Friday, 27 February 2015


At Home in the World – Sound and Symmetries of Belonging. Spring Journal Books, New Orleans. 2010. 

This review was written on December 16th 2010

John Hill is a practising Jungian psychotherapist who lives in Zurich. He is a close friend of my brother-in-law Mark Hederman since they were at school together in Glenstal and his family were close to my wife, Louise, Mark and the Hederman family in earlier years. He was trained in philosophy in Dublin University and the Catholic University of America.  

The title provides the full sense of what Hill wishes to convey in the wider sense of home and homelessness but those of us who are not familiar with Jungian psychology will find problems of interpretation and of insights in the earlier chapters.  One professional colleague writes on the back cover of the book as follows

The work offers a profound philosophical and psychological exploration of the multi-dimensional significance of home and the interwoven themes of homelessness and homesickness in contemporary global culture. Home is a particular dwelling place, as a cultural or national identity, as a safe temenos (a sacred enclosure or precinct, according my Random House dictionary- RM) in therapy, and as a metaphor for the individuation process are (sic)  analysed expertly from multi-disciplinary perspectives and, more poignantly, through the sharing of diverse narratives that bear witness to lives lived and endured from memories of homes lost and regained.

Gaia: Primordial Goddess of the earth or Mother Earth
The theme is home in every sense from the individual family to the planet’s role as Gaia, the home of humanity. (He does not use the word Gaia as popularised by James Lovelock in describing our planet home - RM.) The author touches on his own somewhat dysfunctional family, his many changes of home and home’s circumstances during his training and after his thirty years of professional life in Switzerland where he married, had a family, divorced and worked as a deeply committed Jungian psychotherapist.   A meaningful and comprehensive review of John Hill’s text would require me to reread the chapters dealing with the more arcane language of his profession. In his final chapter he returns to Jung and his dreams. He writes

One of Jung’s dreams, evocative of the vertical axis of home, suggests that the human psyche harbors (sic) to embrace the entirety of evolution. The dream inspired him to envisage the human personality as a many storied house, which is still in the process of being built. The top floor would symbolise the conscious personality, but as one descends, one discovers other stories containing relics of a historical consciousness. Already Jung’s description of his 1912 dream makes this kind of experience.

And the author goes on to explain:

It was as though we had to describe and explain a building whose upper storey was erected in the nineteenth century, the ground floor dates back to the sixteenth century, and careful examination of the masonry reveals that it was reconstructed from a tower built in the eleventh century. In the cellar we come upon Roman foundations and under the cellar a choked up cave with Neolithic tools ---- that would be the picture of our psychic structure.  We live on the upper storey and are only aware that the lower storey is a little old-fashioned. As to what lies beneath the earth’s surface, of that we remain totally unconscious.

I leave the more arcane aspects of Hill’s chapters on the conscious
 and unconscious and I deal more with his chapters which include his protean description of the home in its many forms. Home can be related to the closely-knit family, it can refer to a community or nation and is thus related to our commitment to nationality; it can refer to various structures in society, the professions, and political movements, or to humanity as a whole as in the Gaia concept. In the individual, home may change as one ages, as one’s family’s circumstances change and as one adopts a career and changes location. No doubt one’s original childhood and early home will remain a powerful part of one’s consciousness but in to-day’s climate the rapid increase in immigration worldwide raises huge problems contributing to the trauma of homelessness, a factor dealt with in detail in chapter 10 and 11, At home in a Global Society and Traversing Cultural Boundaries. Hill dissects in detail the many problems the immigrants face and the many problems faced by their host nation

Hill states that homelessness appears with many faces: overpopulation, intolerance, poverty, civil strife, the concentration of wealth among the few. He mentions the speed of information, and the ease of transportation which has unleashed world migrations of unparalleled dimensions. He proposes some of the solutions which may be employed to overcome the immigrants’ language, cultural and emotional needs, not to mention loss of possessions and separation from home and nation. Hill states that much can be learned from the psychotherapist’s and social worker’s engagement with immigrant populations and clearly the author is deeply concerned with our current situation.

