Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas is jolly - isn't it?

Apparently 51% of Americans think of Christmas as Christian. I'm really surprised. But then away from the coastal cities America is quite an oldfashioned place and still very dominated by Christianity.

Quite simply there's nothing Christian about Christmas except the name. The date, the birth of the Son, the maiden Mother, the Star, the Magi, shepherds, angels, stable/ cave, the animals ... all of it is Pagan. So are Tree, gifts and feasting.
It's fine for Christians to share though. there's plenty for everyone.

It always amuses me the fuss every year about Christmas being "commercial."
This is the Earth quarter of the year. It's all about material survival. So we eat, drink, and are merry because very soon the death rate will peak. Some of those faces around the jolly table won't be there when Spring comes. Making a big display of how strong, vigorous, rich and well fed we are is a great way to reassure ourselves against the coming strain on our bodies.

Gift giving is also an exchange of bonds, about survival. Those we exchange gifts with now are those who we hope to call upon if things go badly wrong in the coming months.

So raise a glass. Smell the piney aroma of the Tree. Eat a treat ... and another. Let the shiny wrappings litter the floor for the cats to chase and crackle.
For tomorrow is another day.

Ignore READ MORE link.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Changing the World

An Australian journo has written a delightful (though disapproving) account of Assange's quasi-religious charisma. (Brendan O'Neill, The Australian)This was something I was already observing with interest too so I thank Mr. O'Neill for collecting the data so industriously.

Oxford English Dictionary: CHARISMA n. compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others: ...from Greek kharisma, from kharis 'favour, grace' (OED online)

The Australian article however mistakenly writes as if Assange does his work alone. He doesn't. Wikileaks was actually more active while he was helpless in solitary confinement.

Assange has explained his personality cult very neatly. “It is my role to be the lightning rod," Assange said. "That is a difficult role. On the other hand, I get undue credit."
(Oct. 2010 CNN)

Agreed Assange has a quasi-religious messianic image but I would say this operates with both his admirers and his attackers. To one side he is a rescuing angelic force to the other a destructive demonic force.

Mr. O'Neill declares "Strikingly, it shows how utterly degraded the idea of truth has become."

Indeed so. For Assange admirers the political process you recommend "political engagement, public debate and critical thinking" have failed. These have little or no influence on the ruling class of each nation.
Instead we have deadly secrets like war crimes, lies about WMD, and enquiries or consultations that merely serve to distract or whitewash. Western societies are more unequal than ever especially the USA and UK.
As a result those who support justice, fairness, equality, who were in despair at the destruction of all these values, now find a blazing inspiration in Assange and Wikileaks.

Should Assange be assassinated as some American leaders have demanded, his messianic myth will never die but grow to haunt Governments for centuries. But if he lives he remains a mighty rallying call. What a dilemma for the ruling classes.
Later edit: Assange has referred today to being a messiah without dying. He says this is a positive way to do it! (BBC interview Humphreys)

On the other side they see him as demonic. A techno-wizard superman villain who suddenly whips his cloak aside to reveal their nastiness. How scary. They got used to neatly hiding their foul doings and suddenly it’s not so easy.

The ruling class for now and some time to come is under pressure to take responsibility for what they have done.
When that includes 20,000 ordinary people including children, killed illegally in war crimes, it is difficult to see the downside. Except for the rich ruling class.

Who have not yet managed to point to one death caused by Wikileaks’ exposures.

I'll end this with an excerpt from the BBC interview.

Q: You want to change the world?

JA: Absolutely. The world has a lot of problems
and they need to be reformed. And we only live once. Every person who has some ability to do something about it, if they are a person of good character, has the duty to try and fix the problems in the environment which they're in.

That is a value, that, yes, comes partly from my temperament. There is also a value that comes from my father, which is that capable, generous men don't create victims, they try and save people from becoming victims. That is what they are tasked to do. If they do not do that they are not worthy of respect or they are not capable.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Health - or a new trainset?

The NHS is facing cuts of £20n billion.

Pain clinics are closing. Hip and joint ops are cut. Diagnostics cut so you find out too late what's wrong. Women are giving birth on the floor or alone, screaming in pain and at risk.

The new high speed rail ink London Birmingham will cost £17 billion.
That's its estimated cost so it will come out more in the end.

The train will save just 30 mins journey time.
Only it won't, because you'll arrive at a new station outside the centre of Birmingham and have to get a shuttle into the centre.
Green benefit is uncertain or negligible.

Which would you rather have - one high speed train connection or thousands of hip replacements, pain clinics, diagnostics and nurses?

Remember those who decide these cuts don't use the NHS. Ministers and MPs have private medicine paid for by our taxes in their pay packets.

Our taxes also pay to train most of the doctors, nurses and other staff in private hospitals. Private hospitals should pay an extra income tax by the employer on all their staff, to go straight into training NHS nurses doctors etc.

But do think about how we'll benefit from a shiny new train with so many more people being crippled and in great pain. The two projects cost around the same.

The Boys and the Banks

The Telegraph is worried that we're bashing our banks instead of backing them as we should.

I'm truly amazed. We ARE "backing" the banks. Isn't that what this massive billions of pounds bailout is?
Aren't we going to be paying this off for the next 5 years minimum, but more like a decade - so as to support the banks?

The case for regulating the banks is ... that if they don't offer investors a safe and stable system they won't get investment. No one wants to put their money in an organisation that might any minute crash into rescue mode by its government.

The banks messed up our economy. Now I don't actually blame them for that so don't all yell at me as a bank basher. Like any other company a bank is about making money.
But the trouble is if all the banks are left to do that in the short term it can wreck the economy in the long term, as just happened. Short term self interest is not enough but in the heat of competition that is exactly what dominates.

So something else has to come into play and the only other component in the economy powerful enough to tweak the banks is government.
This is what we had pre-Thatcher and it worked very well indeed. Then the lady let the boys out to play with no rules in the playground.

I wouldn't worry about the banks threats to move top staff elsewhere. They will have great difficulty going anywhere that might attract them. Who wants a bunch of boyos who's messed up?
Of course they might find a home in some nasty little third rate dictatorship but I doubt that's what they want after playing the game in London.

Oh dear are they hiring 7,000 staff abroad? Hadn't you heard that's what they are doing anyway? It's called call centres, and outsourcing. Welcome to globalisation.

Poor diddums is there a nasty "spiteful 50p top tax rate"?
Well it might be a good idea if the top rate tax payers actually PAID their tax. Then there might be less hacking at the NHS, or higher tuition fees and so on - and less prospect of riots in the streets.

