Thursday, February 15, 2018

Give her a pattern

D H Lawrence (1985-1930) wrote many creative and thoughtful short stories and novels. If you've ever read him, you may know Lady Chatterley's Lover or Women in Love. His short stories and essays were often about relationships, men-vs-women and how men treat(ed) women. I chose to put one of his definitive essays here. He spoke about how women are (mis)treated by men, and that had started too many years ago and still happens.

Women need to understand the 'pattern' that men have pushed us into. Women are human, no different, no lesser, than men. #metoo started globally very recently, but the suffrage women started in the 19th century. Feminists carried that battle into the 20th century, and it still exists. Don't just discard it. Just read this essay from D H Lawrence, and maybe it's your own time to start your research.

Give Her a Pattern
by D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)


The real trouble about women is that they must always go on to adapt themselves to men’s theories of women, as they always have done. When a woman is thoroughly herself, she is being what her type of man wants her to be. When a woman is hysterical it’s because she doesn’t quite know what to be, which pattern to follow, which man’s picture of woman to live up to.

For, of course, just as there are many men in the world, there are many masculine theories of what women should be. But men run to type, and it is the type, not the individual, that produces the theory, or “ideal” of woman. Those very grasping gentry, the Romans, produced a theory or ideal of the matron, which fitted in very nicely with the Roman property lust. “Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion.” So Caesar’s wife kindly proceeded to be above it, no matter how far below it the Caesar fell. Later gentlemen like Nero produced the “fast” theory of woman, and later ladies were fast enough for everybody. Dante arrived with a chaste and untouched Beatrice, and chaste and untouched Beatrices began to march self-importantly through the centuries. The Renaissance discovered the learned woman, and learned women buzzed mildly into verse and prose. Dickens invented the child-wife, so child-wives have swarmed ever since. He also fished out his version of the chaste Beatrice, a chaste but marriageable Agnes. George Eliot imitated this pattern, and it became confirmed. The noble woman, the pure spouse, the devoted mother took the field, and was simply worked to death. Our own poor mothers were this sort. So we younger men, having been a bit frightened of our noble mothers, tended to revert to the child-wife. We weren’t very inventive. Only the child-wife must be a boyish little thing - that was the new touch we added. Because young men are definitely frightened of the real female. She’s too risky a quantity. She is too untidy, like David’s Dora. No, let her be a boyish little thing, it’s safer. So a boyish little thing she is.

There are, of course, other types. Capable men produce the capable woman ideal. Doctors produce the capable nurse. Business men produce the capable secretary. And so you get all sorts. You can produce the masculine sense of honour (whatever that highly mysterious quantity may be) in women, if you want to.

There is, also, the eternal secret ideal of men - the prostitute. Lots of women live up to this idea: just because men want them to.

And so, poor woman, destiny makes away with her. It isn’t that she hasn’t got a mind - she has. She’s got everything that man has. The only difference is that she asks for a pattern. Give me a pattern to follow! That will always be woman’s cry. Unless of course she has already chosen her pattern quite young, then she will declare she is herself absolutely, and no man’s idea of women has any influence over her.

Now the real tragedy is not that women ask and must ask for a pattern of womanhood. The tragedy is not, even, that men give them such abominable patterns, child-wives, little-boy-baby-face girls, perfect secretaries, noble spouses, self-sacrificing mothers, pure women who bring forth children in virgin coldness, prostitutes who just make themselves low, to please the men; all the atrocious patterns of womanhood that men have supplied to woman; patterns all perverted from any real natural fullness of a human being. Man is willing to accept woman as an equal, as a man in skirts, as an angel, a devil, a baby-face, a machine, an instrument, a bosom, a womb, a pair of legs, a servant, an encyclopaedia, an ideal or an obscenity; the one thing he won’t accept her as is a human being, a real human being of the feminine sex.

