Letters: 12 October 2014

Does the environment matter anymore?

Living in the old core of a traditional Maltese town has its charm. Quite a few old houses around us have been renovated, reflecting back past beauty.

MEPA’s Policy UCO 10 states: “Developments will not be permitted which adversely affect views of or from Urban Conservation Areas, or which detract from the traditional urban skyline. Particularly important views will be identified in detail in Local Plans.”
Our house being situated in an Urban Conservation Area as defined by MEPA policies should give us peace of mind that no major disruptive alterations in our environment would be carried out. 

Unfortunately, that policy remains a fiction as lately experienced on two occasions.

One neighbor, without warning and permits, added another floor to his property. Through this exercise I lost my wireless internet connection. Shortly after, another neighbour decided to do the same, building another floor to his dwelling, again without any permits.

I had reported both matters to MEPA and the enforcement officer, also including in my email exchanges the current chairman of MEPA. After many emails and telephone calls, both illegal dwellings are still in place and both owners have been asked by the enforcement officer to submit applications to sanction the extensions.

The moral of the story is the following: start building and then the enforcement officer will help you to get your work sanctioned.
 I bet that both extensions will remain in place despite breaching UCA policies.

Henrik Piski, Qormi

So what's wrong with him?

But what’s wrong with John Guillaumier (‘No evidence of divine mercy’, MaltaToday, 5 October)? What is troubling him?

He keeps tearing into believers for their beliefs. He keeps tearing down their God. But why? What is tearing into him? Why does he have a problem with people believing there is a God, with their putting their trust in Him?

No one is telling Mr Guillaumier to go out and paint the town red, or to stop being so morose, miserable and negative. If that is what he wants in life, let him have it.

But, on the other hand, he should respect other people’s ways. If they want to believe in a God, let them. They are no harm to him. They are not getting in his way. Why is he so assiduous in trying to get in theirs?

To be blunt, why doesn’t he mind his own business? Why doesn’t he give up moping about whatever it was in the past that gave him hurt, and get on with life? If someone hurt him, why blame it on God? Why not blame it on himself, for keeping such company?

I am not a practising Catholic. Very selfishly, I pray to God only when I am in some difficulty. And you know what? I find solace from doing so. Prayer is the cheapest and most effective form of medicine I know of.

Roger Mifsud, Rabat

A soul-searching exercise and backsliding

A similar letter about divine mercy by Mr Guillaumier appeared in your issue of 8.12.13; this time more details of tragedies were released. With no pretension whatsoever of being versed in moral matters, more so in being “God’s counsellor”, I only condemn Mr G. for exposing his fallacies so persistently and relentlessly in the press, to the extent of being a prominent monopolising feature in two English-speaking papers.

If he thinks that anyone can wrap everything up in a neat little parcel and put a fancy theological bow on the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, then he can punch the air in celebration for failing to find one. It is certainly beyond anyone to annihilate and rebut such a brilliant exposure but though evil and suffering exist, a loving god can alleviate its pain. I can only revert to micrology (just one paragraph) and a quotation.

I refer to deicide. The death of God himself on the cross. At the time, nobody saw how anything good could ever result from this tragedy. And yet God foresaw it as the opening of heaven to human beings. So the worst tragedy in history brought about the most glorious event in history. And if it happened there – if the ultimate evil can result in the ultimate good – it can happen anywhere, even in our own individual and collective lives. Here, God lifts the curtain and lets us see it. Elsewhere he simply says “Trust me”.

The prominent British pastor John R.W. Stott, reached his own conclusion:

I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross: In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha. His legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world.
But each time after a while, I have had to turn away.

And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding, from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me!

He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross, which symbolises divine suffering. The cross of Christ: God’s only self-justification in such a world of ours.

Mr Guillaumier is certainly “au courant” with catastrophic statistics but not so with atheism – his religion. His conclusion that it’s improbable that there is anyone up there “was a splendid anticlimax and a vacuous platitude to a theory which has long been vanquished, these last three years or so. Reasons of space permit me only half a quotation.

“Probability of life coming spontaneously into being is impossible… It’s much more sensible to believe that an intelligent and wise God created living beings and the universe than those beings sprung out of nothing or through a spontaneous coincidence". (Fred Hoyle)

Can there be anyone, even of the most liberal-minded type, who doesn’t believe something has gone badly wrong with his priorities? I think he should re-schedule them.

John Azzopardi, Zabbar