After all having to use gulags to control public protests, and running violence levels unsafe for visitors isn't good for business dontcha know!

As for bonuses shouldn't the banks be putting this extra money aside in case things go poopy again? Mama Government isn't made of money you know and she's about bankrupted by the last cleanup job she did for you when you browned your trousers.

Thank heavens for A. Merkel, German banks with good sense and EU mechanisms to enforce it. Angie baby is just not going to stand for any more nonsense and neither are her people. Since they're the only ones left with any money in the game you better listen to what the lady wants.
Which is regulation.

Telegraph article here

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Rape and responsibility

Erik on his blog Aktivarum asks some useful questions.

I had said there:
The whole point of rape is that the person raped is controlled.”

Erik asked:
How do you know this?

Erik I’m a woman coming to the end of a long life. Like most women I have coped with attempted rape in my time. The aim of rape activity was to control my choice, to block off my ability to say No.

I do not say that someone being rough is a rapist. As long as there is enough restraint on the force used for the other partner to say No/ or move away and be left alone, it’s not rape.

If you take the component of force or control out of a rape situation it is no longer rape. Control defines rape as rape.

Erik said:
For instance when a guy with bad hangover wakes up in the same bed as a really ugly woman whose name he doesn't know…. Society doesn't call it rape.”

That’s true and it’s a good example. I could use an easy feminist dismissal and say why is the woman judged on her appearance?
This is valid, but it has two answers.
One is that with someone we barely know it has to be a case of judgement on appearances. Maybe if this man spent a few hours more with her he might discover her briliance, her wit, her kindness - or her good cooking! Though giving that time would make it harder to get away if he didn't discover something to compensate.

Yes compensate. For although I agree with feminism I don't want women or anyone else to be judged wholly on appearances, the reality is that that is what we do. As animals, and as civilised complex humans.
I judge men by appearances too of course. Over my life I chose my lovers in a sort of sex market where I made bids on lovers I wanted. As on Ebay I have to match what I want with my own resources - and in the sex market my resources include my appearance.
This is another whole topic so for now enough to say that I have no objection to being a body and judged as one. I do think that women are far too heavily seen as bodies and little more than that.

To return to Erik's question then -
For instance when a guy with bad hangover wakes up in the same bed as a really ugly woman whose name he doesn't know…. Society doesn't call it rape.”

I would answer the same way that I look at the case of a drunken woman, out of control, who gets raped.
Society has generally said that this is her fault and she cannot claim rape. Very recently there is debate about this, where some assert that a man must not take advantage of a very drunk women, so it is rape.
I say that it is a situation created jointly. Both are at fault.
A woman is stupid to an extreme if she gets very drunk so that she erases her ability to stay in control EXCEPT when among a safe group of friends, or a trusted lover.
But a man is a rapist if he takes advantage of her.

Perhaps we need a new crime of “failure to exercise due caution.” This would apply not only to rape but also bag snatching, car theft, burglary, personal assault. We would have certain clear conditions where we understand that the victim is cooperating and even provoking potential crime.

In fact we do have this concept in insurance claims. If I leave my car unlocked, even more in certain ‘rough’ locations, I am partly responsible for a theft. If the car is found with no sign of forced entry I’m going to have difficulty making an insurance claim.

I would like a strong message to go out to young women that being alone with any man at all you do not know well, is unsafe. A legal offence would help.

You need to know where the door is, check regularly your access to your exit is not blocked, and check who is nearby if you need to yell for help. This is not silly or neurotic and it need not be dramatic any more than looking both ways before crossing the road is silly, neurotic or dramatic. It’s just routine common sense.
Unfortunately any suggestion that men should be regarded as anything except shining princes, causes hysteria.

Men are even more unsafe if you are intoxicated, or wearing clothes that expose your cleavage, central body or upper thighs. These are more conditions that a woman can use to protect herself. Neglecting them causes risk.

This analysis is the basis of the frequently misunderstood Radical Feminist cry “All men are rapists.” In reality they are not, but from a woman’s point of view we cannot know for sure about any individual man. Until it is too late.

If we are to take responsibility for our own safety and not be silly girls who expect men to be always nice and sweet, we must protect ourselves by being careful – of all men you don’t know very well indeed. He could be your rapist if you yourself don’t take reasonable precautions.
Girls should be taught by family, school and by legal code to use the protections available to them, because we cannot know if a man can be trusted until we know him very well indeed.

But reasonable precautions – covering the central body, keeping a clear head, being within shouting distance of others, avoiding unsafe areas, even being elderly or ugly, or a child, or heavily pregnant, are not enough to protect us. Being uncovered, or drunk, drugged, alone and in certain risky places, all make it easier for a man to rape.
None of these things makes a man rape.
What makes him rape is his own defects. For that he is criminally responsible.

But it is still not quite that simple. If we made a victim crime of “failure to exercise due caution” we would need to make allowance for very young women because it takes time to learn the skill of drinking safely, retaining self control. Until 21 I do not think she can be held to be fully skilled about alcohol and if she can prove she only started drinking a short time ago, even older.
It also takes time to learn about unsafe places, and to become calmly aware of being alone with a man in a cautious way. It’s not easy to recognise that the perfectly nice person chatting with you is quite possibly listening for when the last person has left the office and you should now leave too, or else invite him to a public place where you are not alone and at risk. It’s even harder to do this analysis and not act stressed about it so you spoil a possibly very nice friendly situation.But that is what a sensible woman has to do. All part of adult social skills.

Comparing this analysis of double responsibility to the situation of drunken sex with an ugly woman is instructive.
There is a close similarity of the young man being too drunk to retain control and stay in command of his choices. Under my analysis he has not exercised due control and caution. So he carries his side of the responsibility.
Like the drunken girl, unable to deny or consent, who is raped, the drunk man with a lover he would not normally choose, is at risk of STD or AIDs if he was too drunk to use a condom.
He may feel a strong regret that this sex event happened. Interestingly, because he is used to the idea that he is responsible for what he does, he will most likely feel he has been a fool.

But does he feel profoundly shamed?
Does he remember this event for the rest of his life and suffer years of personal struggling to overcome its destructive effects on his overall self confidence? Some rape victims never do recover.
Will it make him afraid to go near another woman sexually for months? perhaps year? perhaps for life?
Will he need copious amounts of support from friends, family and ideally a good counsellor in order to recover from the experience?
Will he get pregnant? If he does might he have to bear the child because he cannot morally abort it?

