan Fenby seemed to offer just what I needed, so I read it.

I found it very good, with details right up to early 2016. But there is perhaps a bit too much detail on the toing and froing of various governments and politicians over the years. France certainly has a turbulent history, with regular revolutionary periods, dominant leaders, wars and much more.

Strikingly, many of today’s themes, such as immigration, xenophobia, and the close relationship with Germany, have their roots in these earlier events.

Do read it if you want to know more about this subject. If you’re interested, it has inspired my own very brief history of modern France in the following.Read More »



“Atheism turns out to be too simple.
If the whole universe has no meaning,
we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”

C.S. Lewis

I could never see the point of atheism. What exactly was it that you were supposed not to believe in? Most atheists seemed to have a concept of a God that they thought was manifestly ridiculous, so they chose not to believe in ‘him’.

It was a sort of rejection of religion, and yet appears to be a sort of religion itself, based on faith and belief in a negative. (Some atheists, eg American Atheists, suggest that athiesm is a ‘lack of belief in Gods or supernatural beings’ – surely itself a sort of belief.) The agnostic perspective always seemed to make far more sense to me, and modern perspectives on spirituality even more so.

Does this matter? Well, along with atheism you often find the package of materialism and secularism – and the rejection of the inner of things. All is outer, and there is this wierd belief that eventually inners (consciousness) will be explained by some future development of our understanding of outers, through science naturally.

And along with this secular materialism has come an evolutionism based on self interest, an economics without values, a denigrating and despoiling of the natural world, totalitarian governments determined to stamp out religion, an existential philosophy of despair,… Yes, it matters.

See also my posts on materialism and religion.

While writing this I came across this useful website critiquing the atheist position as essentially indefensible (from a Christian perspective).


Mega farming

I’m standing on a country road by the edge of a rather large field in Picardy. Nothing stirs, apart from a tractor in the distance, slowly wending its way across the field.

It seems like a desert. Except that, in my experience, most deserts actually support a fair population of vegetation and wildlife – probably much more than this godforsaken space.

How is the fertility/ biodiversity/ microorganisms/ health of the soil maintained in this space where fertiliser and weedkiller are probably the only inputs, apart from sun and rain? And should we really be surprised if heavy rainfall, increasingly common, causes run-off, flooding and loss of topsoil? And if long dry spells lead to dust storms?

picardy-field-edgeThere is no alleviation, even at the roadside. A thin strip of grass is all there is – no hedge, no trees, no ditch. No environment for small mammals, birds, insects – no space for the natural world. All confined to the nearby small village and woodland.

This shows quite clearly the alienation of the money economy from the nature on which it is dependent – and the alienation of European politics, such as in the Common Agricultural Policy that would appear to have encouraged this sort of thing.

Just imagine the difference if each field could only be so big, and had to be surrounded by hedges with trees, and space for grasses and wildflowers – well you don’t actually have to imagine it, as there are still plenty of examples in England and the rest of Europe. We spent millennia learning how to farm sustainably alongside nature. Yes, crop yields might be less in the short term, but I suggest they would be much greater in the long run.

Economy cannot win this battle with ecology. We will all be the losers.

Please note that I am not criticising Picardy itself –  a mostly charming part of France with many examples of small farms and rolling countryside. However, this mega farming is quite prevalent in that large area of northern France you drive through as quickly as possible to get to the nice bits! Having toured in the USA, I know where it came from.


The Fibonacci Series

In my youth I was always fascinated by numbers. The Fibonacci series is one of the most interesting sequences of numbers, first mentioned by Leonardo Fibonacci (c1170–c1250), the leading mathematician of his era, who popularized the Hindu–Arabic numeral system in the Western World.

The series of integers comes from 1, the symbol of unity, followed by 2, an expression of duality. (Some people prefer to begin with two 1’s, sometimes preceded by a 0; the resulting sequence is essentially the same.)

Each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two, so we have:

1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144,…. (and so on)

I was always intrigued by the fact that 144 is the square of 12. Is it the only Fibonacci square, apart from the trivial case of 1 and maybe 0? This was long the subject of conjecture, but it was eventually proved that 144=12×12 is the only square of the sequence. Now 12 is a multiple of 2’s and 3’s, and occurs in many human systems – measurements, money, astrology, and so on. This seems somehow significant.

A similar conjecture applies to number 8 being the only cube of the series, which I believe is also the case but is far too complex a subject for this blog.

