Showing posts from January, 2015

Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. It is also the 70th anniversary of the day the Red Army began to liberate the notorious concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. What happened in that place and other places in Nazi-occupied Europe was not the first genocide the world has known and was not the last. In many horrifying ways it is a present reality for some minority groups in today's world. The challenges for all of us are:

to face up to the truth about the dreadful capability of humankind to think, say and do evil;to commit our energies to think, say and do the sort of good that could make a reality of the slogan 'never again'.

Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch identified 8 stages in the process that leads to genocide. In 2013 he updated this to 10. He says that:
"Genocide is a process that develops in ten stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The process is not linear. Stages may occur simultaneously. Logi…

Conversion of Paul

Powerful and violent persecutors of Christians have been around since before early followers of Jesus were called Christians. Saul of Tarsus aka Paul is perhaps the most famous early example. He positively breathed
"threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord".The church remembers his dramatic change of heart and life on 25 January.

This painting of the Conversion of Paul is by the Neapolitan 17th century painter Luca Giordano (1632 - 1705). It is striking for many reasons. Paul, his companions and their horses are all shown as immensely powerful - just look at their muscles.

The story from Acts 9: 1 - 20 tells how Paul was travelling from Jerusalem to Damascus on special commission with authority to arrest followers of the Jesus' Way and bring them bound to Jerusalem to be dealt with. As his group approached Damascus a light from heaven flashed around Paul and he fell to the ground. The painter has conveyed the drama of this sudden event with a stormy sky apparent…

English Spelling

For anyone learning English, including English-speaking children learning to read and write, English spelling is a nightmare!English is a difficult language to spell as there are few consistent rules of either spelling or pronunciation. Generally I don't have much difficulty. English is my first language, I love reading, enjoyed learning lists of words for weekly school spelling tests and was not disadvantaged by dyslexia or similar problems. This means that I don't often make spelling mistakes.For this I am grateful.

Spelling gives clues to language origins, so to spell English words it can help to know Latin, French, German, Flemish, Scandinavian languages and classical Greek among others. Language origin is one of the main arguments against spelling reform as is the fact that there is no agreed authority to determine spelling which depends therefore on accepted practice and usage. I think the efforts of the English Spelling Society to simplify the way English is spelt are un…

Under the fig tree

We sat under the fig tree, studying holy scripts, searching their meaning, debating under our fig tree.
We sat under the fig tree, sharing our questions, sitting at the rabbi's feet, pondering under our fig tree.

We sat under the fig tree, looking up to the light filtering through leaves and fruit, searching under our fig tree.

We sat under the fig tree, listening to prophets speaking to minds and hearts praying under our fig tree.

We sat under the fig tree, needing an epiphany seeing Jacob-like heaven opened, moving-angels under our fig tree.

I sat under the fig tree, hearing an impelling call urging me to 'come and see', finding me under our fig tree. 

Thoughts inspired by call of Nathaniel from John 1: 43 - 51
Image Credit: Flickr, CC License

The Epiphany

Here's a round-up of some posts about the Feast of the Epiphany that I think are worth reading .

In Strangers Bearing Gifts Nancy Rockwell has some interesting reflections on the practicality rather than symbolic nature of the gifts given by the magi to the Christ-child:
"What better than gold for buying safe passage out of Jerusalem, when so many boy babies are being killed?  What better than medicinal and funereal herbs, to be exchanged for food at a market on the way to Egypt, or for housing in Egypt, or for clothing to make them more able to blend into the surroundings in which, for two years, they will be refugees?  And when, after the death of Herod, they return to Galilee, a stored coin or two could make that journey possible."
In Is Epiphany Plausible? Ian Paul does some critical reflecting on what critical scholarship has to say about Matthew's nativity account.

In Epiphany Evensong at Coventry Kathryn posts a sermon in which she says that epiphanies change ever…

New Year 2015

If it is really 2015 then I must be getting old. Today does start 2015 so I have to admit I am getting older - but not 'old' yet. You are as old as you feel aren't you? 'Old' is always much older than me - in my own mind anyway, although I think my grandchildren see my age differently.

I'm not old enough to have heard King George VI's 1939 Christmas broadcast in which he quoted part of Minnie Louise Haskins' 1908 poem 'God knows', more popularly known now as 'The Gate of the Year'. I'm old enough to be inspired by it and often think of it on New Year's Day and other times of new beginning when facing an unknown future. That is probably because it meant so much to many people of my parents' generation. It was read at the end of every school year by the head teacher of my school. It was significant for my father and was read at his funeral. So, remembering that my parents married on 1 January and faced an unknown future, as do w…