Christian Reflections

Churchmouse seems to have completed an entire week’s worth of smoking-related posts. First up is a piece about parasitic special interest groups.

Social and political activists are no longer a bunch of like-minded citizens who have temporarily banded together to get their message out. They are now permanent. They have bricks and mortar office buildings, high octane lawyers and tons of money to throw around. They don`t necessarily buy politicians; they don`t have to. They can produce opinion polls, social and scientific research papers, press releases and enough media time to browbeat the politicos into line. Meanwhile, all Jane has at her disposal is a nasty email or telephone call. Furthermore, many activist groups are nonprofit and not only pay little or no actual tax but are also in line to receive government funding (which, by the way, is Jane’s money.) …

Second up is a piece about  Mike Rayner, Director of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at the University of Oxford, and  also an ordained priest in the Church of England, who says:

“In all of this I see a sacred dimension. You may not believe that I have heard God aright but I think God is calling me to work towards the introduction of soft-drink taxes in this country and I am looking forward to the day when General Synod debates the ethical issues surrounding this type of tax rather than some of the other issues that august body seems obsessed by.”

You can sort of see where this kind of righteousness comes from. After all, if you think that God is calling you to do something, that does lend the cause a certain moral force. I wonder if Deborah Arnott could say the same? Perhaps they’re all like that?

So why doesn’t God have a word in my ear, eh? He never does though. Not ever. But which fits in perfectly with my idea of a Deus Otiosus, a do-nothing God, which I wheeled out a while back.

Next is a piece about how tobacco smoke kills you but cannabis smoke supposedly doesn’t harm you at all.

The study has been ongoing for the past twenty years, following the smoking habits of over 5000 people. Researchers found that, contrary to popular belief, smoking cannabis, does not interfere with lung function or capacity. This holds true for ongoing regular -even including daily- and long term consumption. Curiously, as a general rule, cannabis smokers had better lung function than nonsmokers, which researchers attribute to the smoking action itself, rather than the cannabis. Pot smokers inhale deeply and hold those breaths to make the most of their supply, expanding the lung’s capacity.

Actually, it’s always been the firm conviction of pot smokers that not only is it harmless, but it actually cures more or less everything, cancer included. I think that this is because, back in the 60s, when tobacco was being fingered as the culprit for lung cancer, cannabis wasn’t being. So that made cannabis look good by comparison. This relative good in time became an absolute good.

But the chemistry of pot smoke is going to be pretty much identical to tobacco smoke, except that the nicotine is replaced by THC. There’s going to be the same amounts of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon, and all the other constituents of tobacco smoke (including the supposedly carcinogenic ones like benzapyrene). And if you smoke great big spliffs and inhale deeply, you’re going to fill your lungs with even more of these awful toxins.

And also, in my experience, pot smoke is quite a lot hotter than most tobacco smoke. I can smoke cigarettes with ease, but my lungs can’t handle pot smoke any more. In fact, they never really could.

But I like the idea of deep inhaling as ‘lung exercise’. In a few weeks time, there’s going to be a whole bunch of athletes running and jumping all over London. Is it too late to have a smoking event? One where people have an hour to smoke as many cigarettes as possible. Or where they hold their breath as long as possible.

Next there’s a piece about Professor Philippe Even, trashing the spurious science behind tobacco bans. And then Professor Robert Molimard doing the same. And then Professor John B Davies at Strathclyde university:

It is a moral issue- not a scientific question: You have to make a decision. If the State uses the disease concept, because it can cause people to jump on it and thereby change their behavior – then you decide: Do you think it is a good way to do it or not?

It’s very easy to say: Well, see it works. But I say: Stop right now. How far must we go with it? …

As for me: Now I begin to see the gas chambers …

And finally there’s a piece about Professor Romano Grieshaber, which cites my blog.

So there’s plenty there, and it’s on a blog which is for the most part about biblical interpretation (although there was a very interesting set of posts a few months back about how Karl Marx was a satanist – I can’t say I was convinced, but I was interested enough to read them).