I might be look at this partially blinded by a female perspective. Perhaps men DO suffer from extreme reactions that last for years or lifelong and devastate their lives if they drunkenly sleep with an ugly woman. I doubt it.
Why do I doubt it?
Well because I once long ago did just that. Afterwards what upset me was how to reject further advances without being nasty about it. But I never once felt raped, or dominated, or exploited. I felt totally responsible for what I did.

I felt ashamed yes but only of being stupid, and thoughtless so I caused hurt to another person. I didn’t feel shamed and sickened by being invaded in my most personal inner self. It didn’t weaken me and disrupt my ability in other areas of my life.
That’s the difference.

Radical Feminism

Radical Feminism is a Marxist perspective? This couldn’t be more wrong. Heavens – is this the way things have been twisted for a later generation?

Radical Feminism simply asserts that I as a woman need to explore putting my own needs first – as a woman.
That’s it. Plain and simple.
It arose out of a rejection of Socialist Feminism ...
which at the time (1970s) was being trapped in the male trade unions’ demand that women “wait until after the revolution.” Some of us decided this was going to be a very long wait. We didn’t want to go on licking envelopes and certaiun parts of male activist bodies as our part in activism.
So we said No! we are going to put women’s issues at the top of the queue if we want.

Note Radical Feminism does not say that men’s needs do not matter, nor am I required to always put my needs, women’s needs first. I am just required to CONSIDER my needs/ women’s needs to see if it is my decision to put them first.

In fact I personally found that after several years of Radical Feminism, once I found my strength as a woman, it came naturally to recognise that men deserved equal consideration. But it was impossible to see that when I was weakened and up against a very patriarchal society as a young girl. In that condition all I saw was males blocking me or trying to use me on every side. I had to learn to be able to put myself first before I could support men as well.
Again Radical Feminism is about learning that women can, and often should, come first. Not every time, not unthinkingly, but as a very very important point to check.

I agree with those who say Radical Feminism is not “into fairness.” It is a medicinal antidote against the balance being set against us as women. The way to correct it is to push hard the other way.
I also agree with critics who say this is dangerous. If Radical Feminists do not truly access strength but instead get stuck in resentment and complaining then they are a pain to themselves and to others. Manhating is perfectly logical – so many men behave atrociously. But to get stuck in it poisons the woman and obviously is unfair to decent men.

As Radical Feminists our desire is power. With power comes a greater sense of safety and control. That in turn brings greater fairness and compassion to our thinking.

Radical Feminists never ignored biological issues. The opposite.
To us biology is extremely important. So much so that to me it is impossible for women and men to be completely equal – we are too different. In many situations yes it is equal, but when being female/ male – it is females that get pregnant, have abortions, give birth, breastfeed. These differences change our needs on each side.

With such very different needs we have inevitable conflict. We need to learn the other side, and try to balance the needs. In some cases though there is no real compromise e.g. abortion, which cannot be ‘fair’ to both.

Assange sex case full data

The Guardian (UK) published full information on the exact basis of the Swedish sex charges against Julian Assange (Wikileaks) who has recently been released from solitary confinement in the UK.
Mr. Assange is still on tightly controlled bail in the UK pending possible extradition but until now no clear information has appeared about the basis of the charges. The account that follows is excerpted from the Swedish prosecutor's (leaked) records.
See the full Guardian account Here I give the most pertinent excerpts plus a balanced gender analysis.

Miss A "tried to put on some articles of clothing as it was going too quickly and uncomfortably but Assange ripped them off again". Miss A told police that she didn't want to go any further "but that it was too late to stop Assange as she had gone along with it so far", and so she allowed him ..."

"[S]he had tried a number of times to reach for a condom but Assange had stopped her by holding her arms and pinning her legs.
" Assange then released her arms and agreed to use a condom "

[Miss A also alleges he somehow deliberately tore the condom.]
Miss A held a party for him on that evening "
Assange was still staying in her flat but they were not having sex because he had "exceeded the limits of what she felt she could accept" and she did not feel safe.

Miss W told police that though they started to have sex, Assange had not wanted to wear a condom, and she had moved away because she had not wanted unprotected sex. Assange had then lost interest, she said, and fallen asleep. However, during the night, they had both woken up and had sex at least once when "he agreed unwillingly to use a condom".

Early the next morning, Miss W told police, she had gone to buy breakfast before getting back into bed and falling asleep beside Assange. She had awoken to find him having sex with her, she said, but when she asked whether he was wearing a condom he said no.
"According to her statement ... "she couldn't be bothered to tell him one more time because she had been going on about the condom all night.

Miss A did what many of us women do far too often by cooperating with sex which was not 100% welcome. We women do that when we don't fully want it because
a) we have not freed ourselves from the idea we ought to do as he wishes; or
b) we are deeply reluctant to rouse male anger once sex has got going; or
c) because we are simply having mixed feelings of like/ not like.

This is a difficult area but ultimately it's up to us women to learn to be more assertive. Unless we are definitely under threat and too intimidated to speak or move away, we should do just that. If we are intimidated into silence we need to get away from the man completely, which only leaves the case of compliance in fear of our life or injury then or later, to count as rape.

That she temporarily had her legs pinned is worth consideration but extremely ambiguous. It could have been horseplay, or pushiness by the man. Miss A later used the word "violent" to a friend about it. Chatting with a friend is not like legal court evidence so it was a loosely used word. It is certainly too strong a word for something that apparently left no injury.

The crucial item here is that the man stopped before the forcefulness went too far. After both expressed their differences he did as she wished.

Allowing the man to stay in her flat with her for the rest of the week, but without sex, suggests Miss A did in fact retain control of her situation, and was not living at the mercy of a rapist. The later part of the account then makes it clear that what she really wanted was for him to leave, but she did not say so.
Most women will find such insensitivity familiar and infuriating while most men will find it a normal misunderstanding, Assange did not pick up on her wishes telepathicaly.

Miss W had a lover unwilling to use a condom. Ungentlemanly but then many men are.
She couldn't be bothered to insist on a condom in the morning when she was by her own statement "half-asleep." If she couldn't be bothered she can hardly complain later.
Possibly again those difficult mixed feelings muddled things.

It was up to her to insist on her own wishes. It is not up to another person to obey us in our wishes every time and give us a gift wrapped (sex) package of exactly what we want. They have wishes of their own and differences in desire need constant negotiation.

We women must be more assertive about what we want - and more honest with ourselves about our mixed feelings. We cannot rely on others to protect us with gentlemanly polite behaviour levels, especially if we don't know each other well. If we are half reluctant half involved it its up to us to choose the half we act on.

