Friday, October 31, 2008

You'd have thought not wouldn't you?

(Thanks to Janinsanfran)

BY MARY MITCHELL Sun-Times Columnist:

If John McCain loses the election, he'll have Sarah Palin to thank. His VP pick may be good for a few laughs on "Saturday Night Live." She may have sold a warehouse of eyeglasses. But her recent acid-tongued attack on Barack Obama in which she accused him of "palling around with terrorists" is not only a turn-off, but dangerous.

Although conventional wisdom seems to suggest that negative campaigning works, I noticed during Tuesday night's debate between Obama and McCain that CNN's likability meter sank each time Obama and McCain got personal. And despite Palin's steady stream of hateful speech, Obama's poll numbers have gone up, while McCain's supporters are growing antsy.

During the final stretch of this long campaign, Palin has been unleashed like the pit bull she likes to compare herself to. Together, McCain and Palin have managed to bring out the worst behavior that I've witnessed in a presidential campaign.

For instance, at a Monday rally in Fort Myers, Fla., Palin told her fans that Obama "launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist." She was referring to '60s radical Bill Ayers, a man who, like a lot of people who came of age in the tumultuous Vietnam era, is now part of the establishment. He teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago, lives in the trendy Hyde Park neighborhood and sits on several civic boards. Obama was a child when Ayers was heading up a radical group known as the Weather Underground.

But Palin has good instincts.

As preposterous as her accusation was, it played to the fears of white voters who believe that Obama is too different from them to win the White House, but don't want to admit that they are prejudiced against him because he is black. After all, who in their right mind would blame them for rejecting a candidate who may have embraced terrorists?

A Washington Post reporter who was on the campaign trail also noted that Palin's attacks on the media have sparked some ugliness. Dana Milbank reported that the press was taunted by the crowd after Palin blamed the mainstream media for her abysmal performances in interviews.

"At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African-American sound man . . . and told him, "Sit down, boy."

At another point during her rant, Palin cited a New York Times article that described Ayers as "part of a group that quote 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she rattled off as if she was talking about 9/11.

That brought a loud "Kill him!" from an unidentified man in the audience.

Kill who?

Had Obama supporters behaved as badly, he would not have heard the end of it. It should not be OK for a presidential or vice presidential candidate to incite people to engage in abusive behavior.

What I find ironic is it is often members of the Republican Party who accuse black people of whining and blaming their shortcomings on others. Yet it is all right for Palin, who is clearly in over her head, to blame the media because she is not prepared to deal with the tough questions on just about every issue.

With her winks and her wisecracks, Palin has set the feminist movement back 100 years.

Don't take my word for it.

Even conservative pundits, like Kathleen Parker, have urged Palin to take a hike. Down in the polls, Palin and McCain are now playing a game that could backfire. After all, there aren't many people, black or white, who feel they have to take verbal abuse from riled-up supporters.

By now, McCain and Palin must have heard about the racial slurs and inappropriate comments. Had this ugly incident occurred at an Obama rally, the McCain camp would be asking him to apologize to voters and to denounce the hateful behavior. So why are these candidates being allowed to act like nothing out of the ordinary happened?

That doesn't make them look like a team of mavericks.

It makes them look like a team of bigots.


And millions of American voters believe this woman is fit for High Office? In any other democracy she would have been arrested and charges under any number of laws by now: Inciting racial hatred, breach of the peace etc. And as for the lynch mentality of the crowd, this is the nation that the rest of the world look to for a moral lead...well used to anyway.

Let's remember that this is the group who most strongly identify with Christian values. Sorry, that should have read "Christian" values. As many have questioned recently, when did hate become a Christian value?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Smacks of Desparation to me...

It seems the following is being e-mailed to American voters:

Be afraid...Be very afraid...

Among the possible developments by 2012 (if Obama wins this election):

* Six liberal justices sit on the Supreme Court after the immediate resignation of John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the later resignations of Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy.

* Homosexual marriage has been ruled a constitutional right that must be respected by all 50 states.

* The Boy Scouts have disbanded rather than obey a decision forcing them to allow homosexual scoutmasters. (The Scouts already had been kicked out of public facilities because of an expansion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to cover people who engage in homosexual behavior.)

* Elementary schools have compulsory training in varieties of gender identity. Courts rule parents cannot opt out their children, because the training is deemed essential to psychological health.

* Evangelical and Catholic adoption agencies cease to exist after the Supreme Court rules they must agree to place children with homosexuals or lose their licenses.