And, of course, women love living up to strange patterns, weird patterns - the more uncanny the better. What could be more uncanny than the present pattern of the Eton-boy girl with flower-like artificial complexion? It is just weird. And for its very weirdness women like living up to it. What can be more gruesome than the little boy-baby-face pattern? Yet the girls take it on with avidity. But even that isn’t the real root of the tragedy. The absurdity, and often, as in the Dante-Beatrice business, the inhuman nastiness of the pattern - for Beatrice had to go on being chaste and untouched all her life, according to Dante’s pattern, while Dante had a cosy wife and kids at home - even that isn’t the worst of it. The worst of it is, as soon as a woman has really lived up to the man’s pattern, the man dislikes her for it. There is intense secret dislike for the Eton-young-man girl, among the boys, now that she is actually produced. Of course, she’s very nice to show in public, absolutely the thing. But the very young men who have brought about her production detest her in private and in their private hearts are appalled by her.

When it comes to marrying, the pattern goes all to pieces. The boy marries the Eton-boy girl, and instantly he hates the type. Instantly his mind begins to play hysterically with all the other types, noble Agneses, chaste Beatrices, clinging Doras and lurid filles de joie. He is in a wild welter of confusion. Whatever pattern the poor woman tries to live up to, he’ll want another. And that’s the condition of modern marriage.

Modern woman isn’t really a fool. But modern man is. That seems to me the only plain way of putting it. The modern man is a fool, and the modern young man a prize fool. He makes a greater mess of his women than men have ever made. Because he absolutely doesn’t know what he wants her to be. We shall see the changes in the woman-pattern follow one another fast and furious now, because the young men hysterically don’t know what they want. Two years hence women may be in crinolines - there was a pattern for you! - or a bead flap, like naked negresses in mid-Africa - or they may be wearing brass armour, or the uniform of the Horse Guards. They may be anything. Because the young men are off their heads, and don’t know what they want.

The women aren’t fools, but they must live up to some pattern or other. They know the men are the fools. They don’t really respect the pattern. Yet a pattern they must have, or they can’t exist. Women are not fools. They have their own logic, even if it’s not the masculine sort. Women have the logic of emotion, men have the logic of reason. The two are complementary and mostly in opposition. But the woman’s logic of emotion is no less real and inexorable than the man’s logic of reason. It only works differently.

And the woman never really loses it. She may spend years living up to a masculine pattern. But in the end, the strange and terrible logic of emotion will work out the smashing of that pattern, if it has not been emotionally satisfactory. This is the partial explanation of the astonishing changes in women. For years they go on being chaste Beatrices or child-wives. Then on a sudden - bash! The chaste Beatrice becomes something quite different, the child-wife becomes a roaring lioness! The pattern didn’t suffice, emotionally.

Whereas men are fools. They are based on a logic of reason or are supposed to be. And then they go and behave, especially with regard to women, in a more-than-feminine unreasonableness. They spend years training up the little-boy-baby-face type, till they’ve got her perfect. Then the moment they marry her, they want something else. Oh, beware, young women, of the young men who adore you! The moment they’ve got you they’ll want something utterly different. The moment they marry the little-boy-baby face, instantly they begin to pine for the noble Agnes, pure and majestic, or the infinite mother with deep bosom of consolation, or the perfect business woman, or the lurid prostitute on black silk sheets: or, most idiotic of all, a combination of all the lot of them at once. And that is the logic of reason! When it comes to women, modern men are idiots. They don’t know what they want, and so they never want, permanently, what they get. They want cream cake that is at the same time ham and eggs and at the same time porridge. They are fools. If only women weren’t bound by fate to play up to them!

 For the fact of life is that women must play up to man’s pattern. And she only gives her best to a man when he gives her a satisfactory pattern to play up to. But today, with a stock of ready-made, worn-out idiotic patterns to live up to, what can women give to men but the trashy side of their emotions? What could a woman possibly give to a man who wanted her to be a boy-baby face? What could she possibly give him but the dribblings of an idiot? - And, because women aren’t fools, and aren’t fooled even for very long at a time, she gives him some nasty cruel digs with her claws, and makes him cry for mother dear! - abruptly changing his pattern.

