Gluttony and the Bible

Opitz, the GluttonIs Gluttony a sin? As with so many things, the Bible is contradictory. Paul is clear, making it as evil as (shock, horror) homosexuality: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. While “homosexuality” is a mistranslation, the Greek meaning the abusers of enslaved rent-boys, the words “greedy nor drunkards” mean exactly that.

Proverbs gives a reason: Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. Here, the problem is laziness rather than gluttony per se (Since when did “persay” become a word? O Tempora! O Mores!)

Jesus did not say it was not a sin, so much as condemn those who condemned it: The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ The “people of this generation”, as overwhelmingly negative as the people of this generation, condemned John for fasting and Jesus for feasting. Ye cannae win with them.

Opitz- Der VöllerIn 1 Cor 8, Paul says what and where we eat is a matter of conscience, which cuts both ways: you know that offering food to false gods is meaningless, so you may eat it. But your fellow-Christian believes the idolatrous ceremony has meaning, and so if he eats that meat he sins. If you by example lead him into what is a sin for him, you sin yourself. Don’t do anything with the tincture of sin to it.

Much condemnation is of the rich, rather than of overeating. Jesus says “Beware of the scribes, who… love… the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He echoes Amos condemning rulers, who,  caring neither for the poor nor the defence of the realm, will soon be swept away by the Assyrians.

Here is Deuteronomy, being as alien and ridiculous as the Torah can be: parents take their son to the elders and complain “This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” So the son is stoned to death. Calvinists legislating the Bible in Scotland made “Cursing of Parents” a capital offence, but there is no record of anyone being executed for it. 

Gluttony, a symbol of laziness and uselessness, and the plague of our times in the US and the UK, among children, and perhaps even a conspiracy of the rich against the poor. Why do Christians not campaign against it, as some do against homosexuality?

Bible quotes from Open Bible.

Opitz dogs

Come from Love

File:SophieAndersonTakethefairfaceofWoman.jpgWe sat, stunned. I thought, I should be upset, and am not. Now I think, how could I be? After days of Mum lying in bed, responding less, then two days lying unconscious, then a minute foaming at the mouth- how could I feel all that might make me feel?

I wept three times that year. We laid Mum out in a new dress, in her coffin in the spare bedroom, and I kissed her face and was freed to weep. How could I read the eulogy my father composed for the funeral without weeping, people asked. I did not tell them that I remembered stealing her mastectomy breast forms after my father had put them in the bin, and my self-disgust steeled me. Months later at the Bridgewater Hall I heard Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto, and the second movement, poised, balanced, vulnerable, intense, sweet, aching, expressing loss and acceptance made tears pour out, in the crowd, and no-one minded, and that no-one minded was a useful lesson.

Years later I lay on the floor so often, weeping, I am not a man, that I transitioned.

I felt myself getting labile, weeping at anything, angry at small things, and I withdrew. Last year, it seems to me I had withdrawn completely. I knew I had no chance of staying on ESA, and I would have to sign on, but instead of finding a flat I could rent, and even, perhaps, trying to find a job, I hunkered down and procrastinated.

File:SophieAndersonTheHeadOfANymph.jpgI had found a way where I could tolerate my own emotional responses. I did not listen to the news, so much. I read a bit, but not too deeply. I have blogged. I could say, I accomplished nothing last year, I merely existed, but I tested to destruction that way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Okay, that doesn’t work, what now? More meditation, perhaps.

More Rachmaninov. Let me feel it fully. Let my anger course through my veins, let my weeping flood me, let my fear do whatever fear does in purple cliché mode. Let me be filled with it, naked with it, one flesh with it. Let me accept it and love it and become one, for it is me and I am bigger than I know, consciously; and I know, unconsciously.

Here I record my progress…messing about…File:LGAnderson.jpg

Fbfnd split from his cohabitee of 18 months, and posted on facebook a picture of her looking beautiful and his good wishes for her, stating their separation. Someone told him he should take it down. Someone else said he should do the right thing, and “come from Love”. But that is impossible. Throw yourself into your work, get very drunk, leave your computer at a friend’s house because facebook is dangerous and email is worse, but do not lie to yourself that you “Come from Love”.

I have been so trapped by my need to see myself as a loving, creative, caring human being: I crush all my impulses otherwise until it takes all my energy. I am unsure what to do with them, but denying them is not working.

