Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Welcome to Newspeak

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is a political satire written for its time (the late 1940s).  Orwell extrapolates the totalitarian direction of the Stalinism of his day, and imagines what would happen if it were combined with ubiquitous surveillance technology. In the world of the novel, truth is no longer a constant, an unchangeable record of how things really are.  Instead, "truth" varies from day to day according to the requirements of the Party.  If the size of the crowd at a certain event was declared, by the Party, to have been the greatest ever - why, then, it was the greatest ever, and any historical record suggesting otherwise needed to be adjusted [this example is not an actual incident from Nineteen Eighty-Four, but a similar though more extreme "changing of gears" occurs at the beginning of the crucial Chapter IX of the book]. In fact, the Ministry of Truth, where the book's hero, Winston Smith, works, has as one of its main functions this continuous 'adjustment' of the historical record. Winston rebels, but by the end of the book he has been brought back into line; he will declare even that 2+2=5 if his Party torturer demands it.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Waiting close

When we lost Eli - nearly two years ago now - a great many decisions had to be made in a hurry.  We quickly decided that his body should be cremated, but  what should be the resting-place for his remains? We are fortunate that there was a natural answer. Some years ago, wise and generous donors endowed our church with a columbarium - a place (actually part of the church building with a little garden) which provides spaces where the cremated remains of church members may be respectfully stored.  I love the symbolism here - that when we currently-living members enter in to worship we do so in the company of a whole fellowship  of believers extended backwards through time. In England one often enters the village church through the graveyard, receiving a similar message about the "communion of saints".

As you can see from the picture, each niche in the columbarium can hold two sets of remains.  When we laid Eli to rest, that did seem as though it might be a problem.  It was not long, however, before we found out that the space we had reserved for the second occupant was going to be needed soon enough - for me! So, once the stupid cancer has its stupid way with me, I will rest close to Eli as we both await the general resurrection.