The Soul & Mind Body Problem Story
Dear reader you can decide if this is based on fiction or fact.
Some names were changed for some reason.
More in spite of, rather than because of his work as a motor vehicle diagnostic technical trouble shooter, when John Russell retired he found himself studying the mind body problem. He had an enquiring mind from a young age which had always been interested in how things worked, and the problems of the unknown, along with whatever consciousness was supposed to be. He read and attended various talks etc. to help his interest. Eventually he put his thoughts on a website.
Polly who was a student knew John Russell and his interest, so when another student named Jordan who was studying psychology was going on to some others about the mind body problem, which they were not particularly interested in, Polly said. ‘Wasn’t that Descartes thing: I think so therefore I am.’
‘Yes said Jordan. But he was also alleged to be responsible for the term Dualism, which I do not agree with. It basically means our body is physical, but our mind is ethereal. As far as I am concerned we are all physical, and nothing that I have learnt whilst studying psychology suggests anything ethereal.’
‘So why are you going on about it so much? said another student’.
‘Because it is wrong that’s why! Descartes only agreed with it as he was a Catholic, and besides the Catholics would have killed him if he had said otherwise.’
‘No, said another student. I can’t believe that Jordan.’
‘Well they would have, we are talking roughly four hundred years ago and things were quite different then. La Metre fled from France in fear of his life, just because he said that he thought life was physical like a machine, which did not fit in with the religious people in charge. They did not like the idea of not having an ethereal soul which God was in charge of, which would float off when you die for its fate to be decided.’
‘Yes said a student but they would not have killed him really, after all they did not kill Galileo.’
‘That’s only because he rescinded the idea twice when threatened by Rome and was kept under house arrest. They did however in the year 1600 kill by burning at the stake in Rome, the scientist and philosopher Giordano Bruno, for insisting that the Earth did rotate on its own axis and orbits around the Sun. Descartes who moved to Holland had his works declared as damnable by Rome in the 1660s which is not so long ago in the great scheme of things. Anyway, my point is there is no evidence to show that the ethereal bit that some people believe in exists, so it can’t float off when you die.’
‘Do you mean we don’t have a soul?’
‘Well not an ethereal one, when you are dead that’s it.’
‘Many people would be very annoyed and upset to hear you say that.’
‘Yes they probably would.’
‘Anyway you can’t be 100% sure that does not happen can you?’
‘No, but as sure as sure can be and there is nothing to suggest otherwise, even with near death experiences. But don’t worry, if there is any scientific evidence to doubt what I am saying I would be happy to acknowledge it. As you well know that’s how science works. Unlike a belief, where anything is somehow plausible. In my experience, the professors, teachers and university staff in general tend to pussy foot around this subject due to political correctness, even though some are atheists like me.’
‘That’s probably because they have so many fee paying students or parents who have beliefs, I bet your parents would be upset as well.’
‘Yes, they probably would said Jordan.’
The majority of students went their separate ways leaving Polly with Jordan.
‘You know something said Polly my uncle John, well he is not really my uncle if you know what I mean?’
‘Yes, I have an aunty Brenda who I have known forever who is not actually, anyway about your so called uncle.’
‘He is interested in this stuff. I’m fairly sure he won’t mind me giving you his details but I’ll ask him first if you like.’
‘Yes thanks Pols.’
Later on Jordan made contact with John R and after chatting on the phone arranged a visit, John suggested that they could chat over lunch.
Jordon was surprised when John said that he had been to the Science of Consciousness, held every alternate year in Tucson. John thought he was not recognised due to his unqualified opinion, but that it did not prevent the so called qualified from a lot of hocus pocus woo, who probably helped sponsor the event.
‘I do like the B.P.S.(British Psychological Society)’ said Jordan, ‘the university encourages all of its psychology students to be members which is good, not just for discounts meetings and future jobs, it discourages woo.’
‘I too am a member said JR I also belong to there Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section, where I sent an abstract for there 2017 annual conference re the mind body problem, but unfortunately the conference was cancelled through lack of support. The following year they decided to include drug experience LSD, psilocybin, shamans, and near death experiences. Plus they included the Transpersonal Psychology Section who seem to be more popular so that’s the way it is.’
‘Disappointing’ said Jordan, ‘did you not try sending another abstract to the next Tucson conference?’
‘Yes I sent an abstract again for a talk but they said I could do another poster presentation, which having done one previously with no response I decided not to bother, oh a lady passing by did say that’s a nice looking poster.’
‘Did you tell them why?’
‘Yes I sent them an email .I’ve a copy here somewhere.’
‘Did they reply?’
‘No, I can give you a book of abstracts for the conference or you can look on line, see what you think for yourself. Please don’t take my word, that some of the abstracts were poor.’
‘I won’t said Jordon.’
‘Good said JR.’
‘Do you mind if I refer to your web John?’
‘No not at all, but again don’t take my word for what I say, check the facts for yourself.’
‘I won’t said Jordon, I mean I will check the facts that is. What are you going to do next John?’
‘I don’t know, I seem to have run out of steam, for the time being anyway. Perhaps you have some idea as to what to do about it.’
‘Maybe I could do a paper on the mind body problem, or rather why it should be approached as the body mind. I’ll have a word with Prof Gilbert see what he thinks. I’ll need to do a rough draft for him to consider, based on some of your stuff.’
‘That will be good, but I somehow doubt he will like it.’
‘We will see, its just an idea. Thanks for lunch John.’
‘I hope it was enough, I had forgotten how students can eat.’
‘It was fine, thanks again, I’ll be in touch.’
‘All the best Jordan give my love to Polly.’
A few weeks later at a meeting with Prof Gilbert head of psychology.
‘I will come straight to the point Jordon, this proposed paper on the mind body problem does not fit in with this university or your course work. When you first came here it was agreed that you wanted to become a criminal psychologist, then you wanted to change that to gender psychology. Which apparently your father did not agree with, so you reverted back to criminal psychology. My peers have said that you need to concentrate fully on criminal psychology if you are to stand any chance of obtaining a degree! You are lagging behind with your work and cannot afford any interruption from your intended goal. Assuming that you manage to achieve your degree, you could then look for a university that includes the philosophy of mind, but let me assure you that you will not make a career out of it.’
Jordan subsequently relays the Profs view to JR who said.
‘I am not surprised and I have to agree with your professor he is right you should finish your degree before you consider anything else. How did you decide to be a criminal psychologist?’
‘Well I have always been interested in psychology and how the mind functions. My father who works for the prison authority said they need criminal psychologists, but I am not sure that’s what I want to do.’
‘Well, I would hate to be anything to do with affecting your future.’
‘It would not be you, it would be my decision as to what I do.’
‘OK I wish you well with everything, all the best Jordan.’
‘Hi Polly what are you up to on your next time off?’
‘Probably studying. I should go home but I can’t seem to study there and I’ve a bit to do.’
‘Yes I should go home as well but I never look forward to it.’
‘Why is that?’ Polly asked surprisingly, ‘you live in such a lovely place.’
‘It is not the place it’s my dad he’s a complete pain, and threatens my allowance continuously, but I would like to see my mum.’
‘You are lucky to have an allowance, I haven’t.’
‘Yes maybe, but he does not realise what it takes to get a degree not having one himself, and he thinks I am just a kid at school. I suppose I will have to make an appearance, they will expect it.’
‘You need not tell them that you have a study break, how would they know.’
‘Unfortunately he knows old Gilbert, probably through his job dealing with criminal psychologists.’
‘Oh shit, I would hate to be checked up on like that. That is why I came down here, if it was near home, my mum would keep bringing me food, making sure I have cleaned my teeth and generally sticking her nose into anything and everything. Don’t get me wrong I love my mum, but she still thinks I am a child when I go home I get the same old cross examination, even though I speak to her at least once a week on the phone she can be a real pain. Anyway have you thought any more about the mind body problem, since old Gilbert was unhelpful.’
‘No I haven’t, or rather I think about it a lot but old Gilbert is right I should get my degree secured. I am a bit behind with it.’
