Endless worship

Sing and dance and make a joyful noise

Or bow in silence, praising Him with love

Pour out your heart with words of adoration

Give worship to the One who reigns above

 

With every step through every day before Him

Give thanks for all the gifts He has endowed

With every breath and every act adore Him

Conduct yourself in ways to make Him proud

 

In sleeping and in waking praise your maker

In working and in rest profess your love

Your life becomes an act of holy passion

In endless worship of the Lord above

 

 

Advertisements

Review “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein.

This book is considered as one of the classics of science fiction. I enjoyed it immensely.

There are two stories going on in this book – one is a revolution, as the people in the moon colony, most of whom were sent as convicts, have decided they have had enough and wish to gain independence. The second is of a computer that has become sentient. The computer, named Mike by the programmer Manuel, the narrator of this story, starts as a very child-like entity, as you would expect, and gradually matures over the course of this story. In my opinion, the computer’s development is what lifts this story above a run-of-the-mill revolution story.

Mike is not emotionally vested in revolution. It makes no difference to him whether the Lunar Authority are in charge or not. However, there are three people he likes, and these people want revolution. He knows he can help them achieve it, so he does. However, it does not seem at any time during the story that Mike has any real comprehension of the situation in terms of lives lost. He does not see people in the sense that a human being sees, and as for the people on Earth, they are little more than statistics to him. Manuel’s careful stressing that certain things he wants Mike to do are not a joke, especially at the start, indicate he is concerned about Mike’s understanding of what is appropriate and what is not. Mike’s first interest and area of research is humour, and he presents his friends with reams of jokes he has found so they can tell him what is funny and what is not, and degrees of humour (ie funny once, funny always etc). His ability to ape human behaviour via his onscreen persona Adam is an indicator of his growth as a self-aware being. He is a fascinating character, and I find his development very believable.

Heinlein’s treatment of women in this and other stories gets a lot of flack. While I do not agree with the assessment that he was a misogynist, he was quite definitely sexist. Women in this book do fare slightly better than they do in some of his novels (“Stranger in a Strange Land”, for example), however that does not say very much. I don’t find this an insurmountable obstacle to reading his work – it’s really just a matter of understanding that he was a man of his time, and such attitudes were hardly unusual. Consequently the female characters in this story are somewhat two-dimensional. For all Heinlein frequently used female characters into his stories, I don’t know that I would call any of them memorable.

I enjoyed the narrator’s character. Manuel is a great deal of fun in his dryness, cynicism and his philosophy of TINSTAAFL (there is no such thing as a free lunch.) His function as the narrative voice through which we are being told this story lends it something of a fatalistic air. Manuel is something of a reluctant hero. He never intended to get involved, never intended to be one of those in charge, never intended to go to Earth, and never intended to be in charge of the defence. Really all of the events that happen to him can be traced back to one fact – he is the person who discovered the Moon’s central computer is alive. He never blames this on Mike, and that makes him a true friend.

I loved this book, and would strongly recommend it.

 

The politician

You’ve swapped your heart for a lump of coal

A suitable upgrade

No plastic smile for you, only solid gold will do

Suit of the finest lies

Hand-sewn by the undeserving poor

Shoes of pure broken promises

Buffed up shiny

And pockets full of graft

But the hangman’s tie around your neck

Foreshadows your fate

That girl Karma, she’s a bitch, mate

And she follows, she follows,

You’d better keep running

 

Review “Love and Mr Lewisham” by HG Wells.

HG Wells is of course known as a pioneer in the field of science fiction, with such works as ‘War of the Worlds’ and ‘The Invisible Man’ being most well-known. However he did write some mainstream fiction, such as ‘Love and Mr Lewisham’.

The plot is as follows – boy meets girl, falls for her, loses contact with her, nearly forgets her, meets her again, falls again, they get married and then discover there’s more to married life than love. When you summarize this, it sounds like a very cliché romance. However, the plot is not really the point of this novel.

This novel is more thematic than plot driven. What Wells is really writing is a satirical look at the arrogance of youth, the erosion of lofty principles, and that love does not make the world go around without a bit of money to grease the wheels. The protagonist at the start of the story is a very naive youngster who is absolutely convinced of his own superior intelligence and understanding. In his defence, he is a very hard worker, so is quite capable of achieving at least some of what he sets out to do. Then he meets the girl, and as a consequence experiences his first set back (due to a blissfully ignorant assumption that societal rules would not apply to him.) However, he picks himself back up, and gets back on track, without the girl. Then he meets her again, and things go downhill from there.

