Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

St Joseph’s Day Party in Lobkowicz Palace

April 2, 2016

PPrague Castle and Charles Bridge

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello. — Paulo Coelho

Two weeks ago, St Joseph’s Day, a chauffeur driven limousine to Prague Castle to a party in Lobkowicz Palace. A guest of my dear friend Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho has a knack of hosting parties in wonderful iconic locations.

It is strange, how you have an entirely different perspective of the world, if driven around in a limousine. An argument maybe for forcing politicians and their wealthy masters to use public transport at least once a year.

A police checkpoint, car checked, though odd not the passenger, then dropped off outside the German Embassy.

I did not query this. I had instructed my driver to drop me off at which ever entrance to Prague Castle was best for him, and I would find my way on foot to Lobkowicz Palace.

Thus when he said he would drop me off at the Germany Embassy, I did not query it. I assumed it to be located somewhere inside or nearby the castle entrance.

I got out, asked my driver where I was to go.

Luckily I did.

Not where we should be.

He asked me to get back in, ten minutes he assured me.

Off we went, with him tapping into his Sat Nav.

We are lost he told me. I will have use Google Maps.

By now I am perplexed. How can anyone live in Prague and not know how to get to the castle? Am I lost within a Kafka novel? Did not K have problems getting to the castle?

A journey that should have been no more than 15 minutes, took 50 minutes.

He dropped me off at the entrance to Prague Castle.

More security checks. Police and army armed with semi-automatic weapons.

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Stunning views over Prague.

I walked in, luckily it was not far for the palace.

More security.

Was I on the guest list?

Yes, said a voice who confirmed who I was.

waiters bearing drinks

waiters bearing drinks

jazz quartet in the corner

jazz quartet in the corner

frescos on the ceiling

frescos on the ceiling

Inside warmly greeted by Christina, guests who I know, waiters with drinks and little titbits to eat, a jazz band playing in a corner.

Trying to take it all in, paintings, frescos on the ceilings, not possible to put anything down anywhere, trying somehow to balance  wine, eats, books, camera, phone and take pictures.

Leave books at cloakroom, yes, a good idea.

Paulo chatting with guest

Paulo chatting with guest

I walked out onto a balcony overlooking the town. A warm greeting from Paulo who was chatting with friends.

Annie a prayer in Greek

Annie a prayer in Greek

Eventually we are called to order for prayers in multiple languages and faiths, people called forward.

To my surprise and shock, my lovely Greek friend Annie is there. I had not seen her and did not know she was there. I have not seen her since we met in Athens three years ago.

Paulo Coelho, whose party it was and whose guests we were, explains why Prague.

Many years ago, when he wanted to be a writer, he had toured Europe.

He had found himself in Prague, in the Church of the Infant Jesus, a church I was to visit a few days later.  He asked to become a writer. If he did, he would one day return and give the infant Jesus a new shawl, which he had done that morning.

Whilst in Prague he had walked along the Golden Lane, a street of the alchemists. There was no one there apart from a  young man painting, his hands covered with cut off gloves against the cold. Paulo buys a painting, gives the equivalent of a dollar, very little. The young man is overjoyed. He points at Christina. Thinking he wants more money, but no, he offers to paint Christina.  Offered money, he refuses to accept it.

Paulo was very moved by this experience, to him it was an epiphany. Here was a man, painting for his art, for love of what he did, not for money.

Thirty years on, Paulo was determined to track this man down. He called upon his friends in Prague, and a miracle, the man was found. But could he prove who he was, did he remember the two gifts Paulo gave him?

Christina and Paulo with street artist

Christina and Paulo with street artist

Paulo had pointed him out earlier. He now invited him to join him on the stage.

A very emotional scene, the man was in tears.

Paulo explained he was his guest of honour, would he please stay and eat with us.

Whether he did, I do not know, as I did not see him again.

Paulo told the story the day before at his press conference and has recounted  the story on his blog.

Paulo told us this was the 30th St Joseph’s Day Party, a celebration when friends get together and there was nothing more important to him than friendship and his friends. Those who were no longer with us, were with us in spirit.

There was though to be a change. From now on, the party would only be held every other year, not once a year.

Following prayers, we were asked to go in for dinner.

I hugged Annie, and walked into dinner together.

Sadly we could not find a table seated together.

Not to worry said Annie, we have all night after dinner to talk.

I found myself sat at a table with friends, including Paulo and Christina.