One problem seems to be that the man concerned appears to have been totally focused on the political activism to at first realise that he had offended the women.
It is understandable that this was hurtful and annoying to them. It's an uncomfortable stereotype that a woman is waits on the side until the man has time and attention for her. Byron proclaimed "Man's love is of man's life a thing apart,: 'Tis woman's whole existence" but that was 200 years ago. Westernised people have assumed different attitudes lately.

On his part, much preoccupied, Assange quickly assumed their uproar was a CIA "honeypot" trap. This was a reasonable assumption, something predictable in the life he was then living politically. He has said that he and his organisation is under constant attack to the point where 85% of their budget goes on the attack problems, whether hacking or legally. Many commentators have since agreed with him that this Swedish case is politically driven.

He seems therefore not to have taken the women's complaints seriously even when the prosecutor's office first became involved (although he did do what was legally required of him). It is regrettable but understandable that he brushed the women's complaints aside. In his view he had not been violent or dominating.

He had argued, been pushy and persuasive, but in the end each time the woman insisted, he'd done as she wished. When she didn't insist he did as he preferred.
Therein lies the lesson.

There is no rape here and no assault. There may be a combination of a pushy man reluctant to wear a condom, who did it only when the woman pushed him to; and on the other hand women who were not strong enough and insistent enough to make it clear to him what they wanted, every time. Being aggrieved that they were somewhat like groupies, and he was far more interested in his work than in them, could not have helped.

Negotiating, "sorting it out" can be a bit rough and requires a lot of insisting unless we deal with weak people (who then get back at us indirectly). Deal with it.

Based on an article first submitted to OpEd News shortly after the Guardian data was freshly released Dec. 17: submission is now out of time limit.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Hanged Man

Britain has (thankfully) got into a hung parliament. I have prayed for this for months. Single party rule has created the mess we're in over two parties regimes. They just cannot be trusted to do what they want alone. They will have to be curbed by cooperative working.

Now people are talking about a "moral right to govern" or pointing at a simple majority of numbers, as if Cameron Tory should form a government. Neither are allowed under constitutional law.
Brown is being vilified as he he is wrongfully "clinging on to power." But Brown is not doing anything except his duty according to the law.
My notes record what I have learned of the options.

A simple majority CANNOT be enough to govern. If it were we could have 5 or 6 parties with their numbers clustering together and the one getting 5 more than the others forming a government. Senseless.
Nor can we have a small majority such as Cameron's. The other two parties would band together and block whatever he wanted to do. Again not a runner.

Legally Cameron has no right to form a Government. A simple majority is not an overall majority, otherwise known as a parliamentary majority. That is a majority of over half the total of MPs - that is, 326.
Cameron got less than that so he has no mandate to govern, and no legal position to do so.
He can only do it under an agreement with another party.

Legally Brown has the right to form a Government right now. He doesn't have to wait while Cameron talks to Clegg. He could talk to Clegg himself right now as he has a legally superior right to govern over Cameron. Constitutional rules give him that right as the existing PM.
That's because, if no party gets an overall majority (326 MPs or more) the EXISTING Prime Minister has the right to form a government however s/he can.

That Brown has not forced the issue is very much to his credit. He can have a much needed break while Cameron tries to win Clegg over. Which is vanishingly unlikely as

a) the Tories will not permit a PR referendum.
Unless they felt confident they could rig it by heavy advertising, manipulation of the media (which they could do) they face suicide as a party if PR goes through. Under current voting rules it's twisted to give a Tory majority which they would lose forever under PR.

b) there is a vast gap between Tory and Liberal financial policy. Liberals will never accept hitting the poor and helping the rich. Their policies are the reverse which Tories will never accept either.
Also Cable wont accept less than the Chancellor's job. (Sec to the Treasury as offered by Cable is a powerless place which would simply gag him.)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

THREE QUESTIONS: From Mushrooms to the Nature of Religion

Psilocybin, or hallucinogenic mushroom, can give a genuine and life changing religious experience. This article is not all about drug based spirituality, but its thinking develops from the implications of psychedelics.

That psychedelic spirituality is genuine is a startling statement coming from a professional Christian authority. Mark Galli deserves all credit for his integrity in publicising the new interest emerging by science in hallucinogenics.

From there he examines three functions of religion. or as I put it, three useful questions we can ask about any religion, cult or tradition. This powerful triad gives us a definition or profile of the faith under scrutiny, in a nutshell.

Galli summarises the findings of a Johns Hopkins study in which a chronic depressive, at low ebb due to cancer, chemotherapy and other external factors that made life worthless to him, rediscovered a profound sense of meaning after taking a psilocybin mushroom.

Researchers from around the world are gathering this week in San Jose, Calif., for the largest conference on psychedelic science held in the United States in four decades. They plan to discuss studies of psychedelics for treating depression in cancer patients, obsessive-compulsive disorder, end-of-life anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The results so far are encouraging. However the scientists participating make cautious comments, clearly wishing to distance themselves from the uncontrolled personal experimentation of the 60s and 70s. Participants are not only monitored carefully by human observation while placed in peaceful, gentle surroundings, but their brains are also scanned to study effects and alert to warning signs of distress.

Most of the participants report the experience as one of the top most meaningful personal events in their lives. Their reports mirrored closely the accounts of religious mystical experiences: a deep oneness, a lack of ego, a lack of the need to control others, instead an attunement with them. Researchers are reporting some success in using psilocybin to ease the anxiety of patients with terminal illnesses.

This strongly resembles the early work of Dr. Timothy Leary of 60s and 70s fame. It also resembles the teachings of many shamanic traditions, so much so that it is even irritating to see persons in white coats doing a gosh wow! type of research as if they are actually discovering something. But it is nonetheless a sign of progress. As one of the researchers says “Thanks to changes over the last 40 years in the social acceptance of the hospice movement and yoga and meditation, our culture is much more receptive now, and we’re showing that these drugs can provide benefits that current treatments can’t.

So good, great, let’s hope that a saner approach to spirituality and drugs develops, especially as all those working in the field of illegal drugs are virtually unanimous that the so-called “war on drugs” is not only useless but actively damaging to our society. We use drugs to heal our illnesses of body and mind, so why do we divide off some of them and make them illegal? It only creates funding for crime, and contributes mightily to a huge industry of destructive porn and prostitution.

Returning to Galli his courage does not falter in exploring the implications of drug based mysticism for an established religion. As he does so he uses a powerful analysis of what religion is about.

As he says, if mystical experience of the Divine can be gifted by a mushroom, then Christianity, and by implication, no religion, can claim it’s “the one” which can bring us to the Divine. Ecstasy, or the quiet oneness of prayer or meditation, are experiences on offer with or without religious structures like church, temple or ritual. Or as Pagans would put it, the sacred is anywhere and everywhere.

