Almost every week, I go and debate with spokesmen of religious faith. Invariably and without exception, they inform me that without a belief in supernatural authority I would have no basis for my morality. Yet here is an ancient Christian church that deals in awful certainties when it comes to outright condemnation of sins like divorce, abortion, contraception, and homosexuality between consenting adults. For these offenses there is no forgiveness, and moral absolutism is invoked. Yet let the subject be the rape and torture of defenseless children, and at once every kind of wiggle room and excuse-making is invoked. What can one say of a church that finds so much latitude for a crime so ghastly that no morally normal person can even think of it without shuddering?
It's interesting, too, that the same church did its best to hide the rape and torture from the secular authorities, even forcing child victims (as in the disgusting case of Cardinal Sean Brady, the spiritual chieftain of the Catholics of Ireland) to sign secrecy oaths that prevented them from testifying against their rapists and torturers. Why were they so afraid of secular justice? Did they think it would be less indifferent and pliable than private priestly investigations? In that case, what is left of the shabby half-baked argument that people can't understand elementary morality without a divine warrant?
In this context events at the Russian branch of «IKEA» are revealing. From the start the company announced that even in Russia it would be adhering to its clearly-formulated Swedish rules, based on the Protestant work ethic and unanswerable logic. As a result, Khimki officials turned off the electricity just before the first Moscow shop opened. There was no practical reason for this. They just wanted to «give them a hard time» for their excessively strict principles. By the time they opened in Petersburg, the Swedes already knew that they had to have their own generator in each of their Russian stores – just in case. A wise decision, as subsequently emerged. From that moment the Swedes did all they could to minimise their dependence on local authority whims, when building their stores in Russia. «We are pleased with our solution to the problem. Better hire a generator than stick our head into a noose,» said Krister Tordson, a company board member.
The victorious Swedish advance came to grief in Samara. You could say it was another Poltava [1709 defeat of Swedes by Peter the Great ed.]. Their store there was built three years ago, but its opening was postponed nine times. The company has opened 230 stores all over the world, but was unable to overcome the implacable cupidity of the Samara officials. Their last complaint was that the building was insufficiently hurricane-proofed. The Swedes were unable to obtain any information about destructive tornados wreaking havoc on the left bank of the Volga and took umbrage. IKEA's legendary founder Ingvar Kamprad announced that investment in Russia would be scaled down. But local officials were unlikely to be fazed by such trifles. Their actions are, after all, not dictated by narrow personal interest. They are supporting the normal functioning of an irrational system.
In 1992, I went to an air show at the Science Museum at Wroughton, near Swindon. I hadn't been to one since I was a child and the local RAF base had their open day (RAF Acklington - now a prison I believe) . I had just bought a new SLR with zoom telephoto lens and was keen to try it out. The day turned out really well, although the day before had seen heavy rain and high winds. As well as the wonderful planes, the tail end of the weather front from the previous day led to wonderful cloudscapes, and as the evening drew in some great towering grey clouds.
I've just had the whole set of 3 films reprinted with the intention of putting some up on my web site. I have a set of small prints in my Etsy shop, but I haven't got round to most of them yet, so here are a few of the images.
Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina and tail of Hercules
RAF Nimrod flies in under low cloud
Vulcan bomber in last year of flying before being withdrawn - at that time it was thought permanently.
Avro Lancaster flies in
Corsair (one of two at the show I think.)
Corsair (on left) and I believe a Grumman Hellcat (on right)
I've been working on a series of collagraph prints, all based on the same two plates used in combination. I've been experimenting with using the inks very thin (using plate oil) and building up the colours in layers, almost like glazes. At last count I have 7 in the series, although some remain to be scanned in.
The two above are on Etsy - follow this link to see them and others in my 'Dales memories' series
The print above is already on my web site. Click on the image to go there. The others are on Etsy but will be on the web site soon. There is another here.
For the rest of this term I'm working on some monotypes. The prints above have up to 5 or 6 impressions so I'm waiting until next term to start a new set - probably using more spring greens perhaps than these autumnal colours.
This is one I did earlier (currently you can see it here ) - rolled ink plus paper cutouts to form the sails. I also have a couple at the studio to collect today that will fit into my Dales memories series based on Fylingdale and the golf balls. Watch this space.