Part way through dinner I found myself chatting with William Lobkowicz. We discussed music. He was very interested in what I was suggesting as he wanted something different.

I recommended Pieles, a musical production which I had seen in Puerto de la Cruz at Teatro Timanfaya. He thought stage where we were dining. I said no, it would have to be a small theatre.

Others I thought off Socos DuoA Ritmo de TangoImágenes de la Compañía MuvenDanz.

Why not make a Canarian season, rope in Spanish Ambassador for support.

I also added Jewelia, Zoe Keating, Imogen Heap, or at least made a mental note to add.

The Sixteen added to my mental list. I did not now know at the time, that in Lobkowicz Collection, were held original manuscripts of Handel, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

The Sixteen could play from the manuscripts, either where we dined or St Nicholas Church, a Baroque church in Prague Old Town, depending upon the music. The cathedral in Prague Castle would be too big, they would be lost.

The problem with Prague, as I learnt wandering around, everyone is putting on the same nigh identical tourist trap concerts.

He gave me his card to follow up our discussion, as he had to leave early.

It was only later, I discovered my dining companion was Prince William Lobkowicz, to give him his correct title.

string quartet played whilst we dined

string quartet played whilst we dined

Whilst we ate, a string quartet played.

Dinner over, wine having freely flowed, and more was yet to flow, Paulo called us to order.

He thanked the string quartet.

He then told of Paul McCartney being asked to summarise his music. He said he cannot, it has to be listened to.

Paulo gets asked the same question: Can you summarise your books? He says no, read the books.

At his side, I recognised a girl, though I could not recall why. Paulo introduced her  and a guitarist who had appeared, as who had played at his party in Athens.

He then broke into All You Need is Love, with everyone joining in.

He then told everyone to party, the band was playing.

Usually at the end of a party, Paulo and a few of us sit around chatting.

Not to be, Paulo and Christina left early.

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

I caught Paulo as he was leaving and he kindly signed my books, presents for friends.

Then the night was over.

We could not order our own transport, due to the tight security, transport had been arranged.

Annie and several of us left around 2-30am. Annie wanted to walk. I said no, we did not know the way and she would get lost. I also knew it would be very cold, and she only had a thin dress and a light jacket.

As we left the palace, army on guard outside armed with semi-automatic weapons.

We piled onto the coach and off we went, with one girl in high spirits demanding music and then inviting me out the next day.

Final drop off, everyone piled off, I said goodbye to Annie and friends, a couple of us stayed on the coach.

Where to next?

I did not mind not being dropped off at my hotel, Old Town Prague would do, and I would find my own way.

The coach was going nowhere. I too got off, to find Annie standing by the roadside all alone shivering.

But for the grace of God the coach  did not take me, as otherwise Annie would have been all on her own.

We were lost, we did not have a clue where we were were. We wandered around for an hour or more. We were lost. We were going round and round in circles getting nowhere, but slowly turning to ice. Then I said look. What said Annie? I pointed to a lit up telecoms tower, what I had seen during the day. Assuming it to be the same one, it was located on a hill behind the castle. If we turned with our backs to the tower, we could head to the river. I still had no idea where we were, but at least we could head in the right direction. The only problem was, every  road we headed down, was blocked off.

Look, I said again. Annie looked. Exhausted. Cold. The name I said, the name of the hotel, The Alchemist. It was a sign. We both laughed. We knew everything was ok. We know how to read signs

We then met two people. They sort of headed us in the right direction.

Then I realised where we were. It was where I had walked earlier in the day when I crossed Charles Bridge.

From there Annie found her hotel.

Will you be ok?

Yes, cross the bridge, find the Old Town Square, then I can find my way.

I probably sounded more confident than I was, I neglected to tell Annie that although I had walked this route during the day, I had got lost, and that was in daylight, now it was dark.

I promised to send her a message when I was safely home

Charles Bridge early hours of the morning

Charles Bridge early hours of the morning

I crossed the now deserted Charles Bridge with someone following me. Creepy.

I crossed the bridge and was lost. It is one thing being lost with a friend, quite another on your own in a strange city in the early hours of the morning wandering cold, dark and deserted streets.

I wandered around, absolutely no idea where I was.

Eventually a taxi driver stopped, asked was I ok. I said no I was lost.  He pointed me in the right direction. I immediately regretted I had not asked him to take me home. I passed another taxi , but he was either picking people up or dropping people off.

