Friday, 25 September 2015

Résumé Virtues or Eulogy Virtues?

David Brooks wrote a beautiful article in the New York Times. His proposition is a simple one. Do we want to build our virtues as reflected in a career résumé, or do we want to build virtues in our life that might be remembered after we are gone - what Brooks calls a Eulogy Virtue.

Here's a quote from the article:

"Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character."

And again:

"You (can) live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet."

I appreciate my résumé. My success in the world of work has taken me a long way. But if I want to go further - beyond this life - I need to add the kind of virtues that may be talked of at a funeral.

I don't expect for a moment that anything I do to build my inner life will be of the least use when one day I stand before God's throne. The only passport to eternal life is one stamped with the words 'Paid in full by Jesus Christ'. Nevertheless, to live well in this life requires me to build a set of Eulogy Virtues. Anything less will be less than satisfying. Anything less will be less than worthwhile.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

How to Destroy a Political Party

1.       Allow the Unions to vote in the inexperienced younger brother Ed Milliband instead of the electable brother David

2.       Allow Ed Milliband to change the rules of membership to allow extreme views to be represented in future leadership elections

3.       Allow Ed Milliband to lead a lacklustre campaign showing why he is not a leader and giving the Tories a full majority

4.       Allow a shambles of a leadership election with non-Labour members voting and resulting in an unelectable leader

5.       Allow the once great policies of an electable Labour Party to be destroyed by unelectable rhetoric

Such a shame.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Property of J S Hepple

It was printed sometime after what it calls ‘The Great War’. Maybe the 1920s. Not much of the stamp album is left now. Over the years, since my Dad got it me second hand as a kid, I’ve moved most of the stamps out. Once the pages were full. Many stamps glued in. Some with massive stamp hinges.

Here’s a page though. Look at the names of the countries. Lost and gone now: Danish West Indies, Danzig, Slesvig.  Danzig was a semi-autonomous state from 1920 onwards, so that helps date the album. Some of the stamps are later. One on this page is dated 1944.

At the back it says ‘Property of J S Hepple’. I wonder who he was? When he lived? Pretty obviously collecting through the Second World War. I guess he’s maybe no longer alive? And possibly this is all that’s left of his life?

Just for a while I share that life. And so do you as you read this. J S Hepple never knew us. I trust he lived well.

What will we leave for future generations? More than a stamp album?

We build on others foundations. And lay the foundations for others. Build well.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Sometimes the Mountains are Real

I started this blog nearly 10 years ago. Having reached the age of 50 then (60 now!), and having seen my first child married, I wanted to put into words the ‘meaning of life’ as I saw it, woven from stories, pictures, faith and news items. And that’s what I’ve done.
Once in a while, a mountain climbing clothes store or a mountain climbing club comes along and asks if they can advertise on my site. I’m flattered that anyone would want to advertise on my blog, but clearly all they have done is read the headlines!
But now and again, the philosophical meets the literal. I’m just back from a delightful week in Wales with friends. Fitter than me, they liked the idea of climbing mountains, so there I was one day, at the top of Cadair Idris, Wales’ second highest mountain.
Literal or metaphorical, physical or philosophical, may I continue to encourage my readers to reach the heights!

Monday, 1 June 2015

What Do You Want From Life?

This is a letter sent to the Daily Telegraph, recorded in The Week Magazine:

Dear Sirs

I was assisting my 16-year-old daughter with her homework when she received a text from Mum, which read "What do you want from life?"

This was an unexpected and profound question for an exam-sitting teenager. We debated various answers - wealth, fulfilment, love, all three.

Five minutes later, she received a second message, blaming predictive text for correcting the word "Lidl".

Friday, 8 May 2015

REPOST: How to Fail as a Political Party: 26/09/10

This is my post at the time Ed beat David. It gives me no great pleasure to note I was right. Sad day for Labour.

1. Ignore what the public want: look to keep the peace in your own party at the cost of becoming unelectable
2. Make sure the election process is long enough for the unions to form around a candidate that is weak enough not to take them on
3. Make sure the Unions have a vote that outweighs their true influence in the country
4. Elect someone that is young and untried
5. Ignore the older brother who has a welcome reformist approach and is obviously the more able communicator
6. Go back to the old party ways, following the policies of the last failed Prime Minister rather than the new approach from the earlier successful and long lasting Prime Minister
7. Look forward to a number of years of debating failed left wing election proposals
8. Look forward to a long time as an opposition party.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


When you drive to the polling station on Thursday, your way will not be blocked. Your children will not be kidnapped whilst you are out. There will be no indiscriminate gunfire as you queue. No one will take you into the booth and force you to put a cross by a certain name.

We live in a free democracy. But we need to keep it that way. Don’t assume for a moment that your vote doesn’t matter. No vote is wasted. It’s a statement that we’re free. Free to vote. Free to choose.

Far beyond our own political views, beyond the choice of a candidate or the success of a candidate, is the fact that we are free to vote in the first place. A privilege many in the world today do not have.

Don’t squander the chance. Don’t throw away your right to vote. Don’t stay home. Go to the polling station. Put your cross on the ballot paper.

Vote on Thursday.