It was a long walk from the station to Jordan’s home but it was a sunny day and he felt the walk would do him good. He could not remember exactly how long his family had lived there, but it was shortly after his father had been made a director about fifteen years ago. He was able to walk without having to concentrate on where he was going, it was semi automatic. Which reminded him of a disagreement he had with a lecturer, who had said that ‘if you did a journey so regularly it became automatic and could be done without being conscious unless something unusual happened to make you conscious of it.’ He then went on to explain how ‘the Libet experiment had shown how unconscious decisions were made before you became conscious of them. So therefore consciousness was a result of the non conscious and walking and driving for example could be done without being conscious of it.’ Jordan told him that ‘if you where not conscious of continually initiating the walking, driving, or the Libet experiment no matter how slight that consciousness was, then none of it would take place.’ The lecturer had said ‘that some people could sleepwalk, carry out activities, and even drive without being conscious of such.’ Jordan remembered him sigh and look at his watch, but undeterred had said, ‘perhaps they had slightly consciously initiated those activities but at a later time had no memory of such, rather like the drunk who had sung and danced on the table the night before, or woken up in bed with someone without any recollection.’ ‘Yes perhaps’ he quickly replied moved on, again looking at his watch.
Having remembered all that Jordan had realised that everything a person does, evolved from the non conscious body, and its autonomic, somatic, physical function. He soon realised his home was just around the next bend. His tactile mum who was by the gate, welcomed him with open arms. Which was not surprising as he had phoned her from the station and she was looking out for him. She had offered him a lift which he had been glad of on previous occasions due to the British weather. Like his mum he was tactile, but his father no longer was. He pulled her hidjab off her face and gave her a big kiss on her cheek. He was sure that she would not wear such a thing had her husband not insisted on her doing so when out side the home.
‘I love you mum.’
‘You too my son.’ They went in and he took off his rucksack. ‘So how have you been doing at college I mean university?’
‘OK I don’t enjoy the criminal law bit I am having to do at the moment, but it is all part of the degree so I just have to get on with it. Seems strange that I have to do something I don’t particularly like, in order to do something I like.’
‘Yes tell me about it’ his mum said knowingly, ‘still not long to go now I look forward to you being presented with your degree.’
‘So how are things? You look tired mum.’
‘Oh, ok but your father seems more obsessed with the Islamic faith than ever. I thought he would mellow a bit with age but, oh never mind.’
‘Never mind what!’
‘Well he insists now on waking me up every night to pray with him and I don’t want to.’
‘Isn’t it optional praying in the middle of the night?’
‘Well it is, rather it was, but that’s your father.’
‘Surely you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, you should say something.’
‘He expects me to do as I am told, you know what he is like.’
‘He will be expecting you to put up with extra wives soon if he becomes more obsessed. Then what will you say, yes dear, ok dear, three bags full dear.’
‘Oh stop don’t say that, I could not bear it.’
‘Well between you and me mum I do not consider myself a Muslim. The more I think about it the sillier it seems.’
‘Don’t let your father hear you say that.’
‘Yes I know, he will cut off my allowance. I am not so bothered about that, a lot of my colleagues do not have much if any allowance, some people cannot afford it. What concerns me is that he will want to kill me for apostasy. It is getting more difficult for me pretending to be a Muslim, I am surprised what you put up with mum, you used to be such a strong woman.’
‘Yes but I guess he has worn me down over the years.’
‘He knew that you were not a Muslim when he married you in a registry office, so he needs to lighten up. I will tell him if you won’t, you look so tired mum.’
‘Never mind I am alright really, what do you want to do now you are home?’
‘I have got some revision to do.’
‘Can I get you anything to eat or drink?’
‘Yes please I would like to sit out in the garden and would love one of your amazing sandwiches and a cool larger.’
‘Oh I am afraid your father has recently stopped allowing any more alcohol in the house.’
‘What! He used to enjoy a pint or a glass of wine, and you used to like a sherry or a champagne celebration didn’t you?
‘OH! For fuck sake mother what has happened to you? Woman up! I’m going down the pub, I can study there.’
‘Dinner is at 7.30 don’t be late.’
‘When are prayers before or after dinner.’
‘Oh never mind, I’ll see you later.’
Father arrives home greets his wife and said.
‘I thought Jordan would be here?’
‘Well he is what?’
‘He is down the pub.’
‘Oh is he!’
‘Yes I told him that dinner was at 7.30.’
Down the pub whilst in their garden feeling relaxed with a sandwich and a pint, Jordan caught up a bit with his studies he felt pleased that he had been able to sort out some of the things that had been holding up progress with his citation, which would soon have to be handed in. Just thinking of packing up his stuff and walking back when Sam an old friend arrived.
‘I didn’t know you were back home.’
‘It’s only a short visit, a study break.’
‘What are you doing later?’
‘Hadn’t planned anything.’
‘There are a few friends gathering at mine later come over if you like, you will know most of them we can catch up then.’
‘Ok thanks, I should spend some time with my folks, I am going back tomorrow, but I’ll see thanks.’ With everything put away in his trusty backpack, his home beckoned. It had gone 7pm when he got home, mum was in the kitchen.
‘Your father is anxious to speak to you.’
‘Why, what did he say?’
‘Oh nothing in particular but I can tell that he wants to talk to you.’
Jordan washed his face and hands and went into the dinning room, where he was greeted by father with a stern face, not being tactile anymore, Jordan wondered if they ever made love, maybe he considered it a wife’s Islamic duty.
‘What’s all this I hear about you interrupting your studies.’
‘I don’t know dear father what you have heard and from whom.’
‘Your professor has told me that you were thinking of presenting a paper which is not connected to your studies and he…’ Jordan stepped nearer to his father.
‘The professor has no right to discuss what I do with anyone, and that dear father includes you!’ Pointing at him to make the point. ‘I will consider reporting him to the union who take a dim view of such things. There are privacy rules and he could get in a lot of trouble for this.’
‘Now just a minute I am only concerned for your future that’s all.’
‘I’m not a child father and be careful with your next remark about how much that I cost, or you and especially mum will not want to hear my reply.’
‘Stop it now! Both of you sit down and don’t spoil dinner.’
Jordan had been prepared for his fathers threat to cut off his allowance, and would tell him to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, he had had enough of his fathers control freak attitude. He was ashamed of his father, who was once such a happy intelligent man. Jordan as a child had looked forward when he was old enough to having a pint with him in the pub. But instead he had become consumed by an anachronistic belief. One day it would have to be confronted, but now was not the time to spoil his mums lovely food. Mum interrupted the silence by saying.
‘Have you met anyone special?’ Father could not help himself.
‘I hope not, there have been enough interruptions.’ Jordon counted to ten and then another ten looking briefly at his mum, Pleased that he’d not reacted and kept quiet starting to hate more than just dislike his poor excuse for a father. Mum understood looking relieved, thinking on reflection she should not have asked such a question in front of her husband, so changing the subject.
‘When are you going back?’
‘Oh so soon.’ He wanted to say I only came to see you mum, but counted to ten again instead, a good trick he had learnt from one of his lecturers. He sensed the pious look of dislike roughly in his direction from father which he ignored, he had seen it many times before. He thought he would never chose to be with such a person that his dad had become, but put up with him for the sake of his mum. Perhaps they would divorce so that he would never have to see him ever again, and she would regain her jovial, happy, confident life and soul that she had once been.
‘I met Sam down the pub who’s having a gathering at hers, I said I’d go.’
Later with Sam, ‘how are your folks.’
‘They are cool.’
‘Give them my regards, it’s such a big house I doubt if I will see them.’
‘Yes I am so lucky they are at one end and I am at the other, they trust me to do what I like, how are yours?’
‘My father is a control freak plus, he’s turned into a stanch Muslim who does not drink alcohol anymore and no longer allows it in the house.’
‘I wondered why I haven’t seen them down the local anymore.’
‘Yes and mum is having to wear a stupid hidjab.’
‘You are joking!’
‘No I wish I was, he will be wanting to kill me for apostasy next.’
‘Oh because I was born his son and he is a Muslim that according to his belief it makes me one as well, and because I don’t believe in that anachronistic stuff and never ever did, or ever will it apparently gives him and his fellow Islamists the right to kill me.’
‘Exactly I have read the Koran and as far as I am concerned it is a book of hate and dislike to all who are not Muslim, and even that depends on what kind of Muslim you are. The different factions don’t like one another Sonnies, Shiites, etc.’
‘Isn’t it supposed to be read only in Arabic?’
‘Yes a language that’s so pure and simple to understand that it cannot be translated, such crap. An old friend who could speak and read Arabic gave me an English version that was as good or bad as the Arabic version that he had read. The Koran being written years after Mohamed had died, plus he could not read or write.’
‘That seems unbelievable.’