I found the Old Town Square. It was very different to daylight, or even night when lit up. It was in darkness. I found my way through the square, then down an alley then finally I knew where I was.

I finally reached my hotel at 4-15am in the early early hours of the morning, very cold and very tired.

Many thanks to Paulo and Christina for hosting the party and inviting me. And thanks for the friendship. And thanks Paulo for your patience and signing the books as you were leaving.

When Paulo announced the party was only going to be every two years, I felt very sad as in my heart I knew there was gong to be no more parties.  And so it proved to be.

A couple of days later, a sad e-mail from Paulo thanking his friends, saying there would be no more parties, after thirty this phase of his life was over. He has already decided before the party but at the party decided to compromise by holding every two years, but on reflection to keep to his original decision.

I am sure Paulo we will meet somewhere, but in the meantime my dear friend, take good care of yourself.

I usually write up the party on getting home, the first account published.

I am sorry I did not. I was tired and exhausted, and I had no computer.

I asked the hotel. They kindly went out and bought a computer and delivered it to my room. I returned and found a laptop sitting on my table. Only problem was, it was in Czech. I can handle a Spanish keyboard, but a Czech keyboard with four, sometimes five, characters on each key. Plus it was Windows 10 in Czech.

Now, two weeks later trying to keep everything in chronological order, my write up.

Apologies for lateness.

I have though found it very hard to write.

St Nicholas Church

March 28, 2016
St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church

A fine example of a Baroque church that dominates one corner of the Old Town Square in Old Prague.

St Nicholas Church was completed in 1735, and replaced a parish church mentioned in records dating back to 1273. Its construction was by the Jesuits, designed by Giovanni Domenico Orsi.

A Gothic parish church consecrated by Prague Bishop Tobiáš in 1283 stood at the site until 1743.  Construction lasted approximately one hundred years, and three generations of Baroque architects – father, son and son-in-law – worked on the church: Kryštof Dientzenhofer, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Anselmo Lurago.

The Baroque organ has over 4,000 pipes up to six metres in length and was played by Mozart in 1787. His Mass in C was first performed in the Church of Saint Nicholas shortly after his visit. Jesuit Thomas Schwarz built the small and main organs as well as many others in Bohemia. Built in 1745-47, the main organ has over 4,000 pipes up to six metres in length.

St Nicholas Church hosts many excellent concerts.  I regrettably attended not one.

This would be an excellent venue for The Sixteen, performing music of the period, especially if using the original manuscripts held in The Lobkowicz Collection in The Lobkowicz Palace.

Easter in Prague

March 27, 2016
Easter in Prague

Easter in Prague

An Easter Market, sheds selling tourist tat everywhere.

Outside St Nicholas Church, a wonderful Easter Egg.

Friday night out

November 15, 2015
Paris 13 Novembre 2015

Paris 13 Novembre 2015

candles lit in Paris #unebougiepourParis

candles lit in Paris #unebougiepourParis

Paris 13 Novembre 2015

Paris 13 Novembre 2015

Those killed by  Isis on Friday night, were ordinary people relaxing, enjoying a Friday night out, eating out in restaurants, watching a football match, attending a rock concert.

One of the restaurants targeted was Algerian.

The Taliban in in Afghanistan outlawed alcohol, music, kite flying, dancing, football.

People enjoying themselves is not permitted by Muslim fundamentalists.

Aisyah Tajuddin – Hudud Isi Periuk Nasi?

April 3, 2015
A video poking fun at an Islamic party went viral in Malaysia - but the journalist who made it is facing threats and a police investigation

A video poking fun at an Islamic party went viral in Malaysia – but the journalist who made it is facing threats and a police investigation

Journalist Aisyah Tajuddin posted a video poking fun at Muslim fundamentalists.

It went viral.

Now she faces the inevitable backlash, rape threats, death threats, and even a police investigation for blasphemy.

She made the video as a response to proposals for implementing ‘hudud’ laws on Muslims in Kelantan, a rural state in the northeast of Malaysia. The laws would prohibit adultery, apostasy, robbery and theft, which would become punishable by public beatings, stoning, amputation and public execution.

The video shows her crossing an imaginary border into Kelantan, whereby a headscarf suddenly appears on her head. She then finds a rock instead of rice in a packet of food, which she throws away, accompanied by the comment: “Oh well, we have hudud, don’t we?”

Aisyah Tajuddin is a journalist with BFM, an independent radio station.

Typical of the threats is one posted on facebook: “Those who insult the laws of Allah, their blood is halal for killing.”

