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Voice From The Back

Miracle Worker
The Roman Catholic Church is not the unchanging, dogmatic organisation that its critics make out. Take their reform of what constitutes a miracle. “Lourdes miracles get a little easier. ... Monsignor Jaques Perrier, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes and the most senior cleric at the Catholic shrine, announced a "reform" of miracles there last week. Henceforth there will be new categories of "healing", recognised which takes into account advances of modern science. These will include "unexpected healings", "confirmed healings" and "exceptional healings". Critics say he is "devaluing" God's interventions in order to counter increasingly fierce competition in France from evangelical and Pentecostal churches" (Observer, 2 April). Nothing dogmatic about that, simply redefining their product to deal with the competition. It makes good marketing sense in a competitive society.
 
Judas The Obscure
A storm is brewing in academic circles as biblical scholars cross swords about the role of Judas in the bible story. "A papyrus manuscript discovered in the Egyptian desert was hailed yesterday as an authenticated copy of the lost Gospel of Judas - revealing that far from betraying Jesus, Judas sacrificed himself for his master" (Times, 7 April). Craig Evans, Payzant distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and Marvin Meyer, Grist Professor of Bible and Christian studies and Director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute of Chapman University, California are enthusiastic about the manuscript. Dr Simon Gatherscole, a New Testament expert from the University of Aberdeen and John Pritchard, Bishop of Jarrow are doubtful about the whole affair. Is it not wonderful that these learned men can get so worked up about ancient myths and yet remain silent about 8 million kids dying from lack of food and clean water every year?

Contrasts (1)
 In a world where millions of children are dying of hunger the following item illustrates the madness of capitalism. "For most of us a sandwich is often the quickest, easiest and cheapest snack option - but try telling that to Selfridges. The upmarket store is about to unveil what it claims is the country's most expensive sarnie, costing a whopping £85.50. At the core of the 22cm x 13cm sandwich are slices of prime Wagyu beef, which gourmands agree is among the most succulent in the world. ... The meat will be flown in from Chile every day to ensure it is as fresh as possible (Metro.co.uk, 7 April).

Contrasts (2)
In the same issue of a newspaper we learn of the different lives of the exploited and those who live on exploitation. "Hundreds of people dressed in tattered rags, crawl ant-like over great mounds of mud. Barefoot children, some as young as 6, burrow deep into the hillside" (Times, 10 April) This is a description of the copper and cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where children are risking their lives for as little as $1 a day. On another page we read of the Duchess of Cornwall. "The Duchess wore the same red Phillip Treacy hat that she had worn the day after her wedding. Since her marriage she has developed a reputation for frugality. On their recent tour to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and India she wore the same outfit on three occasions."

Monks In Retreat
 Socialists recognise we have a difficult task in convincing workers of the necessity of transforming capitalism to socialism. Some of our opponents claim that it is an impossible task and point to the tremendous influence of religious ideas. We claim that the advance of capitalism itself makes religious ideas less and less popular. Here is a recent example. "Monks and their monasteries go into retreat as recruits dwindle. Monks first arrived in Britain almost 2,000 years ago but they are now in danger of all but disappearing within a generation, figures suggest. A growing number of Roman Catholic monasteries are being sold as their ageing communities are hit by death and plunging vocations" (Daily Telegraph,10 April).

The Profit System
The whole purpose of production inside capitalism is to make a profit, if no market exists they sometimes have to invent one. "The practice of "disease-mongering" by the drugs industry is promoting non-existent illnesses or exaggerating minor ones for the sake of profits, according to a set of essays published by the open-access journal Public Library of Science Medicine" (Times, 1 April) Inside a socialist society we will deal with the real illnesses not frighten people about imagined ones in order to make a few quid. Capitalism is really a disgusting society. Let's get rid of it.