‘Yes but that is what a belief is, something that can not be factually proved but the believer accepts without question. So when Mohamed flew up from Jerusalem on a white winged horse to see God it obviously has to be true!’
‘Sounds like some trip, I wonder what he was on?’
‘Yes exactly, everyone knows that if you are not a Muslim, then you are the infidel, which is religionist and should be treated like racism. Hitler’s Mein Kampf is not tolerated for use by any organisation in Germany and I don’t see why the Koran…’
‘Wow! It has really got to you hasn’t it, I suppose when you are having to live with it like you are you can’t help it.’
‘I am just sick of the way it is affecting my mum and my life.’
‘Being as you are not a Muslim do you fancy a beer or a glass of wine?’
‘A glass of red would be good if there’s one open.’
‘Yes, help yourself, blood of Christ Jordan.’ They both laughed ‘cheers.’
The next day was cold and windy and Jordan had been glad that he had sat in the pub garden in the sun to study and met Sam. His father had already left for work.
‘I’ll give you a lift to the station when you are ready I am sure you won’t want to walk in this.’
‘Yes thanks mum.’ He gave her a big hug and a kiss at the station, ‘don’t let him wear you down completely love you.’ She gave him a forlorn look and drove off, acting out her unwanted sad and tired life like an illness.
On the train he thought he would check his emails, scrolling down there was one from his father amongst the usual rubbish and one from JR yesterday. It read, ‘Dear Jordan I am sorry that I have annoyed your father who thinks I am trying to distract you from your studies. In spite of me trying to reassure him otherwise he told me not to contact you anymore, I said that you had contacted me and with that he hung up.’ Jordan said loudly ‘FUCK!’ Which caused a lady sitting opposite to look shocked, get up and move down the carriage. ‘Sorry,’ he said as she walked away. His fucking father was completely out of order. He took a swig of the cold fizzy water his mum had given him, and was glad that he had not read the email yesterday, as his father must have spoken to JR earlier that day. He looked out of the window thinking what a complete arsehole his father had become. He sent a short email to JR apologising for his fathers behaviour, pressing send he thought that he should have phoned but felt too embarrassed. Wondering how he had got hold of JR’s number, then he remembered he had mistakenly left it with his rough draft he’d given to old professor Gilbert, the bastard! I’ll look at the other emails at the flat, ‘bastards!’
He was calmer when he’d got off the train, plus the weather was better for the walk back to his flat. He unloaded his bag and had the vitamin bar mum had given him. He thought that he had better also eat the banana she had stuck in his bag at the last minute before he left home, if he didn’t it would either get soggy or one of his friends would have it. He clicked on them in order and opened one from his father, expecting it to say what it usually said, don’t do this and don’t do that and study hard. He seemed to make a point of sending the same stuff every week, and probably got his secretary to send them. But hang on, this was different as it said ‘I have spoken to professor Gilbert who has told me that you have been in touch with a JR about changing your study paper. He and I are not at all happy with this. As he has already told you, I too forbid you to have any further interruptions with your work. I will be speaking to this JR on the phone number that professor Gilbert has given to me, and as far as I am concerned that is the end of the matter I will not argue with you but rest assured that if you do not pass and receive your degree I will stop all further funding to you and your university. Your father.’ When he had finished reading, instead of wanting to swear and break something, as was often the case, he began to smile. ‘Got you, you old bastards.’ Father being so full of his own self importance, and Gilbert wanting to ensure further finance had flaunted the universities privacy laws so heavily imposed on all staff and students. This email with the one from JR would be like a red rag to the ragging union bull. Whilst Jordon would always try and respond to texts and phone calls, he had never bothered much with emails, sometimes to the annoyance of his lecturers, but he was glad that he had not seen these before his visit home. Looking forward to his next private assessment meeting with Gilbert who would have no idea of such a confrontation. He felt happy, with a bit of a spring in his step as it were, and ate the banana. Studying seemed much easier than prior to reading fathers email, a first if ever there was one.
The days passed with one day blending into the next as it can be when so busy. Jordan had found time to attend a lecture on evolutionary psychology. Most of the students were medical who he did not know but he was attending more out of his personal interest than his course work required, but you could never be sure. The lecture had not been going for very long when a group of men in the front stood up disrupting the talk. The lecturer stopped and asked why they were leaving. One of the men said that. ‘We have been offended by the description of evolution without any mention of God who was the creator of man from clay and sperm drop, and woman from the rib of the man.’ The lecturer in amazement said to them, ‘I cannot believe how any of you can ever become medical practitioners believing in such stuff!’ A group of women behind also started to leave as well, he recognised two of them who had arrived with the men in the front who were leaving. He realised that a recent request by Muslims to the students union for male and female students to be segregated was actually taking place, even though the request had been refused due to gender neutrality. Once they had left, the lecture continued without further interruption, but not without leaving an impression of sadness and disappointment being difficult to accept.
Later that day he saw Polly. ‘Hi Pols, I thought you worked in the library on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.’
‘I do or rather I did.’
‘Do you fancy a coffee then you can tell me all about it.’
‘Ok thanks. I still do Tuesday but for two hours instead of three and they have cancelled Thursday to save money, which is a shame as the money was really handy. Not only am I now going to struggle and although it has only been since last week, the library is starting to look a mess with books out of place and some in the wrong place. Although I need the money I don’t want to work there any more the way it is. Another student is leaving and apparently they are not going to replace them. They told the librarian that it is a temporary financial necessity, which has made her very grumpy, she said it is going to end up like it was before she had extra help, not being able to find anything.’
‘Who’s idea was it? Old Gilberts apparently.’
‘Oh really have you spoken to a students union rep.’
‘No I can’t see them helping me, they are mostly from wealthy backgrounds and don’t have the money problems that I do, they seem more interested in politics, like political correctness rather than anything useful. Never mind, enough about me. Have you spoken to my uncle, I mean John since you saw him.’
‘Yes, on the phone to tell him about old Gilberts comments, oh and an email. Anyway if you got your hours back at the library would you carry on working there?’
‘Yes, but a few hours more would be good, especially if they are not going to get any one else.’
‘I did know someone in the students union. I will see if they can do anything, I’ve got to go, good to see you Pols.’
‘Yes it’s always good to see you too, and thanks for the coffee.’
The following week at 9am Jordan was to see Professor Gilbert for an update on his progress. He always seemed to arrange meetings in the morning knowing that a lot of students were not at their best at that time of day, he probably figured through experience that it gave him an extra edge over the students. If you had a particular whinge or were the type of student who wanted twenty minutes instead of five, then he would get his secretary to find out what lecture you had to attend and arrange an appointment ten minutes before it was due to start, making it almost impossible to alter the appointment with a date and time well in the future, when he hoped the whinge had passed, clever really. The secretary showed Jordan in. Gilbert was sat in his luxurious chair drinking his tea, Jordan sat on a hard uncomfortable chair opposite.
‘Since our last meeting I am pleased that you have been making good progress.’
‘I am sure my father will be relieved to know that and will continue sending donations to the university. Perhaps you will use some of his donations to assist the funding of the library.’
‘What we use donations for is of no concern to you.’
‘Ok, let me put my cards on the table. If you do not show more respect to the students in general I will report you to the students union.’
‘Ha! As if I give a fig about the bunch of twats in the students union.’
‘Well, perhaps you will when I show them the emails between my father and me, who has quoted private and confidential information given to him as he said by you! Privacy and confidential information is strongly required by this university as is stated on the universities website. So, this is what you are now going to do. Firstly, by treating the students with a bit more respect. Secondly, reinstate the hours to the library as required by the librarian, and pay the students who work in the library the minimum wage. Thirdly, if I hear or suspect anything negative to do with you Professor Gilbert, I will have no hesitation in sending the emails and the recording of this conversation to the university and the students union, who I am sure will be delighted to hear what you think of them. Good day.’ He got up and walked out not waiting for a reply from a clearly stunned and deflated person. Outside he said to the secretary, ‘I presume that you heard all what was said.’
‘Well, er yes.’
‘That’s good then you will be able to ensure he does what I have said, good day.’
‘Good day Jordan.’
He walked away reached into his shirt pocket for his phone recorder, announced the date and time and switched it off.
On Thursday morning Polly received a call from the librarian who sounded very excited by saying. ‘Hooray I do not know how or why, but you can have all your hours back at the minimum wage and some more if you would like, it will save me looking for someone else. So will I see you this afternoon?’
‘Yes please, I mean yes thank you that’s such good news, I c an’t believe it.’
