Gini of One

File:Esthermillais.jpgIn 2012, the Gross World Product, the combined production of the world, was $84.97 trillion, and the population exceeded seven billion on 12 March 2012. So the income of the world, per head, was $12,138, by purchasing power.

From Cap Gemini: The investable wealth of the world’s High Net Worth Individuals reached $46.2 trillion in 2012, that is 11.97 million people, averaging $3.9m each. Were that divided equally among the world’s population, it would be $6,600 each. “Investable” wealth omits the value of the main residence. Bain and Co estimated world capital in 2010 at $600 trillion. They expect this figure to grow by 50% in the decade to 2020. The 2010 figure is $85,714 per head.

Global Issues: over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day.

The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values in a set, for example levels of wealth. A Gini of zero indicates perfect equality, a Gini of one indicates one person owns all the wealth. The Gini can be greater than one if everyone else owes the plutocrat money.

That $12,000 income is per head, including children, the elderly, and others not working.

So if we sorted the problems of dividing income and giving incentives to work, everyone could live in a state of wealth undreamed of a century ago. Greater income equality produces greater happiness.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/51/Millais_ferdy.jpg/365px-Millais_ferdy.jpgI have been reading about The Culture, again. A level 4 civilisation in one of the books- faster than light travel, colonies in other star systems- has still got rich people, and the richest is always unethical and often criminal. It is not really a spoiler that he gets his, violently, in the end- Banks strives for happy endings. There is a mechanised thing which can build starships, by itself, and he owns it. There is no particular need for humanity to reach a certain level of capital, and then become egalitarian.

Soon there will be trillionaires.

This has sat as a draft for more than six months, because it is essentially a whine about part of an apparently dreadful situation.

What of Creative Destruction? The world gets better, and the Luddites were wrong. Well. In the previous state of technology, a weaver was self-employed, and could make a living, and the looms the Luddites broke allowed anyone to work them, driving down the wages, and driving all the profit to the mill-owners. Now, there are too many people, and any job may be out-sourced or mechanised, driving  down the wages and driving all the profit to the wealthiest. Except that there are no machines I can go out and break with a hammer.

Another unused draft from about the same time consists only of two links about happiness. The second is to a page which seems no longer available, but the site has a wonderful URL. At least I can put in a nice picture.

Christians and Divorce

File:John Everett Millais, The Somnambulist.jpgDo Christians divorce more than atheists? They should stay together because they are religious and good- or split, because they are deluded. Research will tell you what you want it to tell you.

Here’s Valerie Tarico on how atheist marriages last longer. Any Evangelical who says that atheists are amoral should look at her Wisdom Commons site.

From the off, there were Evangelicals challenging the research, on various grounds. Here, George Barna is quoted denying that the divorces of Christians occurred before their conversion, or because one partner was Christian and the other not.

The Gospel Coalition found new arguments. Evangelicals who worshipped regularly had lower divorce rates: the divorce rates were among those Evangelicals who did not go to church. The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. Evangelicals who divorce are likely to be backsliders in other ways too. The article differentiates serious disciples from mere “church members”.

Post hoc propter hoc? Why would someone who does not go to church self-identify as an Evangelical? The researchers can only say a responder to their survey is Evangelical if they claim to be so. The answer is that they still believe. Perhaps they do not go to church because it is too much bother; or perhaps because they have been uncomfortable there, as a divorced or remarried person.

The reason these soi-disant Evangelicals divorce is that they are not “serious disciples” says the Gospel Coalition. This goes against Biblical teaching about what people are like: we would not need forgiven seventy times seven times if we could be Good all the time. Here is Open Bible on Compassion: a hundred verses like Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Here is Romans 3:10: No-one is righteous, not even one. Self-righteous, on the other hand…

Something to protect

File: - Google Art Project.jpgPete wrote here, This is why I don’t have a religion but I have my faith. Religion makes people selfish, greedy, powerful, controlling and has a low opinion of those who crave religion. Faith just loves and believes, it is not afraid to love, its not afraid to hug, it’s not afraid to stand up for their belief. Faith brings Christ alive. I think he is onto something, but the distinction between religion, faith and spirituality is different.

Spirituality is the territory, religion is the map. Spirituality is a kind of practice and sensation which those of us who do it like, and perhaps find useful. Or it is the bedrock of all human existence and a sight of Ultimate Reality. Or something.