* Church buildings are now considered a "public accommodation" by the United States Supreme Court, and churches have no freedom to refuse to allow their buildings to be used for wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples.

* High schools are no longer free to allow "see you at the pole" meetings where students pray together or any student Bible studies even before or after school.

* The Supreme Court barred public schools in all 50 states from allowing churches to rent their facilities, even on Sundays, when school was not in session.

* Obama signed the Freedom of Choice Act, as he promised the Planned Parenthood Action Fund last year, nullifying hundreds of state laws that had created even the slightest barrier to abortion.

* The Supreme Court in 2011 nullified all Federal Communications Commission restrictions on obscene speech or visual content in radio and TV broadcasts, and television programs at all hours of the day now contain explicit portrayals of sexual acts.

* As a result of a reversal of its 5-4 decision in the D.C. gun-ownership case, it is now illegal for private citizens to own guns for self-defense in eight states, and the number is growing with increasing Democratic control of state legislatures and governorships

* Parents' freedom to teach their children at home has been severely restricted nationwide after the Supreme Court followed the legal reasoning of a Feb. 28, 2008, ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal in California.

Well, if he does win, I for one will be emigrating to the USA. Sounds like my sort of society.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Once in a while I will splatter a punter. Not out of boredom, malice or anything other than a sense of self preservation.
In certain situations as soon as you approach a punter to tell them something politely, they react as if you've just shat on their mothers fresh grave and wiped your arse with the flowers. They don't have a rational response, they go ballistic. It's not the steady escalation of a situation as the clash of wills becomes apparent, after the the message soaks past the alcohol.
No it's the quiet word that, due to a punter's altered state of mind, they fly into a violent rage at. Feeling the situation will end up with blood and tears, not exclusively theirs, I have to attempt a quick restraint. This inevitably only gets half the required number of limbs to be fully effective. Then their unhinged adrenaline enhanced strength kicks in and the fun begins. Unless the radio call gets my colleagues flying in to me swiftly it's time to use some body weight dynamically. Usually employing walls, counters, floors and other very solid objects to gain an upper hand without releasing the punter or resorting to kicking, kneeing, punching, elbowing or butting them into submission. This is not usually pretty, though it can be fairly fast and fluid. It consistently ends with me on top of or behind the punter having established control. There's usually blood, grazes and often carpet burns. With their adrenaline spent it's just a case of making sure they've run out of energy before you risk moving them and seeing them off for the night. Then it's time to change shirt wash your hands and reflect upon another splattered punter and what you could've done better and more perplexingly, how did blood get there?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Odds and Ends and Reformation Sunday

I lifted this clip from Saintly Ramblings because I think it is a joy: it is full of fun and exuberance. Let me know which location you enjoyed most and why.

This morning was a "Sardine Sunday" in that we had 26 in a building for 32. It is Reformation Sunday. I sat at the back and did a little audit of the congregation: we had Americans, Cypriots, English, Estonians, Finns, Germans, Hungarians, Icelanders, Latvians, Namibians, New Zealanders, Poles, Scots and Zimbabweans. That's what I like about being a Lutheran in Leeds.

In American politics, when and why did "Socialist" become a perjorative? I feel vaguely insulted living, as I do, under a Socialist government.

I wonder whether normal blogging will resume post election.

Three words to cause fear and panic: PRESIDENT SARAH PALIN.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What's in my pockets

I can go through this as it's all fairly generic and in my case fairly static.
I have in my trousers,
front left a packet of mints and a lip-salve
front right my keyring. This is a small screw gate carabiner with flat keys, bottle opener, ultra-bright LED torch, assorted toilet door openers.
back pocket, small change, enough for a special burger, chips and coke at the end of a long night.
In my waistcoat or jacket,
left outer pocket, cigarettes and lighter (usually in packet)
right outer pocket, 2AA LED torch, big bright, cheap.
inside left pocket, Photocopy of door badge in police provided arm-band.
inside right pocket, spare pair of latex gloves and earpieces for my radio.
Coat pockets are usually,
gloves in the outside ones, 2 pairs, knitted and leather.
Inside pockets wage slips, notes about this or that.
On top of this I've got a belt mounted pouch. This has small pad and pencil, door badge original, latex gloves, spare ear pieces and a tiny first aid kit. For use on me, not punters. Silver plasters, alcohol free wipes, surgical tape, dressing pads, tiny pot of vaseline.
All of that and I don't clink, rattle or jingle even when flying up the stairs in a hurry.
Notice, I don't carry my phone unless I'm changing venues in the night. If it really matters they'll know my bosses number, otherwise it can wait 'til morning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frame of mind

