Pontifications along a road less travelled. You might believe that, I cannot possibly comment.

fall of troy

I was intrigued to read an article in a leading newspaper about veganism sweeping the world. Certainly you get enough strident propaganda throughout English speaking social media. But what’s the real situation? I read an interesting paper, ‘An Estimate of the Number of Vegetarians in the World.’



It states “We estimate that there are one and half billion vegetarians. Only 75 million are vegetarians of choice, a number that will gradually grow with increasing affluence and education. The other 1,450 million are vegetarians of necessity. They will start to eat meat as soon as they can afford it.”

Meat production throughout the world continues to increase, and more and more people are eating it.


Veganism brings to mind the famous Douglas Adams quote, “The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?”

― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe


Within the wealthy and secular west, prosperous people are importing exotic vegetable foods from around the world so they can eat an interesting vegan diet. It’s fair enough, everybody needs a hobby.

But how relevant is it to the world in general? Does this minority within a minority (admittedly a wealthy one) actually matter any more? Does it have any influence?
I think the issue is that the world is changing and the wealthy and secular west is no longer necessarily leading opinion. Look at Christianity. In the UK only about 10% of the population are ‘church goers.’ Apparently 70% of young people in the UK identify with no religion. A study by the Benedict XVI Centre found that the people identifying as non-religious are typically young, white and male – and increasingly working class. (Given how that group, its interests and aspirations, seems to be despised by so many of our middle class intelligentsia, that discovery provides its own dark irony.)

Yet according to the Washington Post, Christianity is increasing in Africa. Asia is also experiencing growth as world Christianity’s centre moves away from the West, to the South and to the East. Asia’s Christian population of 350 million is projected to grow to 460 million by 2025.

Then of course there is China which has a further sixty to seventy million Christians. Given the Chinese government might be about to launch a crackdown, that could push the numbers higher.
Not only that but Christianity is changing, in Latin America, the large Christian population is becoming more Pentecostal or Charismatic.

Tracing its roots to the Azusa Street revival in 1910, and comprising 5 percent of Christians in 1970, today one of four Christians is Pentecostal or Charismatic. Or think of it this way: one out of 12 people alive today has a Pentecostal form of Christian faith.
So do the fads and fashions of the dying West really matter any more?

Is the West dying? How would we tell? Surely the West is still strong?
It might be. But these things change and can change within the lifetime. A young warrior who fought under Agamemnon at the siege of Troy could live to see Mycene fall and his world dissolve.

Or perhaps as a small child, born in 395AD, your Dad would sit you on his knee and tell you about the soldier Emperor Theodosius who died the day you were born and who ruled the whole empire. Then as an old man or woman of 81 your own grandchildren could bring you the news that the barbarian general, Odoacer had forced the last emperor Romulus Augustulus to abdicate.

So what date will future historians pick to mark the start of the fall of the west? The fall of Berlin? The fall of Saigon? The fall of the Berlin Wall?


Oh yes, and your opinion? Is it historically relevant? Will Marx, Corbyn, Juncker or Tusk matter in twenty years time?

Me, I’m trying to work out who will be worth listening to.


Waiting for the Barbarians



What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?


The barbarians are due here today.



Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?

Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?


Because the barbarians are coming today.

What’s the point of senators making laws now?

Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.



Why did our emperor get up so early,

and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,

in state, wearing the crown?


Because the barbarians are coming today

and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.

He’s even got a scroll to give him,

loaded with titles, with imposing names.



Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today

wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?

Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,

rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?

Why are they carrying elegant canes

beautifully worked in silver and gold?


Because the barbarians are coming today

and things like that dazzle the barbarians.



Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual

to make their speeches, say what they have to say?


Because the barbarians are coming today

and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.



Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?

(How serious people’s faces have become.)

Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,

everyone going home lost in thought?


Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.

And some of our men just in from the border say

there are no barbarians any longer.



Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?

Those people were a kind of solution.



Alternatively there is poetry in motion

to quote the reviewer “Tallis Steelyard is a poet with champagne tastes on a beer budget. Chased out of town, and into the bay, by irate creditors, he’s rescued by a passing boat and given the opportunity to become a part of the crew. Thereafter follow a series of adventures, many funny, before Tallis can finally return home again.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story and recommend it highly!”

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8 thoughts on “Pontifications along a road less travelled. You might believe that, I cannot possibly comment.

  1. rugby843 September 23, 2018 at 6:27 pm Reply

    The idea that Pentecostal religions or Fundamentalists increasing is frightening.

    • jwebster2 September 23, 2018 at 6:30 pm Reply

      If you read the things written by some vegans, some animal rights activists, some ‘liberals’ and various ‘activists’ then it’s becoming obvious that we’re entering an age where the Fundamentalist is increasing. But rather than the witch burning, the heresy trial is now a twitter storm and they destroy lives and livelihoods that way 😦

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt September 24, 2018 at 4:59 am Reply

    Sometimes I ponder how I am such a small part of anything that I could not possibly have any influence on the world.

    Then I go back to my writing; if I ever make a dent, that’s how it will happen. Everything else I’ve tried has faded or turned to ashes.

    Writing suits me.

    • jwebster2 September 24, 2018 at 6:17 am Reply

      Exactly, in this world pretty much all you leave is a memory in the minds of those who live after you. If that memory stirs them to be a little better or achieve a little more you’ve probably done all you can

  3. Cynthia Reyes September 24, 2018 at 12:50 pm Reply

    What an interesting post, absent barbarians and all. I wonder if poverty and religion go together: if the worse off humans are, the more we need to believe in a divine spirit (it’s out of their hands) or a better hereafter.
    I find myself eating less and less meat, but more and more fish, and can’t justify killing one creature over another. And yes, I believe in God, “in spite of what the clergy tells” me. Many of my friends don’t, and I note that they are among the most decent people I know. So, go figure. But like a good Anglican, I do believe, complete with moments of doubt. After all, if faith isn’t exercised, it is no faith at all.

    • jwebster2 September 24, 2018 at 2:14 pm Reply

      I agree with you about moments of doubt. These merely prove you’re serious and thinking about faith.
      Certainly you do see people turning to Christ (I’ll not say religion, the two things can be very different) when they’re in deep trouble, whether it’s poverty or something else. But looking at the west I see real, crippling poverty, poverty of aspiration. So many people cannot imagine their situation can get better

      • Cynthia Reyes September 24, 2018 at 3:48 pm

        I hear you. In a different way, I can relate to the loss of hope, loss of attaining better. It’s horrible.

      • jwebster2 September 24, 2018 at 4:18 pm

        It is, and we have great swathes of our population who’re trapped there 😦

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