Bah! men are fools. If they want anything from women, let them give women a decent, satisfying idea of womanhood - not these trick patterns of washed-out idiots.

D.H. Lawrence's "Give Her a Pattern" was first published (under the title "Woman in Man's Image") in the U.S. in Vanity Fair (May 1929) and in the U.K. (as "Give Her a Pattern") in the Daily Express (June 1929). It appears in Phoenix II: Uncollected, Unpublished, and Other Prose Works by D. H. Lawrence, edited by Warren Roberts and Harry T. Moore (Viking, 1968).

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Liberalism, population and the growth of religion

Reading a paper published on my university site make me feel very atheist. I am. Rafael Domingo, according to his paper, is “a Professor of Law and ICS Research Professor at the University of Navarra (Spain), and Francisco de Vitoria Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University (Atlanta, GA)”. His paper is A New Global Paradigm for Religious Freedom. So why did Domingo’s paper wind me up? In his introduction, still in the first paragraph, he said: “For liberal secularists, on the other hand, religion is one among many expressions of individual freedom and does not call for special treatment.”
What does ‘liberal’ mean to you, here, in Australia? Is this country so different – or so stupid – to everywhere else in the world??

‘Liberalism’, means “the belief in freedom and human rights”, as defined in Wikipaedia (I know many don’t believe anything they say – but for this article they have 227 notes and 73 reference books, so check it out). ‘Freedom’ means “having an ability to act or change without constraint”. And ‘human rights’ means having rights to which “a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being”. Is this supported in Australia? If not, why not?? “Liberalism” to the LNP government, many feel, means getting everything they (the rich) need.

Jonathan James, a writer for The Conversation, said, at the start of his August 21, 2017, article: “In a nation that is increasingly secular, religion still plays a vital role in the way we run our country.” I agree with that we’re increasingly secular, but what is a “vital” role?

Many of the LNP politicians are religious, and their churches are tax-free and make money.  Catholic makes more than $100 billion a year; the Pentecostal Hillsong group, which has sprung up all around Australia, makes millions a year; older Protestant churches – Baptist, for example - own billions of properties.

John Howard, LNP, and Bob Hawke, Labour, get on together these days – many years after they both left parliament. Howard, on ABC in August last year, said that Australia needed to rethink its democracy and try to include “men, women, whatever their ethnic background”, but that weincreasingly find this pursuit of individual groups and the idea is to get all the little groups together”.  Hawke, an agnostic from Labour, thought that getting rid of the constitution was something we had to do if we wanted “to optimise the chance for democracy to be effective in this country”. This constitution seems to be where it was 200 years ago. Why?

I believe that getting rid of the constitution, getting rid of the present government, and being much open to all people in this country is where we should be. Getting rid of the constitution, and getting rid of religion within government, will make a huge different to all people. Religion, every religion, demands that we don’t listen to anything other than they say. They want to exist – grow – make more money. But they don’t care about anyone who doesn’t believe in their religion.

Wikipaedia’s page on the growth of religion, with 227 notes and 73 reference books (did I mention that earlier?? Well it can’t be called b/s! – Ed.), wrote about many different religions which seem to have grown in the last 5 or more decades. It said that in 2006 atheism (non religion) had grown to 21% in Australia, and 39% in New Zealand! 16% of the world non-religious population is currently 16%, but might reduce to 13% in 2050. Why? Because non-religious people stick to only 1.7 children in their families, while the main reasons that religions, say, Catholic and Protestant, expand, according to Eric Kaufman of University of London, “is because their religions tend to be "pro-natal" and they have more children.” On atheism (people like me), it said that: “Sociologist Phil Zuckerman's global studies on atheism have indicated that global atheism may be in decline due to irreligious countries having the lowest birth rates in the world and religious countries having higher birth rates in general.”

Zuckerman’s book* is referenced at the bottom of this blog. Maybe I need more books like that!

