Saturday, 29 August 2009

You don't love God, if you don't heal your neighbor.

I suppose that it had to happen sooner or later. The US and British political issues are so different that it was only a matter of time before the bubble of my patience burst and I'd weigh in on matters of politics.

One of the most heated debates lately has been on the issue of healthcare. The US has a pay-for-care system in which one buys, or an employer provides, health insurance. The UK has a system in which the National Health Service guarantees healthcare to all, without cost. Barak Obama is making it his business to move the US toward the UK model, and it's been a thorn in the side of some, for a variety of reasons. Various facts and figures are bandied about, and I've read a blog recently that quotes statistics that 37% of voters support his model, and 57% oppose it. Not surprisingly, 62% of Democrats support it, while 87% of Republicans oppose it.

Further to that, I've been stunned to discover that there are many who profess the Christian religion who are opposed to changes, and that baffles me more than anything else. Pardon me if I appear to oversimplify this, but didn't Jesus say that the greatest commandement was to love God, and after that, to love your neighbour as yourself? Matthew 22:36- 40 has it:
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
"The second [greatest commandment] is...thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself". There's even a song about it - composed by one Carl Story. In part, it reads as follows:
There are many people who will say they're Christians
And they live like Christians on the Sabbath day
But come Monday morning 'till the coming Sunday
They will fight their neighbor all along the way.

Oh you don't love God, if you don't love your neighbor
If you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
If he gets into trouble and you don't try to help him
If you don't love your neighbor and you don't love God.

In the Holy Bible, in the book of Matthew
Read the 18th chapter and the 21st verse
Jesus plainly tells us that we must have mercy
Then a special warning in the 35th verse.
So according to this, what would Jesus do about healthcare? Well, let's take a look at his ministry, according to the Bible. He threw out demons. He cured the blind, made the mute speak, put a spring in the step of the lame. He even cured leprosy, and according to the Bible, he didn't just wave his hands about or tell them to be better, he showed enormous compassion by actually reaching out and touching him. Yes, according to Mark 1:40-45, he "Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man" and he was cured. Not only that, but he did it for free, and in the case of that one leper, he asked that he keep quiet about it, and not tell the whole world.

Now I'm not a Christian, though I have read the Bible many times over, and my understanding of Jesus' ministry was that he sought to do good things for no reward, and that he encouraged his followers to do the same, and in the same way. Compassionately, without prejudice and as a part of a Christian work.

So, here's the thing. I see supposed Christians opposing a publicly-funded healthcare system, a system which to my eyes, demonstrates a compassionate Christian love for neighbour. And it mystifies me.

The only thing I can think is that these people (who, I assume have paid health insurance already) don't see any social obligation to help those less fortunate than themselves to have the same. Where, I ask, is the Christianity in that? Surely, according to their Master's own words, they should take the view that "these people are our neighbours and we should love them as ourselves, if we are claiming to love God".

Maybe you may think that I'm oversimplifying this, but it seems so simple to me. I don't understand. Maybe these folk should prayerfully review these few verses, reflect on the tale of the Good Samaritan and then take stock again.

I would have no problem with paying less to the insurance companies (who think not of their neighbours but of their investors), and paying a little more in taxes. But then, I'm not a right-wing Christian.

Cross-posted at Everything2

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Bandanas are folded square, everyone knows that!

I've never been much of a one for folding clothes. Shirts I'd hang in a cupboard on hangers, as that's what they are for. T-shirts get folded, and as long as the sleeves are folded flattish so they don't wrinkle too badly, I'm happy. Jeans, folded along the seams, then into four. Undies, folded into two if at all before being placed carefully in a drawer. Sheets and towels into whatever configuration fits best into the linen closet or airing cupboard. Everything else, tossed into whatever storage is available for it.

It was only recently that my dear wife told me that there were scientific and artistic ways to fold and store stuff. Her mother (who, sadly, I never had the chance to meet) taught her to fold sheets and towels in such a way that their final proportions approached a golden rectangle. This, apparently, is an ├Žsthetically pleasing thing. What it means in real life is that when I'm folding sheets or towels, I have to check with her. Sometimes she nods, and I carry one. Sometimes she smiles gently and asks me to fold in into thirds or somesuch darned thing, at which point I roll my eyes and undo my work to the point where she nods, and try again.

Further to that, there's the dreaded fitted sheet. Now in the past, I'd make several attempts to get these unruly blighters into something resembling a flattish parcel, and leave it at that. Imagine my surprise when I found that there was a scientific approach. Apparently, the secret is getting all the corners together and tucked into one another before folding into the desired rectangle. I could not possibly explain this in words, so courtesy of YouTube, here is a video showing you this particular bit of household magic. Now all I need to do is fit the quart that is our duvet into the pint pot that is the duvet cover.

Apparently all of this is necessary so that when the item is placed in the linen closet (last fold facing out, of course) it looks good. For myself, I don't much care. As long as I can see the perishing things in there, and pick out the item I seek, it's of little concern how they look. But to an artist like Christine, it clearly matters, as it did to her mother before her.

Some people take this to even greater extremes. Apparently there is a whole subset of Martha Stewart skills that, if I cared enough, I would apply to each and every piece of linen and towelling that I own. I have seen guest towels folded into careful packages tied with ribbon. I've seen them carefully wrapped in tissue paper, banded with coloured tapes, bound in silk parcels and much more. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I very much doubt that this is necessary, unless you have the kind of houseguests who, before unpacking their suitcases, demand an examination of the linen.

I can only think that there are people for whom this is sufficiently important that they Need To Know. I imagine them arriving chez wertperch with a little ticklist, checking to see what sort of hosts we will be, getting to the linens and suddenly shrieking with horror before fleeing to the nearest hotel to scrub themselves off under a scalding shower. Thankfully, we know of no such people. Our guests are presented with a neatly folded set of face flannel, hand and bath towel. They are clean, smell of clean, and are as neatly folded as I can be bothered to whilst approaching artistically mathematical perfection. For the rest, let them eat cake.

I write this conversation because I found a random bandana in the closet this morning, and in jest, asked whether it needed to be specially folded into the golden ratio (1.618). Quite seriously, she answered me the the following words: "Bandanas are folded square, everyone knows that!" I stand corrected.

P.S. Christine just saw the video. Guess what she said? "He didn't fold it into thirds".