Religion is how we explain it to other people, and to ourselves. It is those practices formalised, so that we can share them: as it lets us communicate, it is like a language.

Faith here is personal. It is as individual as our use of language, our “idiolect”, is, though it can be very similar to that of others.

File:John Everett Millais - Autumn Leaves.jpegWhat Pete says comes from religion- it makes people selfish, greedy, powerful, controlling– comes from other sources. It comes from a need for certainty, the idea that one has the true map and any deviation from it is heresy. It comes from the need to protect religion from error, as if it could not protect itself, and as if one person could fully understand it anyway, or even a committee write it down, in a Talmud or Catechism. We know in part: even St Paul could not “know fully” in this life. It comes from the use of religion as a means, not an end.

It comes from fear, but perfect love driveth out all fear.

Communal religion is possible without the results Pete fears. What it requires is, itself: seeking something outside myself, for love of it and of others.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt
fightings and fears within, without
O Lamb of God, I come.

We are always in a state of becoming. My imperfection gnaws at me, and tempts me to deny it; instead I accept it. I am not what I would want to be- thank God!

A cure for anger

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/John_Everett_Millais_-_The_rescue_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/706px-John_Everett_Millais_-_The_rescue_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgI want to be loved and happy, and to feel I am doing something worthwhile.

Awareness plus compassion gives Choice.

Three of us are ANGRY now, a furious miserable anger- everything could have been alright, and it Can’t be, now, at least not that simple and instant way. Our anger can create nothing: anger with ourselves- I/she could/should, anger with the weak fool we care for. There is no point in being angry. And yet we are, and we niggle at each other. Mourning the loss of possibilities.

On facebook, I see a Nelson Mandela quote: As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. Well, yes. Er, how?

I need to let this feeling go, but not deny it; I need to accept it and myself in the World- this happens, and more is possible.

Oh, that exercise is so potent. Choose someone in the group, and look into their eyes. The trouble is that the other person may have chosen someone else; and others may also have chosen her.

Memory is not trustworthy. I remember S being in conflict with a colleague, and wanting her sacked because she was useless, and worried that the colleague would complain about S, because S had failed with some trivial matter. I learned this in conversation about two years ago. And now, S has a colleague who does not pull her weight and gets bogged down in unnecessary matters, but has no idea of any fight or particular problem in the past. So, “I https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Millais_The_Order_of_Release_1746.jpgdid”, “I said”, excuses and reasons and justifications, have no value or reality: they cannot change the situation now, and they might never have existed.

Then, say to that person: The essence I see in you is… The way you express it is… Some of us are not chosen, and I almost ignore the one who chose me, and cannot speak to the one I chose as others are speaking to her. So, again give up. This illustrates my patterns so beautifully.

I say my piece in the group share. The essence I see in you is charisma, the way you express it is Being. Then Menis asks, and how do you see yourself. I wanted to explain, and he would not let me- shell and vulnerable bit within, centre of the Universe and Worthless; and he would not let me. So I speak from my vulnerable bit, my authentic self.

 I am fragile, beautiful, loveable. 

I am a Survivor. I am safe. 

I am OK as I am, and

I am just beginning to enjoy it!

Others have other words for me, seeing my courage, strength, patience and love. This is what to remember. And- I see something in another, because it is in me.

We mill, face people in turn. We imagine that they are someone from our past, and say something to that person for closure.

Mum, I hold your hand rather than reading, at your deathbed.
Dad, our femininity is OK.
The woman I loved, who terrified me, thank you for all you taught me.
The man I used to be, it will be alright. All your feelings are OK.

The cure for my anger is hope.

Being Human

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/John_Everett_Millais_-_Glen_Birnam.JPGMy big category is “being human“, generalising from myself and quoting accumulated wisdom-stuff about being human, and I am a big fan of “Being Human“, which ended its fifth and final series this week with a glorious happy ending which definitively ends it, and put a huge smile of delight on me. It was sweet, lovely and heart-warming.

I am ploughing my way through “The Prisoner”, volume 5 of In Search of Lost Time, and it is difficult. More than half of the book is one day, in which Marcel frets jealously about Albertine because she is out, and he does not know where she is or with whom, and manipulates her, and treats her monstrously, then goes out for an evening party with the Verdurins. Here is wit and insight, a real human being stripped bare with his insights and his blindnesses, and it is a struggle. He is impossible to admire, hard to like, and that matters to me. It makes reading a struggle.