Although, even with such professional inputs, the lot of the immigrant nowadays cannot easily be solved. Hill talks about the methodology of coping with increasing immigration but the possible solutions which he puts forward surely ignores the cause of this world trend, that is, a burgeoning human population which fails to realise the limitations of Nature on which we depend for our existence and which must add to or, more likely, accelerate the fundamental cause of our woes. And a rise in the oceans of one metre will increase the current high rate of immigration by a hundred fold. The author’s two chapters described so comprehensively about world immigration must add further warning to us of the threat to humanity.

Chapter 12 Ireland Contemplating a Nation from a Place of Exile provides an interesting insight into Irish nationalism, and particularly into our recent revolutionary period and the Northern situation. It is relevant because of the author’s birth in Ireland and of his Irish family. His views on nationalism as the font of revolutionary violence and of alienation of Irish society are very close to my own.

He states that Nationalist movements in Ireland have long sought to legitimise their ideals and objections by referring to the ancestral myths of Celtic heroism, to wit, to Cúchulainn and Mother Ireland in her many guises. The heroism of Cúchulainn and our betrayal and neglect of Mother Ireland came as a stimulus to the revolutionaries.   It should be stated that only certain nationalist movements have shared these as driving myths. They have been largely confined to the military ambitions of those who led 1916 and its aftermath, the War of Independence and the long history of the IRA in all parts of the Island of Ireland. The earlier foundation of the Celtic myths can be found among the poets and academics of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries and it was they who perhaps inadvertently influenced the Fenians, the IBB, the Irish Volunteers and later the IRA. Hill writes about the ‘dark shadows’ cast by these Irish myths, shadows which owe their appearance to the failure of a comprehensive Irish national identity.  Other national movements such as Home Rule and Griffith’s Sinn Féin could hardly be said to have been too concerned by Irish myths.

His chapter on Ireland may also be relevant to the different levels of psychic consciousness.  Ireland is one of the few countries which have a mythical history and ours is based on the five successive invasions of the island, two of which preceded the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Firbolgs and the final invasion of the Celts. These components of the Irish historical myth may in the author’s opinion symbolise the levels of psychic consciousness, ‘’--- a psychic inheritance embedded in the land’’. The historical myths of our country must surely be evoked in every Irishman who has long ago emigrated if he hears the haunting notes of the Lark in the Clear Air or the Cuileann, or the voice of John McCormack singing I Dreamt I dwelt in Marble Halls.

Hill states that Yeats was one to rekindle the revolutionary spirit with his ‘a Terrible Beauty is Born’. There were of course other literary and political influences which led to 1916 and its 90 year aftermath, such as the centenary celebrations of ’98, the sleeping dog of the Fenians and the IRB, the Celtic Twilight.  Our myths were to lead to the divisive political and military consequences which have lasted to this day. Pearse, initially a moderate supporting home rule as late as 1912, became obsessed with Mother Ireland and Cúchulainn. These were to lead to his blood sacrifice four years later, no doubt influenced by Tom Clarke, who started his career in the late 19th century bombing the English population, and Seán MacDermott who devoted his life to organising a resurgent IRB and, with Tom Clarke, was long committed to a military uprising.  (MacDermott was to meet my mother in 1915 and intended to marry her – RM.) These revolutionaries were ably encouraged by the Irish Americans led by the old warrior, John Devoy of Clan na nGael. In 1916 there were few who supported the rebellion but the British played into the hands of the separatists by executing the leaders - and so our home of nationalism became dysfunctional and scarred by conflicting ideologies.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Common Sense

