Archive for December, 2011

“I’d rather be in hell”

December 31, 2011
heaven or hell - Ken Crane

heaven or hell - Ken Crane

As soon as he died, Juan found himself in a gorgeous place, surrounded by all the comfort and beauty he had dreamed of.

A fellow dressed in white approached him and said, “You have the right to have whatever you want; any food, pleasure or amusement.”

Charmed, Juan did everything he dreamed of doing during his life. After many years of pleasures, he sought the fellow in white and asked, “I have already experienced everything I wanted. Now I need to work in order to feel useful.”

“I am sorry,” said the fellow in white, “but that is the only thing I am unable to give you. There is no work here.”

“How terrible,” Juan said annoyed, “I will spend eternity dying of boredom! I’d much rather be in hell!”

The man in white approached him and said in a low voice:

“And where do you think you are?”

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Rob Bell describes something similar in his excellent book Love Wins, a world of boredom for all eternity, for many that would be hell.

Heaven is not some otherworldly place. Is that all life has to offer, we hang around waiting to go some place else?

Heaven is here on earth, it is what we choose of our life here and now. Or we turn it into hell.

We are the ones who have the choice, to turn swords into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks, new wine will drip from the mountains, all nations, that is all colours, all races, all creeds.

But we prefer to create hell on earth.

Fundamentalists tell us that if we do not believe what they believe we will go to hell not heaven. They are of course the self-appointed chosen ones who will go to heaven.

Hell is not a mythical place. It is here on earth, we create it.

It is Rwanda. It is the nine-year-old girl raped by her mother’s boyfriend or the parish priest. It is Iraq as it descends into hell.

The Truth as Iraq descends into Hell

And yet even in Iraq, as it descends into hell, the people find joy, love wins.

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They’ve lost God!

December 31, 2011

Two naughty boys went to Church every Sunday.

They were always badly behaved, they would run around, shout, up-skittle chairs and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

One day one of the boys was too ill to go to church so one of the naughty boys went on his own.

As he was on his own, he decided he would have to be twice as naughty to make up for the absence of his friend. He wrought havoc in the church that Sunday.

The Rector had had enough. He grabbed the boy by the scruff and roared at him: Where is God!?

He let go of him, then told him to go home and give serious thought to where was God. He said he expected answers the following Sunday.

The boy got home and called his friend: They’ve lost God and they are trying to pin it on us.

As told by the Rector of St John’s in Washingborough at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Midnight Mass at St John’s

My wife and the burnt light

December 31, 2011

On Christmas Eve, my wife and I were reflecting on the year that was nearly ending whilst dining at a restaurant.

I started to complain about something that didn’t happen the way I wanted it to.

My wife focused her attention in a Christmas tree that embellished the place.

I thought that she wasn’t interested in the conversation, so I changed the subject:

“This tree has a beautiful illumination”, I said.

“Yes, but if you look carefully you can see one burnt light among dozens.

” It seems to me that instead of thinking this year as dozens of enlightened blessings, you chose to look at the one light that did not glow.”

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

2011 was the year of protest.

All the little lights twinkling are the Occupy camps across the world.

All the little lights twinkling are the brave people who take to the streets in Syria and Egypt, even though they do so at risk to their lives.

The one dead light is the corrupt who must be removed from power.

Protest the dominant theme of 2011

Synchronicity: I was reading Faith Under Fire by Canon Andrew White:

In Arabic: Yom asal, yom basal which means one day honey, one day onions. Canon Andrew White would designate days as honey or onion, as often a good day would be followed by a bad day, then one day decided to change his perspective, every day would be a good day. Not just a philosophical shift, but a spiritual shift.

Surrounded by death and destruction, Canon Andrew White and the people he loves and serves still see the joy of life.

Psalms 30:5

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

It is often those who face the greatest adversity who share the greatest love. Canon Andrew White in Iraq is a good example of this.

St Paul pleaded with God to remove the thorn from his side, God responded …

1 Corinthians 12:19

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Love drives out fear.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

2 Timothy 1:17

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Canon Andrew White

As I have said many times, the congregation of St George’s are the most joyful people I have ever served. … There cannot be any such word as can’t here in Iraq. We have to persevere, and we do. And in everything we see the Glory of God.

Angels appear in St George’s and as seen by Ezekiel wheels within wheels.

Wheels within wheels

Oh St Pauls, why?