Mr Lewisham is not a very likeable protagonist. He is too full of himself for that. However I found him rather funny, and also sad, because he is so very silly. I think we have all met teenagers and young twenty-somethings like this. I think we have all been these people. His gradual maturing during the course of the story is quite believable, as he does not end the story being a likeable or capable being, but rather a little older, a very little wiser, and still with much room for growth.

His love interest, Ethel, is similarly foolish. Her mind is full of very romantic notions, and she has a certain learned helplessness (no doubt due to her environment) that makes her something of a cliché as we look back to that time period. For the time though, and for a female even younger than the hero who, unlike him, is not expected to look after herself, I think she is believable.

I actually found the second female character, Miss Heidinger, the saddest of all. In spite of the fact that she is obviously highly intelligent, (far more intelligent than Mr Lewisham himself), she defines herself in terms of a man she considers someone she can advance, a man she dresses up for (something she abandons when she realises he is not interested in her), and does not really seem to consider the possibility that she can advance herself. While this would have been unusual at the time it was certainly not unheard of, but it seems that here it may be a presumption (or prejudice) of the author himself not to write her this way. It could also be argued that her purpose is only to advance the ‘love’ theme, and as such her autonomy is not necessary. I think her characterisation is a weak link in the story (though this may be my prejudice.)

I can’t say I loved this book, but it was interesting, and convincing. While it’s not exactly a page turner it’s certainly worth a look.

 

 

Growing

It’s just another day really

And yet somehow there’s a little magic

To be found in the turning of the year

 

New beginnings, a new page

A new leaf turned over

There’s a feeling of anticipation

A seed that sprouts and grows a new life

 

Water it with love

Feed it with hope

And see what you can grow

 

Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are useful. The problem is that we go about this in entirely the wrong way.

The whole new year resolution thing has become something of a joke and a cliche. The consensus seems to be that you will decide to turn over a new leaf, make all sorts of plans, and that your good intentions won’t last the week, or even the day. The reason is that we start the process with the wrong attitude.

Changing your life from one day to the next is not going to work. So I try not to start out by imagining that this year, it’s going to be different. After all, research has shown that it takes on average 66 days to break a habit, and sometimes, depending on both the habit and the person, a lot longer.* This kind of change can be more effective when you are replacing the behaviour that you don’t want with something that you do want, and also, it can be achieved more quickly when you are strongly motivated. (For example, if you are trying to stop smoking because you are concerned about your health you are more likely to manage than if you are only doing it because someone else thinks you should.)

What I have been doing for some years is looking at New Year’s Resolutions as a plan for the entire year. I plan what I want to change and how I will go about it. This means that sometimes smaller steps need to be taken that might not achieve my goal completely, but will take me closer to it. It means that I will stuff up and abandon ship every so often, but I know that I can climb back on board and keep on going.  The new year is the whole year and not just the start of it.

Something else I try to remember is that I can’t tell the future. None of us knows what’s going to befall us in the next twelve months, and there may be reasons why goals change or simply become unachievable. Changes in finance, health, employment, and personal life can mean what you decided in January may not be valid in May. That’s okay. Life has a tendency to get in the way of what we want more than we would like. This is only logical. So why are we so hard on ourselves?

So I will go ahead and make my New Year Resolutions, my plan for 2018. Whether I succeed or fail, I know that I have a goal in mind and that I am working on it. I believe goals are important to a meaningful life.

Happy New Year, and happy resolution making.

 

* How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world

  PHILLIPPA LALLY, ORNELIA H. M. VAN JAARSVELD, HENRY W. W.    POTTS AND JANE WARDLE, European Journal of Social Psychology.,

 

 

A Shepherd’s Tale

A cold night

Winter’s coming

And it will soon be time to move indoors

But for now, build up the fire

Huddle in cloaks

Almost hoping for a wolf among the flock

Some kind of action

To keep warm

 

Bethlehem’s fires can be seen in the distance

Dream for a moment of wealthy homes and warm beds

Then shrug it away

The Lord put’s everyone where they’re needed

Priests and shepherds, all have their role

It’s the way of things

 

A silent night, the sheep drowse, and then

Leap up in terror to see

 

A flash of lightning that seems frozen in time

The very air hums with the sacred power of God

Glory that takes the breath from the body

Cower in holy fear

At the terrible beauty of the messenger

And hear

What all have longed to hear

Since the dawn of time

The earth thrills

To the hymn of creation

Sung by His angels

At the inception of the Earth

And reprised now

For the inception of the Earth’s salvation

A Son, freely given for all

 

So come to the place where the world has changed

And pay homage to the King

 

(I would like to wish all readers and visitors a very merry Christmas. I hope that you have a peaceful and happy time, however you choose to celebrate.)