Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Jesus has the power

What in the creation of crowshit possessed the designer of this tasteful bit of Christian tat?

(H/T to GBG)

Sunday, 27 January 2008


Three weeks of snot, coupled with an excessive festive season has been good for my breast size. I have man teets! Small, puffy ones I'll grant you, but these puppies need to be exercised away.

So I went for my first decent run of the year over 3 miles, early this morning in the mud of the countryside.

Some photos from each mile that will have little significance for you;

Mile 1

Mile 2

Mile 3

Mile 4

Mile 5

Mile 6

Mile 7

Mile 8

Mile 9

Thursday, 24 January 2008

It's wet up north

Oot with the dog this AM.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Hokey Cokey

So to the question - the relationship between 'spirituality' and good mental health. The question I set out to answer long ago with Sans God and subsequently failed to answer in any meaningful way.

I guess the problem, as ever, is in the question. You see, if 'spirituality' is a duff term, then by using the same logic 'mental health' is equally flaccid.

Blood pressure we can measure, liver function can be quantised in the same way an an x-ray can tell you if your arm is broken. But mental health? Is it happiness, conforming to societal norms or a grasp on reality? And what in buggeration is that?

Yet as experts in humanity, we all have an opinion on sanity. Fair play to us too, because psychiatry hasn't cracked it either. So I shall give you my opinion, based upon nothing more than my opinionated opinion. And what better medium to spout unsubstantiated, reductive, self-centered arguments than on a blog?

So let's focus on the melancholics, worriers and scaredypants amongst us and not on those who may lay true claim to the moniker of 'madness' - the messiahs and 'psychotics'. They deserve our admiration and are beyond the scope of my thinking right now.

Feeling depressed and anxious is something common to us all. It's even been argued that they're adaptive traits. Everything in moderation however, for these states can easily get the better of us.

When they do, we can become self-destructive. Regardless of the outward circumstances of our predicament, depression or anxiety is fundamentally about the 'self' and how we see ourselves - "I'm depressed", "I'm inadequate", "Life has got the better of me".

Now, this secular definition of 'spirituality' that we've been exploring (Interconnectivity / Love / Meaning / Beauty), seems to me to be outward, rather than inward looking. The very antithesis of self-consuming neuroses, you could say.

Whilst 'spirituality' is a deeply personal phenomenon, I propose that it helps us mediate our connection with the outside world. As such, it helps us to be less absorbed with ourselves and become more immersed the world about us.

Which is a good thing, and probably better for our mental health than what's inside our heads alone.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Pleased to see us?

Thought we'd pop out to The Baltic art gallery yesterday to see what some upstanding members of the Christian church are getting all aroused about.

Apparently, depicting Jesus with a large whang isn't seen as a compliment.

I must say, it's a prominent sculpture. Though high art of course, shouldn't be defiled with cheap tabloid innuendo.

This blasphemy I shall refrain from.


Saturday, 12 January 2008

The cake is a lie

This 'spirit' that we feel within ourselves - this significance, interconnectivity and meaning is a Gestalt - "A physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts."

Yet we're nothing more than meat, bones and interesting connections of nerve cells that interact with the world through fuzzy and unreliable senses. Somehow they make up all that we are. But being human and therefore incorrigibly arrogant, we find ourselves wholly meaningful and significant.

Which is absurd of course, as we live in a universe devoid of meaning.

There are ways to deal with this ambivalence, which for me, are related to the individuals ability to cope with it.

For those who struggle, there is always religion and God, as it imbibes their world with significance, certainty and purpose. They no longer need to struggle with their own unimportance, as they're made in the image of God and so, their little lives are granted equal significance to the entire universe.

There are those who feel this ambivalence in every fibre and wonder what's the point? Depression, withdrawal, revolution or suicide are ways of coping with it.

Plenty don't even think about it. Perhaps the majority don't. I guess there's something to be said in not thinking too hard about stuff.

There's the middle ground of course - that precarious path set in between existential bleakness and religious rapture;

If there's no point to life then it's incumbent upon us to make one for ourselves. If we use the term 'spirit' in this context, then we mean nothing more than how we fashion our own wholeness, interconnectivity and contentment, regardless of its lack of objective significance.

I choose truth, beauty and love. My purpose is to learn all that I can in the short time that I have and perhaps pass some of this learning on. I want to enjoy all that I find beautiful and spend time honing my sense of the aesthetic so that I might enjoy it more.

But if there can be anything significant and with real substance, then it's love and our connection to others. If the world finds me meaningless, then is it unimportant, if someone finds me meaningful? Love finds itself meaningful just for the sake of itself, yet it takes effort to nurture and keep alive. And what better purpose than that?

Who cares if it's a lie.

Monday, 7 January 2008

All & Nothing

What the bejezus is it then - this 'spirituality'? Everything and nothing I suppose - meaning and purpose, God and infinity or nothing but the world and our connection to the soil? Perhaps it's all things to all men then? In the eye of the beholder, for this word will mean something completely different to you than it does to me.

If the value of a term can be measured by its effectiveness to communicate an idea, then 'spirituality' is an old banger - inefficient and leaky. Invoking the word correctly would require a myriad contexts for it to be set within to make any sense at all. It seems like an awful waste of energy.

Yet still the word fascinates me, for I see enough commonalities in spiritual narratives to make me think there is some small value in the term. It's in these commonalities that we might make sense of the concept and give it a meaning that may actually be of some use. Then perhaps, we can loose the word and replace it with something more useful.

Let me give you my own personal definition for a start, and we'll see if it rings any bells;

For me, spirituality is nothing more than the lived experience; That pure, unadulterated lived experience that life seems to get in the way of. Paradoxically, living day to day diverts my attention away from living. Or rather, experiencing life in all its richness is impossible if I think to little or too much about it.

And therein lies the dichotomy; If we live life at full steam, then we don't experience it, yet, if we make the effort to savor what we're experiencing then we become the outside observer - just looking in on ourselves experiencing life.

Things become so easily absurd.

So it's in this fine balance that I find my 'spirituality'.

I planned to give some concrete examples of this, but bedtime is upon me suddenly and I find myself yawning.

Tomorrow perhaps...

Friday, 4 January 2008

A Reframing

It seems I've become the typical smug, affluent, left leaning liberal blogger. Or so it would seem having re-read my last few posts. Pleasant and self-affirming as they were to write, as I've re-read them, I've discovered that I get on my own tits quite frankly.

So I shall stop this nonsense right now. You see, I've made it quite clear to you that my life is warm and fuzzy. Christ, I've even provided photographic evidence.

Yet this 'happiness' that I've been writing about is borne of tantrums, dust, dishes left from the night before and disagreements, needless swearing in front of children and huffy left shoulders at night time. Far from perfect I assure you.

An ordinary life, I suppose. And no different from any other.

So I'm going to re frame this blog back to its original focus. That is to debate the ephemeral term 'spirituality' and its relation to good 'mental health', whatever both statements may mean.

Back in November 2006 I set upon the plan to blog about this 'spirituality' so that I might learn what the fuck it meant. I had some faith in the word back then, as I'd been taught that it was an important 'component' of good mental health.

I've since learnt that the term is as useful as a chocolate fireguard, for it means everything and nothing. It cancels itself out. Yet many 'service users' say that this notion of 'spitiruality' has set them on the path of recovery. Tonight though, is not the night to debate this ambivalence.

So, I shall re-explore for a while, why people require this nothingness' to get by in life without resorting to basic existential vehicles, I hope.

Unlikely, I know.