Galli continues by observing that another great teaching of Christianity, to find the Divine in “deeds not creeds” is not unique to his faith. With honourable generosity he recognises that Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and “others” live moral lives. As he puts it “You don't need revelation to figure out that adultery, stealing, and murder are really bad ideas, and that there is something noble about caring for other human beings.” We might add perhaps you don’t need a vision of unity but it certainly helps.

Pagans are not mentioned even though in Britain we number as many as the Hindus he places first on his list. Presumably we come under that blurred “others.” But we shall not pout at being slighted. He is after all an establishment Christian writing within the churches hierarchies. He would have difficulty getting published if he included trance drugs AND Pagans in one article!

What I like very much and find most useful is Galli’s three categories of what religion is about. Firstly the mystical experience of the Divine. Secondly a personal morality which emerges from the mystical experience of unity with others. Pagans would enlarge this to include “all our relations” the tree. stone, star and animal cousins in the great Family of Life, the Web.

Thirdly a mythos, a story, a Way to go into a relationship with the Divine that partners the formless profundity of the direct mystical experience. Once we leave that state we cannot retain its immensity so we need our Stories to companion and support our journeys.

For Galli this is the Story of the Divine Son who came to visit humanity and awaits a visit from us. Pagans would point to other faiths which have given us similar Stories: Inanna, Isis, Cybele, Astarte, Mithras, Odin, Esus, Brighde, Aradia. We also gladly honour other kinds of Stories like Lucifer Lord of Light; Rhiannon Lady of the Sun; Sulis the Healer, all the Ancestors, or the Guardians of Place, and so on.

I might quibble with a detail of Galli’s article here and there. His concept of religious experience is startlingly limited to Sunday worship. He says “If religious experience is something that a drug can induce even more easily than spiritual ritual and disciplines, it may be time, for example, to rethink what many churches are trying to do on Sunday morning: create a memorable "worship experience." “ Again we need to remember that he is speaking from within church hierarchy which needs to assert a need for churches and priests: a lot of salaries depend on it.

It would be well if the emerging Pagan temple building projects were to stay aware of this issue. We must never, never lose the radical understanding that experience of the Divine lies all around us in toilets, rubbish heaps, washing up bowls, babies’ tummy rumbles, tree roots, sunsets and sex. It’s not to be found in any better way through those who hold certificates or in buildings used as ritual spaces over time.

Though that’s a very important quibble I am happy to return to Galli’s three way examination of religion, so Celtic in its triad. In asking what is THIS religion, THIS faith about? we have three useful questions.

How does it help us encounter the Divine as a real Other, a living relationship with the unity of life?

How does it help us grasp a morality to guide us to make that unity more of an everyday reality, living in awareness of others’ needs in relation to ours?

What Stories does it offer us that help us stay in touch with the first two?


“The End of Christianity as We Know It”
Mark Galli | posted 4/15/2010 09:10AM
Mark Galli is senior managing editor of Christianity Today, and author of “A Great and Terrible Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Attributes of God” (Baker).

Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century. April 15-18, 2010 • San Jose, California

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Goddess, feminist, women-only

A post about the Goddess movement. About manhating. About what others think about women-only Goddessing (or feminism) and the particular case of transgender women.

Quotes are from this page by a Goddess priestess, except where I show I'm quoting Robin Morgan.

"The Goddess movement, as I would define it, focuses on an awareness of the primordial creation force which is found within ourselves and in the world around us. We call this force the Goddess, …”
Mostly YES but why limit the Goddess to the Creation theolgy? That leads to dualism. Goddess as immanent is so much greater, more whole, radically different from the supernatural boss figure (in drag).

… I believe is inherent in the Goddess movement is the idea that most modern religions are primarily intended to bring power and profit to some corrupt ruling elite. At best they are misguided, and at worst, they are nothing more than patriarchal systems of domination and control.

If that is true it is remarkably ignorant and limited. While much of Christianity is bound up with corruption, terrorisation and control, there is much that is not: house church for example or some Celtic church traditions. Buddhism is sexist in the final analysis but not cruelly so, and much of it affords a substantial degree of female freedom. Liberal Islam is almost as as aghast by what we hate about women’s suppression as we are.

.. there was a much more natural and genuine form of spirituality which existed long before people began to seek power and profit through religion. … offer great hope”


“"women only" … discrimination … a serious problem”


“Unfortunately, Goddess groups which are not open to men have already made a very bad impression on the general public.”

Yes but why? Why are a minority of women who get together to do their own thing seen as such a threat? Why is “women together” seen as dangerous? Why is this immediately described by outsiders as manhating – on very little evidence?
The majority of women-only work is peaceful and frankly not interested in men as part of the group. Members may or may not have much to do with men. that’s not the point.
But for men, who typically find it very tough to be treated as irrelevant! not their usual experience, this IS the point. Understandable they find it uncomfortable and in the case of weak stunted men, enraging.

I am one of the lucky few who shares my life with a strong, caring man who wouldn’t dream of criticising me when I want to be women-only. I know he’d be very shocked to read that a Goddess woman criticised women-only work and assumed it was about manhating. (I include his reaction not as central to a debate between women, but as an interesting additional point.)

So let’s now look at manhating. Perfectly sensible. A natural response to a world where far too many men hate women. Why shouldn’t we hate them in return? If you’ve suffered at their hands right on. If you care deeply about those who have suffered at men’s hands, right on.

Why do we have to be NICE? That’s part of the whole oppression feminine insy pinsy sweetie pie footbinding put on women for centuries. Strong women don’t need to be NICE - unless we genuinely feel it.

Yes liberation will in the end include us all. Yes there are men who care, who help, who have reworked themselves into maturity. Goddess bless them I say.
But I will not accept any feminist or Goddess thought police telling me or other women we have no right to hate, nor that it has no place among us. Hate is strong. Hate is healing. Hate rebalances.

I would not support the torture or murder of men to punish them, for two reasons.
They are children of the Goddess too. Whatever a man has done to outrage a woman or women he was once an innocent baby. Somewhere deep buried that original Child is still there. It may tragically be too far buried beneath his damaged distorted adult self so that all we can do is quarantine him. But for the sake of what he once was I do not support torture or killing him.
Secondly being civilised means not killing the killers, not torturing the torturers, unless we're in the heat of immediate reaction.. We don’t build peace by using (extreme) violence. A measured dose of discipline to curb a dangerous person, yes, or to protect others. But in a civilised society we examine even that to see if restraint or discipline is tipping over into unnecessary violence.
I think women do need to think seriously about how we are going to wield authority over dangerous men. The world cannot be safe and sane until we do.