Common Sense by Thomas Paine. Penguin Books (1982). First published in 1776. 
This review was written on August 12th 2005
I read this book at the end of July 2005. It was Paine’s classic The Rights of Man which I had read a few years ago that inspired me to start writing reviews of books. I am not sure that I intended at the time to review every book during future reading but it so happens that since I read the Rights of Man I continued to do so. The total number of books I have reviewed since has reached 45.
Common Sense is a short polemical work of 64 pages. The original text of Common Sense was limited to 36 pages but a later edition added another 28 pages where Paine underlined America’s splendid natural resources which presaged a very great future for the American people. The Penguin edition starts with a 14-page introduction by Isaac Krammick which gives the background of the American Revolution of 1776. In that year Paine was in America, in Philadelphia. His publication urging the thirteen American states to break with Britain had a profound effect at a time when the majority of the Americans were not in favour of breaking with Britain despite the serious conflict which had already developed with the Mother Country. (Paine maintained that the British claim to motherhood was quite unjust because so many Europeans from other countries had emigrated by this time to America).
His publication had an extraordinary impact and became an out and out best seller, reaching 100,000 copies initially. Eventually 500,000 copies were published during the first year, between legitimate and pirated ones. Apparently, King George III had made a speech attacking the American colony which was first reported in America on the day of Paine’s manifesto. In the added pages of his publication he refers to the unfortunate effect the King’s speech had on relations with America. It helped to popularise the extreme sentiments expressed in Paine’s manifesto.
According to the editor, Isaac Krammick, Paine’s Common Sense had a catalytic effect on American thought and was the single most important influence leading to the independence of the American nation. After independence many Americans remained loyal to Britain and were opposed to leaving the British Empire. Those who stayed in the States remained a small and rather isolated minority and removed from the thrust of power and patriotism. Others moved to Canada or went back to Britain.
The second part of the introduction to the Penguin issue is entitled From Staymaker to Revolutionary: the Life and Career of Tom Paine. It is a 36 page biography of Paine who had just arrived in America at the time of hostilities there. His short essay made a powerful case against all forms of conciliation with the British. Although he had not been much more than a year in America when he wrote his diatribe against the British government and the King, he spoke as if he were an American urging his fellow men to immediate separation. He became a great hero to his hosts and his reputation extended to his later time in France where he was an enthusiastic supporter of the French Revolution. He had visited England a few times, it appeared, during these exciting times and was lucky not to have been imprisoned or lost his head.
He urged the Americans to build a navy. He claimed that, compared to England, they possessed such rich natural resources that it would be impossible for Britain to maintain its hegemony in the western Atlantic. The addendum to his pamphlet providing the statistics of the British navy contains details of their number and type of warships but claims that most were out of commission and that the navy was far too overstretched because of Britain’s far-flung dominions. The poor state of the British navy was another of his criticisms of the British King and the British government.
The final few pages of the book deal with his reply to the Quakers. Writing formally as a religious society, the Quakers claimed that it was unlawful and against the law of God that Americans should dispossess the king and oppose the British government. Paine’s answer to their statement showed a cold logic which contradicted their argument and which rightly opposed the intrusion of a religious group in matters of politics. American independence was eventually confirmed by the Treaty of Paris five years later,
It was clear that no ordered system of government existed in America at the time of the Revolution. The influence of the British government had largely waned as the revolutionary forces were gathering strength. There was no local government to control personal behaviour and even when the American state was well established there remained a tradition that government should interfere as little as possible with personal freedom, a tradition which still exists, as in the possession of guns. When the United States was established, it was in a milieu of personal freedom, in the absence of a well structured law and order system, and the gradual waning of the original pioneering spirit of sacrifice and high-minded morality. The lack of personal responsibility has contributed to the form of democracy which has evolved in America, a form of democracy which may be changing the ethos of Europe and the rest of the world. Whether democracy has the seeds of its own destruction is a moot point but what is the alternative? A benign dictator is virtually a contradiction in terms, if only because absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Paine was a fierce critic of monarchic government and aristocratic privilege as it existed up to the end of the 18th century. He deplored the exclusion of the ordinary people from political influence. He could see the virtues of popular power in the Netherlands and Switzerland in his own time and, as is so evident in the second part of his Rights of Man. He advocated many important social changes in society which foreshadowed the social benefits which are available to every citizen in western democracies to-day. His was a powerful influence in bringing about government by the people for the people.
Statue of Paine in his native Norfolk.
Many years later, after he returned to America to live out his life and long after the country had become independent, the remarkable part he played in the evolution of America’s history had been completely forgotten. He found himself impoverished, lonely and isolated, and only a few neighbours attended his funeral. He remained a forgotten figure for a few generations until his remarkable contribution to liberalism and to social advancement was rekindled by several biographers, the first published in 1892 and three further biographies in the latter half of the 20th Century. His name is now well known to historians and students of sociology, and there are active Thomas Paine societies and clubs in many parts of the western world. As his remarkable contribution to society was revived, William Cobbett arranged to have his remains removed to England for memorial re-interment. However, the final saga of his life and death ended when his remains were lost in the docks of Liverpool. He was born in 1737 and died in 1809.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Madame Curie and her daughters

Marie Curie and her  Daughters – Shelley Emling. Palgrave Macmillan  2012. 