‘Neither can I, they said it was temporary they must have had a change of heart or something, see you later then.’
‘Ok bye.’ Polly felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders, a feeling that wealthy students would never experience as they took money for granted, just like having air to breath. She was so pleased she had to tell someone. Jordan came to mind as she had been bending his ear about it the other day so she phoned him. ‘Guess what?’
‘No silly,’ she went on to explain what the librarian had told her finishing by saying the minimum wage was almost twice what she was getting before, ‘I still can’t believe it.’
‘We should celebrate down the pub tomorrow about 7pm.’
‘Yes and I will pay, I feel like I owe you for listening to me going on about it the other day besides you brought the coffee.’
‘Great see you there, bye Pols.’ A bit of irony came over him to think that his fathers donations would be paying for alcohol down the pub, which made him smile. He felt so good about seeing Polly tomorrow and was very pleased with the outcome. He hoped that what he could see now, with his degree at least, was the light at the end of the tunnel, as opposed to the light on the front of an oncoming train, as it had seemed in the past.
He arrived at the pub well before seven and sat down at a spare table for two with a cold beer, it could get quite busy especially on a Friday. Polly arrived just before seven and there were very few seats left. She had a radiance that he had not really been aware of before, they hugged and kissed. ‘What will you have another one of those?’
‘Yes, that one barely touched the sides.’ He would have offered to get the drinks but knew what she would say. He wondered what it was about her, and thought that he just liked being with her, it was as simple as that. She came back with the drinks and proceeded to tell him in her almost childish exciting way, of how her and the librarian had been so happy again now that they could look forward to being efficiently in control, she finished by saying. ‘So how’s you?’ He wanted to tell her about his meeting with old Gilbert, and it felt strange not telling her but perhaps another time. Instead said. ‘My father is a religiose control freak.’
‘Why do you pronounce religious religiose? Sorry its just that since I have been with the librarian, who as you know is very well spoken, she pulls me up on my grammar and pronunciation which I am quite pleased about really but…’
‘Can I get a word in to explain?’
‘Oh sorry, I am still excited.’
‘Don’t apologise I like your excited way, there is a difference between the two words, religious is someone who has a belief, and religiose which is someone who is excessively obsessed with their belief, like my father who puts it before anything! I guess what upsets me most is how his anachronistic belief has affected my once confident ineffable mum, who is under his thumb and now won’t do anything without his approval.’
‘Oh my, poor Jordan’s mum. My mum is religious but has never tried to push it on me. Maybe he will change, I am sure he wasn’t always like that otherwise your mum would not have entertained him in the first place.’
‘I like your optimism Polly.’
‘Yes there’s always hope if she can put up with it, I don’t think I could.’
‘So there it is, would you like another wine is it your usual?’
‘Hello John I thought that I should phone to apologise about my father, I sent you a text as I was to embarrassed to phone at the time.’
‘Oh don’t worry. I’m glad that you called I didn’t think I would hear from you again after that.’
‘My father is a control freak but he will never control me, even if it means never seeing him again. Some good did come out of it but it’s a long story which I won’t bore you with now. So, how are you?’
‘I’m fine it’s just that I am not getting any younger. I seemed to have peaked a few years ago and it’s all slowly but surely going downhill, which is to be expected.’
‘Still, that’s better than going up hill.’
‘Sorry, I’m not complaining but people who are younger still think I should be able to do what I use to do, but I’m happy and just have to learn how to ignore them. Besides, I am luckier than some, but you didn’t call to listen to all that.’
‘I would not have asked you how you are if I did not want to know, besides I have only met you once but like to think of you as a friend. Also, Polly thinks a lot of you and would not think much of me if she knew I had spoken to you without asking.’
‘Well thanks, I like Polly‘.
‘Yes so do I, very much.’
‘Give her a hug and a kiss from me, you will see her before me I’m sure.
‘Have you done anything further with the philosophy of mind recently?’
‘No not really, although I did send an abstract for a talk at the 2018 BPS Consciousness Conference, but they did not reply. They do not usually acknowledge receipt of abstracts but I did get them to say they had received it, but did not say yes or no as to whether it is acceptable.’
‘They should let you know, they are aware how much effort goes into doing a presentation.’
‘Never mind it is their prerogative. I shall still go to the conference it is in Regents Park University and will stay there for the two days. It will be an experience. I’ll let you know how it goes, there are sure to be some others like me with such an esoteric interest. Although I am a member of the BPS and their conscious section, because I have not been indoctrinated I feel like an outsider, they give me a strange look when I say that I am an independent scholar. As I have said before it seems that unless you are qualified you are rejected. I can understand how Darwin must have felt when he tried to put forward his theory of evolution before he was qualified. Because I am not qualified for example, I cannot belong to the ASSC (Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness) unless you are an established student or qualified. Which I am to some extent ok with, as it cuts out some of the hocus pocus woo that you get at the Science of Consciousness in Tucson. But it would not stop people like Deepak Chopra spouting off, as he is qualified! Maybe when you are qualified you can have a go at the mind body problem. Perhaps you will have more time, although maybe not.’
‘I will see. Hope your Regents park experience is good, I’ll keep in touch.’
‘Thanks for your call Jordan.’
‘All the best John bye.’
‘Bye.’ John put the phone down in a reflective mood. He wondered what he should do next, if anything. He had emailed Sir Tom Stoppard about doing a play about the mind body problem, Sir Tom had sent a very kind reply saying his mind was on other things. John wondered if he had been deterred by his previous recent play about consciousness. He seemed to humble himself appearing slightly embarrassed in an interview with David Chalmers, a so called expert on consciousness. But in fairness to David the play was not good and he was very polite in not saying much about it. Polly had once suggested that he should write a book about the mind body problem, but he didn’t know what he would do, or even why he felt that he should do anything at all. However, when he had tried to forget about it or put it to one side, something would rekindle his interest like the Conscious Conference in Regents Park. He felt sure as he had said to Jordan that there would be others to share his esoteric interest with, as it was understandably a subject very few were interested in, including his dear wife.
Relatively he always saw or heard something going on to keep him interested and filled his year as he pleased. Regents Park, and then a two
day festival in the grounds of Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath where he had planned to attend about a dozen talks. After that, part one of the Science and Spirituality lectures at Birkbeck College. Then there was a some talks and a lunch by the BPS at Senate House, followed by part two back at Birkbeck. He considered himself fortunate to be able to do what he did. There were plenty who could not, and some of his old friends where no longer alive. Travelling to these events was made easier with the assistance of his better half, local transport, and being fortunate to live inside the M25 ring road.
Jordan’s final year was flying by, he had been determined to get a good grade in his dissertation rather than just a pass, and time was of the essence. Polly had become a very good friend, and his father and professor Gilbert had not bothered him since his last encounter with them. The saddest thing was that he had not been home to see his mum, he had kept in touch by phone etc. but missed actually being with her. Maybe it was just as well as he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to cope with seeing her if she was as tired, or even worse than when he last saw her, and didn’t want to be with his father anyway.
Little did Jordan realise that the relationship between his parents had severely deteriorated, at least as far as his mother was concerned and probably unaware of by his father. She had kept quiet about her enquiries to a previous business colleague, a solicitor who said that he would be happy to help for old times sake, and now specialised very lucratively in divorce proceedings. Prior to becoming a full time mother she had been a successful business woman, which her husband had conveniently forgot. She had tried to drop hints that although she still loved him, she did not love his religiose obsession. After Jordan’s final year results, good or bad, she would drop the bomb shell of divorce on him.
Being so busy, Jordan’s auto calendar was reminding him of his mums approaching birthday. Dam! I won’t be able to get home, I’ll send her some flowers. He spoke to Polly like he did whenever he had a problem, as she did the same with him especially with course work.
‘There is a web site I’ve got it here somewhere…yes, here we are they not only deliver flowers but chocolates as well, and if you want to splash out they will include a small bottle of champagne too.’
‘I don’t know about that with my father about.’
‘Oh go on, they will deliver it when he is at work, and she can drink it before he gets home. You said she used to like champagne.’
‘Yes ok, blow the expense I will. What are they called again?’
