Is There Life Without Money?

Recently, as I may have mentioned, I’ve been reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; an account of his time living deliberately in a cabin in the woods.  I used to have a cabin in the woods and although I wasn’t legally permitted to live there, I did stay there quite deliberately.  My days in the woods were times of living slowly; of contemplating, thinking, writing and walking.  It taught me a lot about what I take for granted; about what I can and can’t do without.  Above all it taught me to value water: when all you have is a five-gallon container which needs to be filled from a tap a hundred yards away, you learn to treasure every drop of the stuff.

Thoreau includes meticulous accounts in Walden, of how much it cost him to raise his barn and plant his crops; how much it cost him to live there once he’d settled in.  It’s a little different in rural Leicestershire where my cabin was already ‘raised’ so I had to buy it as well as paying ground rent twice a year for services such as water and use of the toilet block.  There were no shops nearby, which also taught me to value what I had, especially during those times when I was up there without a car.

But the one thing I couldn’t live without was money.  And there’s the rub: plenty of people have tried, but those who succeeded the best were either able to survive at a very basic level, or those who started off with a great deal of land in the first place.  I did once know some rather hippyish people who maintained that money comes to those who believe; and that if you have faith you can simply reach out and pluck money from the air.


I have to report that for a while one of these people ended up living in a horse box in a field…

Since deciding to write full-time I have had basically no income.  Fortunately I am married, so I share my partner’s income.  Unfortunately it isn’t very big.  Fortunately we have generous friends and relatives (some of them) who help us.  Unfortunately we can’t rely on that happening.  And there are times when you find yourself at the bottom of a very dry pit.

But I chose this life.  I could have stayed a teacher; I could have carried on running teacher training courses.  Sure, I’d be miserable – but I’d have an income.  The ones I feel sorry for are those who don’t have that choice: the homeless, the unemployed – or, these days, the slightly-employed: cleaners who have to get up at four to clean offices and get home before the children go to school.  The disregarded.  The despised.  Because my life has two huge compensations: one, I’m happy doing what I’m doing – and two, there’s every chance that it will get better.

So do one thing this Christmas to help.  Donate to a food bank.  Buy the Big Issue.  Offer a sandwich to a homeless person.  Help out at a shelter.  Or just smile at someone and wish them a happy Christmas.

Kirk out


Where the hell IS God?

OK so here is an attempt to deconstruct the whole atheism-religion debate.  Of course, without writing a whole book on the subject it’s impossible to do more than touch on one or two areas, so that’s all I’m trying to do here.  But it does seem that the voice of reason, the voice of tolerance, is getting lost.  Somewhere between Dawkins and the Westboro Baptist Church lies a whole acre of middle-ground, so let’s go there.

Firstly, we need to decide whether God exists.  There is no way to prove, in any scientific sense, the existence of God.  Science deals with the physical world – or what can be intimated about the physical world, through evidence.  God being a spiritual entity, it’s hard to see how science as it is at the moment, can have anything to say about him/her.  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence: in other words, the most science can have to say is that there is no evidence for God: the most religion can say is that there wouldn’t be, would there?  This does not get us any further.

What I would insert into the debate is the question, What is Love?  Dawkins, so far as I can remember having read ‘The Selfish Gene’ a few years back, has a great deal to say about sexual and parental love and the genetic advantages to the human race.  What he cannot adequately explain is the kind of love that Christianity (and other faiths) is built on, and that is compassionate love.  It’s hard to see how it can benefit me genetically to raise money for Water Aid to help people I have never seen and never will see: or even to buy, say, The Big Issue from a man I can see, but whom I only interact with very briefly.  It could be argued that there is a ‘good feeling’ attached to these gifts which confers some benefit, but actually this is often not the case: I give because I feel I should, and often don’t feel very good about it at all as it just reminds me of how much poverty and injustice there is in the world.  Anyway, if that were a universal law, wouldn’t more people give to charity more of the time?  If there was some advantage in it, wouldn’t we all be doing it, just as nearly all of us find a partner and reproduce?

So I don’t buy that.  In any case, I don’t think science can adequately define love – and if you accept that such love exists, AND the proposition that God is love, then you have accepted that science can’t define God.


Comments, please

Kirk out

Insert brain here

There’s a series of cartoons with that title – I’m not sure where I’ve seen them.  Maybe the Big Issue?  Hang on, I’ll check.  Anyway, my brain has gone awol though it was only too busy keeping me WIDE AWAKE at 2 am!!!  Very annoying.

Here’s one of the cartoons.  It doesn’t mention the Big Issue though: 

Also going on at 2 am was an utterly brilliant blog posting which of course I didn’t get up and make a note of since I was still trying to GO TO SLEEP!!! – and now all trace of it has gone.  If I could find my brain (or my Brian, as Mark calls it) then I could share it with you.

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.  That’s his name – and my reading of it is this:

Albus means ‘white’ in Latin – in this he is seen as complementary to Rubeus (red) Hagrid

Percival suggests a knight, Wulfric suggests a Saxon warrior, AND

He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy – as you will know if you’ve read book 7.  So I’m not sure if this was all explicit in the mind of JK Rowlilng but it all fits.

I have a pain in my bum.  Mark has a bad back from carrying compost last week.  He carried an unfeasible number of litres of the stuff all the way from Banquo.  That’s his name for B&Q.  And not a bad name either.

Sang for water yesterday – a good rehearsal and a lot of fun.  Got through 3 songs in an hour and a half.  Got a lift back which was welcome although that involved rather more detail than I wanted about a somewhat trivial road accident.

Was going to take Daniel to Gorse Hill City Farm today but since I didn’t sleep well AND I heard him coming to bed at 1.30 I’m not sure that will happen.

Sing for Water is on 5th June, Bede Island Park from 2 pm.  Please sponsor me and come along!

Kirk out