Written on April 30th 2013

Marie Curie was born in Poland and met her husband Pierre Curie in Paris.  He was a scientist attached to the Sorbonne but he was killed in an accident in 1906 when he was still young.  She had joined him in his scientific work and she continued on as a scientist after his death. 

Marie and Pierre on their wedding day.
They had two daughters who were named Irène and Eve.  Marie Curie was of course famous as, with her husband,  the discoverer of Radium and Polonium in 1898  and was unique in receiving two Nobel prizes for her work on radium and radiation.  She remained a celebrity in France until she became involved with another young scientist who was married.  Her treatment by the French, particularly by the Catholic Church and those of the the right wing, reminded me much of the treatment received by Dreyfus when he was wrongly accused of leaking information to the Germans.  She was under considerable pressure from the public and from a number of her own colleagues to return to Poland because of her disgrace.  She resisted all pressures and she was greatly supported in the United States where she was received always as a celebrity, where she had many close friends and where much money was collected for her work on radiation. It was also surely unique that her daughter Irène won a Nobel Prize later in her life having joined her mother as a scientist.  Her daughter received her Nobel Prize because of her discovery of nuclear fission. Her second daughteÈve was younger and was less interested in science; she became a well-known media person and author. 

Before her disgrace in France, Marie Curie was considered by the French as an inspiration for women, particularly in such an unusual area as science.    Her lover was Paul Langevin and the love affair continued for some years but eventually petered out by the beginning of the Great War in 1914, although they continued to remain close friends afterwards.  The affair was a considerable source of pressure on Marie but nevertheless she succeeded in overcoming all the difficulties created by her critics.

Marie visited America and went to the Standard Chemical Company in Pittsburgh where she spent some time – three hours or more – talking to them about the production of radium.  Since 1960 radium is no longer purified although there remains still a lot in storage.  It is used in atomic bombs amongst other things but there is quite an interesting account in the book of  her visit to the Standard Chemical Company at the end of her stay in America.

Chapter 6 – New and Improved – deals with the dangers of radium and the gradual realisation by some that people were dying from radiation exposure.  The chapter also deals with the adoption in the early 1920’s of attempts to protect people from X-ray radiation and these rules became more widespread and more serious by the mid-twenties.  It was clear that there were many other people who refused to accept that radium and polonium were likely causes of serious illness and death but again there were others who were pretty well convinced by the evidence at the same time.  

Chapter 7 – Another dynamo duo – in December 1924 Frederic Joliot joined Marie Curie in her laboratory as a junior assistant.  He was to become a famous associate of hers as well as marrying her daughter Irène and this chapter dealt mostly with Irène and Frederic and with Irène’s increasing success and her recognition as being an important scientist by the French.  She too received a Nobel Prize.  She had a daughter shortly after they got married – Hélène and later a son, Pierre. Both are esteemed scientists. In this chapter there is a brief description of the month long trip to Brazil where she and her mother gave a number of well attended lectures and were accorded a number of receptions etc.  It was a long trip, taking them two weeks to get to Brazil and two weeks to return. 

We are reminded in chapter 8 – Returning to America again – of the fact that Marie was born in Poland and was fiercely proud of her country.  It had received its first freedom from the Russians, Germans and Austrians in 1918 and she was determined to set up a radium institute there as well.  This chapter deals with her ambitions and her relations to Poland and with her approach to Missy Maloney to organise a fund raising scheme in America to finance her Polish ambitions.  I haven’t read the chapter in every detail but obviously the Poles in America were amongst the most enthusiastic to support this fund raising campaign.  In order to further the Polish initiative, Marie went to America again where she spent some weeks.  Nevertheless it was clear that the Americans were not quite as enthusiastic as her previous visit.  She received a gift of 50 thousand dollars, which was quite a lot of money at the time and it enabled her to proceed with her plans for Warsaw.  She was in Warsaw at the beginning of the big crash in the stock market in 1928 and she was lucky that the money had been collected and was presented to her the day after the first sign of the crash.  It was presented to her by the President.

The world's first atomic bomb
Chapter 9 – Into the Spotlight – was important because, through the researches by Irène and  Fredric, they discovered  nuclear fission which was to lead eventually to information they had about the instability of the radium atom and about the first step towards harnessing atomic energy and eventually the atomic bomb produced in the US in 1944. 