The Golden Ratio

The ratio of consecutive numbers of the series converges onto a number called the Golden Ratio, usually symbolised by the Greek letter φ (phi).

φ = 1.61803398874989484820… (and so on)

It turns out that φ is found all over the place when we measure nature and its patterns. For an excellent, but rather mathematical, overview see this fascinating post on the golden ratio on the blog ‘Rationalising the Universe’.

The Golden Ratio was seen as very important in the art of the Renaissance, and of course turns up in the work of Leonardo da Vinci mentioned in the preceding post.

In one of my particular spheres of interest, the golden ratio turns up as a key ratio in the psychological perspective on the house system in the astrological psychology of Bruno and Louise Huber. So it would appear that maybe the ratio pervades not only the outer ‘objective’ physical world, but also the inner ‘subjective’ world where it relates to space and time.

Another intriguing fact is that Golden Ratio is very similar to the ratio of kilometers to miles, e.g. 8 kilometers is approximately 5 miles. This is entirely coincidental. [Or is it?]



Genius at the Château du Close Lucé

Some men and women show such prodigious genius, standing head and shoulders over all their fellows, that they almost seem part of a different race. Leonardo da Vinci was such a man.

After a leading career in Renaissance Italy, where his genius sparkled over many fields of endeavour, Leonardo spent his later years in Amboise,  by the River Loire,  at the service of the French king François. At this time he lived at the Château du Clos Lucé, now a museum that we recently visited.

We found this museum interesting in giving some insight into Leonardo’s later life, and particularly his innovative designs and engineering that prefigured many modern inventions – helicopters,  bridges, flying machines, pumps, armaments etc etc. This is reinforced by walking around the surrounding gardens, really a rather splendid shady park, containing examples of modern realisations of his designs.

However, there is little emphasis on his contribution as artist. Luckily, there was an exhibition From the Clos Lucé to the Louvre, in the exhibition hall, focusing on the three major works of art that Leonardo brought with him when he came to Amboise – La Giaconda, The Virgin, The Child Jesus and St Anne, and St Jean Baptist … and that enigmatic smile. This gave a much more balanced picture of this supreme Renaissance genius.

So, the Château du Clos Lucé is well worth a visit, but even more so while the exhibition is still there (until 15th November 2016).


Bourges Cathedral

Approaching Bourges from the west, the city is overshadowed by the great bulk of this massive gothic building. It’s an old favourite that we have visited a number of times on our way through France. Friend Alf had introduced me to it when he was just ‘plus de soixante ans’ and got his first age-related reduction in climbing the tower.

The apparent thick walls and large number of flying buttresses visible externally are testimony to the massive engineering needed for a building of this scale.


As we entered the nave, I was immediately drawn upward by the sheer height of this soaring gothic space – 37m high by 15m wide. This, I believe, was the intention of these spaces, drawing you ever upward into the higher mental/ spiritual areas of the                                                                                                                                           mind, away from the the concerns of the day-to-day ‘monkey mind’. Towards that ‘clerestory’ level of the top windows of clear light, symbolising the clear inner light of spirit.

inner aisle

There are two side aisles, the inner aisle having similar upward drawing qualities, being rather narrow but still 21m high. The overall effect of these two and the nave is for me the most special characteristic of this particular gothic masterpiece.

Around the ambulatory at the back of the choir are some magnificent stained glass windows, reminiscent of those at the roughly contemporary Chartres cathedral, but here more predominantly red than the blues of Chartres.

There is a combined ticket for a guided tour of the crypt and climbing the tower, but sadly no longer any reduction for ‘plus de soixante ans’. The large crypt contains stonework defaced and broken during the wars of religion and the revolution – in common with many religious buildings. Alf was always amused by the human buttocks that were carved into one of the pillars down here, opposite an image of a rather shocked face on the other side – unusual humour in one of these deeply religious buildings.

Despite its height of nearly 400 steps, the climb of the tower is relatively easy – even Alf made it with his damaged knees. The steps are wide compared to many, so there is not that tight enclosed feeling, with adequate space for passing anyone going the other way. Surprisingly, the view from the top, over rooftops and the surrounding countryside, is little changed over the past 27 years.

Yes, we’ll definitely visit again when we’re in the area.