And that means that it’ll be read by people with very different interests and concerns than are likely to be found on my blog. And that’s a very good thing.

So thank you, Churchmouse, and dominus vobiscum.

The smoking ban and the war on smokers has also had me thinking a bit differently about Christianity. The early Christians had a feast called the agape, which is Greek for love of some noble sort. They ate and drank, and it could all get a bit riotous at times. A bit like pubs. And so the authorities cracked down on them, and started persecuting Christians a bit like they persecute pub-goers today. Although, in fairness, smokers have yet to be thrown to the lions.

And I was thinking how such persecution binds people together. It’s not what the authorities intend, but it’s what always happens. Whenever I see a smoker anywhere now, I see a kindred spirit, where I never used to before. And the result is that, in small ways (e.g. outside pubs) and in large ways (Forces, etc) smokers are coming together. And maybe this is exactly what happened with the early Christians? The ferocious Roman persecution (based on Roman junk science) fused the hitherto obscure and innocuous Christian sect into a coherent social unit. And one so powerful that, within a couple of hundred years, it had made a captive of the Roman state – something that not even Hannibal could manage with an army that rampaged through the Italian peninsula. Rome was defeated by a bunch of people who liked nothing more than a few beers and a bite to eat and a bit of a sing-song.


About Frank Davis

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Christian Reflections

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Seems strange Ive always pretty much been for legalizing pot,yet these idiots get it all ass backwards outlaw smoking and then legalize dope! My god insanity rules!

  2. alanxxx says:

    G-d has just spoken to me completely aright: He uttereth that when someone sayeth \” . . . I think God is calling me to work towards the introduction of soft-drink taxes in this country . . . \”, that such a think has less divinity in it than the dessicated knob cheese of the crawlingest of the low.

    My personal view is that the aims of the British Workfare Foundation should repel any Christian, or else, as I suspect may actually be the case, the money lenders have actually become the fucking temple these days.

  3. smokervoter says:

    Thanks for reacquainting me with the good man Churchmouse. I get into the habit of working my way down the blogrolls of the usual suspects and for some reason Churchmouse isn’t to be found on a lot of them.

    After reading each and every word he said, I hit Bookmark and Firefox told me ‘It already exists would you like to replace the old one?’

    Bookmark dropdown lists can get very long. I’ll get around to reorganizing mine – tomorrow.

    For now I’m going back to his site to read some more. He’s got a lot to say.

  4. smokingscot says:

    Prophetic words Frank.

    Sad But Mad Lad has fired up his own space. Brill!

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    Public urged to back campaign for plain cigarette packets
    9:05am Monday 18th June 2012 in News

    BOLTON health boss- es are urging people to back a campaign to axe eye-catching tobacco packaging from shops.

    NHS Bolton wants people to support the “Plain Packs Protect” campaign, which pushes for the government to enforce plain, standardised tobacco packaging.

    Pressure group Tob-acco Free Futures says the move would protect children from cigarettes.

    Your Vote
    Should all cigarette packaging be made the same?



  6. churchmouse says:

    Thanks for this, Frank — greatly appreciated! I have a longer response to you on my blog coming up tonight.

    Yes, I, too, think that smokers getting together is analogous to Christians from the early days of the Church.

    And thank you, smokervoter, for your kind words! Hope you’ll drop by to comment at some point.

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Mali: Islamists cane public smokers

    Bamako, 18 June (AKI) – Smoking in parts of northern Mali can hurt.

    Jihadists in a number of villages under Islamist control in northern Mali have banned smoking in public and are caning offenders, according to the Ani Mauritian daily.

    Mali’s Ansar Dine Islamist group, earlier this year took over the country’s north with separatist Tuareg rebels. The United Nations Security Council last week said it would “examine” the African Union’s proposals for intervention in Mali., but did not to give formal approval.

    According to a witness in the town of Bourem, Islamists “on Friday seized cigarettes and cigars in a market, setting them on fire and caning some smokers,” the Ani report said.