The next few chapters deal mostly with research work by Frederic and Irène.   This concerned work in relation to radioactivity and the emission of radiation to non- radiant objects.  It was clear that much of the research done by Irène and Frederic and by many other physicists then in Europe, including those who left Germany for America (I suppose because they were Jewish) were active in this area of research. They were well on the road to the discovery of the atomic bomb; although they may not have realised the appalling possibilities of such discoveries.  The Frederic and Irène discovery is described in a later chapter as artificial radio activity.  Marie and Pierre had discovered natural radioactivity; it was perhaps ironic that Irène and her husband discovered artificial radio activity.  It was clear that the work of Irène and Frederic had opened up a new understanding of the nucleus of the atom and thus provided an extension of the research performed by Marie and Pierre. As well as their discovery of natural radioactivity, and the properties of a few elements, the study of the latter two lead to new insights into the atomic structure.  The next generation took this finding further by showing how scientists could duplicate this natural phenomenon artificially.  

Marie Curie with Albert Einstein
Marie died in 1934, almost certainly from aplastic anaemia or something related to her exposure to radium. Irène and Frederic got their Nobel Prize in 1935. In chapter 10 Frederic refers to the possibility of the nuclear bomb at the end of his speech at the time of the receipt of the Nobel Prize.  In chapter 11 Frederic says that he stated, “ neither of us could have imagined the repercussions of their research” – referring to Irène and Frederic and their desire for peace; but they continued their researches into radioactivity and artificial radio activity. 

Coming closer to the end of the book  Frederic and Irène showed increasing interest in the Nazi’s and they were very much opposed to the appeasement by France and the British to the German presence in France and were entirely opposed to Nazism in all forms. They took precautions to conceal the knowledge and information they were privy to during the occupation and whatever they garnered during their researches was not revealed until 1949.  After the war was over and Fredric and Irène had returned to Paris – just after they had dropped the second plutonium bomb on Nagasaki killing 140,000 people – they continued the use of atomic fission despite the bombing of Japan.  They both felt partly to blame for all that had transpired, as did other scientists in the same field of research.  What they had hoped was that fission would lead to a promising new source of power but instead it had lead to massive death and devastation.

After the War, at the request of the French government, Frederic was invited to organise the building of atomic reactors to provide energy for the country and for it to become an important source of energy, particularly as France, depleted as it was by the ravages of war, was able to export  energy to other countries.  Frederic, as High Commissioner of the Ministry of Atomic Energy was placed in charge of all the scientific and technical work in this area.   Irène was also very much involved.  The radioactive isotopes derived from her and Frederic’s discovery of artificial radio activity was one of the important benefits of their research.

A mobile xray truck
The discovery of artificial radioactivity has helped physicians with medical treatments since the 1930s.  Just one important and useful example, radioactive versions of potassium and technetium can allow us to trace where the elements travel and lodge in a patient.  A sensitive detector picks up the radioactivity outside the body and can locate and track the flow of blood and nutrients into certain organs.

The final chapter of the book underlines Irène’s important role in research and also mentions Eve because of her reputation as a media figure, a public speaker, a biographer and a journalist. She was noted as an active humanitarian with her husband during their various world travels. Eve died in 2007 at the age of 102.  Her husband was among other things the head of UNICIF. 

The last page or two of the book makes a plea to have more women in science, in education and equal in every way with men. As I listen nowadays to the radio and television, I wonder if women are outstripping men in the public arena. I am increasingly impressed by so many articulate and confident women commentators we encounter in the media and even in sporting events.

Friday, 6 February 2015

I must be talking to Myself

I must be talking to Myself – Dialogue in the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican 11. Mark Patrick Hederman, OSB. 

Written on April 26th 2004

I read this book in April 2004 and I finished the last ten pages on a beautiful warm sunny Sunday afternoon towards the end of the month. I persisted in reading the full text although some of the author’s writings proved to be opaque or incomprehensible.

The first two chapters dealt with the Vatican Council and its aftermath, and with the input of Pope John XX111 and Pope Paul 11. These chapters were mostly philosophical and provide an esoteric narrative about the relationship between the different Christian churches and between Christianity and other world religions. The key to the solution of these relationships is defined by the word Dialogue which is proposed as the effective means of creating unity. Understanding the word Dialogue is the key to understanding the sense of these two chapters.