Islamists complain of Islamaphobia. And apologists for fundamentalists bleat in unison. No, the problem is their bastardisation of women.

Campaigner Michelle Yesudas was questioned after confronting police about the case

Campaigner Michelle Yesudas was questioned after confronting police about the case

Aisyah wasn’t the only person to get caught up in the controversy. The issue touched off a row online between lawyer and activist Michelle Yesudas and the country’s top policeman, Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar.

In a series of messages, Yesudas demanded to know what Khalid would do about the threats against Aisyah. “Because I am positively terrified that these crazy, rape-frenzied people are actually the majority in my country,” she wrote.

Khalid’s response was to pull Yesudas into police headquarters for questioning under Malaysia’s colonial-era Sedition Act.

The Battle for British Islam

January 13, 2015

Any representation of the divine that leads people to murder each other deserves the maximum possible disrespect. — Giles Fraser, Parish Priest

The second of the Ten Commandments prohibits graven images – which is why there are no pictures of God in Judaism or Islam. — Giles Fraser, Parish Priest

Excellent, must watch, BBC Panorama last night on Muslims and extremists.

Renounce Islam, yes apply death sentence, says Muslim extremists.

Everything I have been saying, and more. And it is Muslims saying it.

Extremists now a very significant minority, if not a majority, and a very real threat.

A group of Muslims made a silly pop video. They were immediately attacked by extremists. Females in burkas attacking them.

If wearing a balaclava is offensive, then so is wearing a burka.

What everyone tends to forget, it is Muslims that bear the brunt of extremists.

Muslim TV channels beaming brainwashing propaganda into the UK.

The well rehearsed cry of Islamaphobia, victim culture, for which they have only themselves to blame.

Parish Priest Giles Fraser:

Rather disturbingly, one word seems to connect the activity of the Paris terrorists and that of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists: iconoclasm. I say disturbingly, because pointing out some common ground may be seen as blurring the crucial distinction between murderous bastards and innocent satirists.

Nonetheless, it strikes me as fascinating that the cartoonists were profoundly iconoclastic in their constant ridiculing of religion (all religions, it must be noted) – yet it is precisely this same ancient tradition of iconoclasm that inspires Jews and Muslims to resist representational art and, in its most twisted pathological form, to attack the offices of a Paris magazine and slaughter those whose only weapon was the pen. So what’s the connection?

In one sense an iconoclast is someone who refuses the established view of things, who kicks out against cherished beliefs and institutions. Which sounds pretty much like Charlie Hebdo. But the word iconoclast also describes those religious people who refuse and smash representational images, especially of the divine. The second of the Ten Commandments prohibits graven images – which is why there are no pictures of God in Judaism or Islam. And theologically speaking, the reason they are deeply suspicious of divine representation is because they fear that such representations of God might get confused for the real thing. The danger, they believe, is that we might end up overinvesting in a bad copy, something that looks a lot like what we might think of as god, but which, in reality, is just a human projection. So much better then to smash all representations of the divine.

And yet this, of course, is exactly what Charlie Hebdo was doing. In the bluntest, rudest, most scatological and offensive of terms, Charlie Hebdo has been insisting that the images people worship are just human creations – bad and dangerous human creations. And in taking the piss out of such images, they actually exist in a tradition of religious iconoclasts going back as far as Abraham taking a hammer to his father’s statues. Both are attacks on representations of the divine. Which is why the terrorists, as well as being murderers, are theologically mistaken in thinking Charlie Hebdo is the enemy. For if God is fundamentally unrepresentable, then any representation of God is necessarily less than God and thus deserves to be fully and fearlessly attacked. And what better way of doing this than through satire, like scribbling a little moustache on a grand statue of God.

It is those who question faith, who lead to a greater understanding of faith, but when they challenge the prevailing hypocrisy, they are branded as heretics and burnt at the stake, or have their offices fire bombed, or are gunned down in cold blood.

And well done Panorama, for featuring Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Unlike the cowardice of the rest of the mainstream British media.

A brilliant spoof issue, edited by the Prophet, if you do not laugh to death you will be lashed to death.

Sadly no joke in Saudi Arabia where a man has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes for trying to set up an on-line forum to discuss political and social issues.

Charlie Hebdo Je Suis Charlie

Charlie Hebdo Je Suis Charlie

Three million copies are to be printed of the forthcoming issue of Charlie Hebdo.