To do doorwork well you need to achieve the right attitude, time after time after time. Whether that's as your heating kicks out as you shower for work, whether the last customer you just escorted out ripped your shirt and threw up on your boots or even as the music goes off and you find a sleeper in the gents.
There are tricks for this, some may seem like the acts of an obsessive but they serve a purpose. I like a shit, shower and shave, then straight into my work clothes. Plumb in the radio, tuck the loose radio end away behind the first aid kit. Fasten my boots, on with my jacket, on with the coat, fill and check my pockets then head out the door.
When I arrive at work, I try to get a sense of the evening. How many folks are out and about, are we expecting a late rush or are the fools queuing already? Then on with the radio, sign in, fix my badge, grab an ear-defender, pat down my pockets and get out there.
When I'm at work I try and be attentive, alert and detached. When my calm is disrupted I rely on the routines of routes, tasks, stances and venue checks to slip back into the right mental approach for work.
Keep focused 'til I'm back in my house and then as the uniform comes off, so does the work mind. Not until I'm in my vest and pants have I really stopped for the night.
All these little things help me to keep a consistent approach. It's not rocket science but by having a routine and sticking to it, you can with a quick action or thought regain your composure and be back on top in an instant. None of it is really important and none of it can't be skipped, but all of it helps to reinforce the cycle.

Warnock: assisted suicide is our right

Rajeev Syal The Observer, Sunday October 19 2008

One of Britain's leading moral philosophers has called for a change in the law to allow assisted suicide in Britain following the death of paralysed rugby player Daniel James. Baroness Warnock, writing in today's Observer, calls for liberalisation of euthanasia laws on the grounds that 'we have a moral obligation to other people to take their seriously reached decisions with regard to their own lives equally seriously'.

Her comments come after Mark and Julie James were quizzed this weekend by officers. They had taken their 23-year-old son, Daniel, to a clinic in Switzerland last month where he became the youngest known Briton to have requested an assisted suicide. He had already attempted to kill himself three times after being paralysed from the chest down in a rugby accident.

Mary Warnock writes: 'The case of Mr and Mrs James ... presents a legal dilemma. Whether or not they are prosecuted, the law will be challenged. There are many, of whom I am one, who believe that we must try yet again to change the law, not by excluding from criminality those who assist death by taking the suicide abroad, but by liberalising the laws of our own country.'

Daniel James, who was described by friends as 'vivacious and warm' before his accident, was injured in March last year while training with Nuneaton Rugby Club. Despite numerous operations to fuse his vertabrae during eight months in hospital, he only regained limited use in his fingers. Last night, his parents were not responding to telephone calls at their farm near Sinton Green, Worcestershire where they live with daughters Georgina, 21, and Olivia, 18.

In emails sent in response to a euthanasia debate on a newspaper website, Mrs James criticised the well-meaning person who had alerted the police to Daniel's case. She wrote: 'This person had never met Dan before or after his accident and obviously gave no consideration for our younger daughters who had seen their big brother suffer so much and the day before had to say goodbye to him.

'I hope that one day I will get the chance to speak to this lady and ask if she had a son, daughter, father, mother, who could not walk, had no hand function, was incontinent, and relied upon 24-hour care for every basic need and they had asked her for support, what would she have done?!

'Our son could not have been more loved and had he felt he could have lived his life this way he would have been loved just the same, but this was his right, as a human being.'

In another email, she wrote: 'Whilst not everyone in Dan's situation would find it as unbearable as Dan, what right does any human being have to tell any other that they have to live such a life, filled with terror, discomfort and indignity? What right does one person who chooses to live with a particular illness or disability have to tell another that they should have to?'

Police yesterday were preparing a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether Mr or Mrs James should be charged.

Comment: So what should an appropriate Christian response be?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

You should trust Mad Priest's judgement..........

......the dragon isn't me. While I can be provocative I do baulk at publishing pictures of my own genitalia on the INTERNET.

However, I note Neil's comment on the previous post and so would like to know what it is about the image that people might find intrinsically offensive. I chose the picture very carefully and it is a non-sexual image of a penis, held, not erect, for the benefit of the camara's view of its artwork. Although I can see that it is not a conventional image I think it is an amazing work of art and I am not convinced that of itself it is offensive. In this day and age we should be able to value and celebrate the human body in all its forms and because it is a non-sexual image I would include that tattoo.

