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Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Casi me salí de misa

Dear sir,

I am writing to you regarding the Mass at 10:45 on 17th September, when time was allowed for a girl to tell us about her work with the missions in Uruguay.

Much as I admire volunteer work and the enthusiasm of youth, I would like to highlight a few points on which I disagree:

- I would very much prefer if the blessing is given before this sort of extra information. It is not part of the Mass, but I was forced to stay listening to it in order to receive the blessing.

- The Mass is not the place to give this sort of information. Many of the points were debatable, but the format of the communication didn’t allow for any response from the listeners. We had to listen and accept the information as truth. Maybe an invitation to meet and talk to this girl during the coffee would have been better.

- Should we be glad that the money is spent on flying people all the way from Uruguay to Cuba? Is there really no closer alternative, in Argentina maybe? I find that very hard to believe. And I can’t help suspecting that Cuba is involved because of the traditional links between the Jesuits and communism - one important reason not to have this speech within the Mass. Catholicism should be beyond politics, it’s bad enough that Jesuits in South America have been involved with it, at least we should not applaud it.

- This idealistic young girl spoke highly of the fact that the people in that mission didn’t have things like a fridge and of their simple way of life. Are we to understand, then, that things like fridges and washing machines are bad? So things that have been created by the human mind for the well being of men, are they bad? Things made by the human mind, which in turn was made by God? Let me tell you, that’s definitely not the way I see things, and I have never found any reference in the Bible that would indicate that progress is bad. This little girl has grown up with too easy a life, I think, and has confused the need to have things (bad) with the fact of having them (which can be good). Just an idea: wouldn’t fridges help in preventing food poisoning, especially on young children? Another idea: if their life is so jolly good, why are we going there to help them??

- She also admired how close all of them were, how they knew each other. Well, let us not be over-optimistic. I´ve grown up in a small village, and yes, knowing your neighbours is great – but it doesn’t rule out society problems, it just replaces them with others. In small communities, the chances of envy and evil gossiping are greater, believe me. Just like on the subject of material things, the point that should have been made was that there are aspects to be learnt from those communities, not that those communities are better in an absolute way. I’d say that getting to know and help your neighbours within Maidenhead would be a good step forward, but that was not mentioned at all…

All this is closely related to another aspect of the parish that I disagree with: Fair Trade. On the parish papers I often read about how much good we can do by buying Fair Trade products, as opposed to the evil rules of the market. Again, I don’t think it’s the parish role to instruct us on politics or economy, but if it has to, I’d very much appreciate it if it read a bit on Hayek first, Ayn Grand then, continuing with the ideas of Johan Norberg, and ending with the implications of the EU internal subsidies on the poverty of the third world – before assuming that the normal trade is bad for anybody.

I don’t want to end this letter without pointing out that, excluding the political ideas, I very much enjoy being in this parish. I’ve never been in such an active community, and I love the sermons.

I hope that you find my feedback useful.

Best regards,

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