As a final year student Jordan had been encouraged to hone his vocal and presentation skills by giving a talk related to his course, and had chosen as a topic Religion and Psychological Progress. He had made what he thought was a neutral presentation and was prepared for questions from religious students. He started his talk by explaining how religion was accepted and accommodated from the past to the present, and any education then or now had to be paid for. So, if in the past you had a wealthy position wherever you lived you could afford to educate your self in whatever was available at the time, including psychology and or philosophy. If you were not wealthy, you had to work hard just to survive, but if you had the ability and were prepared to be devoted to a powerful and wealthy religious belief system, then you would be allowed to study whilst being looked after by the religion. Naturally the results of studies had to fit in with the beliefs of the religion, if not there would be trouble. Galileo found that he had to refute his own findings, and was forced to find alternative explanations. Unlike Giordano Bruno who refused and was burnt at the stake in Rome in 1600. He moved on through time towards the future mentioning some examples of how psychology experiments had, quite rightly, been kept in check by ethics, which otherwise would have got completely out of control. He was more or less at the end of his talk and should have left it there, but he could not help finishing by saying that scientific facts should not be ignored because it does not fit in with a religious belief. Humans brains had evolved from bodies like the Phylum Chordata over millions of years and not from a god or Adam and Eve. At this point an Asian man with a black bushy beard stood up and shouted ‘Infidel!’ Pointing at Jordan, some of the males that were with him reluctantly also stood up, as did some females towards the rear of the auditorium.
‘Before you go, please let me say thank you that has exactly proved my point, and that I am happy to be called an infidel.’ The man with the black beard stopped when he realised that most of the others who had stood up were not following him. Jordan continued, ‘if without any evidence other than belief, which is mistaken as fact that a person called Mary was consummated by an angel called Gabriel and subsequently she had a son called Jesus who was born under a palm tree, and the same man who believed that, claimed that he had flown up to heaven on a white winged horse to have a chat with god! Then yes, I am an infidel who cannot put such beliefs before scientific facts, and neither should any of you.’ The hostess who had organised the talks took the microphone from him saying.
‘Thank you all for coming, that concludes today’s talks.’ The man with the black beard scowled at Jordan, and left with his followers who chatted and filed out with the rest of the audience. Jordan had noticed some of the men who had stood up with the bearded man had made their way to the front. Jordan reluctantly went towards them. One then spoke.
‘We agree with scientific facts and realise, as you do, that things can change with new knowledge. Our problem is that if our parents, relatives, and non scientific friends, find that we do not believe in the word of Allah and his Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him, then they would make our lives hell, cut off our finances and even disown us. We are surprised that you said what you did, as we thought you were Muslim.’
‘I was, but not through my choice, as yours may not have been.’
‘You are in your last year unlike us, so perhaps you do not mind that your finances are cut off, it is different for us.’
‘Yes I am sorry I do know how difficult it can be, especially if the entire family are staunch Muslims. Who is the guy who called me an infidel? ’
‘That is Abu de Becker. His father runs a mosque in Paris, and has connections, I am sure you know how it can be. We just wanted to say how it is with us.’
‘Yes thank you I appreciate it, and I do understand your predicament, but somehow it has to change for everyone.’
He bought some things from the local shop and hadn’t been back in his room very long, when he realised that he had not looked at his phone, which had been on silent during the talks. He had felt it vibrate in his pocket, but was surprised when he looked at the screen that he had missed three calls. Two were from Polly, one was a text which read, ‘Sorry forgot you were giving a talk, having to work till 7pm can we meet at 8?’
‘Yes sure’ he replied. As for the other from his father, he could go to hell.
He met Polly and told her how his talk had gone including the stuff at the end.
‘Trust you to stir them up she said, although it’s pathetic how they could be disowned and alienated, as I have said before my mum is a staunch Catholic but she would never disown me’
‘She might have done a few hundred years ago, but fortunately the Catholics have realised that nastiness did not work and have peacefully moved on. The Spanish Inquisition is now just for show. Somehow Islam will have to learn to survive without violent threats, it is after all supposedly a religion of peace!’
‘I wonder what your father wanted?’
‘I don’t know and you know what? I don’t actually care, I expect old Gilbert has been on to him about my talk, and he probably wants me to apologise to the entire Muslim community for what I said, they can both go to hell!’
‘I didn’t think you believed in heaven or hell.’
‘I don’t but they do.’
‘So they can both go there together then’ said Polly. They both laughed.
‘Let’s get something to eat, my treat said Jordan.’
‘You sure you don’t want to go halves.’
‘Yes, besides it might be my last if my allowance is cut off. What do you fancy, food wise’ he quickly added. Polly giggled.
‘I don’t mind you decide.’
The next two days came and went then it was the weekend. There had been no repercussions from his talk and he was surprised. It made him wonder why his father had tried to call him, but was sure that if it was that important he would have called back or left a message. Maybe him and Gilbert had discussed it privately. There had been no discernable
reactions from the Muslim community, some smiled at him a bit more and some looked away, but nothing to write home about as the expression goes. Which made him think of his mum wondering how she was coping, but it would soon be time for her visit on his graduation day, and he consoled himself by looking forward to seeing her then.
Unbeknown to him, things had happened on his mothers birthday. Consumed by his work, he had not found the time to travel home, but had sent her a birthday gift as Polly had suggested. He thought that the small bottle of champagne might remind her of what a free spirit of fun that she used to be, before it was crushed by her religiose control freak of a husband. The company that delivered it emailed him to say so, and his mum had sent him a text with thanks, love, hugs and kisses. What he did not know was that she had deliberately waited till she heard her husband arriving home before opening the champagne, there was enough for two glasses and when he came in she offered him one.
‘I thought you would like to toast my birthday or had you forgotten as usual.’ After Jordan’s last visit she had decided that somehow her life was going to change, and that on his graduation she would take a bottle of champagne regardless of what her husband would say. But Jordan sending her some for her birthday was the catalyst for immediate change. The expression on her husbands face was a mixture of surprise, disgust and confusion after what seemed to her an eternity, expecting him to swipe the glass from her hand in a rage. Instead he collapsed on the sofa and burst into tears. She put down the champagne and went to him, hugged and kissed him and wiped away his tears. After a while he said.
‘I am so sorry I have been such a silly old fool, pass me the champagne, cheers and happy birthday.’ They sat together and she thought thank you my son this is the best present that I could ever have had.
‘I had forgotten how refreshing champagne could be’ he said.
‘Would you like a chocolate?’ He smiled back at her in a way he had not done for years and quietly said.
‘Yes please.’ They both knew that things were now going to be different.
The following day Jordan’s dad had tried to call him and getting home that evening he mentioned it. ‘I tried to call Jordan earlier but he did not return my call, have you spoken to him?’
‘No I haven’t, I thought I would leave it another day, it all seems too good to be true.’
‘Yes I know, I have been so stupidly obsessed and allowed my beliefs to destroy my love for you. It won’t happen again and I am so sorry.’
‘Enough. Lets enjoy our life together. I have just had a thought, it will soon be Jordan’s graduation day and we could supprise him then, unless you speak to him before.’
‘Yes that’s a good thought I like that, but I wanted to tell him what an old fool I have been and say sorry.’
‘Enough! I said stop calling my husband old, being a fool is bad enough.’ They laughed, hugged and kissed like they used to do. ‘So, unless you speak to him then we will surprise him on that day, it will be good to do it in person, and we can share it together. Lets have dinner.’
John R was getting a bit tired of the way his favourite interest in consciousness was being tarnished by spirituality, NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) etc and had been disappointed by the way the consciousness conference had been taken over by the Transendental BPS group. Out of the eighty or so delegates, only six attended the Conscious section AGM, which seemed fine to the main organiser. However, he had enjoyed the conference being able to talk to like minded people. Usually when anyone asked him what he was interested in and he said philosophy of mind or consciousness they showed little or no interest, which was ok but he wished they would stop asking. He often thought about making up a false interest like tiddlywinks! The talks at Birkbeck London were regularly held once a month. The one he attended was about Spirituality and Science, a strange combination. Susan Blackmore was giving a talk in her usually enthusiastic manner, but for John it was the same old same old. She had said near the end, that dualism remains a problem, which she had said in an email to John some four years earlier. There was a queue of people with questions that she had to cut short as she probably had a train to catch. Maybe he would send an email, though she would probably be too busy to reply. She had never explained four years ago why ‘dualism’ was a problem, so why would she now. The majority of the consciousness celebrities seemed to have become too busy to answer questions, especially from the unqualified like John, or so it seemed. But he knew his approach was worth considering as it showed that the physical live functions of the body were what initially caused the brain to function in the environment and not the other way round as most thought, hence he pressumed was why Sue and many others said dualism was a problem. He would carry on with his approach to consciousness as nothing else made any sense, certainly not pansychism.
