15 December 2011
Yesterday, ‘my lovely’ called me from the front hall and said that someone had come to see me. I looked through the dining room and saw this little middle-aged lady standing there. I had absolutely no idea who she was until Alice broughy her through into study.
‘This is the new vicar’ she said. .She sat down and we chatted about this and that and in passing I mention my blog and suggested she might care to look at it .Then, like all of my readers, if she found something interesting she could make a comment on it, which if I approved, I would publish. Well, this happened to be after I had written a series of entries saying, in effect, one of the reasons we were in the financial mess globally is that people have been allowed to build up far too much personal debt. Coupled with the millions who live on state benefit plus millions more who claim handicap allowance, many of whom are capable of doing some sort of work but prefer to live off those who do work, in other words live off the state. This prompted the following response from the vicar and as it was such an hot topic, for the first time since I started this blog. I decided to include it in the body of the blog, as part of an entry, together with my reply, inviting other readers to add their own comments.
I had received ,a few days earlier, an interesting comment from a friend of mine, basically on the theme that for every one that receives there must be somebody who gives and he started his comments off with what he described as the Five Best Sentences ,which echoed this sentiment. I had reproduced these Five Best Sentences at the beginning of my 11 October entry and it was obviously this that prompted the vicar to comment.
This is what she wrote ;
“HI Mark, you invited me to comment on your blog. I looked at it yesterday and I noticed the five “best” sentences for 11th Dec. I would like to suggest that they are probably best if material wealth is your goal, but if spiritual and emotional wealth is your goal, might I refer you to Matthew chapter 5 verses 1-12, known as the Beatitudes, or blessings?
“Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy …”
I would also like to suggest that the pursuit of spiritual wealth leads to as much material wealth as anyone needs, and contentment with it, without worrying about idlers and freeloaders.
And this was my reply:
(At least I hope you are the lady vicar who visited us the other day to whom I was not introduced and therefore did not learn your surname)
Thank you so much for your thought-provoking comment on my 11 October entry. I entirely agree with your sentiment and perhaps labelling these five sentences as the five best was misleading. Of course, I was not the author and perhaps I should have made it clear that I did think that they reflected the comments and I have been making over the past few weeks concerning the idlers living on state benefit who shamelessly come onto the television saying they would far rather live on benefits than go out to work and earn just a few pounds more.
No doubt there were a number of these, whom I’ve come to call me self unemployed, amongst the small army of so-called protesters at Dale Farm–most of whom are clearly not gainfully employed otherwise they could not spare the time to protest , week in and week out. So I suspect are a good number of the tented army of so-called ‘Protesters against Capitalism’ camping around St Paul’s Cathedral. Most of whom and their ilk at Dale Farm, are what you describe as freeloaders, always taking from society and giving nothing back. It is this very capitalism, against which they are protesting, that provides the benefits, including free health care, policing, education etc. that allows them to survive protesting and contributing nothing. The simple message I was trying to convey ,by using these five sentences, was as they say in Yorkshire, ‘you get ‘owt for nowt’.or, as I believe it says in the Bible somewhere, ‘give and thou shalt receive’
Perhaps I can return for a moment to your comment. You both refer me to the Beatitudes. If you ever have time to read my blog you will find that I value spiritual and emotional well-being, or as I call ‘quality of life’, far more than I value material wealth.
I know we should not believe everything we read, and, in particular, not take literally everything written in the Bible. But,’ fair go, vicar’ (as my Aussie friends would say) do you really think the meek will inherit the earth and heaven will be the sole domain of the poor? There are many instances, if I remember my Bible correctly, where God applauds those who laboured, for example the story of the father who gave his son’s the talents to see if they could multiply them
.It is only through the generosity of the philanthropists such as Peabody, Rowntree, Bill Gates and the millions of small people like myself and my wife who give regularly to charity (covenants for the church roof etc,) that the poor and the meek are taken care of.. In other words people whose goal was material wealth, but NOT their only goal. Spiritual and emotional goals and material wealth are not mutually self exclusive,
As to the Beatitudes if these are the truth Then logically the opposite must also be true so, for example, if you’re not meek you will not inherit the earth or enter the kingdom of heaven, if you are not poor. ((Mind you the government does a pretty good job to ensure that. by taxing our income and then taxing savings from that taxed income, then stripping us of all but a modicum of our savings if we need to go into old folks home before finally takes another slice in death duties or inheritance tax, that most of us will end up in the poor category anyway)
As I said earlier if read more of my blog you would realise that I value the spiritual and emotional side of life, or what I call quality of life, way above material wealth and by repeating the heading The Five Best Sentences, I gave my readers the wrong impression.
Let’s face it. We come from different generations with different values and different manners. Fr example,I find it hard to come to terms with the modern form of address, Hi, Mark. from someone one has only met for a few brief moments, Forgive me but what is wrong with Dear Professor or Mr Cato which would have been deemed more appropriate in my day, certainly from the meek, but then I have not moved with the times.
Of course you’re right about one thing, most of us have far too many material possessions and we could all live with far fewer.
On the other hand had we not worked hard to accumulate some wealth beyond our immediate needs we would not have been able to make modest charitable donations.
I sincerely thank you for taking the trouble to comment so interestingly on my blog entry and I hope you will forgive my rather blunt reply and I invite other readers to join in the exchange of thoughts, I suspect the majority will agree with you that even if they do I suggest that does not invalidate the point I was trying to make in my original comment.
Now I have a dilemma. What on earth can I include now to lighten the mood and give you some amusement. Click here and try this.
Hi Mark, Whoops, I have never met you but actually feel I know you since I have read your diary from day one. Merry Christmas, enjoy all of the champagne you can manage and hope you get to your 49th Wedding Anniversary. Colin and I were 13 months short of our 40th. I feel quite cheated and I know he would have felt like that too. Enjoy reading all of your entries which often make me think quite differently about issues in the news. Paula
Hello Mark. Well, we are moved to our bungalow and I must say that it will make life a lot more manageable. I recommend any MND sufferer who can possibly achieve this to do so…..of course we have been terribly lucky to sell our house and buy so quickly in today’s economic climate. Stuart has a hospital bed (NHS) and a recliner being delivered tomorrow (MNDA). He has a super wheelchair (NHS) and has been assessed for an electric one. THere is so much help out there with practical matters, and it does help make life easier.
You and your blog have been a source of important information, and indeed inspiration. As Humanists, we don’t really celebrate Christmas, but we wish you and your family a happy time over the holiday period. We will drink a toast to you on Christmas Day. All the best. Penny