But hate? yes at times I do and I strongly support others who feel it too.
Robin Morgan my beloved mentor elder sister helps out here.
“I hate not men but what they do.”

To my memory there was a great deal achieved by strong separatist women holding apart, being angry, hating.
I actually SAW men working it out. Oooh er ... If I don’t treat my lady better – she might go and join THEM.
Fear in moderate doses is educational.

“Many feminist groups have made it clear that they don't regard transgender women as genuine women,”

Good. I’m glad this is clear that “some” feminist groups take this position.
So it is clear that some don’t. Which means there are places for transgender women to go. So, no problem.

Or yes there is. Two problems.

Before looking at these two problems I feel I should “come out” as one of those who does not accept a transgender woman as a full woman. Yells of horror from the gallery? no I will not be silenced. I don’t.

I would go out of my way to support their rights to fair and decent treatment. I would defend a transgender woman being bullied – if she needed me to. But that doesn’t mean I HAVE TO accept her as a woman.
I will also call her a woman, as a courtesy, as ‘she’ or ‘her.’ etc. Politeness is a civilised grease that eases our connections and as such I value it highly.

But just like a transvestite, or an effeminate gay man, this is not being a woman. Being a woman is about being a PERSON shaped by FEMALE experience.

Female experience means being a little girl, relating to others as a little girl with all the power and vulnerability that involves. It means approaching puberty via menstruation, early, late, or painfully finding it doesn’t happen as expected. The growth of breasts, early, late, or adapting to something not working right in a female body. All the complex weaving of female hormones as we grow up mixed with deeply conditioned stereotyped feminine trappings going baxck to being a tiny baby. The massive issue of mothering, of living in fear of pregnancy or yearning for it. The pain if it is found to be not possible, or for a few the relief.

None of this happens for transgenders as it does for "born women." They are not women but men who have adopted some of the physical characteristics of women. That is different.

I could not possibly share women’s space and open out my inner feelings as a woman in that space if it included a transgender. It wouldn’t be women’s space – to me.

I am glad there are women’s spaces that are not so restrictive. I'm glad transgenders have women's space to go. But I do not see why I or other women MUST accept a restriction on how WE can be fully women, in order to include someone on a profound level with us. That is forced spirituality and a horror.

Taking this to an extreme what if all women-only groups refused access to transgenders? Or all women-only groups a particular transgender can get to? Well then there would have to be special groups for transgender women. There's always online options too.
But this extreme argument is pretty artificial. Goddessry and feminism - contrary to the critics view of them - are robustly independent so groups are not uniform, following party lines. Well some are but there are plenty of others. So the variety is likely to provide an accepting group.
Last resort for the lonely transgender is - start one! It's no more than many born-women have to do if what they want is not available to them. Nowadays there are plenty of books with loads of ideas on what to do to get going.

Back to the two problems I mentioned of women-only space that excludes transgenders.
One is that it is hurtful for transgender women to feel excluded. That’s especially hard in a society that already hurts them so much.
So OK we accept that, face it, work with it.
It doesn’t have to mean we hurriedly tidy it out the way. Forcing women to accept a transgender among them in their most sensitive personal sharing times, hurts THEM. So why select who is best to hurt? Why is the outsider, the newcomer, more important than the womwen who have created the group for what they want of it?
I do think keeping the dialogue going is important and shows respect for transgenders. So we can better understand each other, too. But understanding doesn't mean feeling that we are born-women have to fall over backwards to be a service system for what transgenders need. We MUST break out of always putting others first if we are to be fully human and not female slaves. (See Valerie Saiving's excellent analysis.)

Second problem is excluding transgenders plays into the hands of those only too eager to put us down. You see they’ll say, these radical sisters are harsh, narrowminded, cruel and nasty. Not POLITICALLY CORRECT. Oops oh dear bring on a trolley full of wittery feminine apologies and we’ll buckle down to being good ittle girlies and toe the line. I DON'T think.

We’re the women that men warned us about! (Robin Morgan again).
Nowadays it’s not just men of course who warn us about becoming one of “those women.”
Bitch they say. Slut they say. Hag they say. Monster Fat Old Worthless Dangerous Evil Witch BadMother DumbBlonde Manhater … all this hurls at us to push us back in line. To make us be the good girls who beg for approval. Who act NICE.
So play together NICELY girlies and share the sandpit with the nice transgenders who are so cute and sweet how can you resist them poor things?

No thanks. A woman’s right to choose includes who I choose to accept as a woman.
Not on the big things like jobs, medical treatment, freedom from harassment and violence. But in the personal area of who I choose to share MYSELF with.

Which to me means I will defend transgenders politically and socially against injustice that bars them from getting what they need. But getting needs met doesn’t involve the right to join any private group you want. It has to balance against the members of that private group and what THEY want.
Otherwise the next thing is we have to include is transvestites, or effeminate men. Which might be fine with some but not with others. I don’t expect to be included in a group that only wants black women, or only wants seriously disabled women, or only wants young women, or only bisexuals. I accept their right to exclude me so why is it so awful to exclude transgenders?

We have to be free to create our safe spiritual PRIVATE spaces around OUR needs. That must not be dictated by anything except OUR needs.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Romeo and Juliet: Zeffirelli's passion

I adored Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli 1968) when I saw it all those years ago.
In fact when I watched it last night (2010) on DVD I realised I must have seen it several times as many of the scenes were so familiar. But I hadn't seen it again for at least 30 years so I came to it with fresh eyes.

When I first saw it I was young and passionately swept up in the two lovers, so beautiful, so sexual, so irresistible.
This time I still reverberated to their love, but the most powerful impact was the gangs of idle, dangerous young noblemen. They spread across the screen. They appeared very soon as the film opened, and recurred with mounting violence.

Discussing it afterwards with my husband this problem of young male violence was, we agreed, central to the purpose of the play. It was also clear to a critical eye, that the Prince was weak. For all his pomp, his curvetting about on his lordly horse, his blaring voice making threats, he does nothing effective to control the violence.
This we thought was partly because the English view of Renaissance Italy at the time was just that: violent, colourful and treacherous.

But Shakespeare was also a Tudor writer and the Tudor dynasty derived their stability from the people's deep aversion to any return to civil war, feuding or internal violence. Shakespeare was at the time of writing Romeo and Juliet, the Queen's loyal man. So his play supported the conservative view that a strong "prince" (monarch) was better than the dangers of violent division. Better Elizabeth's strength, even though it meant a near-dictatorship – secret police, torture and disappearances. The alternative was riot in the streets, and widespread bloodshed as in the Wars of the Roses.