I can’t be the only one, stuck in the lessons of teen-age, surely? I tell myself I can be a “loving, creative, caring human being” and pissed off occasionally-

Big data

File:Google’s First Production Server.jpgWhether I should opt out from the NHS health data sharing scheme is an emotional not a rational decision. I opted out.

I see the point of it. GP and hospital records go to the Health and Social Care Information Centre in Leeds, where they may be analysed to see what health provision works best. “Free text”- what the GP notes about symptoms- would not be sent to HSCIC. Diagnoses, test results and prescriptions would be.

I thought the data would be used for research, but the “Clinical Practice Research Datalink” already gives information to researchers.

My email archive gives a complete record of me, in my real name. Someone has a record of all I have bought at the supermarket in the last three years, and is able to sell that information. My data is out there already. Then again, my GP said she wished they could opt out all their patients, rather than have us opt out individually. She has concerns about the data protection. I have concerns about large Government computer systems, which have made a mess of every new benefit for the last twenty years. But, mainly, I don’t trust them, so I opt out.

Mmm. Do Buzzfeed quizzes record your responses for advertising? What about personality tests?


I am lying in bed feeling powerlessness and terror, after two things on facebook which remind me of two separate-

I went to the GP to ask about counselling, as recommended by the psychiatrist, and my “while I’m here” was about breathlessness cycling. I have no crushing pain in the centre of my chest, I just get out of breath cycling where I had cycled quite happily last year. She said, well, exercise more, you have exercised less in the winter weather.

File:Charles De Wolf Brownell - Tree and Sailboat, Lyme, Connecticut.jpgSo, yesterday, this started a thought in me: my way is to withdraw. Cycling up that hill, get a bit breathless: stop cycling and moan about it. Then I thought, no, my way is to get the bit between my teeth and battle on despite multiple discouragements, to the end. Like then.
-But that was last century.
(Thoughts of reverting go through my mind. Don’t go there.)

One friend is dying of cancer, palliative care only, one will stay in hospital tonight for tests and fears cancer. Life is a slow tragedy with one end. So-

More exercise could do me good, spiritually: that moment minute or hour when I push on though I want to stop.


-Too low for a racer, too high for a tourer, not much use to anyone really, said the man looking at my bicycle gears. In about 1988. I remembered it, and thought, I am the kind of person who remembers small slights for decades, and tortures herself with them. Then I thought, character revealed in one comment- why was he cycling Lands End to John O’Groats alone, again? Perfect memory for a writer. Being positive takes effort.

Am I the only one who sees others posting things like “stay away from drama and negativity” and worries it is all about me?

I have acquired a meditation stool. So I will still be uncomfortable, bored, distracted or confronted by bits of myself I don’t like in meditation, but my feet won’t go to sleep.

The geese form pairs and fly low, circling over the river, honking constantly, for the joys of Spring.

Sympathy with the devil

EarthriseWe create what we need.

Seeking to enter in sympathy with all human conditions, I pick on the Nazis as a good theoretical example. Certainly they were the baddies. I was pleased to read of the Ustaše that while they allied themselves with the Axis in the second world war, this was a way of building alliances against the greater Serbian kingdom of Yugoslavia, their historic oppressors, historically clients of Russia.

Nirad Chaudhuri tells of the riots in Delhi during partition, that there was an inoffensive Muslim street-food seller, and his Hindu neighbours decided to lynch him. Chaudhuri exhorted them to leave him alone, and go with him into the Muslim areas to defend their fellow Hindus. They refused. I can admire the moral act of Chaudhuri and sympathise with his neighbours, in that situation of black and dark grey.

And with the Estonians who suffered under Russian rule, with Russian rather than Estonian the medium of education and ethnic Russians moved in to their country, who restrict those Russians’ descendants now to tolerated residence but no citizenship.

Where are you, and where does your act come from? A reason may not be an excuse, but may help one understand, may be some mitigation, for people do their best under difficult circumstances and under appalling pressure people do appalling things.

And- if I can sympathise with such monsters, I might even come to sympathise with my own monstrosity, cowardice, stupidity, perverted deviance and uselessness.