Or is it that because it is the male sexual organ it is automatically seen as a sexual image? If so I think that is a great shame and perhaps as a society we still have a long way to go in developing a sense of maturity about nakedness and a need to deal with any residual senses of shame that attatch to images of nudity. The church has a lot to answer for for that shame and for some of our very conservative attitudes to human nakedness and so I don't apologise that the image has appeared on a Christian's blog. One thing that has struck me again in this discussion is the significant difference between giving offence and taking it. They are both very active positions but you can have one without the other. I didn't give offence because that would have had to have been a conscious and deliberate decision. Nevertheless, others have chosen to take it. Interesting.

I'd like to hear your views.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Some situations I deal with have more than a hint of repetition. The drunk bloke needing to leave is a typical example. The type of thing we do time and time again. Not something to get your adrenaline up but a bit of experience can tip you off on what to watch.
Once in my younger days, working a lively high turnover, vertical drinking warm up pub, I approached a gent and asked him to leave. It was busy and bustling but not really loud. I approached and asked him to leave. He muttered something, I lent in towards him to hear him better. He didn't tense or get angry, just lifted his fist straight up into my jaw.
I was a little stunned. I then had to come back and regain the situation. I did but spent a week with a very stiff jaw and a few sore teeth. That was a lesson learned. Now I take punters into a quiet bit, don't lean in and don't get fussed if I don't hear what they say. Even the simple things you have to get right. I've had a few sore jaws and throbbing heads, each one has to be a lesson learned. I try to be better by experience, mine and others, not making the same mistakes. If I get to the point I can't be bothered learning I'll hang up my boots.

I've been tagged. (Oh good)

Ive been tagged by Mark over at The Untried Here we go then:

Four things I was doing ten years ago.

1) Falling out with the church big time. The love-hate relationship was veering towards the hate end then.
2) Looking like a skin-head yob. It helped on the door!
3) Thinking about ordained ministry.
4) Being tattooed.

Four things on my TO DO list today

1) I am working from home today - a rare treat. I must finalise the details of a school closure day for Citizenship - speakers, tutor guides, room bookings etc.
2) I must order some books for the college module on Pastoral and Practical theology.
3) I must start to learn the Tenor part for Karl Jenkins "The Armed Man" for the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus's performance in the Town Hall on 9th Nov, having been moved up from the Baritones. Look Here
4) I need to peel some potatoes.

Four Things I love about my wife

1) Her generosity of spirit
2) Her patience - even under provocation
3) Her sense of humour
4) Her love and support

Four Jobs I have held

1) Supermarket shelf stacker
2) Escort
3) Bouncer
4) Teacher and teacher trainer

Films I have watched more than once

1) White Christmas
2) Mama Mia
3) All the Harry Potters
4) Singin in the Rain
5) All the Lord of the Rings

Places I have lived

1) I was born in Valetta, Malta
2) I lived in Deal in Kent
3) In Barnet and New Southgate, in North London
3) Cambridge as a student
4) Leeds as a student and since

Places I have travelled to

With the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus on tour: Brno, Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna, Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga
Taking school trips abroad: The South of France, The Spanish Costas, The Austrian Lakes, The Greek Island of Poros
Ski trips: Spain, Italy and Austria
Family holidays: Prague, Tallinn, Dubrovnik, Key Largo, the Vende (France)
Study placements: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Tallinn

Places I want to visit

New York, Chicago, Boston, Sydney, Bali, Auckland, Hong Kong

T.V. I watch

Er.....on a regular basis? Er......

Things you may not know about me

I have lovely children (as you can see for yourself). I once presented a BBC T.V programme. Other than that: No Way!

I am supposed to tag five others:
Leo, Wayne Dawg, Claudius, Erika, Yard Dog.......if you want to!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Theological Statement In 26 Words: A challenge!

So, there we were at college enduring probably the most turgid lecture on Richard Hooker known to man, when Dr. Bob and I hit on a game to keep us awake - Literally as Dr. Bob had been snoring during the first half. Can you make a theological statement of 26 words using every letter of the alphabet in order?

Here's mine:

Any believer can develop empathic friendliness (given humility in justification). Kindly loving means no person questions respect. Showing thought unto victims will exhibit your zeal. (O.K. I got stuck on x) I thought it was quite good until Dr. Bob offered (in half the time):

Atheistic beliefs can dominate every faith. Given heavenly inspiration Jesus keeps lives meaningful. Now our prayer quickly reaffirms salvation through universal voices when xenophobia yields zero.

