New review of Where’s Sailor Jack? : ‘‘…romantic, poignant, and extremely funny, exactly what I want from a family saga.’ – Stephen Carver, Blot the Skrip and Jar It

Archives: religion

Three Trinities

Christianity has the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son who is the Word, and the Spirit. Buddhism has the Trikaya, meaning the three bodies. These are: the Truth body: the body of mutual bliss: the created body in space and time. I’ve just had reason to return to the earlier work of the brilliant mathematical physicist Roger Penrose. My youngest son who is in his final year of a mathematical physics masters will have the privilege of hearing him lecture next week.(The lecture is on his present focus of Twistor Theory as a pre-cursor to space-time and quantum gravity.) He describes three worlds: Mathematics: The Physical: Mental Consciousness. He is an atheist promoting humanist values, but not one who denies the possibility of God. Indeed, he pours scorn on those who see multiverses as a convenient replacement for the God hypothesis. He sees the mathematical world as always within the scope of reason, if only in principle as he accepts that Gödel has shown that a mathematical system can never explain itself. The entire physical world is governed by the Mathematical world. The mental world is dependent on the physical. He does allow that all these assertions may be subject to exceptions. He particularly believes that consciousness may at its root be quantum mechanical and be non-computable. To this end, he postulates brain structures capable of collapsing the quantum wave.
Those of you who have read my ‘Where’s Sailor Jack’ saga will recognise that as similar to the worlds I’ve tried to create. I am a theist from a Church upbringing which has set my belief system, apparently permanently, as I’ve seen no reason to reject the sense it’s made as I’ve lived a life. Penrose doesn’t think we’ll understand much more of the mental world until the mathematics of the physical has a better, underlying theory. I’m too old, even if he isn’t, to handle the complex Maths of that next stage, if ever I could. I wish him and his successors good luck with that, and hope my son will reach that next level. I’ll have to stick with religion and the arts to see through a glass darkly as far as the grave.

On Marriage

My novel, Where’s Sailor Jack, has two main male characters. Bob struggles to come to terms at being sent off by his wife before half-time in their marriage match, Richard doesn’t get why he’s not brought on until the second half for his. They both take marriage seriously, yet I’m sure they’d both mock its sacramental status.

I can write the dialogue now. Bob – “It’s only because Joseph had popped his clogs and Jesus got roped in by his mother for that wedding in Cana. He’d too much sense ever to take the plunge himself. And then the miserable buggers hadn’t bought enough wine.” Richard – “They probably had. He seems to have liked a drop. He just needed one more for the road back to Nazareth.”

Sacrament or not, marriage was around well before Jesus. And divorce too, allowed by Moses. Bob divorced Jane without really wanting to. He later worried that Jesus took a harder line on divorce than Moses had, before eventually convincing himself that he hadn’t. This was perhaps as well for the rest of the tale. This family saga doesn’t assume any sacrament, though I found marriage, or the lack of it, helpful in labelling who all the characters are and how they relate.

The present day urge seems to be for marriage not to be the exclusive preserve for heterosexual couples of child-bearing age. Indeed many in this group do not see the point of it. The LGBT communities rightly point out that the church has always been prepared to marry people who had passed the age where children would arise. Increasingly, they see value in the public proclamation of their relationship with the moral and legal ties this creates. They like the designer label.

I am old enough to remember girls who intended to keep their virginity until they were wearing a band of gold. I suspect that it was mainly those who had married before the pill became widely available who succeeded in that aim. A relationship can be about both companionship and sex, or either one separately. So could marriage, and still can.

Yet there is something about marriage that creates strong ties. The statistics can’t be totally spurious. Yes, maybe the marrying kind would be more likely to stay together than those with wandering eyes even if marriage was banned. The creation of a formal unit sharing the same name and roof is a powerful unifying force.

And a church wedding is special. The Anglican prayer book thunders; “Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder,” words powerful enough to worry Bob, but not to convince him that they’re absolute. Catholic tradition says that the two to be married are the ministers of the sacrament before God, and not the priest.


John Uttley, 69, was born in Lancashire although he now lives just outside London. Where’s Sailor Jack is his first novel. Not fancying a memoir, or his family’s story, John instead recorded his Lancastrian sense of humour as well as documenting a tumultuous, exciting period of British history. History John just happened to live through.

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