    Another person interviewed for the report said he “was hit 40 times for violating the smoking ban.”

    The United States has been using small unmarked aircraft to spy on Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in northern Africa, according to the Washington Post.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    Dutch ignore smoking ban in bars and clubs

    Published on 18 June 2012 – 4:42pm

    The smoking ban in Dutch bars and clubs is being widely ignored, according to the authority responsible for enforcing it. Almost half the cafés in the Netherlands turn a blind eye to smoking customers.

    The figures come in a report by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) based on inspections between December 2011 and May 2012. They authority says customers are still smoking in 49 percent of bars – around the same proportion as in 2011.

    In night clubs the situation is improving, with 66 percent now enforcing the smoking ban compared to 60 percent last year.

    The NVWA carried out a total of 8420 inspections between January and May 2012, and found the smoking ban was being flouted in 942 cases.

  9. harleyrider1978 says:

    Looks like the smokefree advocates have a friend in al quieda!

    Fred Thompson Explains Al Qaeda, Baffles Media
    Posted by Paul

    Published: September 9, 2007 – 10:53 PM Fred Thompson was giving a speech yesterday and he mentioned that one of the reasons the locals threw Al Qaelda out of Anbar was the prohibition on smoking. This apparently baffled one reporter by the name of Richard Sisk from the NY Daily News who thought it was a nonsensical answer.

    Fred Thompson: Al Qaeda smoking ban pushed Iraqis to U.S.
    BY RICHARD SISK (who doesn’t read enough)
    SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Freshly minted GOP White House hopeful Fred Thompson puzzled Iowans yesterday by insisting an Al Qaeda smoking ban was one reason freedom-loving Iraqis bolted to the U.S. side.

    “They said, ‘You gotta quit smoking,’” Thompson explained to a questioner asking about progress in Iraq during a town hall-style meeting.

    Thompson said the smoking ban and terror tactics Al Qaeda used to oppress women and intimidate local leaders pushed tribes in western Anbar Province to support U.S. troops.

    But Thompson’s tale of a smokers’ revolt baffled some in the audience of about 150 who came to decide whether the former Tennessee senator is ready for prime time.

    “I don’t know what that was about,” said Jim Moran, 72, who had driven from nearby McCook Lake, S.D.

    Tobacco Gangsterism and Terrorism Link

    Cigarette Bootlegging and Terrorism
    The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has stated that tobacco is the new commodity for terrorists. The ATF has concluded that contraband cigarette trafficking funds international money laundering and terrorism. The ATF reported that in 2002 Mohammed Hammound was sentenced to prison for using his cigarette bootlegging operation to fund terrorist activity. Mr. Hammound and nine other men, including his brother, Chawki, conspired to buy cigarettes in North Carolina, which had a 5-cent per pack tax, affixed phony tax stamps, and sold them in Michigan which had a 75-cent excise tax. Over four years, they amassed $1.5 million profit which they shared with Hezbollah –an avowed enemy of Israel and America.

    • churchmouse says:

      Thanks for the reminder about Al Qaeda — a great story.

      Note the SD guy’s comment at the end: ‘I don’t know what that was about’. See how quickly personal liberty evaporates — and how little people care about it! He doesn’t get the connection.

  10. Messalina says:

    Excellent post, Frank. Thanks for the link to Churchmouses’s blog. I’ve bookmarked it. He has a lot of interesting things to say.
    Modern day ‘Healthism’ is the new religion, and it’s a materialistic one at that, focusing purely on the physical and ignoring the intellectual, psychological and spiritual dimensions that define humanity. There is no love, tolerance and compassion in the ‘Healthist’ faith, which reads more and more like at best, ‘Brave New World’ or at worst’ ‘1984’ or ‘Mein Kampf’.
    I’ve always noticed these ‘born again’ nonsmokers – it’s like they’ve found a new ‘religion’ they believe they’ve been ‘saved’ from the evil weed and now it is their mission to convert everyone.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      I’ve always noticed these ‘born again’ nonsmokers – it’s like they’ve found a new ‘religion’ they believe they’ve been ‘saved’ from the evil weed and now it is their mission to convert everyone.