No, I do not think of myself only or constantly as those things; and there is an undercurrent of self-loathing in me which I overcome so gradually. It could, I suppose, give rise to loathing of all humanity; and in me it has produced an attempt at sympathy, feeling with all sorts and conditions of people. This is sometimes theoretical rather than actual; it is not my only constant response; it is part of my response to my world.

I am kind.
I seek reconciliation.
I seek the healing of hurt.
The wounded surgeon plies the steel

Picture, title, ideas: I do this with clichés, with the tools I have.

Ignatian spiritual exercises

File:St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) Founder of the Jesuits.jpgI have decided to undertake a course of Ignatian spiritual exercises.

I am not certain it is for me. When the warrior Iñigo was thirty, his leg was crushed by a cannon-ball. After setting, it was considerably shorter than the other. We are told he had it lengthened and straightened in a second operation out of vanity, to look good in hose, but a difference in leg length is a serious disability.

Recovering, he had two kinds of fantasy. In one, he had various knightly adventures, and won the love of a courtly lady. In the other, he followed the path of the Saints. He found that after the second kind he felt happy, and after the first kind he felt sad. He decided that the first came from his sinful nature, and the second from God.

Part of the first “week” of the Exercises involves confronting ones sins. A problem for me is that this does not fit my theory of my own nature. I am created good by God, and have imbibed from society inhibitions on my conduct, which I rail against, still mostly unconsciously. Integrated, I am Good; so my spiritual task is discovery of my God-given nature, not repentance. This is Original Blessing, rather than “original sin”: it involves self-discovery not self-abnegation.

Then again, my current stagnation may not indicate the good life well lived.

That first “week” is only a week on a full time retreat with five separate hours of meditation, reflection in between, and time with a spiritual director each day. The programme I have takes thirty weeks, with the first “week” taking eight weeks. This still involves an hour a day in silence, lectio divina and journalling, and ideally sharing my experiences with a listener for about half an hour a week. Such a listener might be doing the exercises at the same time.

Part of my reason for telling you this is to encourage myself to take these exercises seriously, but if anyone would care to be my listener, please use the Contact Me form.

God was not a fun one

I had this comment:
قل هوالله احد الله الصمد لم يلد ولم يولد ولم يكن لهو كفوان احد

Well. There is always Google translate: Say Hoallah one God Samad begets not and was not a fun one Kovan. From the context, I thought Samad meant LGBT, but in fact it is The Eternal, a name for God. Instead of cursing the gays, he is denying the divinity of Jesus, a doctrine about which I am agnostic. Kovan is more difficult. It is unlikely to mean the suburb and Underground station in Singapore; Google gives me no likely meaning.

I understand that some Muslims believe that the Koran should not be translated: the revelation was in Arabic, and translating it changes the words. Revelation says, If anyone adds anything to [the words of prophecy], God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. In Oldham, the Asian children go to Koran classes after school, and learn the alphabet and how to read it by rote, with little understanding. The trouble is that I do not understand it. If you speak to me, please make some effort to help me understand. I am doing all the work here.

I replied that Jesus is God’s son, and we are God’s children. He said,
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاتة يا اهل الكتاب تعالو الي كلمة سواء بيننا وبينكم الا نعبد الاالله والانشرك بة شيء فان توليتو فشهدو بانا مسلمون المسيح علية السلام رسول عظيم من رسل الله وفقك الله الخالق لم يحب ويرضا

Google translate gives “Peace, mercy and blessings of God, O People of the Book ĘÚÇáć word to both you and us, but we worship and Alllah Alanscherk expe something the Tlito Vhhdo PANA Muslims Christ peace be upon him a great messenger of God’s messengers of God the Creator and enabled you did not like and Aarza”. Unhelpful.

They deny that I am a follower of Jesus. Oh. OK. Well, the Koran has Jesus deny his divinity: God will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, “Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God”? He will say: “Glory to thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I have not known what is in thine. For thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

More googling. I found a page which says how Muslims should address Christians: dispute ye not with the People of the Book except with means better (than mere disputation) unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say “We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow. So, perhaps this commenter only wanted to say what he was commanded to say, in the way he was commanded to say it- “I’m right, and you are wrong”. And, having said it, he is absolved from any responsibility for my descent to Jahannam. Oh well. At least he wanted to say something.