The global population increased in 100 years from 1.5 billion to 6.1 billion between 1900 and 2000. Hugely, in 37 years of the 20th century, it doubled from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 5 billion in 1987. By 2024 it will be over 8 billion people. Where did that come from?? It hadn’t even reached 1 billion until the 19th century!

And where are the religions during this population explosion? They’re growing, along with the population. As a percentage, many of them haven’t changed, but their global numbers have.

Section 116 of the constitution talks about religion. It says: “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

And yet, according to John Warburton writing about the senate in 2006, religions did work with governments: “In discussions of the religious component of twentieth century Australian politics most attention has been given not to constitutional issues but to the link between denominations and parties in voting and representation, Catholics with Labor and Protestants with the Coalition, as well as the denominational character of the Labor Party Split of the 1950s that produced the Democratic Labor Party.

In the Howard era the LNP seemed to collect more Catholics supporters, and by 2004 it got many more supporters from those of any denomination who attended a church. Throughout his government, many – including politicians - had tried to encourage the churches to stay out of politics, with the exception for the ‘moral’ issues - abortion, sexuality and euthanasia. The churches pretty much ignored them and dug into the government’s coalition parties. Religion seemed to disappear when Labor’s Julia Gillard was the PM, and yet, after LNP’s Tony Abbott became PM, the churches popped up again within the coalition. 

In 2013, for that election, many (most?) LNP politicians were religious and yet many of the voters were non-religious. Most of the country voters no longer supported the tax-free attitudes for religions, and yet it still went on and still hangs around. That is not ‘liberal’. That is not ‘human rights’.

John Craig, who “had over 20 years generalist experience in strategic policy research, development and application, with the Coordinator General’s and Premier’s Departments in Queensland”, started a group called the Centrefor Policy and Development Systems (CPDS) in 2008, and he wrote on the economic strategy that “[t]he federal government's preference is to liberalise markets rather than regulate. It has an objection to 'producerism' (involving government support for producers at the expense of consumers).” His CPDS seems to have been almost closed down now, but there should be a lot of people throughout this country who would read it and agree with it – if you want to advocate changes within politics.

Craig further pointed out that Kevin Rudd, who took over from Gillard, argued that “institutionalized Christianity (the church) should take the side of the poor and voiceless by becoming involved in politics” and yet Craig felt that “the failure of global efforts to deal with poverty is not simply a moral issue as was suggested… cultural factors (which are universally put in the 'too hard' basket) seem to be a major factor in the ability of any society to achieve material prosperity, and in difficulties in developing a global order in which all might reasonably be expected to succeed…”.
  • Over the last years, as the religion has grown within parliament, many have tried to push it out.The Rationalist Society of Australia had, in 2006, a conference titled “Religion and Politics: opportunity or threat?” and said that “[r]eligion is perhaps more visible now in Australian politics than it has been for almost thirty years.”
  • An article titled “Do Australian MPs believe in God?” was written by Candace Sutton for in March 2013. She said that “[m]ore than 80 per cent of the federal politicians who responded [to a survey] said they believed in God and would be attending at least one church service this [Easter] weekend.” 
  • In January 2014 Greens Senator Richard Di Natale said religion is a private matter and that prayers don’t belong in parliament: “I don't think we need to ensure that the parliament is there as a place for the recitation of various prayers and I just don't think that it does reflect the fact that we do consider that religion and politics should be kept separate.”
  • John Dickson from ABC wrote after Di Natale that “[t]he proposal of the Greens to drop the Lord's Prayer from Parliament rightly saddens Christians around the country; but, then, so should the saying of a prayer that nobody really means. The Christian love of prayer is more than matched by the Bible's aversion to hypocrisy.
  • Clementine Ford wrote, in May 2015, an article for Sydney Morning Herald titled “Want equality for all? Then spurn organised religion”, and subtitled that “The influence of Christianity in affairs of state is intolerable in a progressive society.” 
  • Brian Morris, for New Matilda in August 2015, titled “It's Time To Make The Politicians Wear Their Religion On Their Sleeve”, said that “[r]eligion can dramatically dictate an MPs attitude to a whole raft of contemporary social policy. Voters have every right to know the bold facts of their candidate's religion.” 
  • In August, 2017 last year, Luke Beck, writing for The Conversation, wrote an article titled “Official prayers in federal parliament are divisive and unconstitutional, and should be scrapped”. 
  • In September last year, George Williams from the Sydney Morning Herald wrote an article titled “Parliamentary prayers should be consigned to history”.

