Monday, 25 April 2011

Letter from Laax: Epistle from the Rhaetians

A discussion paper presented by the Office of Compline (CE) and Complan (Food for Thought)

This presentation was prepared in advance of Easter Monday and is now being leaked to the press.  The fear of an outbreak of violence in Glasgow has receded.  Steve Bruce made an interesting comment in Sunday’s Guardian.  We raise the issue of inter-faith and multi-faith schools and would reflect that these were sensibly dealt with on the Sunday programme* hosted by William Crawley, who is an excellent manager of this programme.  This programme is well worth a listen on an occasional basis; and when Crawley does it there isn’t the same sense of awe, majesty and respect for some religious specialists, which makes the programme much more enjoyable.


The Bishop of Oxford’s theories on faith schools were discussed and I was beginning to agree with Julia Neuberger on multi-faith schools which chimed with some of my syncretism predictions.  Given current EU laws and the Human Rights Act, there is going to be a lot of business for lawyers, accountants and inspectors.

Anti-competition practices are usually outlawed in the USA and European Union, though there are some exceptions.  In the US, the old sledge-hammer The Hart–Scott–Rodino (Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976) bans any type of 'collusion' or price-fixing or anything viewed as 'rigging the market'.  In Europe, DG4 controls the rules as they relate to the Treaty of Rome.  To some extent we religious specialists rely on such examples of sacred text, holy writ, divine inspiration, authority, rules, regulations, ordinances and so on.  We frequently make up the rules as we go along, and some are even said to be infallible. 

At this point I would normally have launched into a presentation concerning rational choice theory and why inter-faith dialogue or discussion groups are a nonsense.  If, to paraphrase Professor Bruce, "my way is better than your way" why bother to dialogue.  The only need for dialogue is surely to discuss the segmentation of the market and maximisation of the intellectual property rights of the religious body. 

In the old days, the scribe would write and copy learned texts, but with modern day cut and paste it can all be done by an app with 3D PowerPoint and cinematographic experiences such as those of Professor Cox.   Things can't get worse...  On theatrical expressions in worship, many worshippers have done the full circuit and the concept of cyber-worship is so old-hat.

Taking a keen interest in UK politics, I was taken aback by a couple of things heard in the House of Commons.  One was, Ed Milliband going on about the possibility of the EU interfering with the NHS once Mr Lansley and his wife have wrecked it. (What's going to happen to the Chaplains?  How are they going to be funded?)  And if this is going to happen in the hospitals, what about the chaplains in the prisons, in the armed forces and in the universities?  It seems that some religious specialists could be in for some tough revenue streamings, and if the EU rules our inter-faith discussions to be anti-competitive, how are we to protest?

The second item which caught my attention was the Westminster ban on feeding the poor in the vicinity of Westminster (RC) Cathedral in London.  I have already commented on this in an earlier post, but it is still interesting to consider the impact on such forthcoming events as Easter egg distribution and even Maundy Money for that matter! 

If Jesus came to Westminster, would he be served with an ASBO or one of Theresa May's equivalent products - Criminal Behaviour Order and Crime Prevention Injunction?  Will the EU wreck the glue that keeps Britain together?

As a well-known Catholic intellectual said recently: we academics need more saints.    Well, you can't beat that!  I nominate Richard Feynman:

Philosophy of science is about as useful to science as ornithology is to birds.

"Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it."


"Physics isn't the most important thing. Love is."

Finally, having spent a joyous Easter in a beautiful canton in Switzerland, we send you greetings from Flims, Falera and Laax.  We've had some very nice sermons and a real hoot of an Easter Sunday 'service' where a PowerPoint presentation went wrong and the RADA inspired pastor had over-rehearsed the women at the tomb, and while the congregation were reluctant to join in the happy-clappy part of the service, there was a spontaneous round of applause when the choir sang the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah.  Their service was so multi-lingual and so inspired, that it drowned out some of the bores who were bleating, as is their rite and right, if not responsibility!

Ben Di from Laax.  This link will take you to the local tourist office website for the area and its main mountain in the local Swiss (fourth language) Crap Sogn Gion.  Obreption has resisted putting sermon and the name of this mountain in the same phrase.


  1. On the basis of your previous post, I had put the organ repair fund on the 3:40 at Ascot. A nag called Theology. I thought it wouldn't lose and it came last in a field of 8. We're going to be without music for Ascension Day, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi and our proper Christian festivals. Can you recommend a high authority to which I can complain about my bet going wrong?

  2. We've been checking your twitter streams and find that you had influence in getting an invitation to the Royal Wedding. Could you please get us an invitation for St Peter's Square as we would like to meet Mr Mugabi on the occasion of the beatification of Pope John Paul II by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI?

    Your forecasts are definitely better than those of Mr Osborne regarding GDP. We think it was spiteful of Mr Cameron. What does he know about the Human Condition. He ought to calm down, dear!