Starry night, in partThere is sunshine from Cardiff to Norwich, and light winds, after days of rain, so I cycle to meeting wondering if a Moon-goddess photo is possible, a little concerned about my breathlessness, and pushing myself. I thought about it a little during meeting, and during the Afterword explained what I wanted: the moon visible just above the horizon for trompe l’oeil photos while the Sun was still up for lighting: flash does not work at 25 yards, and that is the distance from a person where the person’s head appears about the size of the moon.

Afterword. After meeting, we say our names, and may if moved share something on our minds. Three of us have been to lectures in London on peace: former bishop of Oxford Lord Harries spoke of Just War theory. They disapprove. Well, it is one thing to take the perfect pacifist view, but people in politics must face their problems in their own way, and may find pacifism ignorant rather than principled. Disarmament negotiators improve things steadily, which is a moral good, but pacifist posturing and saying that we should get rid of all weapons immediately does not contribute to that end. Such thoughts run in my mind. Then I talk of moon photos-

just after Kate has shared about her friend in Homs, and how desperate he is, and how concerned she is for him. He had hoped to escape to Turkey, but this does not seem possible. From that to using the moon as a halo. Crass, or what?

From a Scott Peck Community Building perspective, I would say this indicated pseudo-community: we observed people sharing highly personal emotional things, and then these things being ignored. In Community we were together, feeling with each other. In Meeting, so much of the time, I am with myself, rather than with God or with the people there. I simply observe this, not moved just now to rail at my worthlessness or the failure of the process, or even desire it to be otherwise, though otherwise is possible. Cycling home I noticed increasing cloud cover, and then found moonrise was at 7.20, well after sunset. Liz has arranged that we may send money to Kate’s Syrian friend.


My post Fetishes has had views almost daily since I published it. Wxhluyp is keen on “captions”, he says: apparently people share porn photos and write captions applying their own sexual fantasies to the image. Now among my search terms I find “spiritual discipline of kneeling”- polish the halo, how spiritual am I- but also “erotic spanking sissy art”, “emasculation fetish” and “forced orchiectomy humiliation captions”. This is a recondite fantasy, and if you pitched up at the Northern Concord, the Manchester transvestite club, you might not find people willing to talk about it, yet on the Net people may share it with like-minded souls, unafraid, finding a community of sorts, though nothing face to face in real life.

Boucher and Fragonard

18th century French artists, having fun.

Fragonard The Swing

The Swing. Waldemar Januszczak explains it is particularly naughty in that she’s not wearing knickers. Women didn’t, then. That is why it is traditional not to wear anything under the kilt- the Highlands were a place apart until 1746, when the Crown set itself to assimilate them, and kilt stuff became a tradition.

Onywye. Where was I? The captivated onlooker’s pose is very like this chap’s.

Adam (2)

Technical skill, a sex joke everyone would have got, a satire people might have needed explained to them-

Here is Mmm de Pompadour, by Boucher:

Such detail:


He also painted the resting maiden.

Is this just smut, as Januszczak says? Or- (rethinking after my connoisseur friend’s comment) There is smut, and porn, and erotica, and art, and I am not certain of the overlaps and lines between them.

Artists, whose work deserves fame 250 years later, turning their hands to anything: not necessarily above arousing customers. Here is the Goddess Diana. Does the fact that someone might find it arousing make it impossible to find it otherwise beautiful? I laughed at Monty Python’s Art Critic.

File:Boucher Diane sortant du bain Louvre 2712.jpg

Is it different, if a gay male eye looks at these: unaroused, you see the art in them. Now, we have a political response: women are objectified, and an ideal is defined which will make most women feel inadequate- though Diana’s nymph has bad cellulite.

Post reliant on Waldemar Januszczak, again.

Not losing; natural stance

Shinpen Suikogaden 1

 Do not think of winning; 

think, rather, of not losing

-Twelfth principle of karate

Nakasone explains this in different ways. Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu said, “Knowing only how to win and not how to lose is self-defeating”, which is a practical way. Only to consider winning “breeds excessive optimism and causes impatience”. Given the worst that can happen, will I deal with that? Follow the saying, When angered he can make even a ferocious beast crouch in fear, but when he smiles even little children run to him. We avoid arrogance, and cultivate humility, because pride comes before a fall, hubris before nemesis.

Or, the thought of winning and how wonderful that would be skews my thoughts now, and prevents me from being in the present; and makes a set-back more disconcerting than it would otherwise be.