I am rather a snob about fiction, and have interrupted The Prisoner for “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood (upper-middle brow), “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K LeGuin (upper-middle brow unless you are completely prejudiced against speculative fiction) and the two Uplift Trilogies by David Brin. This is barely middle-brow. It is unashamed space-opera, even though he is a sometimes serious author with serious concerns in some of his science fiction: here, at one point aliens invade and the Resistance retreat to the jungles as guerillas, forsooth. It is great fun; though characters are one-dimensional, the culture of the Five Galaxies is beautifully realised, and there is discussion of the meaning of “Redemption”.

Atwood disappointed me. The book runs parallel to Oryx and Crake, in which she wiped out most of humanity after showing it in a nasty and brutish dystopia. I was hoping for new revelations to make the bleakness of the first book pale into insignificance, and found more of the same.

Why do I read Proust? I have no idea. There are moments of description which delight and amaze me, such as Bergotte’s last illness: Maddened by uninterrupted pain, to which was added insomnia broken only by brief spells of nightmare. Yet I know that in great part I am reading it in order to have read it, not out of snobbery so much as for my own self-image. I like to think of myself as the kind of person who reads Proust, and Bertrand Russell, and Montaigne. But I would far rather be immersed in the planet Jijo where the Jophur oppress the G’Kek, or in Honolulu Heights where decent people face terrible problems with courage, and win through.

What do I want to read? I am conflicted. I really want to manage my image of myself, for myself- I read Serious Literature because I am Keltured and Idiocated. I do. So I am still reading Proust, mostly in bored distaste but sometimes entranced; and I take long breaks on alien worlds. Well, I can. There are no rules about this.

Spiritual discipline

File:John Everett Millais - Isabella (Walter Deverell face).jpgI get up in the morning and kneel for ten minutes in my ritual space.  I get aware of my breath, practise metta meditation, or channel Qi to my chakras. Some say ten minutes is pointlessly short, but it is what I like. Before going to bed, I have a similar ten minutes.

Except I don’t. I lie in bed until I have got to get up and no longer have time for it, and I waste time with facebook and blog comments and telly until it is too late, and I just go to bed.

I know it is good for me. I know it makes me think more clearly and creatively and perceive better, and I remember feeling better after, and I still put it off, often until I just decide not to. There is something in me which finds it uncomfortable and difficult, as well as something in me which finds it beautiful. It might be useful to have a dialogue of those two parts.

I think human beings are created Good, and Romans 7-8 is therefore a difficult passage for me. Romans 7: 15, 21-25:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do….21 So I find this law at work: William Holman Hunt: the Light of the WorldAlthough I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

A dialogue.

Inner being: Before we start, can we think of a different name for me? Kind of judgmental, “sinful nature”, v.18, don’t you think? Paul’s word is “sarx”, “flesh”. Remember “The Word was made sarx, and dwelt amongst us”.

-mmm. I love my ritual space. Why do you not?

Sarx: “Sarx” will do me.
-It is uncomfortable. How often have we knelt there and just started crying? I hate crying. It is uncomfortable. It looks silly, and people deride and despise me for it. Feeling feelings is really painful. Suppressing them stops the pain.

Inner being: Suppressing them is really difficult. They come out in other ways, and the whole process is destructive.

Me: OK. It is beautiful and constructive and creative and healing and all of that- but it is also painful and difficult, and sometimes even the delight is too much. And sometimes, afterwards, I feel so open and vulnerable, and that is difficult, and so going out or applying for jobs or seeing people is just too much for me- though it is too much for me when I suppress, too.

So it takes discipline to go into the ritual space. I cannot just imagine ooh, it’s lovely, of course I will do it. It takes courage. I go where I have been badly hurt. It is worthwhile.

Conversation

Steve’s comment on his own blog:

I’ve actually had conversations with atheists who use entirely the same approach as these three false brethren. It’s like some kind of deja vu. Spooky! Especially when you consider they’re supposed to represent Christ.

I am not certain that I understand Steve’s comment, because what I think he means is quite horrible. We were discussing equal marriage, and the “false brethren” were arguing for it.

I don’t think I can exonerate Steve, however I try, from the charge that he thinks atheists are bad people, or at least that they make bad moral arguments. This could be a Biblical view, from the Chosen People first coming to Canaan and being commanded to wipe out the inhabitants, to the return from Exile.