The usurpers

Next day, a grey heron was surveying his territory when we first looked out onto the River Dordogne over breakfast. He stood stock still, upright, as if checking out what was going on around.
Then he would begin to stalk fish, creeping like a cat after mice (featured image). Then the sudden pounce, and fish swallowed in a trice.

Later in the morning he’d gone, replaced by a couple of wading men, fly fishing. The predator who has usurped nature’s king beasts at the top of this and almost every food chain. No birds to be seen,  all driven away by the intrusion. 

Clearly, fly fishing is a skilled occupation and gets you into the heart of nature, an image spoiled for me on seeing a fag hanging from the lips of one of the fishermen. 

And they did appear to throw back any fish caught – surely a minor form of fish torture.
Late afternoon the fishermen had gone. The wagtails returned, feasting on flying insects, a flock of goldfinches swarmed into bushes and onto rocks. The heron returned and resumed fishing.

Then we were supremely privileged by a rare royal visitor. A kingfisher appeared in trees on the opposite bank, then came down to a rock within camera range. He stood still, iridescent, intent. Then a sudden flash into the water, another fish swiftly swallowed. Then back on the rock, to repeat the process. Some days you are just blessed.

In a world overrun with humans shouldn’t we be giving back more of these still semi-wild places to their natural predators, while we still can?


More wagtails

The  River Dordogne at Beaulieu is quite similar in a way to the River Ure at Redmire Force. Fast flowing, shallow water over a variety of stones and rocks.

Here too, wagtails are in abundance, no doubt attracted by the insects hovering over the water. Today I’ve seen yellow, grey and pied wagtails. They seem to go around in small groups, so there are usually a small number together. This one’s a pied wagtail.pied_wagtailbeaulieu

As it happened, along came a Dipper, happily dipping into and out of the water  – very difficult to catch a photograph other than with tail sticking up out of the water. This was the best I managed. dipper_beaulieu



Changing France

We’ve visited France regularly for over forty years, mainly on camping holidays. Over that period many changes have become noticeable. 

First there was the annual ritual of getting the insurance green card, the GB sticker, the headlamp beam converters, and painting the headlights with special yellow paint, just for France – all now gone apart from the beam benders. But now there’s the yellow jacket, the alcohol detector and adequate warning triangles. 

Then there was the dreaded ‘priority to the right’ at almost any junction, now just on non-priority roads and in towns. And the very frequent ‘chaussée déformée’ and ‘nids de poule’ signs on most country roads, where you found yourself on an extremely bumpy road surface with an alarming camber – which explained those ‘rock ‘n roll’ Citroens, but are mercifully mostly gone today.

The great thing was that each town and large village contained a bar for coffee, a tabac for Le Monde and the weather forecast, and a boulangerie where you could buy baguettes and not much else – but all but the bar closed for at least two hours over lunch. And there was probably a small restaurant. The towns would also have grocer, butcher, chemist and so on.

It was with dismay that we watched year by year the spread of the now-ubiquitous hypermarkets and smaller supermarkets, and the gradual closing of most of those earlier conveniences. Yes the new outlets are more convenient with greater choice, but the heart and bustle was gone from now-deserted towns and villages, just to return on the weekly market day that has still retained a foothold in many places.  

Nowadays, the roads into towns are lined with commercial/industrial units, just like the US. And you have to drive everywhere, just like the US – progress?

Featured image of artichokes on a market stall, Nonancourt

Meaning of Brexit

I feel like I’m struggling to grasp the meaning of Brexit. Why would a country give up on 40 years of endeavour in the noble cause of greater European integration, that has bought peace to a warring continent for two generations? Indeed,  I ask why?

But have the people actually detected, after all these years, that the project was flawed and is actually irredeemable? I do not share this belief, but there has certainly been evidence pointing in that direction. 

It seems clear that the EU has collectively chosen to prioritise ‘free movement of labour’ over its other supposed cherished principle of subsidiarity. And it was substantially this that led to the Brexit vote.

The lesson for the UK is that it must retain, in significant degree, its own freedom of operation  (sovereignty). The lesson for EU countries, and for Brussels, is that they must listen more to the real feedback from their peoples, and be willing to change. Just closing ranks and saying ‘blah blah blah, nothing must change ‘ is a recipe for ultimate failure. 

So we all await the next stage of this drama, more gripping than any box set.

