Archive for July 9th, 2010

Together we’re heavy

CS Lewis had a rule which ran something like this: always read two old books before reading a new one.
When he talked of old he meant early church fathers and the greeks and medieval literature. When I say old I mean CS Lewis, indeed anyone dead.
I like the principle of the thing.
I’m currently making my way through Life Together (with an equally awful cover like the one in the link)┬áby Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
I don’t know if it’s a character of the German language or the weight of their minds or something lost in translation but reading either Bonhoeffer or Barth is a challenging experience.
This is not a Harry Potter book you read in a day. I get through about 10 pages a sitting.
What determines our brotherhood is what the man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely of what Christ has done in both of us
In that statement lies a core part of what it means to be church.
It is not merely a group of individuals brought together by time, taste and context. It is a GOD ordained body of people, reconciled to one another in Jesus.
The “reality” we see is a bunch of disjointed people who struggle to agree on the colour of the curtains never mind the church’s mission.
Bonhoeffer reminds us of the real reality (sorry…) that we are new creations in a whole new kind of relationship to each other. This is no mere human relationship but a spiritual one.
We need to remember that the spiritual reality of what GOD has done is so much more real than the “reality” we perceive.

Handshake drugs

Interesting article in the BMJ on the conflict of interest involved in the WHO pandemic recommendations regarding the swine flu pandemic of last year – remember that. I’m surprised we’re here at all to remember it given the hype.
The WHO were the official body that declared the “pandemic” and as a result kick started and guided the way we responded.
Most notably this brought an unheard of (though 10 year old) drug to world wide media attention.
It seems a bad idea that the NGO making the guidelines should be based on the science rather than the money but it seems that there is a lot of doubt as to the transparency of the process that WHO undertook and it is clear that many involved had financial ties to those making the drugs that were later recommended and more importantly stock piled (at big cost/profit) in colossal numbers by governments.
These drugs aren’t like penicillin for pneumonia. Even the most optimistic science doesn’t claim it’s gonna save lives. For a disease that gets better by itself in 99% of people then giving out these drugs in the drinking water will benefit only the people making them.
Interestingly the actual declaration of the pandemic triggered previously negotiated contracts on vaccine manufacture. There has been a suggestion that WHO not only changed the definition of pandemic but also that there was some influence on the actual declaration.
However given the way that drugs are developed it’s hard to form an expert committee to come up with guidelines without having a conflict of interest.
Having said all that, one of these days we’ll get a flu as contagious as swine flu (that spread over the globe) and lethal as bird flu (that had a 40% mortality) and we’ll be properly buggered. I think I’d have a different take on oseltamavir if the disease behaved different.
NB – Mark Crislip has a an interesting retort to the reporting on the reporting by the BMJ here.


July 2010
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