The third chapter In the Works of Martin Buber was entirely incomprehensible to me and, while rereading the first two chapters might have lead to more understanding, I do not think I could get any insight into the thoughts of Buber, however much I read the text. I lacked the knowledge and insights into theology, philosophy and psychology to understand him. The last two chapters were also difficult and I had the impression that, without Mark Hederman’s utter devotion to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, it would be virtually impossible to share his confidence and faith in Christian unity, whatever about unity between Christianity and other religions.

Mark Patrick Hederman
The author identifies the changing stance of the Roman Catholic Church first introduced in Vatican 11. For the first time, the Church was conciliatory to other Christian churches, admitting that there were faults on all sides in creating disunity, firstly in the fifth century with the breakaway of the Nestorian and Monophysite churches in the East; secondly in the eleventh century with the break between Constantinople and Rome, and finally during the Reformation, the Protestant break in the sixteenth century. Although Vatican 11 represented a seminal change in the attitude of the Catholic Church, little progress appears to have been made in establishing Christian unity during the subsequent 40 years, apart from considerable expressions of goodwill on the part of some of the churches’ spokesmen. Contact between the churches continues as they meet and aspire to some form of unity. I suspect that the Roman Church is unwilling to countenance a diminution in the Pope’s role as the Vicar of Christ and that this is a significant obstacle in finding agreement. Clearly the other Christian churches are unwilling to yield on this issue.

Bishop Kallistos Ware
Despite the tedium of reading parts of the text which challenged my understanding, I was rewarded by reading the last four pages where a conversation between Bishop Kallistos Ware and Prof Dermot Moran was witnessed by the author. Bishop Kallistos was born an Anglican but he joined the Orthodox Church in 1958. He is now in Oxford and is attached to the University as a professor in Greek Orthodox studies. He is the Kitchener Orthodox Bishop responsible for his church in Britain. Moran is Professor of Philosophy and occupies the Chair of Metaphysics in University College, Dublin. Kallistos appears to have a pragmatic and rational approach to the question of unity. He is particularly concerned about the adverse effect nationalism has had on the Orthodox Church, a feature which has impaired the universality of the institution. Kallistos would be satisfied to agree a union with Rome and with the Pope as a central figure but he envisages the Pope as a first among equals in terms of leadership. He would see him as a spiritual chairman of a ruling council but he would be opposed to the power of the Pope in the political sense and almost certainly too to the concept of infallibility, although in his conversation he does nor refer directly to this stumbling block. It was in response to Moran’s question as to whether Christian union is really necessary that Kallistos underlines the problem of nationalism within the Orthodox Church. He does not mention nationalism in the context of the Protestant churches but clearly the Protestants too are less than universal in their structure as we know too well from the history of Great Britain and Ireland.

Pope Francis and friends.
Now that the Roman Catholic Church has withdrawn somewhat from its exclusive posture about its legitimacy, it appears to me that Christian unity could be achieved along the ideas of Kallistos in relation to the Papacy, by not insisting on a fixed liturgy for the different churches and by leaving matters such as the nature of the Blessed Sacrament and secular matters such as divorce, contraception and abortion to the conscience of the individual.

While the Christian Churches have been consistent over the past two centuries in promulgating virtue as exemplified by the life of Jesus Christ, they have been consistent in little else if we witness the many precepts which over two thousand years have been part of the dogma of Christianity. Changes in the Church’s concept of the next world, in the nature of sin, in celibacy among the clergy, in women participation in church services, in attitudes to abortion, and many other ordinances might presage changes in certain other areas which currently preoccupy the Roman and other Christian churches. Should such secular matters as abortion and divorce concern our spiritual leaders if we do not part from the path of virtue as defined by Eusebius, Marcus Aurelius and the philosophers of old? Would Jesus Christ be the stumbling block here for the faithful?

Religion should of course be divided from politics but history would remind us that too often religion has been a divisive and destructive factor among countries and among communities. Many Christians care little about the differences, secular or spiritual, which currently exist within the different Christian churches and I suspect that the author of this book might be included among them. Personally, if I believed in God, I would go directly to him for inspiration.