And. So. Many. More! Google ‘religion in australian parliament’ and look through the thousands provided! That might just turn you off religion ‘participation’ in parliament!

This country is our country, not the ‘religious’ country – regardless of what religion is out there. Those who have asked… and asked and asked and asked… for religion to be dropped out of parliament have been ignored, not because every politician is religious, but because religions support (donate to) every party. Why do they do that? Why do political parties accept that?

Religion is not some ‘thing’ that politicians can follow publically. We should not have religion in parliament nor a Chaplain in parliament. And those who disagree with the religious activities carried on in parliament should all be heard… because we are in the majority.

Is it time for this? Yes, it definitely is! 

*Zuckerman, Phil 2007. Martin, Michael, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 59. ISBN 0521603676

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Remembering stroke

Do you always give your partner/family/friends happy birthday wishes? I used to get them, but these days I wouldn't miss them. I'm too old! Well, not "too" old, but a lot older than I was 30 years ago (get that??). Okay, I'm not fed up with my age, but I am - was - still am - fed up with aphasia after my stroke, which happened under the "usual" age. I was told by the hospital that I was "young". I was 57. Is that how you feel when you look at your mum or grandma or aunt or someone older than you in hospital after a stroke? How old were they?

Do you know the youngest age for a stroke? A New York Times blog had an article written by Jane E Brody on 3 September 2012, titled "Too young to have a stroke? Think again". Writers to asked questions about the age of stroke on 12 November 2016, titled "Are strokes at a young age common?". It's very similar in Australia. Brain Injury's pdf file on young who suffer stroke, titled "Position Paper: Young Stroke", say that the "first time event occur[s] between the ages of 18 and 64". Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), while their article was dated 2009, said that only 30% of those having a stroke would be under the age of 65.

Maria Lewis wrote an article for SBS, the Australian channel. She was 22 when she had her stroke. There's a video at the beginning of the article which started with Luke Webb - he was 20 when he had his stroke.

The 2009 ABS article (linked further up) showed 9 impairments from stroke. The aphasia, which I suffered, was the 4th lowest, but there were still nearly 30% of people who had a stroke who suffered that. Physical impairment was just about up to 60%, and happening just a little more to women than men. What it doesn't say is how many people who had a stroke are very quickly back to "normal".

3% of those who had it might die.

I encourage everyone who reads this to pass it on and share it with your partner/family/friends/workers. You need to know more about stroke, need to understand how people suffer after their stroke, need to know the websites where you can get much more information just in Australia. The most important (for me) are listed.

Stroke Foundation: their home page says they are "a national charity that partners with the community to prevent, treat and beat stroke. We stand alongside stroke survivors and their families, healthcare professionals and researchers. We build community awareness and foster new thinking and innovative treatments. We support survivors on their journey to live the best possible life after stroke. We are the voice of stroke in Australia..."

Synapse: looks after brain injuries which includes stroke. The website says "Our commitment to reduce the massive unmet need for these services is unwavering. Our objective to see specialist and individualised services available to all in need is resolute. No matter where they live, or culture they belong to." Synapse has a pic of their current magazine, "Bridge", number 22, which has stories from stroke survivors. Read them!

Australian Aphasia Association: this is a non-profit association which started in 2002. They say they are "a support and advocacy association for people with aphasia, their families and the professionals who help them."

Check those ones. There are plenty more throughout Australia but these are the organisations I've been involved with. One more I've chosen to add to the list is the Australian Aphasia Rehabilitation Pathway: came into being in 2014. Their website says they are "for speech pathologists to help guide person-centered, evidence-based aphasia services. It aims to optimise the overall rehabilitation journey for people with aphasia and their families/friends."