December 30, 2011

And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. — John 2:15

Oh St Pauls, why?

o cathedral what have u done?
where has ur christianity run?
what would jesus do i ask?
faced with the chapters awkward task.

what to with all those tents?
support them or charge them rent?
who can blame them to be fair,
with so much injustice everywhere.

ppl sleeping in the cold,
while the cathedral resorts to crimes untold,
lying in court,
shaming their kind,

leaving the values of jesus behind.
crucifying jesus with every action,
forgetting that they create such sad reactions,
well with Goldman Sachs on the board of trustees,
and hsbc robbing oaps……

such unethical corps pulling the strings,
makes a sickening situation as the bell rings,
huge wooden doors and hearts much the same,
but if i may ask?who is to blame?

o cathedral what have u done?
why have u allowed such evil to run?
why do you not just do as god says,
and act justly and truthfully in all your ways?

no legal action says ur chapter and staff,
but i heard it in court,don’t make me laugh,
not one kind word for us did i hear,
when the witness you sent spouted crap down my ears,

I couldn’t believe it
that I admit
I sat there and thought
“is this really it

is this religious cathedral this huge house of god,
going to stand their and lie,it was rather odd!
o dear cathedral on the 11th jan,
the violence u didn’t want will happen’
partly at ur hands.

— Tammy Samede

Tammy Samede is the named defendant for Occupy LSX, she is also a mother of four and a christian at heart, recently she has felt dissillusioned and discusted by some of the actions of the church and their activities in the financial industry. The occupy movement has shaken the heart of the church and forced it in to questioning its moral standing. We await to see which side of the line the church will stand when the time for eviction comes.

Originally posted on Farang Rak Thailand.

Contrary to the smears in the media, it is not and never has been the camp v St Paul’s, but for perverse reasons not known the Registrar of St Paul’s decided to give evidence on behalf of the City of London against the camp.

Top story Occupy Global and Local LSE (Saturday 31 December 2011).

Occupy

December 30, 2011

Occupy

i buy therefore i am
is the corporate pslam
our democracy – consumerism
we’re caught in a prism
of shiny colours, sparkle
so we can all marvel
at kate middleton’s shoes
pretending we choose
but it leaves you empty
this pursuit of plently
life is more, than more crap
can we all get behind that?
go home and watch telly
have a beer, get lonely
buy something on ebay
thats how u have your say
lets change the set up
from the bottom up
stop messing on the phone
dont be a corporate clone
take control of industry
so its run with empathy
cause its all one globe
so fire up your stove
come pitch ur tent
state ur intent
to change the current system
which stops the world from eating
lets stand in solidarity
strive for equality
there’s an oppertunity
to stop the super rich
dont dig your own ditch
die on your feet or live on ur knees
theres more than 80′s cheese
there’s love and hugs
throw the crutch of drugs
and walk into a freedom
thats of ur own making

— Catherine Brogan

Top story Occupy Global and Local LSE (Saturday 31 December 2011).

Protest the dominant theme of 2011

December 30, 2011
St Paul's in-the-camp Time Out picture of the year 2011

St Paul's in-the-camp Time Out picture of the year 2011

here to stay

here to stay

root out usury

root out usury

Christmas Bishop of London at St Paul's in-the-Camp

Christmas Bishop of London at St Paul's in-the-Camp

As 2011 draws to a close, Occupy and Arab Spring were the defining moments. Historians will note the date when one world changed to another, no longer were ordinary people prepared to be kicked around by corrupt politicians in the pocket of Big Businesses.

Strictly speaking the Arab Spring started in Tunisia as 2010 drew to a close, but it really took off in Tahrir Square at the beginning of the year. Mubarak has gone but the job is not yet finished, the ruling military elite has yet to be toppled. In Libya a job well done, but unfortunately much blood was shed. In Syria, work in progress, Assad has a simple choice, hand himself over to the ICC or leave with a bullet in the head. In Yemen, unfinished businesses. In Saudi Arabia the corrupt House of Saud has yet to be toppled or the Mullahs and Ayatollahs in Iran.

Syria troops ‘clash with Damascus activists’

Occupy started in Spain when the young unemployed occupied the centre of Madrid. It quickly spread to New York, then around the world. Brutal crackdowns in the US. In the UK St Paul’s in-the-Camp has spread to an estimated 60 camps around the country. Contrary to the smear stories in the media, it never was the camp v St Paul’s and the clergy are working closely with the camp. St Paul’s in-the-Camp has revitalised the church, made them recognise the core values of Christianity. Contrary to smears in the media, church attendance up not down.