      Actually its because anytime they smell or see a smoker smoking they want one so baad its killing them. Its easier to give in than fight mayor mohamed bloomberg! Come on Mayor you know you want it……………

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    Is Michael Bloomberg Secretly a Muslim?

    Sure, people ask it all the time about Barack Obama, but what about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg? His latest intrusion into the lives of individual New Yorkers — the banning of large sugary drinks, as well as popcorn and milkshakes – resembles in its spirit nothing more than the recent whipping of smokers in the new Islamic state that has just been established in northern Mali.

    Bloomberg, in fact, may be more Muslim than the Malians. Mali’s Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa hasn’t yet banned large soft drinks, but Big Gulps are not all that common in Timbuktu, anyway. And he is way ahead of their smoking ban, having already banned smoking indoors everywhere in New York City, and in large portions of the outdoors as well, including Central Park. Bloomberg doesn’t have defiant nicotine addicts whipped as of yet, but you never know; he might decide it’s a good idea to give his anti-smoking laws some teeth.

    Lots more here:

    • smokervoter says:

      Regarding smoking in Timbuktu. For anyone interested in rereading some great old threads on the topic start here from the old Livejournal days:

    • churchmouse says:

      The last paragraph is great — and meant for us (highlight mine):

      ‘Bloomberg and other foolish Western collectivists and soft authoritarians only weaken our ability to resist Sharia, for they accustom us to the coercive impulses it manifests so ruthlessly. But ultimately, the battle has already been won: the human spirit simply does not and will not bear slavery indefinitely. In an indelible image, Alexander Solzhenitsyn likened the survival of the individual will against the all-powerful collective to blades of grass poking through the concrete; our job in the present age, as Islamic supremacist groups do everything they can to halt anti-Sharia initiatives all over the country, is to see that those concrete slabs never get laid down in the first place.’

  12. smokervoter says:

    Be forewarned, it’s a long thread.

    Which led to this one:

  13. smokervoter says:

    Which ultimately led to this one:

    And now we’re all caught up on whether you can or can’t smoke a cigarette in Timbuktu.

  14. smokervoter says:

    Incidentally Frank, I arrived at Casablanca and Fez by going due south longitudinal from Devon and then aligning latitudinal from where I live. I love geography.

    Just for the record, Fez is in Morocco near Timbuktu, Mali. Casablanca if of course in Morocco. The weather must be ideal there.

  15. churchmouse says:

    I’m reading a French anti-smoking entry — ‘Respect goes up in smoke’ — by a Belgian blogger:

    In one of the comments (No. 23), a reader — Laurent — objects to being compared to a Nazi. Yet, he then goes on to say:

    ‘However, when I see parents and teachers smoking after school waiting for the children to come out … among them mine — it makes me want to murder.

    ‘When I learn that my colleague takes 20 minutes worth of fag breaks a day, it makes me want to murder.

    ‘When I think of the years my father lost because of his … cigarettes and that my son will never know his grandfather, it makes me want to murder.’

    Not a good sign.

    • churchmouse says:

      Same site (dates from 2010) — comment No. 31 by Quark, which ends with:

      ‘This will finish in death, death for a cigarette lit in the wrong place, at the wrong time in front of the wrong person.’

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        This is the story of Isias Umali, student of Atienza Kali, which has classes in Manhattan, Queens, Westchester, and New Jersey. You may remember this story from the spring of 2003 – a bouncer died a few days after the smoking ban went into effect for bars and clubs. Umali’s trial is just starting, and he argues that he was trying to defend a friend, Jonathan Chan, who was being brutally choked by a bouncer. Below is the New York Times story, which I’m reprinting before it disappears into their pay-only archive. After that is a link to the Daily News story, which describes Chan as “the son of the notorious Ghost Shadows gang leader Wing Yeung Chan.”
        The New York Times
        Man Who Killed a Bouncer Is Called Heroic by His Lawyer
        Published: October 26, 2004

        A man versed in martial arts was trying to defend a friend when he drew a knife in a Lower East Side lounge and fatally stabbed a bouncer in an argument that began over a lighted cigarette, lawyers for the man said yesterday.