The Book of Nehemiah is firmly in this exclusivist view. Jews are returning from Babylon to Jerusalem after the exile. The city is in ruins, and they rebuild the defensive wall, though the neighbouring peoples attempt to stop them. Then, they pledge to keep the Law of God. What is the first item of that Law that is actually quoted in the book? 10:30-31:

‘We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.

31 ‘When the neighbouring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day.

What of the New Testament? Revelation has the Bad people worshiping the Beast rather than God. Even Jesus says, Matthew 12:30:

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

So, that a soi-disant Christian uses arguments atheists use is suspect. There are strong Biblical arguments for a small group of Christian Good people, alone among the wicked heathen hordes.

Fortunately, there are also strong Biblical arguments for the goodness of people generally. Peter and Cornelius the Centurion:

You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.

I see it as a conversation, over the world wide web, and elsewhere: ideas swirling around, in newspapers and in universities, in pubs and homes, in political parties and multinational companies. Even the supporters of the worst ideas do a valuable service, testing them to destruction, reducing them to absurdity. The extremists who will not compromise make it easier to hold a more moderate view on their side. So people get better. So we seek to recycle and reduce waste, because it is the fashion. So we are kinder to animals: most people in Britain “would not hurt a fly” and use humane mousetraps if they need to trap mice. The opposing idea, of a Remnant of Christians clinging to the morality of God’s Word while the Atheists and the Muslims all were just Wrong is simply ridiculous.

————————————————————————————————————–

Another Pastor Steve says that the Roman Catholic child abuse scandal was covered up by coteries of gay men in the priesthood. He is sick and tired that the mainstream news media prevent this truth from being stated.

I think this untrue, because the level of vilification of gay people is as great in the Catholic church as in the Evangelical. However, even were it true, those gay men had to keep their sexuality, a large part of their identity, secret on pain of being disgraced, sacked and ruined. You cannot predict how gay people will behave when free from how other gay people behave when persecuted. Persecuted people act in twisted ways. Free people act in creative ways.

Trust

When they asked B who would be looking after her at this difficult time, she was surprised. She would be looking after herself. Then she thought, it will be horrible, but who? Then, on brief acquaintance, she asked me.

I was pleased. I am unemployed, and it would occupy my time; and it would be useful. I take pleasure in feeling useful. Also, it would be an opportunity to get to know B better. I have growing respect for her. In fact there is no person for whom I have had such fluctuating regard, from near contempt at first to admiration, then both over again.

I could have got the train, and it was quite a bit out of B’s way to drive me home, but her offer was perhaps a quid pro quo for the support I would be giving, and I was tired and grateful. Surprisingly, she has no satnav, and without really looking at the map she set off. We would head for the M 101. “That exit only goes the wrong way for us,” I said. She said that she just drove, and she was sure she would get there.

She got this car in 2010, and it has very little acceleration. I saw that she was changing up gear far earlier than I would have done. I have not told a driver what gear to use before, I have been content to let them drive- but not with B. I suggested that she could use third gear to pull away a bit. “Oh, I don’t think of numbers, I think of the position.” Er, push it forward. No! Not Fifth!

Off down the M 101 the wrong way. Well, at the end there must be a place to turn round. This was more difficult than I supposed: we were off down the dual carriageway in one direction, then back to get to the 101. We missed the 101 the first time, as she could not get into the correct lane, and doubled back twice more.

-My house is quite untidy. You won’t mind that, will you? She explains that there are lots of papers about, which she does not want tidied up as she knows where they all are.

I had hoped not to tell B of that, as I should be over it, and I would rather talk of other things, but I started to cry. And I told B all about it. Bloody hormones.

Next day B phoned to say that she had found a way of making her coming trouble far less stressful, and she would not need me. Though I assured her that I would let her make her own decisions and not try to manage her; and that I would be supportive, rather than bringing up my own stuff, she would be OK without me. She also felt the need to tell me that she was not lesbian, and she did not want us to get together. Well. I do want friends, but did not think of her in that way.

Mmm. What can one say? “I’m not lesbian”, they say, “and I do not want to get together with you.” “I don’t fancy you either” is harsher than I want to be. Possibilities:

“Can you be friendly with a man, and not fancy him? I can be the same with a woman.”

“I see you are an attractive woman, and- I don’t think of you in that way.”

Or, perhaps: “Hard luck- having sex with heavy, sweaty men rather than sensuous, fragrant women…”