Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Is there a God ? - What governs our lives?

My parents must have been of the cautious kind. Because, contrary to custom, I was not baptized when I landed over here. Thus I remained in neutral gear till about fourteen. As I am born in Berlin, it was natural to become a Protestant, as was everybody else around me.

Thus I asked to get "communion" like all the others and then it came out I had never been baptized. So I was baptized on Saturday and got communion on Easter Sunday, between 13 and 14 years of age.

Then something strange happened. Right as I was sitting there in church during the communion service and I fell out with religion. "What am I doing here?" I asked myself. "There is nothing, fair chance it is all a kind of hogwash".

Since then, I was always interested in the subject though I never talked about it. First time someone mentioned the riddle of human destiny to me was by reading Somerset Maugham's novel "Of Human Bondage".

Regarding religion, no need to defend the idea of evolution. These firmly established facts are now under attack from the creationists, most of them but not all coming from the United States. Can't help thinking that creationism is linked to a hidden political agenda and has nothing to do with the search for truth. So, let's forget about this. I'll file "creationism" next to the "Flat Earth Society".

Everything around us - ourselves included - evolve in accordance with this iron law of evolution. But it should be said not the fittest and the strongest survive - as Darwin thought - but those that are best adopted to circumstances. You take shameful advantage of the situation and you have a fair chance to thrive. SO LET'S BE FLEXIBLE.

Unfortunately - as I see it - that's not the only law. There is another one and it is called chance. You do all the right stuff, you are strongest and best adopted and then bam! The roof is falling on your head.

These random happenings occur all the time. You can be born rich, intelligent and in good health and you can be born poor, not very bright and with a defect in your genes. And so it goes on till we are dead. We all know this in our hearts but I suppose we don't like to admit it as a fact of life.

Thus our longing for a good, benevolent God who who gives us a helping hand, from time to time and set matters straight for us.

As Plato the Greek philosopher said 2500 years ago: "Be kind, for everybody you meet is fighting a hard battle".

We desperately ask for a happy end, Hollywood style. Thus the idea of a paradise, a perpetual happy end to look forward to after all that shit during life. By the way, it is typical for our Western outlook that paradise is very much on the agenda among the faithful but nobody talks about hell and purgatory any more...................

Laudate Dominum omnes gentes;
Laudate eum, omnes populi.
Quoniam confirmata est
Super nos misericordia ejus,
Et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper.
Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Does that mean everybody should try to become a cat and all the others are mice, just good to be devoured if they can't help it? Some people seem to think this and try to live it out. But this Law of Chance I mentioned here above is truly democratic and preys upon everybody, high and low. Look at Bernie Maddoff, the mad dog of shares and charities.............

To finish this long story, here are a few lines of the poem "On the devine" from
Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Let man be noble,
Generous and good
For that alone
Distinguishes him
From all the living
beings we know
Let the noble man
Be generous and good,
Tirelessly achieving
What is just and useful

(here, the entire poem in English and in German)

Last not least: without religion, we all would have missed Händel's Messiah and Mozart's "Laudate Dominum", those Gothic cathedrals standing nearly everywhere in Europe as well as some truly outstanding humans, the first one coming to my mind is Jesus himself. That should not be forgotten.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

First nightingale this year

Yesterday we had a hot Summer day over here. And today, Saturday, 25th April, back to early March with lots of rain, pouring down continuously.

Outside, in the garden, I hear the booming voice of Mr. Nightingale. The rain does not stop him. As every year, I try to locate the elusive bird. In vain. I have never succeeded to see him. Not once in all those ten years we are living in this green paradise.

Then it occurred to me that I could at least make a recording of his song. Thus the video does not amount to very much but you can hear him, loud and clear. Let's hope he'll get his wife not too early because I imagine that will stop him singing.

Monday, 13 April 2009

TV crime series - Comparison USA and Great Britain

Like many of my contemporaries, I watch the crime series of the moment. Here in France, you can choose between several different ones, each day of the year.

There are those made in France. But considering the number of channels available, there are series made in USA, made in Great Britain, made in Germany plus a tiny little sprinkling of the others from Sweden, Italy, Belgium.

Considering that this is a blog in English language (at least I try to do my best), let's talk about those made in the United States and those coming from our northern neighbors, the Brits.

What do they have in common, these series made in USA and Great Britain? Absolutely nothing because here all those actors talk in French exclusively!

The idea is generally accepted that the Americans and the Brits have a lot of common outlooks, kind of shared values (though the notion of "values" has fallen in disrespect, lately). Thus it occurred to me to compare these series with regard to the differences.

Because there are differences, big ones.

Here are the two series from England:

1. Inspector Barnaby

2. Inspector Lewis

And here are just three from the United States:

1. Bones

2. CSI Miami

3. Navy NCIS

In a nutshell, I would say the English ones are homely and the Americans are gorgeous.

In NCIS each photo made of a corpse produces a sound, something like slapping a wet towel on a drum. Slap, slap, slap. And invariably, they are gripping those huge McDo plastic cups filled with coffee or CocaCola. Could be those paper plastic cups are not from McDo but from Starbucks, I don't know but they are huge, king size big. And they continue to bring one to each other as a sign of sympathy or friendship.

Our two English cops drink, too. But they are inside or outside a pub, having a beer and when they meet a suspect, they are frequently offered a cup of tea and some biscuits.

Chief Inspector Barnaby and Lewis never carry any weapon and their criminal investigation is carried out without any violence. However, in the Barnaby series, dead bodies are aplenty. It's never one stiff but mostly three, four or occasionally even five. And these English village people hate each others guts red hot. But violence, no sir.

Nothing to do with the Americans. They live with their pistol. In NCIS, that Mossad girl seems even to sleep with her gun under the pillow and they keep it under the bed or at the night table when making love.

But the biggest difference is their looks. Dr. Brennan (Bones) is a real beauty. And that goes for all the others, too. With the exception of Bruce, the athletic FBI cop and the sexy artist Angela, all others are high-end scientists but their looks somehow do not correspond to their activity. Too much beauty, splendid make up, even when they are a bit smeared or dirty, they are beautifully dirty.

In CSI Miami it's even worse. The boss, Horatio, very impressive character, is strangely ugly, he could be an albino. But all the others have those aggressive good looks. There is this doctor whose job is to cut up dead bodies. But she looks like a bar hostess, trying to make you drink costly Champagne and there is a male scientist who could be a South-American pimp or a Bolivian drug dealer.

I would not like to meet this good looking chap at dusk in an empty street!

Those two inspectors from Britannia are middle aged, wear rumpled clothes. They are neither good looking nor ugly. And their associates, Sargent Troy, Sargent Hopkins or Hathaway are cast in the same mould. Mr. Barnaby's wife looks a bit worn out, though cheerful and their daughter seemed ugly to me in the beginning. Now, after three years, I am accustomed to her. She looks good in her own way. Sargent Hathaway is a former student of theology and quotes Shelley, Shakespeare and Latin authors at unsuspected moments. I like that.

There is a meaning behind those differences.