Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Saturday 13 September 2008

SImultaneously scares me and makes me smile...

But not necessarily in that order.

"What's he rambling about now?" you are saying to yourself I expect. Well it's the big "R": religion. Before I start I should make it clear that (God knows!) I am in no way religious

As the Papal visit clogs the streets of Paris (much of the clogging possibly due to all the special French security police) there is news of a problem in the Amish community in the USA.

It seems that the US government wishes to use RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags on cattle in order to check on disease. The Amish however have joined in with a law-suit that suggests that the RFID tag is in fact "the mark of the beast", and naturally, as you'll understand if you clicked on the Amish link above, they object. From the law-suit: "Use of a numbering system for their premises and/or electronic numbering system for their animals constitutes some form of a 'mark of the beast' and/or represents an infringement of their 'dominion over cattle and all living things' in violation of their fundamental religious beliefs."

Yes it's easy to smile, but on reading about the Amish I could not help reflecting that, whilst to most of us, many of their beliefs and practices seem risible, one has to ask oneself, what harm have they done? And their treatment of old people might make some of us in our "advanced societies" pause for thought.

Image source: Here

For some reason, reading about the Amish reminded me of the story of Joshua Abraham Norton (1819 - 1880) the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. If every there was someone larger than life he was it. In San Francisco, where he lived, he was treated with deference, the currency he printed himself was accepted by shopkeepers and the City Council even paid for a uniform made by a firm of first-class tailors.

"Emperor Norton" Image source: Wikipedia

When he died, the San Francisco Chronicle ran the headline "Le Roi est Mort" and 30,000 mourners attended his funeral. Robert Louis Stevenson admired the people of San Francisco for their fostering of this harmless eccentric, and a judge remarked, on rebuking a policeman who had arrested Norton for lunacy: "He has shed no blood, robbed no one and despoiled no country, which is more than can be said for most kings and emperors."

The leaders of many of the world's religions would do well to reflect on the words of this wise judge I think.

Until the next time.

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