Evolution’s Purpose

What if there was a book that

  • provides a model of evolution that applies to outer and inner – objective and subjective
  • thus reconciles science and religion/spirituality, showing how their historical differences came about, and how primitive materialism can be transcended
  • gives a context for the ‘culture wars’ in the US and elsewhere, and outlines how they can be transcended
  • explains why areas such as the middle east present such an intransigent problem
  • gives a story of development of human societies that is convincing and explains why such things as democracy are so difficult to transplant to other parts of the world
  • gives a philosophy of hope, with a vision of an emerging spirituality and a realistic approach to getting there
  • shows how the good, the beautiful and the true provide the attractive direction of human development
  • explains why the so-called, traditional, modern and postmodern elements of society find it so hard to get on, and what is the transcending evolutionary process that can pioneer the way forward
  • shows how the dialectic is a fundamental part of the evolutionary process
  • puts evolution at the centre of the story of life, the natural world, the universe and everything
  • gives the hope that we are on the threshold of a New Enlightenment.

evolutions_purposeWell there is such a book. It’s all laid out, and more, in Steve McIntosh‘s Evolution’s Purpose.

If you’re familiar with the work of Ken Wilber and Steve’s other books on ‘Integral Philosophy’ you may not need to read it. But this is really great philosophical stuff.

This sort of approach is a fundamental part of the New Renaissance, as I prefer to call it. This book gives an idea of how it could just come about through the conscious development and gradual transcendence of each person from their own starting point – despite those who are just not interested.

[A great subject for my 100th post.]


The Dialectic

When he was (then) my age (now) my dad used to say that, over his working life of fifty years for the same firm, there was one constant. The company was in the process of either centralising or decentralising, and it swung between one and the other. I suspect he was observing a dialectical process.

The dialectic method dates back to ancient Greece and Socrates. Its modern formulation is attributed to Hegel, via the philosophical historian Chalybäus, although the concept has suffered to some degree by its relationship with the thinking of Marx and Engels.

The philosophical dialectic is summarised in the formula ‘thesis-antithesis-synthesis’, the synthesis representing some accomodation and transcending of the polarity between the thesis and antithesis. You might take as an example the Northern Ireland agreement where there is an accomodation between the concepts of United Ireland and Union of the north with Britain.

Evolutionary philosophers such as Ken Wilber and Steve McIntosh see the dialectic as a model of the evolutionary process itself – how life evolves. In the evolution of thesis to antithesis to synthesis, life moves on to higher forms that accomodate and incorporate earlier forms. Each synthesis is the start of a new turn of this spiral, and gradually more complex forms emerge.

Read some of their work if you want to know more about this, eg Evolution’s Purpose by Steve McIntosh.

Featured image is part of a tapestry ‘Dialectic’ by Brussels Manufactory
(Workshop of Jan Leyniers) 1660,

via Google Art Project and Wikimedia Commons




Political crisis?

One of the frustrations that led me to start this blog was that there are problems quite apparent with current Western countries and the world ‘system’ that were essentially being ignored or sidelined by current generations of politicians – climate change, inequality, financial crash inadequately addressed, over-influence of corporations, uncontrolled movement of people, and so on…

Of course, these frustrations are shared by many, each with their own different emphasis. This is what has led to the rise of, to name a few: UKIP, Brexit, Corbyn, Saunders, Trump,…

It was refreshing to read Martin Jacques’ article in The Guardian, The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics, which succinctly identifies what is going on. We are actually seeing a crisis in the globalising neoliberal order that has dominated for 30-40 years, since ushered in by the rise of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Every system/paradigm has built-in limitations and contradictions that eventually clarify the need for its own transformation, so it comes as no surprise.

A system founded on self interest and without fundamental moral foundations is not likely to last beyond a generation or so.

Martin Jacques is well known for his book and TED talk on China. It was in 1966 that Robert Kennedy popularised the supposed Chinese curse ‘May he live in interesting times’. Kennedy went on to say:

“They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.”


Featured image of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan at Camp David 1984,
courtesy of White House Photographic Office, via Wikimedia Commons

A Way of Being

a way of being coverThis post is based on a review of Carl Rogers’ book A Way of Being that first appeared in Conjunction, magazine of astrological psychology, November 2013.

Those interested in counselling will be familiar with the work of Carl Rogers, one of the founders of the modern approach of person-centred counselling. You may have even read some of his numerous publications, such as Client Centred Therapy. His ideas are of much broader interest as they are relevant to personal relationships in general.Read More »