Muslims who have problem with depiction of the Prophet need to re-set their calender to 2015. Or follow the advice of the Moroccan-born mayor of Rotterdam, son of an imam in northern Morocco.

Sunday saw the largest ever demonstration in Paris. But not only Paris, not only France, not only Europe, across the world, people took to the streets to show solidarity against Muslim extremists.

If we value our freedoms, then the world has to stand in solidarity against Muslim extremism.

We must draw a line between Islam the religion and Islam as a Fascist ideology.

Islam as a Fascist ideology is as much a threat to the world today as the Nazis were in the 1930s.

For God So Loved the World

January 9, 2015
For God So Loved the World

For God So Loved the World

Malcolm Guite drawing on John 3:16-17, for a forthcoming poetry collection Parable and Paradox.

John 3:16-17

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

The Greek in John 3:16 is glorious:

16 ουτως γαρ ηγαπησεν ο θεος τον κοσμον ωστε τον υιον τον μονογενη εδωκεν ινα πας ο πιστευων εις αυτον μη αποληται αλλ εχη ζωην αιωνιον

The Word for ‘Loved’ in that verse is ‘egapesen’ that means ‘Agape’ Love, the highest and fullest and most selfless love, but best of all the word for ‘The World’ is ‘Ton Cosmon‘ -the whole cosmos!

The whole round world, in Greek the total cosmos.

Is all encompassed in this loving word;

Not just the righteous, right on, and religious,

But every one of whom you’ve ever heard,

And all the throng you don’t know or ignore,

For everyone is precious in his sight,

Chosen and cherished, loved, redeemed before

The circling cosmos ever saw the light.

He set us in the world that we might flourish

That His beloved world might live through us

We chose instead that all of this should perish

And turned his every blessing to a curse.

And now he gives himself, as Life and Light

That we might choose in Him to set things right.

Cosmos

Cosmos

In the beginning the Word, the Word was made flesh.

Early religions respected Mother Earth. We still see this today with Amazonian Indians.

Mehinaku attribute spirits to everything in the natural world around them, living things, inanimate objects, stones, streams, mountains. The spirits are to be respected, granted due reverence. Mehinaku blame white people for what is happening to their world.

Carla Stang discusses the relationship Mehinaku have with the natural world in her essay Rampant Rainbows and the Blackened Sun in Dark Mountain 6.

Then along came Christianity, granting Man dominion over everything that lay before him.

Genesis 1:28 (revised King James):

And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

Francis Bacon De Augementos Scientiarum (1623):

You have but to follow and as it were hound nature in her wanderings, and you will be able, when you like, to lead and drive her afterwards to the same place again.

Neither ought a man to make scruple of entering and penetrating into those holes and corners, when the inquisition of truth is his whole object.

Rev William Derham, Physico-Theology (1713):

We can, if need be, ransack the whole globe, penetrate into the bowels of the earth, descend to the bottom of the deep, travel to the furthest regions of the world, to acquire wealth.

At least that is the traditional view.

Not all Christians took this view

In The Way of Wyrd Anglo-Saxon man recognised that he and the world around him were part of a complex web of life. The early Celtic Christians saw the interweaving of their religion and the natural world. Celtic music, then and now interwove the spiritual and the natural world, harmonious, natural rhythms.

The early scholars St Ephrem the Syrian, St Dionysius the Areopagite, St Maximus the Confessor, Hildegard von Bingen all recognised the complex web of life and the oneness of Creation.

St Ephrem the Syrian (306-373) in a hymn wrote:

As the water surrounds the fish and feels it,
So also do all natures feel God,
He is diffused through the air,
And with thy breath enters into thy midst.
He is mingled with the light,
And enters, when thou seest, into thy eyes.
He is mingled with thy spirit,
And examines thee from within, as to what thou art,
In thy soul He dwells …

St Ephrem the Syrian recognised that God permeates everything, we cannot separate God from his Creation. Therefore if we exploit His Creation, then we are exploiting and abusing Him. St Ephrem the Syrian also introduces the concept of oneness, familiar to Hindus and Buddhists.

Bhagavad Gita:

No work stains a man who is pure, who is in harmony, who is master of his life, whose soul is one with the soul of all.

St Dionysius the Areopagite (circa 500) defined hierarchy (The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy):

We have a venerable sacred tradition which asserts that every hierarchy is the complete expression of the sacred elements comprised within it. It is the perfect total of all its sacred constituents. Our own hierarchy is therefore said to embrace every every one of its sacred constituents.