Well, it looked as if we were taking notes and Dr. Bob had stopped drooling. (Neither of us will be attempting the essay on Elizabethan Anglicanism!)

Anyway: over to you.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Momentus News

So, on Sunday, while I was celebrating my birthday in the bosom of the family, (thanks for good wishes/condolences by the way) the Lutheran Church in Great Britain was in Synod. The key issue was the election of the new Bishop, to take office when Bishop Walter retires in January 09.

Get used to the sound of "Bishop Jana". Try it out. Sounds good doesn't it?

Is Porvoo ready for this?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Keep Pushing

I like to see how far I can push sometimes. When you've not a lot to do and you feel like flattening everyone in the room I like to find some muppet, generally a boy, who's doing something slightly naughty. Something petty like having his feet up on the leather seating, or wandering across the dancefloor to his mates with a drink in each hand. Nothing major, just the kind of thing I'd normally just warn and forget about.
I do warn, in a very obnoxious, brisk way. I use aggressive body language and follow it with a hard to read stare. The warning sticks but it ruins any good relationship we have built up. If I've got nothing better to do I'll keep the nasty stares. I place my oversize frame somewhere to block their view. If I have to I can keep this up for a few hours but I don't usually need to. I just keep pushing, when they head to the bar I deliberately chose then to check all's good with the barstaff. I give them a 20 second lead when they head for the gents. I let them know I've got it in for them and they get the gist very quickly.
They may come and front up to me, ask me what my problem is. They don't normally. They just take their frustrations out in beer or on anther punter. Then I get the fun of escorting them to the door and hear their pointless apparently paranoid ranting. All topped off with a 'good night sir' from the front step. It's not big, it's not clever but is it funny. Especially if you tip off your colleagues as to who you're pushing.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On This Day, a lifetime ago...

.......Doorman-Priest burst into this world.

And so to celebrate, a little tale from my recent past:

So, I came home from a quiet night on the door, arriving about 3.30am, put the car away, put the washing machine on, climbed into bed and immediately thought: "That rain doesn't sound like rain, its got a crackle to it. Why is there a glow coming through the curtains and why is there a powerful smell of smoke? Is this house on fire? What's that bloody child left on in the loft? Hang on, why isn't our smoke alarm going off then?"

So I stagger out of bed and open the curtains to see the garage of the house opposite going up in roaring flames and Doris, the 86 yr old next door to it, standing in her kitchen doorway, with melting guttering dripping on her, burning door-frame and all and with her dustbin gently melting at her feet, throwing a glass of water on the conflagration.

So, dressed in nothing but boxers and body art, I leg it over the road as Doris's's shed roof catches. (My neighbour, Maude, watching from her bedroom, said my near naked dash was by far the most enjoyable episode of the whole incident, but she is also 86 and wears very strong glasses.)

The owners of the garage have now appeared, both much the worse for alcohol and mill about aimlessly, wailing. (They are new to the street and have not long returned from their Elvis themed Las Vegas wedding. Enough said.) My wife has had the presence of mind to dial 999 and I have joined a small group of voyeuristic passers by who have appeared out of nowhere at that time in the morning and none of whom seem interested in doing anything other than making fatuous comments on the events like a Greek chorus.
“That’ll have been started by something you know.”
"Hot isn't it, fire?"
"Is that a burn or a tattoo?"
“I’ve got a pair of shorts like that, only mine are green.”

I bundle Doris into her kitchen and lock the back door just as the heat cracks the window. It's hard to know whether its the fire or me, now wet from the rain, dripping in her kitchen, which worried her the most.

It must be the spirit of the Blitz, but she was not going to be hurried out of the front door and over to our house where my wife had, of course, in the time honoured way of these things made a pot of strong sweet tea. No.
"Where is my hearing aid? (Pardon) I can't find my glasses. You know I've nothing on under my nighty."
"You may have noticed I'm not exactly over dressed. Lets go. Out."

And so we exit through the front door.

We now have two fire engines with blue flashing lights but no crowd of bystanders because it is now raining very hard. (No staying power, the British public.) The wife of the garage owner is actively impeding the dousing of the flames by lasciviously chatting up anyone she believes to be a fireman: "I like your uniform. (Obviously not directed to me, that one.) Are you married? Can I sit on your engine?"

And I've got no shoes on!

Guttering and piping is melting, dustbins have gone and so by now have one garage, one shed, a fair bit of fencing, some hedge and half a tree. Windows are cracked, doors are charred and tiles have buckled.