Jordans dissertation presentation on criminal psychology had been well received by Professor Gilbert and his peers, even with the inclusion of JR’s approach which he had managed to explain as to how the body and its senses affects the brains response to the bodies physical requirements, which is the key approach to understanding human function, including consciousness.
The day of his graduation was fast approaching. Polly was feeling a bit sad as she had another year to go, and was starting to realise that he would not be there then. It was a stuggle to think of him as just a friend, but she would have to put her big girl pants on accept it and move on.
He had agreed to meet his parents in his room prior to the ceremony. Polly was there along with a couple of his peers who had also qualified. This final year had been very intense and he was looking forward to having a complete break from studying and enjoying the rest of the summer. They had a bottle of bubbly to celebrate and he thought they had better drink it before his father turned up, but he couldn’t care less really.
Jordans mum waited for her hubby to remove the wire and wrapping that secured the cork, and making sure the cork was on the move before she knocked on his door. She did not wait for a reply to her knock, as the door was slightly open and she could hear them talking. She went in leaving the door as it was. Jordan said ‘is he not coming?’ Seeing that she was not wearing a head scarf.
‘Yes, he will be here before you can say Champagne!’ His confusion quickly turned to shock, as the door opened and in came his father to the ‘pop’ of the champagne cork. He was smiling and looked pleased with himself for having carefully carried it wrapped in newspaper to keep it cool, and had not spilt any on the news paper which he had held underneath just in case as the cork flew out. Mum was busy putting some plastic glasses on the table.
‘Over here darling’ she said to her smiling husband. Jordan was overcome with emotion, he went to his father and they hugged as they had not done so for years. Mum took the bottle and poured.
‘You must be Polly?’
‘Yes,’ and like Jordan and father were overcome with emotion, felt her eyes welling up with tears of joy. Mum offered her and the two friends a glass. Dad broke the silence and said.
‘Don’t ask son. Religion has spoilt too many days with my family which I will never let happen again. I am so sorry that I let it rule my life. I did try to call you after your mums birthday to say sorry and to thank you, but you where probably too busy.’
‘This has to be the happiest day of my life, my problems have all gone!’
‘Even the mind body problem?’ said Polly.
‘Yes even that.’
‘We will see you down there’ said his two colleagues. ‘Thanks for the champers.’
‘It’s a pleasure said dad, we won’t be far behind you.’ Polly grabbed a tissue from her sleeve pretending to wipe her nose instead of the tears of joy.
The graduation pomp and ceremony passed, and what his future was going to be was starting to become more apparent. But for now he would have a summer break and rest on his achievment for a while, plus he needed some time to enjoy his parents newly found relationship which had been missing for such a long time. In a quiet moment his mum had told him how his birthday present had been the catalyst for the turning point of immediate change. Having seriously considered divorce, but religion had moved aside for their love. Thanks to my lovely Polly he thought.
During the summer break Polly went home to her mother and also went to see her uncle John, after a big hug and a kiss and another big hug she told him how Jordan had graduated and how his father no longer forced his belief on his family. But sadly she would not be seeing him much if ever again. They had both agreed to keep in touch, but she could not help thinking that perhaps they were both just being polite in saying that as people do. ‘How are you doing John?’
‘Oh nothing much, my days of having to do have long since passed. I enjoy my peaceful days, I don’t do or expect much so I am not disappointed. I have been writing a simple piece on embodiment, which should be food for thought for children if no one else. I will ask my son to put it on my website when it’s finished, but there is no hurry. How’s your mum?’
‘She has had a bit of a cold which has dragged on for weeks.’
‘Yes I know what she means. I‘ve had one like that, give her my best whishes, and come and see me if you can before you go back to Uni.’
‘I will to both,’ and with a big hug she was gone.
Jordan was so happy to be back home, and it was especially good to know that mum did not have to wear a head scarf, or get up in the night to pray. She looked so much happier and was no longer tired. He could also sit in the garden with his mums lovely sandwiches and a cold beer. His dad seemed relaxed and content, more like his old self instead of being uptight and miserable. It was a mild warm day in the garden and he read a few emails. On one of the sites where his dissertation had been, lodged there was a comment from an eminent American neuroscientist, who was interested in meeting up for a chat whilst in London. Especially about the body/mind approach which made sense. He thought about what John had said about not being officially qualified, and agreed to a meeting in London. Polly had been instrumental in telling him about John and he had explained the body/mind approach which made sense instead of the incorrect mind/body. He called John to tell him about the visiting American, and also mentioned that his parents were getting on better without religion interfering.
‘Yes Polly told me, congrats on your degree.’
‘Thanks, I bet she didn’t tell you it was her idea of sending the present to my mum that made things change for the better.’
‘No she did not, but that’s Polly.’
‘Yes give her all of my love… er regards, if you see her.’
‘Ok bye then Jordan.’
‘Bye John.’ OH! All my love?…oh thought Jordan.
On a Friday his father liked to visit his mosque near his work. Today there seemed to be an uneasy feeling about his visit. Perhaps it was just his conscience because he had consumed some alcohol on a couple of occasions, but no as he would probably be having some more as others did. The Imam he knew came over to him with a look of concern.
‘I would like a word with you.’ He would occasionally have a word about a prisoner in jail, which officially he could not do anything about, but could often help out in a roundabout way if they were being deprived of religious needs or being bullied because of their faith, but his expression was more intense. ‘It is about your son Jordan.’
‘Oh yes what about him?’
‘He has been causing trouble with fellow students saying that he does not believe and you need to stop him.’
‘My son is his own man and if he chooses not to believe in Islam then that is up to him.’
‘No! he is your son and therefore he is a Muslim and it is you who has to make him realise he cannot be an apostate without facing the consequences.’
‘What are you saying? This is the the civilised industrialised world that we live in, and anyone is free to believe or not believe in what they choose to!’
‘I have received a call from a Mullah in Paris who said that there will be unavoidable consequences that could be fatal, if he continues to question the word of Allah and his Prophet, peace be upon him. I am the messenger telling you as a warning.’
‘Ok I will tell my son what you have said, and I will not be coming back here to pray. This is unacceptable, goodbye!’
He did not enjoy his drive home and was dreading having to tell his son. On reflection it was probably the continuous brain washing pressure, that this particular Imam had applied over the years, that he had been going to that Mosque which had led to his obsession. His lectures would often conclude with ‘you cannot cherry pick the Koran or the five pillars of Islam.’ He had no doubts at all that he could never go down that path ever again and felt sorry for those who were entrapped. If that meant he was no longer considered a Muslim, then so be it! He pulled into the drive and he went inside. His wife hugged and kissed him and so did Jordan. He started to explain that he called into the Mosque on the Sabbath as he often did and what the Imam had said, also that he would not be going there again.
‘I am sorry that they have reacted like that’ said Jordan. He sensed that his dad was not blaming him, but instead seemed unhappy that his faith was so stuck in the past, and unable to evolve. ‘Don’t worry dad, I’ll sort it somehow. It’s wrong for any belief to force itself on, or threaten anyone who does not believe or criticises, and that will also eventually have to include Islam. A belief should be a personal thing. The Catholics had to learn how to become a peaceful belief to survive in the civilised world and so will all Muslims!’
‘Yes I agree, but I have no idea how.’ They sat down for dinner and felt good as a family.
The next day he had arranged to meet Sam for lunch, where he told her about the suspect Abu de Becker. A lot of people thought that they would end up together and perhaps some still did, but the fleeting affair they had when they were young fizzled out almost before it started. They had remained very close friends, more like brother and sister and were happy about that.
‘Hang on’ she said. ‘Isn’t Toms dad something to do with the secret service or MI5? Tom was once a bit drunk and it was a bit garbled.’
‘You mean worse than normal?’
‘Yes, anyway something to do with the underworld.’
‘Are you sure that he didn’t mean his dad was a criminal or a terrorist?’ They both laughed as Toms dad was the quietest, politest and nicest mannered person you could ever wish to meet. ‘Mind you, the quiet ones are often the worst.’
‘Tom will be over later to my house, we usually meet up somewhere on a Saturday night and my house, thanks to my folks, has become a regular haunt. I think they realise it is so quiet out here and they remember that when they were young they needed somewhere to go. They said they always had a pub and a party to go to somewhere. Fortunately the house is quite large so we have somewhere to chill out, relax and have fun.’