Freedom to protest
St Paul’s plans for lasting legacy of Occupy protest
Archbishop of Wales urges church to ‘get hands dirty’ in the fight against poverty and injustice
The origins of Christmas
The Nativity of Our Lord
Attendances prove Christmas surprise

On Christmas day the Bishop of London delivered a box of chocolates to the camp outside St Paul’s. The year will end with a reading of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol at 6pm this evening on the steps of St Paul’s.

Protesters celebrate Christmas, as judge postpones decision
An Occupy reading of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’
Occupy London presents a reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – 6pm Friday 30 December at the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol especially adapted for Occupy London
New Year’s Eve Weekend at Occupy London – Make it count!

As Dickens’ bicentennial approaches, it seems only fitting for Occupy London to stage a public reading of A Christmas Carol at St Paul’s Cathedral. Dickens was compelled to write A Christmas Carol out of a strong desire to comment on the enormous gap between the rich and poor in Victorian Britain. It is a similar strength of conviction that has motivated the growth of the Occupy movement to work to transform the growing social, economic and political injustices of our time. As Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral said:

Christmas is the most political of the Church’s festivals … all politics is about people, and without a fundamental sympathy for the plight of other human beings, and in particular for the dispossessed, no political movement for social change is ever going to capture the heart. For Dickens, Christmas was the emotional centre of the big society. Peace on earth and goodwill to all.

Arab Spring and Occupy have become key words and phrases of 2011. St Paul’s in-the-Camp picture of the year for Time Out. Time Magazine proclaimed this year’s Person of the Year to be “the Protester”. Five of the Top 10 Most Commented Stories this year in the New York Times were about Occupy wall Street!

New words: the official* glossary of 2011
Best of 2011: pictures of the year – Occupy London camp
The Protester

In Leeds, when the unaccountable town council announced £90 million cuts protesters stormed the council chamber, then Occupy Leeds arrived.

2011: when year of global protests became local in Leeds
Quiet in the August troubles; but Occupy looks here to stay

UK Uncut has forced tax dodging up the political agenda. A damning report on HMRC by a House of Commons Select Committee. The Head of HMRC forced to resign, with effect next year. UK Uncut and Occupy London Stock Exchange have exposed the City of London as one of the few remaining Rotten Boroughs.

The tax haven in the heart of Britain

Who would have thought Russians would have taken to the streets in their tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands to call for democratic accountability and to call upon Vladimir Putin to go?

Not all good news.

There has been coups in Greece and Italy. Italy no longer has a democratically elected government, it has a government put in place by EU and German bankers. A government to serve the banks and EU not the people of Italy. In Greece the government is acting for the EU and bankers not the Greek people.

Ryanair refused to allow a passenger on his way home for Christmas to board a flight to Malaga. Hints of terrorism. Yet one more reason to boycott Ryanair.

Occupy protester ‘banned’ from flight home for Christmas

Iraq is descending into Hell.

The Truth as Iraq descends into Hell

Occupy has inspired poetry.

Jesus was born in an empty building
Occupy
Oh St Pauls, why?

For Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho 2011 was a very good year, his latest book, the biographical Aleph released last year in Brazil, shot straight to No 1 in every country published. The noticeable exception was in the UK thanks to High Street bookshop chain Waterstone’s deliberately choosing not to put Aleph on display.

What a year!

As 2011 draws to a close there is still much unfinished business. The list is long, libraries closures, cuts in public services, Welfare to Work programmes, privatisation of the health service …

How to help disabled people fight the welfare reform bill

I will give but one example.

Lincoln City Council has decided to put a heritage site, The Lawn, up for sale. Set in a 8 acre site, this museum complex was a pioneering mental hospital, it now houses the Sir Joseph Banks Conservatory. Sir Joseph Banks was chief scientific officer on the Endeavour, established Kew gardens, President of the Royal Society. The Lawn is the ideal site for Occupy Lincoln.

Not for Sale! Hands off our Lawn!

As we head into 2012, the fight goes on …

Happy New Year!

In the shadow of the Beloved

December 29, 2011

Ney is a flute made of out bamboo, and is symbolic of a human separated from the reed bed which is symbolic of the divine, remembered when conscious of each breath. — Pandora Stevens

In the shadow of the Beloved

In truth everything and everyone
Is a shadow of the Beloved,
And our seeking is His seeking
And our words are His words…
We search for Him here and there,
…while looking right at Him.
Sitting by His side, we ask:
‘O Beloved, where is the Beloved?’