William Blake’s ‘infinity in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour.’

The hierarchy of St Dionysius the Areopagite is not the rigid authoritarian pyramid command structure as implemented by the Catholic Church and Big Business, it is a network concept where the interlinking of the parts forms the whole, and the whole creates the environment for the parts. Each component part contributes to the maintaining of the stability of the whole, as organs exist within an organism and cannot exist without, unlike Modern Man who is determined like Samson to bring the temple crashing down.

But why would God wish Man to abuse his creation? Would he not appoint Man as the guardian or custodian of his creation?

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Abbess of the convents at Bingen and Rupertsberg (which she established), was a philosopher, mystic, visionary, artist, poet, writer of treatises on theology, natural history, medicine, and composer of beautiful, haunting music. Describing herself as a ‘feather on the breath of God’, much of her work was derived from divine inspiration and visions. She saw that as God created all life, then all life must be permeated with His divine spirit.

Oh fire of the Holy Spirit,
life of the life of every creature,
holy are you in giving life to forms …
Oh boldest path,
penetrating into all places,
in the heights, on earth,
and in every abyss,
you bring and bind together
From you clouds flow, air flies,
Rocks have their humours,
Rivers spring forth from the waters
And earth wears her green vigour

Hildegard von Bingen saw that Creation existed before Man, that it could survive without Man, that Man needed Creation in order to survive, and that the only purpose of Man’s appearance in Creation was to glorify God’s work and to act as His steward. God had to give Man reason in order to enable him to admire God’s work and to act as His steward, but Man then used his reason to decide that he was wiser than God and could improve upon His handiwork.

Malcolm Guite is Parish Priest, musician and poet.

He has released Dancing Through the Fire. But why insult people and release through CDBaby, a few seconds lofi samples? Why not release on bandcamp?

Charlie Hebdo massacre

January 7, 2015
Je Suis Charlie

Je Suis Charlie

Charlie Hebdo front cover

Charlie Hebdo front cover

Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Who has damaged Muhammad more

Who has damaged Muhammad more?

Charlie Hebdo art critic

Charlie Hebdo art critic

Al Qaeda has hit the West in its back garden, while we at ISIS have been attacking our own sheikhs. — ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed Aladnana

They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me. Then they will have my dead body, but not my obedience. — Gandhi

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. — Voltaire

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. ― George Orwell

Two possibly three gunmen walked into the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo and carried out a massacre. Twelve killed, many injured.

ISIS has called upon its followers in the West to carry out revenge killings. This though does not appear to be carried out by amateurs, too professional, more likely battle-hardened ISIS fighters returning to France.

The rounds fired into a police car, were closely spaced, the work of a professional.

They also seemed to be well informed, or lucky. They got into a secure building, at a time an editorial conference was taking place.

Sick trolls are having a field day, tweeting racist and inflammatory tweets, which only serve to worsen the situation.

The one thing we do not wish to see, is Muslims being targeted, but that is not to say, a clampdown on religious fanatics who are stirring up hatred (and that includes vile trolls).

We are seeing a failure of immigration policy, or the lack thereof. Both France and England, have large numbers of disaffected young Muslims, ideal recruiting grounds for ISIS.

Muslim schools should not be permitted. This is the West, tolerant yes, but Islam is not a religion of the West. If they wish to go to Muslim schools, then live in a Muslim country. Cannot have it both ways.

Freedom to practise a religion, provided it does not impinge on the freedoms of others, is not the right to impose your religion on the rest of society.

Islamists have scored a massive own goal. But to be honest I do not think they will care as they do not care what we in the West think of them. All they wish to do is bastardise women and see the Black flag of Islam flying across Europe.

Sony showed cowardice when they were hacked, pulled a rubbish film. The French have taken to the streets to show solidarity that they will not be intimidated by Jihadists (assuming that is who it was).

twin pencils

twin pencils

a terrible day

a terrible day

Asterix cartoon

Asterix cartoon

Russian Christmas Day

January 7, 2015
Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my Russian friends.

С Рождеством Христовым всех моих русских друзей.

Christmas greetings from Canon Andrew White

December 25, 2014

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. — Isaiah 62:1, King James Bible

Canon Andrew White bringing Christmas greetings from Jerusalem.

Andrew White is no longer in Iraq, where he was known as The Vicar of Baghdad, as no longer safe, but the peace and reconciliation work in the Middle East continues.