        And theres been so many more just google it!

    • That needs adding to Dick Puddlecote’s Psycho-anti catalogue.

      I found your series of posts, btw, exceptionally good, although you may soon find yourself on TC’s list of Big Bad Bloggers who are mean to them.

    • chris says:

      Comment on dit en francais “Irony”?

  16. Messalina says:

    Here’s a real gem! “Obesity is one factor driving climate change, researchers found ©”
    That’s right, researchers and experts! They NEVER stop, do they.

  17. Rose says:

    Edict not funded by NYC mayor: Muhammadiyah – 2010

    An organization owned by the mayor of New York City has channeled US$393,234 to Muhammadiyah as part of a global anti-tobacco campaign.

    But the Islamic organization denied the funding influenced its recent edict banning smoking.

    A Fattah Wibisono, a deputy secretary at Muhammadiyah’s council tasked with issuing religious edicts, acknowledged that his organization was cooperating with the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, a philanthropic organization established in 2006 by Michael R. Bloomberg to fight tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.

    The $125 million global initiative was extended with a new $250 million commitment in 2008. The initiative funds related projects in Indonesia and many other countries. Its website says that Muhammadiyah was a recipient of grants totaling $393,234 from November 2009 to October 2011.”

    The Bloomberg Initiative says on its website,, its program with Muhammadiyah aims “to mobilize public support towards obtaining religious policy on tobacco control and to support FCTC [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control] accession”.

  18. Pingback: Response to Frank Davis’s ‘Networking’ « Churchmouse Campanologist

  19. harleyrider1978 says:

    June 18, 2012 8:20 pm

    Back to the 1930s: the hammer, sickle and swastika

    Ten days before Greece’s elections, a member of the neo-nazi party, Golden Dawn, repeatedly hit a female candidate of the communist party while appearing live on a television talk show and threw water over a female candidate of the radical left Syriza. The communist had just called him a “bloody fascist” and he addressed her as a “commie”. Greek elites (journalists, intellectuals, politicians) condemned his violence almost unequivocally. Yet the ugliest part of this incident was the readiness of many lay people to defend him, even cheer him, while the neo-nazis rose in the polls.

    Unfortunately this episode was not isolated. Despite the narrow victory of a centrist party in Sunday’s vote, almost every day extremist violence breaks out in Athens and beyond. Neo-nazis against immigrants, anarchists and leftists. Anarchists, ultra-leftists and other fringe groups of the nationalist-populist camp against riot police, mainstream politicians, journalists, liberal intellectuals, even artists. Add to this a surge in crime and rising tolerance of violence and you have a clearer picture of today’s Athens. Does it remind you of anything?

    That’s right. Greece’s situation recalls the Weimar Republic. Violence (and its banalisation), hate, rage, polarisation, fear, despair and resignation. As for the police, it has already taken sides: neo-nazis won by a landslide in polling stations where officers were assigned to vote.

    The electoral results demonstrate the dangers to the Greek democracy. The centre-right New Democracy party may have edged ahead, but the parliament, for the first time in Greek history, will be full of extremists. Besides the neo-nazis and a Stalinist communist party there is Syriza, whose leader is a fan of Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. It is difficult to find a notable dictator, even among the great butchers of the 20th century, without a steady following in the Greek parliament. The three protagonists of the dreadful TV incident were also elected. Imagine them together in routine parliamentary proceedings. Golden Dawn members have already made it clear they would come down hard on any member of parliament saying something they strongly disapprove of.