I have now got dressed. (Maude, disappointed, has gone to bed believing my having got dressed to be a sign that nothing of further interest would occur.) The chief fire officer insists on reporting to me as the least insane member of the party now gathered in the ashes in the pouring rain. He believes the cause of the fire was a discarded cigarette end. Garage owner's wife looks both drunk and sheepish - difficult to achieve and deeply unattractive.

The next day the garage owner's wife will have a shock when she tries to use her washing machine with the now melted piping and the garage owner will have a shock when he showers: I hope they were insured for fire and flood.

And I still got to bed by five a.m. even after Doris told us for the eighth time that she'd been just getting ready for bed, couldn't find her hearing aid (“Pardon”) or her glasses and has no nickers on and, by the way, had I seen that man with no clothes on? Did I think he might have started it?

Ho Hum.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Face to Faith: A lesson for Christians from Jewish Practice

Yom Kippur provides the opportunity for a spiritual audit

Zaki Cooper and Michael Harris The Guardian, Saturday October 4 2008

The recent turmoil in the financial markets has occurred at a time of year when Jews are conducting their own spiritual audit. In the run-up to the Jewish New Year (last week) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) on Thursday, we have been thinking about the rights and wrongs we have done during the past year. We try to focus on our morality and spirituality and leave our everyday concerns at the office.

The high holy days are a time when many people come to synagogue, even though they are not regulars. Our synagogue will be full, with practically all of the 800 members present. It is ironic that we get these bumper crowds on days when the prayer service is the longest and requires intensive introspection. The Ram's Horn or Shofar is blown on Rosh Ha-Shanah; the great rabbi of the middle ages Maimonides suggested this was to awaken us from our spiritual slumber.

On Yom Kippur, we fast for 25 hours and also refrain from other routine activities. Jewish people will take the day off work, just as many Muslims do for the feast of Eid at the end of Ramadan. We ask our friends to forgive any hurt or harm that we have caused them, and in synagogue we read the Book of Jonah, a tale portraying God's forgiveness. We hope that, with prayer, charity and genuine repentance, we will also be forgiven by God for our misdemeanours. We leave our mobiles and BlackBerrys at home as we try to remove ourselves from the pace of everyday life.

As society becomes fragmented and increasingly frenetic, there is more value than ever in these spiritual audits. In Madeline Bunting's book, Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives, she shows that in Britain we work the longest hours in Europe (an average of 43.6 hours a week), significantly more than the EU average of 40.3 hours. Another recent survey reported that the average child spends up to 35 hours a week watching a screen, but a paltry 35 minutes talking to their father. We need to restore some work-life balance. It is said that no one goes to their grave wishing they had spent more time in the office, but it is worth considering how we do spend our precious time. The high holy days force us to reflect on this year upon year. We reassess our values and reaffirm our long-term goals. We are reminded of the importance of time, and the need to spend it wisely. It is no coincidence that the New Year is traditionally spent with family, and in the synagogue as part of a community.

In modern, multi-faith Britain, people are finding ways to spend time during their busy working day reflecting on the spiritual. This may involve a trip to the local place of worship during lunch break, and many public institutions and large companies have multi-faith prayer rooms. In addition, office workers in the City can take short lunchtime classes. In the Jewish community this entails a rabbi giving short educational sessions, often based on a passage of the Torah to Jewish office workers.

Short-selling in the financial context is being quoted as one cause of the credit crunch. Today, the ones laughing are those who invested safely for long-term yield. It is a salutary lesson. Every Yom Kippur we draw up our long-term investment plan, focusing on the ethical teachings of our faith. The hard part is the implementation. There have been some outstanding examples of ethical leadership from business leaders. One of the most inspirational instances concerns Aaron Feuerstein, whose textile mill in Malden Mills in Massachusetts was destroyed by a fire in 1995. Hundreds of workers faced unemployment, but Feuerstein, influenced by his religious values, continued to pay the workers and became a national hero. He earned the nickname the "mensch of Malden Hills", mensch being the Yiddish equivalent (roughly) of "a true gentleman".

So Yom Kippur reminds us of how we behave too. The space for the spirit afforded by Yom Kippur need by no means remain confined to Judaism. In the adult world, time-out is not a punishment but a boon - allowing us to pause, consider and plan to obtain the greatest yield from the gift of life.

Zaki Cooper is an inter-faith consultant and commentator. Michael Harris is rabbi of Hampstead Synagogue and joint vice-chair of the rabbinical council of the United Synagogue