I truly hope that everyone who reads this will educate themselves on stroke. It can happen to 2% of the whole population, even younger people. Maybe one day it can happen to you.

Educate yourself.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mapping my walks

Have you ever used a program called Map My Walk? The one I use is called just that, and available for mapping your own walks wherever you are in Australia. Have a look at their website and pick your own city or town, or if you don’t live in any of those listed pick one close and move your map to find your own home area. If you set up this program in your own name and address, it can start, every time you log a map, at your own home. Try it!

I started using this back in September 2014 when I moved to Redlands area because of my stroke. My first map was a cycle one – I rode from Woody Point across the Hornibrook Bridge with my daughter. 12.89km! Later, in 2015, I recorded my walk from Woody Point to the Clontarf side of that bridge and return – 6.02km. I recorded each walk I took both of my dogs on. Those walks weren’t very long – most of them less than 2km – as both of my dogs were old/getting old, but I had some lovely walks to beaches on either side of the Scarborough peninsula. We would repeat, either direction. A dog doesn’t need too much change!

I still have my American Bulldog, Jordie, but she’s too old to walk now. I still plan my own walks on Map My Walk. Since I moved to Eagleby I’ve recorded a few more walks. I can go any direction: I can go through Albert River Park or the Oliver Sports Complex Park. I can go through walkways from one road to another. I can go pretty much anywhere I want to walk… and I can map it.

 My walks recently haven’t been very long – the longest one was 4.85kms – but if I want to go much further then I can work out where I want to walk.

You don’t need to trust in or believe in Map My Walk – there are heaps of others on Google – but this program pleases me. Have a look at it if you walk and would like to map it.

And if you try it, give yourself a pat on your back - you’re pretty damned good!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Messing up

Stress can mess up your body or stomach action. Mine got worse since 2013, when my husband broke up with me, my brain aneurysm was diagnosed, and I was fired from my employer after 7 years service with them. I was a Kiwi, not eligible for benefits. I retrieved my superannuation to keep me alive. I put on 10 kgs.

I got to hospital on 22 April 2014, had a stroke during my surgery and put into BIRU for 6.5 weeks. I fought my ex-employer at QIRC and lost because my mental illness was not covered under legislation.

I stopped renting my lovely Scarborough home because it was too expensive. Eventually I moved into Bethania, but 4.5 months later they kicked my dog out  - and me. I attempted suicide. I put on 5 kgs.

I moved to Eagleby. I was in Tarlo Street 9.5 months when I found out that the unit was illegal - no approval from Logan City Council. I put on 5 more kgs.

I had been 72kgs, size 12, before all my stress issues. I was now size 16. I was so disappointed for what had happened over the last 4 years. Who was at fault??

Well, you know what? I don't blame myself. I didn't ask for the end of my marriage. I didn't ask for the brain aneurysm diagnosis. I didn't ask to be fired from my 7 years employer. I didn't ask for my stroke. But, over the last four years, I have fought to recover... and put on 20kgs during all of my stress.

I love red wine. I love the fact that I am now working, if only 10 hours a week. That will certainly help me get over my aphasia from stroke. I love SOHK, because there are people there I would not normally talk to. And I love my new neighbour, who would join me for a coffee, chat to me, drive with me, walk with me - make me feel okay. If I have to live with this extra weight, so be it.

I am loving my life!

Monday, October 2, 2017

What is “religion”?

It would be a fascinating subject to study. Religion now and before. I know people who go to religious schools under different religions. I know too many people who believe whatever they are taught in their different religions, never dig into the past to see what’s happened/happening. So many religions over Earth, and all of them brought to you (or anyone else) by self-taught people – self-taught after their memory is filled with whatever they learned as a child. Who knows which books to read? Who knows what is true and what is simply your own belief? 