‘Ok, I will see you later whether Tom is there or not.’
JR had managed to get his son and his better half to put his latest work on his newly revised website. He sent an email to an emeritus proffessor in Oxford that he had met once for lunch and was feeling surprised and pleased to have received a complementery email from him. He had been wondering whether or not to bother sending an abstract to a consciousness conference in Sussex, but encouraged by the email he sat down and started to write, which was more like scribble than writing to most.
Jordan had mixed feelings about religion as he could understand why some people needed it to get through their life, but felt sad for those who did like his dad, and had been treated so unkindly at his Mosque. Apparently it was unacceptable for non believers of Islam to be equal to believers, according to the Imam. They are the infidel as the Koran describes. He was happy that mum was now free from her religiose husband, and that he did not need a belief.
He took a bottle of wine and some beers round to Sams and as usual she said you needn’t have, but everyone did and there was always an excess, so that her folks would rarely need to buy any for themselves. They all appreciated having a private night club in one end of the house. He gave Sam a big hug and a kiss, they had known each other since children. He had not missed her whilst at university, possibly because he was so busy but it was nice to be with her. Their feelings were mutual. She gave him a cold beer out of the fridge and suddenly he was overcome with thoughts of Polly. Oh dear I miss her!
Most there had grown up with the same varied genres of music, Tom preferred rap and was peeling off the words to a driving beat being played. Sam had obviously spoken to him as he came over free styling his own words to the beat.
‘Here’s the man that upset Islam, no! It’s religion that upset Jordan. Only joking he said, my dad said he could contact you if you like?’
‘Yes I would like.’
‘Ok I’ll give him your number, knowing him he’s probably got it but he said to ask you first being as he’s polite.’
‘Thanks Tom. So, what are you doing with yourself now? Assuming you have finished university, not that you ever wanted to say what you where studying.’
‘What am I doing er yes/no playing with myself, I don’t know yet a bit of this and that, might involve some travel, haven’t decided.’
‘Who hasn’t you or your dad?’
‘Maybe, could be, haven’t asked him, probably does not know either. Do you know what you are going to do?’
‘No not exactly, but I am not as evasive as you, and possibly appearing less confused. Anyway, thanks Tom.’ They all had a great night together, It was good catching up with his old friends.
The next day he received a text from an unknown number, ‘See you in the pub at midday mine’s a Bloody Mary. Reply if ok.’ Very poetic, I wonder if Tom gets his poetic rapping from his dad? He replied, ‘midday’s ok.’
Jordan ordered ‘a Bloody Mary, make that two please’ which suddenly seemed like a good idea after last night. At midday Toms dad appeared, he hadn’t noticed him coming in.
‘Who is it that has been bothering you?’ He said in a quiet soft voice, straight to the point not confused like Tom.
‘An Arab guy called Abu De Becker, apparently his father is an Imam who runs a Mosque in Paris.’ He related the story of his talk experience ending by saying that ‘I think he was the main ring leader. Most of the others with him were probably in fear of religious reprisals from their friends and families. I spoke to one student afterwards who was worried that if he had not stood up in support of the teachings of the Koran, his parents might get to hear and cut off his allowance.’
‘Ok thanks, I will let a collegue know about it. What a shame the meek and mild are directed and easily swayed by the loud and forceful violent few.’ He drank the remainder of his Bloody Mary, smiled and was gone as quickly as he had appeared. Jordan felt relieved that he had told somebody who might make some use of it.
Outside the pub, ‘did you get all that Tom?’
‘Yes dad interesting,’ came the reply from his discrete earpiece. ‘We did not know that one did we?’
‘No but we do now.’
The weeks passed and Jordans dad had decided to visit a different Mosque from his usual one for Friday prayers, as it was the best way of avoiding the looks and stares from the Imam and his fellow Muslims. He was not going to be overly friendly and talk too much, other than the usual pleasantries. He also stopped his regular donation to the Mosque.
It was not long afterwards that he received a letter from them reminding him of his duty as a Muslim to pay alms. He left it a few weeks before sending a replying letter which said that he disliked the attitude of the Imam, and was contributing to another Mosque. Furthermore, he would not return without a written apology and change in his manner or failing that his removal, as he was not promoting Islam in a kind and peaceful way. This being the only way Islam should be portrayed. And not the do or die attitude that some promoted. The Catholics had in the not so distant past, realised that if Catholicism was to survive as a religion then it would have to completey remove its hostile approach. No one should be forced to believe in a belief. A belief organisation that did not discourage forceful religiose religionism and violence, should be made illegal just like Naziism and minecampf being used to insite violence against all those who disagreed or criticised.
Jordan was enjoying his summer break at home. He thought that unless he was going to study philosophy of mind next year then this would be his last summer break where he could relax without thinking about a future career/job. He still had not decided but realised that the place he had been offered at the university of his choice would need a decision fairly soon. But for now though he was enjoying his mum, dad, and friends. It was a warm summers day and they were in the garden having a barbeque. ‘Dad, I’m sorry that my talk has caused you to leave your long standing Mosque, I hadn’t realised quite how it can affect people.’
‘Oh do not worry son, besides, so far I much prefer my new one. It is the hostile attitude that is the problem not your lack of belief. It said in the Koran about non believers something like, it is up to God to judge, not people, so wait and I will wait with you.’
‘Yes dad ,but it also says put up with non believers as long as you have to, which is not very friendly is it.’
‘No it is not and I wish it did not say such horrible things, but in its day it was possibly necessary, especially with Arabs.’ They both laughed as his dad was an Arab.
‘John has said on his website that if Islam is to suvive in the modern world it needs to put aside all that past nastiness as the Catholics have had to do. Only then can it be claimed that Islam is truly a religion of peace, and the peaceful will be able to overide the hostile few, otherwise it will not be tolerated by modern civilisations.’
‘What is his web called?’
‘I’ll email it to you then you can just click on it.’
‘I will take a look some time. Have you decided what you want to do? You will now easily get a job in the prison service anyware, there are a lot of confused criminals, including Muslims,’ they both laughed again. It was so good having his dad back. He would not have joked about anything let alone his belief, or even the mention of JR’s website would have been unthinkable.
The summer weeks passed too quick and he had been offered a good job which he had decieded to accept, and had cancelled the university course which he would study for an interest as an independent scholar like John. He was pleased that he had been able to help start Johns body/mind approach moving, which with the help of others it would eventually prove to be the best way forward. There was a growing number of younger neuroscientists and a couple of older ones as well that realised how important the body was in causing and allowing the brain to function.
The job would require him to visit people in prisons including where his father worked. The agency that he would be working for required him to attend a course in prison security procedures, which he would need to know if he was interviewing a prisoner unsupervised. Although he was aware of how prisoners could react, he had not experienced a prison emergency. There were several places that held such courses but he saw that there was one in his old university town which he was able to secure in September. He felt pleased as the town had been his home for years and Polly would be there, and to be honest with himself she was the reason he had selected the course and the agency. There was one nearer to his home but he would still have required accommodation. They had text one another during the summer but now he was going to call her. He felt so excited that he had to take some slow deep breaths before making the call, trying to stop himself from feeling so childish, she might after all not like him so much since his graduation when people move on and go their various different ways. He pressed call…
‘Hello Jay how are you doing?’
‘Good, lovely hearing your voice Pols.’
‘Yes yours too.’
‘I’ve got a job and have to attend a course in the same town as the university,’ trying to make it sound like it was a coincidence.
‘Er yes, I was wondering if you were going to be back at uni although it might be a bit early. It would be so good to see you and we could go to some of the places we used to.’
‘Well, I am changing my residence for my final year but won’t be able to move my stuff until the weekend before it officially starts, due to finance. But the librarian I work with has been very kind in letting me keep all my stuff at hers, and has said that I can stay there if I need to till the term starts.
‘She sounds nice.’
‘Yes she’s lovely.’
‘Just like you then,…’ there was a quiet moment so he quickly gave her the name of the hotel where he would be staying which she knew. They agreed a time to meet which was about a week before the term started. As he would still be on the course he would help her move her stuff. They said their goodbyes and when the call ended both felt far more excited than perhaps they should have about their meet up. Polly was really excited and didn’t know what to do with herself. Jordan was overwhelmed with relief that he was actually going to see her again, and was suddenly overcome by how much he had missed her these last few weeks. She kept saying to herself stop being so childish and grow up, he is just a friend, all be it a very good one. But it was no use, she could not contain her happiness and was like a child getting overly excited about Christmas or a birthday.