    How did Greece, the birthplace of democracy, come to have a parliament full of hammers, sickles and swastikas? This is not how it was ever meant to be. After winning independence in the late 1820s, Greece was attached to the west and particularly to the UK, which protected and patronised Greece until it was replaced by the US in the late 1940s. This patronage had some beneficial side effects. Greece was always on the winning side: in the first world war, the second world war, the cold war. From 1929 to 1980 Greece had an average growth rate of 5.2 per cent and was admitted to the European Community as early as 1981 partly as a reward.

    The rest is history: welfare populism, cronyism, statism and corruption can describe the Greek political system for most of the period from 1981. This is why Greek people have finally punished the two former main parties (New Democracy and the social-democratic Pasok party) for leading Greece into a horrible economic crisis with huge debts and deficits and a corrupt, inefficient state, unfit for reform and captured by special interests.

    This failure of the mainstream political system and of the short-sighted, growth-stifling austerity policies enforced by the European leadership led Greece to the precipice. Greek people are disillusioned, miserable, exasperated and very frightened. They seem to be falling into the same trap again, by rewarding demagoguery, political opportunism and arrogant ignorance. Their knee-jerk reaction was to vote for parties such as Syriza, the rightwing nationalist and populist Independent Greeks and the Golden Dawn. These parties became vehicles for a popular backlash, gathering more than 41 per cent of the vote.

    However, more than 50 per cent of Greeks voted for parties strongly committed to European unification. These parties will probably form a government that must achieve the impossible: renegotiate better bailout terms and enforce reforms in the face of fierce opposition from Syriza.

    Mario Vargas Llosa wrote recently in El Pais that “Greece is the symbol of Europe and symbols cannot be abolished without that which they embody collapsing and degenerating into the barbaric confusion of irrationality and violence that Greek civilization liberated us from”.

    Yet Greece is only a small step away from civil unrest and total collapse. It does not deserve this. Europe has the power to push us off the cliff but also the ability to hold us back and save us. This is not just an economic decision; it is largely a political decision. A fatal mistake will haunt Europe for ever.

    The writer is an associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens and runs the blog

  20. Walt says:

    The American occupation forces imposed a smoking ban on Baghdad which didn’t do much to win hearts and minds.
    (Article worth reading)

    But then, last year the new Iraqi government did it to themselves:

    And in 2007, Afghanistan tried it too. Clearly this is a rotten idea who’s time has come. And it doesn’t surprise me that it comes so easily to radical theocracies but it still beats the hell out of me how it got HERE. (Or have we, too, become a radical theocracy?)

  21. melinoerealm says:

    Actually it was the other way round. The protochristians were full of orientalist superstition, prohibitionist doctrines, bizarre ascetics (including castration, to avoid “temptation”), vegetarianism and all sorts of insane beliefs, fueled by envy and a sense of ‘higher morals’ because of their disgust for normal life and pleasures.
    Hellenistic times on the other hand, spread Greco-roman values and ways of life. Drinking, socializing, philosophical ponderings and important scientific inventions which brought general prosperity. Because of their tolerance and civilized life, they didn’t recognize early enough the danger of protochristians, who detested everyone better and worthier, and plotted for the overthrow of hierarchy and sensible order.
    However, protochristianity didn’t survive. By the times of emperor Constantine, the problem of these anti-social destructive beliefs was so intense that he oversaw a total destruction (plus plenty of book-burning) of the original protochristianity. He presided many synods, and set his own preferred standards by supporting the ‘right’ shepherds, who would obey him. During these times various protochristian doctrines were destroyed as ‘heresies’. Constantine acted politically to ensure his empire’s longevity by clearing out the internal opposition of protochristians and their constant undermining and corruption.
    Not surprisingly he was a mithraist, and never endorsed any of the beliefs that he helped prevail. He gave the same advice to his son.

  22. gentlemanic says:

    >> many activist groups are nonprofit and not only pay little or no actual tax but are also in line to receive government funding

    You mean like CHURCHES??

    Get rid of all tax-exempt leaches!

No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.