So I do not agree with this reviewer Dennis Grunes that the theme of anti-violence is not sustained by Zeffirelli. It was to me overwhelmingly clear.
The review has more justice in accusing Zeffirelli of sugarcoating Romeo. Yes he is a flowerchild but I see this as the natural view in 1968, not necessarily a crass exploitation of youth culture by Zeffirelli. That WAS the icon of our times back then.
I was interested that Romeo's killing of Juliet's other suitor was excised. But the adjustment to Romeo's conflict with Thibault more than balances this out, as Romeo's savagery is quite obvious.

Like this reviewer Dennis Grunes I do not share the dominant view that Zeffirelli portrayed his youngsters as in rebellion against "the establisment" or "the system." Certainly they were horrified at the arranged marriage proposal, but Juliet before falling in love with Romeo is not averse to it in her family’s plans for her future. It is not the adults' arrangement as a custom the lovers’ reject, but simply Juliet's marriage to anyone else but Romeo.

In this they stand centrally in the tradition of Romance which opposes arranged marriage in the individual case of a heroine and hero, but not necessarily as an institution. (If an arrangement is carefully made and allows the pair to meet and be attracted, Romance would not object.)

But there is nonetheless some exploitation in the film. Lawrence Whiting has spoken on record as objecting to the dawn bed scene. I recall Olivia Hussay at the time speaking unhappily about it too which sounded to me as if Zeffirelli pushed them into it. Certainly the quick flash of Olivia's nipples seems crude and unnecessary, actually startling and distracting; as does the camera focus on Leonard's bottom. But if these items had been left out I think a scene of sexuality and nakedness, enfolded in a soft linen draped sanctuary bed, fits very well with the passionate innocence of the lovers.

As a detail I liked the Capulet parental marriage strain. It was a deft use of cinema imagery to amplify the text. It enriched the drama without overloading it with subplot.
Another detail I liked was the excellent costumes together with the actors' seeming habitual comfort in them. That is quite rare in a historical film where actors often look most uncomfortable! Olivia Hussay has mentioned that she was tightly laced and very hot in the Italian summer.
Yet another praiseworthy item was a graceful and believable interpretation of mediaeval dances. Thee whole atmosphere of the ball was well realised with very human anxiety by Lady Capulet as organiser, the excitement of the marraccas handed out etc.

The reviewer says things "just happen" such as the Friar's message arriving too slowly to tell Romeo what is going on so he will know Juliet is not really dead. But the written play, preferred by the reviewer, has a plague intervene to prevent the message arriving. I do not see how a plague is less random than a slow donkey. Both act as the accidental but natural agencies of a merciless Fate.

Mercutio curses "both your houses" - with plague and the link to what pivots the tragedy is therefore lost. It was Zeffirelli's choice to leave out any supernatural consequences but I think this works well. Mercutio's curse is a distraction and a muddling of the doom that develops from the violence of those dangerously feuding, idle young men. This is the dire warning of the play which a curse would obscure, as if the ultimate tragedy of the lovers’ death happened only because Mercutio drew down magic on them. Instead Zeffirelly leaves the purity of violence as the cause of doom.

Over all I found the key theme to be a beautification AND a strong warning against passionate impulse. Again and again the young people react without thoughtfulness, with abandon and passion.
Boys set up a fight for the hell of it then feel, significantly, horrified to see that they have caused a death. They play, and playtime turns lethal, still a theme today.
The lovers yearn together, embracing as they explicitly throw aside the danger they run if found together.
Romeo bounds off to hunt Thibault down in an excess of fury, never thinking what this might do to his chances with Juliet.
Juliet, though slightly more controlled than Romeo as she holds out for marriage, pushes him to arrange a secret marriage with no thought for how this could work out.
Later when the Friar offers her a dangerous drug she instantly reaches for it in urgent passion for an impulsive solution.
I did like the reviewer’s point very much that the Friar too is impulsively childlike. He takes almost no time to reflect: he glances at his herbs and in seconds plunges the child Juliet into a harebrained scheme. Later when it has gione wrong he runs away like a small child, wailing.
Shakespeare was perhaps plugging into the Elizabethan ideology of Catholics as no fit priestly guides.

In sum Zeffirelli offers us both the beauty of passion and its ugliness.
The film is lush, vivid with throbbing reds and golds within and luxuriant gardens without. Olivia's sweeping hair and rich curves beside Leonard's winsome body evoke the beauty of passionate sexuality. The young men fight in the streets with faces alight with excited playfulness, alive in the moment, and nothing else.

But young men die of their delight. Sso do the lovers. Agony as the price of passion is shown as a warning. The Prince, symbolic as the head/ Head of State, is weak, unable to control the passions at war in the body politic.
Nonetheless although this is all there, where Romeo and Juliet is flawed is in the absence of a rational voice to contrast a cooler point of view. The portrait of passion is too finely balanced in its light and dark, so much so that it is easy to be swept up, as I once was, in the glory of it, and even include the death scenes in that glory. They died young but lived fully is a poisonous creed. Why not live longer and live even more fully?

Shakespeare might have written within the Greek tradition that honoured restraint and self control. The Symposium, examining Love, held romantic love up to ridicule.
But if so, if passion is to be seen as the exquisitely bottled poison it can be, the play, and the much later film, needed a commentary or cautionary character to put the other point of view: that caution, sober judgement, is as necessary to the good life as waves of passion.
Living without either reduces us to being less than human.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Bronze Age shipwreck (Salcombe Devon)

A Bronze Age shipwreck has been discovered near Salcombe, Devon. It appears to have been carrying tin and copper as part of an international trading network. Dated to 900BCE this is a key archaeological discovery by the SW Maritime Archaeological Group, now being assessed at Oxford.

Fascinating - but yet again the dominant influence of sea and rivers in the shaping of early cultures is distorted. In this case we have experts saying wow! we need to recognise that people were boating around really quite early.
From what I've read the structure of the ship is based on generalised guesswork as nothing has yet been brought up of the actual ship.

The guesswork suggests a prehistoric canoe or curragh, of lightweight wooden construction. Paddles are mentioned but not sails. But even quite a narrow boat (estimated at 40ft long and 6ft wide) would have had at least small sails. There's no way it could have crossed from France purely on musclepower: well it could have but it would have needed a lot more than 15 sailors to provide power. Why do it with wind to help?

The issue that really annoys me is how experts speak of a maritime or water based trade network as if this is such a weird idea.