The time for both of them seemed to take forever to pass and neither could think of an excuse to phone without sounding silly, even though they both wanted to. He did think he would text saying are you still ok with the date, but he kind of knew that she would be and thought she might not like the idea of calling it a date!
The day and time had finally arrived and they were both feeling relaxed about seeing one another. It felt similar to when they used to meet. But when she knocked on his hotel door his excitement became intense. He opened the door wide and in strode Polly. Neither could understand why but they grabbed one another tightly and clamped their mouths together, as the auto door closer did its job. Normally they may have hugged with the occasional odd peck on the cheek like good friends do, but this was something else and no words were necessary. It was one of the last warm days of summer so neither were wearing much, but if asked they would not have been able to say quite how they had become naked, and were making love on the hotel bed. They were so consumed knowing without discussion, and were more happy and relieved about what was happening, than either could or would ever have imagined, let alone believed possible. They were both being swept along autonomically to what was eventually inevitable. Was it that last twinge, quiver, cooing sound, fluctuation, or their combination from Polly that triggered the warm silky flow that flooded inside her as Jordan autonomically orgasmed. He had no conscious control over the convulsions that were happening, not of course that either of them would have wanted to stop something so beautiful. He lay there on his back with Polly on him with her face in his kneck, they were both inside and part of one another or so it seemed. He removed his hand from her back to move her hair off her face as he would from his own. Neither of them knew how long that they had been there, but both knew that they had become an inseperable item. There lives would be different from today, they were blissfully in love and both fell asleep, so content and immeasurably happy.
JR had been to a secular meeting and lunch at the Tower Hotel. There he had met good people including some who were religious. He had mentioned his website to some that he had spoken to, and a Muslim asked him if he would mind them quoting it to others. He replied not at all if it would help make them more secular. On his way home he actually got to see Tower Bridge open and close, which occurred quicker than he had previously thought. He was glad to of actually seen it.
Polly and Jordan were swept away with each other and could not wait to tell all the world, as it were of their love. Pollys mum seemed just as excited as Polly. And for some reason when Jordan told his mum over the phone, she seemed to be expecting the news. Sensing his reaction said.
‘Mothers intuition I am so happy for you both, when is the wedding?’
‘We don’t mind, it’s not that important to us. I guess when we can afford it. Her parents cannot afford to pay for what people expect of a wedding these days.’
‘We will cross that bridge when and wherever you both decide. I can’t wait to tell your dad he will be back soon, lovely bye.’
Jordan looked at a text from an unknown number, it just said ‘Bloody Mary’.
The following day all over the news was how several arrests had been made in England and France regarding Islamic terrorists. No one had been killed but there were protests about the closure of a Paris Mosque. Obviously the work of Toms dad and probably Tom as well.
A week or so later Jordans father received a letter from his original Mosque appologising for the way that he had been treated. The Imam was apparently helping the police with their inquiries and had been replaced, so would he please come back as they missed him. Missed my money was probably more to the point he thought. He wrote back saying that the Mosque he now attended was one that was non judgemental and welcomed all peaceful people freely and openly, regardless of belief, Muslim or otherwise. They want to promote Islam only as a religion of peace for all. It is the only way it should be universally portrayed, led by the peaceful majority illiminating anger hatred and violence, just as the Catholics were forced to. If not Islam would eventually end up as a banned belief of religionism discrimination. Which would be no different to any other unacceptable ‘ism’ like genderism, raceism, ageism or Naziism! He added that the Imam had a huge influence over the attendees of the Mosque and described how that had resulted in him having been sneered, looked at with dislike, and avoided by the Imams followers. Although he had kept himself to himself at his present Mosque, they had not so far pried into his level of belief and he did not get the impression that they would. Their peaceful welcome to all attitude with no underlying threatening agenda, made the Mosque acceptable to the local community in general, regardless of having any belief at all. He finished by quoting Johns web ref ‘To Save Islam’ and unless they could assure him of their peaceful non threatening intent, then they should not write to him ever again.
Pollys final year had started and Jordan was now living with her. They were inseperable and although not married were on a permanent honeymoon. The agency was not far from their flat that dealt with criminal psychology, mostly at two local jails, but they also visited other jails including his dads place of work and a young offenders unit. There he came across expressions such as ‘if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime’ and ‘a knife is life’.
He had surprised himself in wanting to see Professor Gilbert who seemed delighted about meeting for lunch. He told Jordan that the Muslim community at the university seemed to be a happier bunch since he had left. He laughed and apologised. Jordan laughed also thinking that if it wasn’t for him giving the talk, and subsequently speaking to Toms dad, then things may have been worse instead of better. He told him where he was now working and gave him a card jokingly saying, just incase you need any psychological help. They both laughed and wished each other well. Old Gilbert wasn’t a such a bad old sort as he seemed to undergrads, especially since their confrontation.
Jordans dad had decieded that it was he who needed to champion Islam as a peaceful religion. So that it could be accepted in society by removing the underlying threat that everyone knew existed but chose to ignore. Somehow it had to be eradicated universally, once and for all. Those who threatened non believers should be outlawed and criminalised, just like those are who threaten peaceful believers. He wrote to his original Mosque again saying that if they were serious about making Islam a religion of peace, then they should encourage all of their religious leaders to prove it by organising an annual rally and events to make it known publicly that people who use Islam to threaten should be cast out. Instead of what happens now is that the meek and mild choose to say and do nothing, which of course sends the message that it is fine for the eventual benefit of Islam to threaten! The majority of Germans were peaceful but were ruled by the hostile violent threats of the few Gestapo. He would also send a similar letter of complaint to the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, suggesting an annual day of peaceful action where all would be welcome to attend. It was time to show the world of their peaceful intention! Unless of course that was not their intention?!
Jordan had arranged a video call with the American neuroscientist he had met in London.
‘How are things with you?’
‘Yes good, but over here I have had to ease up a bit on the body/mind approach as much as I don’t want to. The religious who mostly still influence votes and finance don’t like the way God is excluded from influencing the brain because the body does. Especially then you say the brain evolved from the body and its nervous system, which implies that God did not create it and there is no place or need for an ethereal soul. Just like Sue Blackmore and you experienced, when creationism was excluded.’ Jordan thought ‘another ism’ .
‘I suppose Americans are still quite staunch Christians?’
‘Yes Evangelical, but it is not just them, all the others join in as well when their beliefs are challenged. The tail wags the dog over here and they can get quite animated. However, the main thing is the ball has started rolling with the body/mind approach, and a few top down computer and AI geeks are interested in the body and senses being the initial driver instead of the brain. Just as Darwin found evolution takes its own time, unless you can think of a way to speed it up? I had better get on, good to talk Jordan.’
‘Yes bye.’ As the screen went blank Jordan realised that all the time people had the mind/body problem which was unsolvable, it allowed the brain to mysteriously be causal and with the possibility of an ethereal soul which God could deal with as he liked. The body/mind approach means that the physical autonomic bodily needs, deeds and seeds processes of life, were the initial causation for the brain to take the necessary action in the environment. Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection had removed the need for a creator. The body/mind approach did not need an ethereal soul or God to cause the brain to function. His neuroscientist friend in America described the physical effect of our soul, as what we sensed and experienced as a person being alive with physical needs, interacting with our initially non conscious autonomic nervous systems needs, by using our conscious somatic nervous system, sensing our internal needs and attending to them in the external environment. Hopefully taking care of ourselves by utilising our nature/nurture memories. This to many was now obvious, but God was not necessary and believers did not like that. Jordan thought consciousness was the result of being aware of all of these connected sensations. The ability to live coping with life interacting with body, mind and environment is not necessarily straightforward, and for some seemingly impossible. So if some people needed a belief to help them cope with life and its problems, including death, then providing it is peaceful he would understand.
His dad had found that out and realised that peaceful intergration with all of society, including humanists with no threat was the only path open to all believers. Perhaps peace people will eventually prevail and all will be able to live universally together. So many races have proved that it eventually is possible, heavily scarred with so many deaths including a man who once had a dream. There are so many people who do not want to give peace a chance, they seem to thrive on raceism and religionism nastiness. Which makes the message on Voyager 1&2 (we come in peace) a farce. But hopefully if the Voyagers are ever eventually found somewhere out in space, this world may then be peaceful and secular.
The Holy Qur’an Abdullah Yusuf Ali
Life of Mahomet Washington Irvine.
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