– Rumi

Hallaton Shrine

December 29, 2011
Hallaton Treasure gold and silver coins

Hallaton Treasure gold and silver coins

Hallaton Treasure Roman cavalry helmet

Hallaton Treasure Roman cavalry helmet

Hallaton Treasure gold and silver coins

Hallaton Treasure gold and silver coins

On the afternoon that I first went out with my metal detector I unearthed about ten silver coins. Unusually, for coins, they were dish-shaped and decorated with images of strange, disjointed horses. As I moved over the field with the detector I picked up the signals of many more coins. — Ken Wallace

A local field archaeological group decided to explore a field they had not visited before in the Parish of Hallaton. What they found overturned what we previously knew of Iron Age tribes pre-Roman conquest.

One of the group got permission to do a survey with a metal detector. In one visit he found 200 coins on or near the surface. He was onto something big. 200 coins exceeded that which had previously been found in Leicestershire.

It was quickly realised that they had to proceed in utmost secrecy as Night Hawks would descend and plunder and loot the site.

Help was sought and enlisted from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) and the British Museum.

A JCB was used to dig exploratory trench across the site. JCB!

It soon became apparent that the 200 coins were the tip of the iceberg.

Fourteen bags of coins containing several thousand gold and silver coins issued by Iron age tribes and Romans coins. Also pig bones. The pig bones were outside of the area where the coins and other objects were found, therefore may indicate festival or celebration or feasting. Pigs were not common diet.

Coins from the Corieltavi tribe, local to Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. There was an Iron Age settlement on the edge of Brayford Pool in Lincoln.

Coins from other tribes. A gold coin issued by Cunobelin, ruler of the Trinovantes. Coins from the Catuvellauni tribes who lived to the south of the Corieltavi

Coins issued by the emperor Augustus. These coins suggest the Corieltavi had links with the Romans prior to the invasion of Britain in AD 43.

The find includes the oldest Roman coin ever found in England. It is believed to date to 211 BC making it around 250 years old when it was buried by the Corieltavi tribe.

The Oldest Roman Coin in Britain

Ingots and evidence of casting were also found.

And a Roman cavalry helmet.

There is no evidence of any settlement. The site appeared to be an open air temple or scared site, the finds sacrifices. This is significant as further south Temples were used.

Many finds have been found in the River Witham, just downstream of Lincoln where the Witham flows past Washingborough. Possibly suggests sacrifices in the river. Many dug-out boats also found.

An exhibition of the finds can be found at Harborough Museum in Market Harborough. There is also a temporary exhibition at The Collection in Lincoln until Sunday 8 January 2012.

Hallaton Roman coin is ‘oldest found in Britain’
The Hallaton Treasure: evidence of a new kind of shrine?

Highway obstruction outside Top Nosh

December 29, 2011
Top Nosh trip hazard

Top Nosh trip hazard

Top Nosh highway obstruction

Top Nosh highway obstruction

You can obstruct the highway legally if you have applied for consent, posted Notices etc. The only exception being an emergency.

If you do block the highway you have to put up barriers, warning notices and take due care and minimum the obstruction.

Lunchtime today, walking along Newland from the city centre to the County Council Offices, found four breeze blocks and two strips balanced on top outside Top Nosh a food shop (one of a small parade of shops including a cobblers and Fodders another food shop) obstructing the highway, an excellent trip hazard. No workman in sight, no work being done to the front of Top Nosh, not that would have excused blockage of the highway or the hazard it created.

Anyone blind or partially sighted would have tripped. As indeed someone almost did as I passed by.

Anyone disabled or women with children in a buggy would have been forced out into a hazardous road, a very busy trunk route through the city centre.

I was told it had been like it all morning by someone who had been forced out into the road when they passed by earlier.

As I was passing by the County Council I popped in and asked that action be taken. I spoke to someone in Highways and insisted that as it was on their doorstep and constituted a hazard they got someone out immediately.

Whether anyone did deal with it I do not know as although I asked that they contact me they failed to do so, but when I passed by an hour later after lunch the obstruction had been removed.

What makes this all the worse is that it was only last week the Lincolnshire Echo reported that contractors had been fined £12,000 with £1,000 costs for obstructing the highway and putting passers-by at risk.

Pub workmen put hundreds of Lincoln pedestrians at risk

The Jar of Life

December 28, 2011
pink orchid

pink orchid

When things in your life seem to have got out of control, when all the hours in a day are just not enough, remember this story:

A professor stood before his philosophy class with a few items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up a very large empty Jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the Jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the Jar. He shook the Jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the Jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the Jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the Jar was full. The students responded unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of tea from under the table and poured the entire contents into the Jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this Jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things: family, children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.” The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the Jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.” The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the tea represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how busy your life is, there’s always room for a couple of cups of tea with your loved ones.”

Thank you to my lovely friend Priya Sher for this lovely story posted on her blog.