Land based travel networks are an anachronism when looking at ancient or indeed early history. Until the invention of railways only properly in use about 160 yrs ago, land travel was slow, expensive and risky. Narrow lumpy tracks, with trees on each side to conceal robbers were extremely inefficient. A few empires with great effort kept roads open cutting back on undergrowth to each side. But this was in recorded history, and even then exceptional.

The travel of choice would have been water, which was fast (under sail) and in skilled hands relatively risk free.

Our whole idea of geography is skewed by modern land travel. Cultures spread along coasts and river banks, with other cultures of a very different type clustered inland. A powerful example of water based culture is the Celtic Crescent which stretches from the Hebrides across Ireland and Wales, Cornwall, north west France, around the coast of Spain and into north Africa and southern France.

In these regions we find common language roots, common legends, similar music/ instruments, and shared philosophy e.g. not representing the gods in art.

Curraghs/ coracles were tough boats and coastal peoples would have early got skilled at navigation. Start thinking of the sea and large rivers as like modern motorways and cultural boundaries start to look very different.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Tough love?

Peter Mandelson has decreed that parents should be tough, and deny their grown children comforts and care in order to force them out of the home. He suggests not doing their laundry for example.

He's half right - and half badly, cruelly wrong.
Yes a child needs to learn that sharing a home involves duties of care and responsibility. That usually has to involve some tough struggles on the way. But it isn't in order to force them out. It's the parent's job to train a child to carry (practical) responsibility.
Do it and that child becomes a welcome companion to share the home. So there is no need to kick them out.

I suspect this is more of the Government agenda to war on families. We are not supposed to hold together, care for one another. Because separate lonely taxpayers will buy more to console their empty lives so that fuels this dirty economy.
The joke is the dirty economy is broke. There aren't the jobs for young people and if there were, housing is way too expensive.

I should be horrified and devastated if my son decided to move out.
I'd cope, of course I would. But welcome it as some parents say? I can't imagine that. I'd lose a strong, caring house companion.

I should be horrified and devastated if my son decided to move out.
I'd cope, of course I would. But welcome it as some parents say? I can't imagine that.

I'd have to struggle with huge loads of heavy shopping - miss his great cooking - do the washing up ... cleaning up ... cat care ... heavy rubbish bins ... local errands he now does .... one of the sweetest companions for shopping trips, cinema etc would be gone.
I'd be exhausted and lonely.

In other words he knows he's a respected adult. That carries with it duties of care and responsibility.
He learned from a tiny child to do his bit. Yes there was the struggle 12-16 when we had to be tough and insist. At one point we said no duties from you, no good food for you. Dinner would mean bread n butter for you, steak for us right in front of you!
We never had to do it but he got the point because he knew from other similar dialogues - we'd do it.

A child has to learn to be an adult. Sometimes that is brutal in its war. But do it and the result is a companion of joy.

I am reminded of when he was little and I faced the great bogey of the mother of a son. Should I keep pushing him away from me to "be a man"?
This was a really hard decision. As a strong woman I risked bringing up a mother-hag-ridden man. On the other hand, pushing him away, amputating his sweetness, risked him becoming a robot lout.

I went to look at other societies inanthropology. What I found was very interesting. Sons pushed away belong to societies when men HAVE to go away. Hunting. War. Long distance lorry drivers. Long faraway stints in the city while family live in the country. In these situations men are bred to be detached, and boys are pushed away from mothers.
Grown men too are taught not to touch small children. It is said that if a man cares for a plays with his small child he will not be strong enough to go away to work, to hunt, or to war.
Well I knew I didn't want that kind of son so my path was clear. I let myself hug away and the ectasy of the close bond flowed free.

But also I fiercely guarded his freedom and independence. In a hug I was alert to the slightest quiver of his body to move away. At that point I let me arms loosen and he had free choice and often did move away. Other similar situations followed that pattern.
There was the predictable message coming from other boys but we weathered that. My son felt sorry for them in what they were missing. (Being home educated was crucial here to building his independent point of view.)
All along I have never seen trouble signs of him being weak, wimpish, unable to stand on his own two feet.

"A lazy little git" as he himself puts it - yes.
During the years from 10 onwards we intensified the efforts to teach him to contribute to the house. There was never any problem with heaving heavy shopping or other heavy work. He likes displaying his wonderful strength.
But other jobs meant endless reminding, nagging, and sometimnes furious threats. (Very similar to getting homework done.)
During those years I always very much sympathised with his point of view even when it was infuriating as well. After all for him, the world consisted of a comfortable home where food, warmth, hot water, clothes, rubbish clearance, money all happened as if by magic. Legends like Beauty and the Beast, or Psyche, reflect our lost childhood world of pampering by invisible servants.
How unwelcome, how infuriating, that this pleasant way of life was being interrupted by nagging parents ... do this, do that ... Why should things change?

The child wants to be a pampered "lazy little git" forever. Naturally.
It is perhaps actually harder for a child like mine who has had freedom of choice handed to him early. By the teens there are few rewards to hand out in return for greater duties. We just had to insist.
It can be brutal as a war of wills. In that Mandelson is right. Tough love is vitally necessary.
But the aim is not to push them away, to drive them out by making the home uncomfortable. What a bleak, limited idea of a home or family that is.

However it does fit the Government agenda of families as no more than dormitories for workers. If both parents are out working full time (long hours working) then there is only the brief weekend together. Much of that is cut out by cfhores. So not much family time together. Just an efficient unit in the tax, debt servicing, consumer buying economy. Cash cow people in herds. MOO!

Teaching our children to be responsible, sharing, caring people is not about forcing them out. It's about helping them become someone lovable, someone who shares the load.
Once you get there they are a joy so why should you want them to go?
Of course if they want to - to travel, to do interesting work elsewhere, or in order to make a new home with a partner, that is their freedom.
But actively want them to go? Madness. Reminds me of that time at 5yrs when just as the child becomes a lot less work, but still lots of fun, I was expected to hand them over to a school. No fear. We went on enjoying each other.

The idea that helps as a guide is "flatmate." At 13 or even 10, start thinking "flatmate." By 18 he should be one.
What I mean is, when I feel he should be doing more, getting out of my way, that this is "my house" etc I check. Would I expect this of a flatmate?
The answer is always vitally educational.

Money is obviously not like being a flatmate. But flatmates do live on unequal finances. If it's not too unequal, one splits 50/50. If that is obviously unfair, then the contributions are adjusted in proportion to ability to pay.
In our case I have far more ability to make money. So I do little housework and he does more. I think we are both content with that.

One day perhaps I will have to grin and bear it if my son's life changes and he wants to go. I shall think of Spartan mothers and need my friends' help. I'm sure he will be kind to me about it.
But oh! how I joy in every day he stays.