A trick from gymnastics is to picture in my mind completing the task- a dive with triple somersault, say- correctly. Thinking of winning in that sense fits me for winning.

Or, “not losing” can simply mean “be prepared”.

 Ready stance is for beginners.

Shinpen Suikogaden 2Later, one stands in natural stance.

Learning, we learn particular stances, which can seem unrelated to fighting- why balance on the outer edges of your feet, feet parallel four feet apart, knees bent and above the feet? We learn the stances from earlier masters who have found what works, and then adapt the stances naturally as we spar. There is a continual motion between conscious competence and unconscious competence, working on understanding then profiting unconsciously from our understanding, and in combat the mind is tranquil as we respond automatically. In a golf swing, the novice’s brain is all active, and the master’s fires only in the necessary place.

Similarly, practice kata exactly, and move freely in combat.

Be constantly mindful, diligent, 

and resourceful,

in your pursuit of the way

Miyamoto Musashi, aged thirty, after winning sixty duels, considered that he had a natural talent but was not a superior martial artist. From that time I practised fervently morning and night, seeking to grasp the principles of the Way more deeply, and around the age of fifty I came to a natural realization of the Way of Martial Arts.

Indeed. As I progress in enlightenment, I realise how far I have to go.

This is the last of the drafts I have had sitting around for eight months, and since starting it I have stopped practising karate. I feel that Genwa Nakasone’s commentary does not reach the bottom of the Principles, and that meditating on single words of them- “mindful”. “Diligent.” Mmm- might be of benefit. I went back to the book after months, to try to glean more from it; and it tells me the gleaning is all the effort of life.

Lighten our darkness

File:Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke.jpg“The iron entered into his soul” is more evocative because it is perfectly ambiguous: the sword pierced his soul, and he steeled himself. It is Psalm 105:18, in the Book of Common Prayer. Yet it is a mistranslation: the NIV says “His neck was put in irons”, even the King James version says “he was laid in iron”. I find similar ambiguity in “Lord now lettest-thou thy servant depart in peace”: at least to my 21st century ear it is both Indicative “you let”, and Imperative, “Let me!” Let, as in “let or hindrance” means impediment, still the first definition in Oxford even though described as “archaic”.

“Lighten our darkness we beseech thee O Lord, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night, for the love of thy only Son our saviour Jesus Christ.” I love this for the trust and fear. The Darkness is dangerous, yet we are protected. The eight Horae Canonicae of the monasteries were distilled into Matins and Evensong, a prayer for the people to participate in together. The Latin was familiar: the mockery “hocus pocus” for “hoc est corpus meum” missed the mark as people hearing it weekly would come to understand, and come to Worship through familiar words- yet letting us worship in our own tongue brought us closer to God. Any cultured European should know the Latin mass, for a greater appreciation of our music, but we should talk to God as we talk to each other.

The language is so wonderful that we still talk to each other as we talked to God. “Moveable feast”, “in the midst of life we are in death”, “peace in our time”. It is simple and direct. Cranmer was a great poet. God to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy holy spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy Holy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. I don’t say those words, any more, and recounting them now for you brings me back to the moment of settling into the hour of worship, like a great relaxing out-breath. They are more evocative for me than the first notes of the Emperor Concerto: I heard them weekly, before I could speak.

It is such a long, melancholy withdrawing roar. The idea that faith is a humanist rather than simply religious virtue has shaken me. It feels like the place where ignorant armies clash by night: all the terror of the darkness without that consolation. Though there are Quakers who call “mercy pity peace and love” human virtues in our material, evolved being, and even the Collective Unconscious need only be a symptom of how we are one species, with our brains all wired in so similar ways. The Consolation has to come from Reality, not from groundless hope, and my religious community retains its value: and my Spirituality retains its value.


I wrote that, and now (three days later) it seems that I lost trust in my moorings- in my religion and world view- quoting Dover Beach, forsooth- and I came to add to it, something like- Now, three days later, I regain equanimity. I know Faith, Hope and Love have value, and I will add, just for me, Reverence for What Is.

When I wrote “My Spirituality retains its value” I was whistling in the dark. But just now, three days later, faith, hope, love and reverence are enough for me, without (at this precise moment) needing a relationship with God the Father. Relationship with The All is enough.