Thursday, 21 May 2009

Police, Motorways and Sicknesses in the System.

So I was zooming down the motorway this afternoon, with the window open and sunlight streaming into the car, a far cry from this morning when it was as night had fallen doing the same journey in reverse, when the little movement of loveliness by Bruckner which Radio Three was providing crackled and died. Not wanting to listen to Carl Jenkins or the 1812, which seems to be the only two things Classic FM plays, I switched over to Radio 2, which normally cheers me up on Friday mornings as I make my tedious way to Cadishead. Steve Wright was the DJ, which was a shock, having not listened to Radio 2 in the afternoon for a long time. Steve Wright used to be the afternoon, school home time DJ on Radio 1 when I was at a school when we went home at home time, rather than to another part of the school where we also slept. This was quite a long time ago then, so it is good that he still has a job, maybe he can sell the secrets of his longevity in employment to our hapless Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who the Radio 2 news told me has just committed political suicide.

Political suicide I do not know much about, but I can read the signs of the times much as anyone else can, extravagant expenses claims always catch you up. Real suicide, where the life of a creature of God is extinguished by that persons own hand and will - although we shall come to this in a moment - is something else entirely. As I drove round the Prestwich motorway roundabout to come home, there was another wreath of flowers tied to the East side, favoured side of suicides, as one can jump, I guess, without seeing what is coming. Suicides nearly always remove their glasses, I am told, as though preparing for bed, but many of the cases in Prestwich do not, such is the proximity to the Psychiatric hospital.

Prestwich Hospital was once almost its own city state, with a farm, staff houses, wards, medical facilities, sanitation, water supply and generator. It is now a group of centres, more of less 'open' wards and, at the bottom of the hill, a maximum security centre which one passes on the way to the municipal dump, with walls so high and wire so sharp there is clearly a need for it. Uncontrollable rage is a hard thing, with only the chance of life under sedation or an eventual stroke to slow you down, it is no wonder that released patients sometimes find their way back 'home' and end their life where it changed and where security was offered and found.

The state of mind of the suicidal is of course not as we would hope our state of mind ever is. Sometimes it must seem a rational and acceptable thing to do, taking your own life and it is on this grotesquely warped reality which any judgement comes - the person was not in their 'right' mind, therefore we pray for their soul to be reunited with Almighty God, who sees all and knows the innermost thoughts of our hearts. It is with this in mind that I advised the BNP (British National Party - you can probably guess) canvasser today to consider the state of his immortal soul, for he, like us, will stand before almighty God on the day when his soul is required of him and he will have to give account of his life and tell of how he brought the Kingdom of God about, in justice and peace and how he brought himself and others to God, in whom there is no black or white, no sane and insane, but simply potential to be His children in His heavenly Kingdom. I am not usually a fan of this approach, this kind of witness, but when you have thirty seconds to make a point, it is sometimes the best way. I wished him the peace of the Kingdom and said to come back if he wanted to know any more. We shall see.

The picture at the top shows the police in Old Trafford, policing the streets after the 'Derby' match last week, when Manchesters United and City play each other. It is a day of high emotion and sometimes tension, and one on which I usually find something outside the city to do. A day in which people do and say things which they would not usually say or do, but a day nonetheless when there is high drama in the city, when old sectarian tensions are loosed, it is almost forgotten now, but once the two teams were split between Catholic and Protestant supporters, the two now reconciled to each other more by the shrinking pool of followers of religion than by any mutual understanding.

Alas, today, we see in all the papers news of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland's horrific abuse of boys and girls over decades, with many thousands of cases of sexual and physical abuse of children carried out by priests, monks and nuns systematically and almost openly. Gang rapes of small boys and girls lashed on every part of their body by nuns. The document, many years in the producing - for the church blocked much of the investigation for years until the government and people finally said 'enough is enough' and forced the process and left the Churches - makes for harrowing reading, as does the figures of practising Catholics in Ireland today. Never has a Church done so much to encourage secularism.

I went to two schools, both of which had large and wide ranging court cases prosecuting paedophiles, in cases going back weeks and decades. I pray that this may finally begin to come to an end and that a 'right mind' may enter all the people of God, that they and we may live our lives for Him, only then can the Church once again be completely resurrected as the sign which this nation so desperately needs. That it will be hard recovering from this scandal, wherein some priests were moved from country to country by the church to escape prosecution, goes without saying. That God, in the end, shall guide us all is certain.