60,000+ years ago Aboriginal people lived in Australia. No religion lived in this world then. On the website Working with Indigenous Australians Helen Milroy said:

We are part of the Dreaming. We have been in the Dreaming for a long time before we are born on this earth and we will return to this vast landscape at the end of our days. It provides for us during our time on earth, a place to heal, to restore purpose and hope, and to continue our destiny.

Aboriginals believed in their spiritual ancestors, the Dreaming Ancestors.

Their lives changed when the “Christian” British arrived in 1788. At that time there were many more Aboriginals than English, but it didn’t really take very long for the British to multiply and outgrow the number of Aboriginals. Of course, they murdered them too. Very “Christian”…   

In the Middle East Judaism began around 3,000 years ago as a monotheist Abrahamic religion, using the Torah as their written text. A thousand years later a man split Judaism: those who followed Christ would call themselves Christians. A short religion, yet mostly filled by European people.

According to Pew Forum, two thirds of Christianity lived in Europe a century ago (1910). And according to BBC, two thousand years ago – actually, 1 century AD – Middle East traders arrived in Britain and over the next four hundred years managed to convert the British predominantly with intolerance of “other” gods – which, of course, most people believed in back then. Pagans! Christians used their Bible, which has a long and not particularly decent history, as their text. Of course, there are many sub-texts, re-written by some of the sub-Christian religions. Wikipaedia says there are at least 7 large Christian churches: Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Restorationism and Non-Trinitarianism and Church of the East. There are also a lot of others – look at Mormons (Book of Mormon), Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers, Jehovah Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Salvation Army, Lutherans, Presbytarians, Pentecostal…. et al.

Why have they done that? (Asking a question… don’t mean to answer it!)

Islam started in around 610CE – after even Christianity had started. Muslims now look on Jesus, David, Moses, Abraham, Noah and Adam as prophets, and use their Quran as their religious text. It’s the second largest religion, behind Christianity.

Surprisingly, India’s religions date back before Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Hinduism came to India 5,000 years ago and its oldest text is Rigveda, written more than a thousand years BCE. India has a few sub-religions: Hinduism (80% of population), Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. I know very little about any of these. Neolithic pastoralists “buried their dead in a manner suggestive of spiritual practices that incorporated notions of an afterlife” according to Peter Heehs  (Heehs, 2002). Prof Dr Quack is a Principal Investigator of University of Zurich’s Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology and wrote about the “first ethnographic study of the contemporary rationalist (atheist, humanist, or freethinking) movement in India” (Quack, 2011). Baha’i is also an Indian religion. It believes that “divine Educators” are Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and Bahá’u’lláh, sent to them by God. Apparently.

I am atheist. I am 60 years old. I don’t believe in “god(s)” because I don’t believe that any god “created” us. Too many religions to think – or believe in - just what any other religion does. How – why – do so many different religions supply missionaries to a country like this? A Western country? Religions are all different. Sometimes, though, I get very interested in reading or talking about religion – and about atheism. Do you know how many atheists live around the globe? Keysar and Navarro-Rivera wrote this year that there are around 7% of the total world population, half a billion atheists and agnostics globally (Keysar, 2017). China has 200 million atheists – 14% of their population.

I know that I don’t know as much about any religion, but maybe I need to get back into reading. At the beginning of this blog I wrote: Who knows which books to read? I found one, Introducing Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate, written by Jack David Eller, which looks at the anthropology of belief, of symbolism, of ritual and ritualization, morality, religious change, “great transformation”, violence, secularism and fundamentalism. If I can afford that, I think I’d buy it.

Maybe I’ll be after you… 

Eller, J. D. 2015. Introducing Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate. Routledge, NY.

Heehs, P. 2002. Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Expression and Experience. New York University Press, NY.

Keysar, Ariela; Navarro-Rivera, Juhem, 2017. "A World of Atheism: Global Demographics". In Bullivant, Stephen; Ruse, Michael. The Oxford Handbook of Atheism. Oxford University Press.

Quack, Prof Dr J. 2012. Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford University Press, NY.