Tuesday, December 16, 2008
What a gig in Dublin last night (pictures from my phone). Definitely straight into the top 5. See Zico's blog for review and 'Glitter and Trauma'. The other highlight for me was 'Justboy'. See below for the hairless original.
Brutal, compelling, beautiful.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
It's the story of the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon when Lebanese 'christian' militia were allowed (and indirectly assisted) by the Israeli army to rape, pillage and slaughter around 3000 defenceless civilians over 3 days in September 1982.
Read about the massacre here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabra_and_Shatila_massacre
and the movie here- http://waltzwithbashir.com/
The maker of the film was a soldier in the Israeli army at the time of the massacre and the film shows his attempts to recover his memories of the incident. His own attempts seem to ask the question of whether Israel itself has made made a mass, semi-conscious decision to forget.
The movie is shot as an animated documentary except for some real footage at the end. When it finished nobody moved. Everyone just sat rooted to the spot staring at a black screen for what seemed like an age, reminding me of when I first watched 'Schindler's List'.
So many questions fly round your mind after. Issues of war, mankind's potential for evil, the brutal oppression of the palestinians, the repression of unwanted memories, our world view, the world's view of christians etc etc.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Everyday I check for news from Palestine and everyday it saddens me more.
Here's part of an email I just got from Mazin Qumsiyeh who is a Christian peace-maker and a professor in Bethlehem. He describes the situation better than I could...
It is only in an Orwellian "might makes right" world that 1.5 million people are kept in a concentration camp literally being starved to death while much of the world governments stand idly watching or occasionally issuing a useless statement or collaborating with the collective punishment (as in the case of Governments of Egypt and the US). 1.5 million are not numbers, they are people like you and me and 60% are children!! Terrorism is defined as punishing civilians to force a change in politics. As such this is the biggest act of terrorism since the end of WWII. It is also a war crime and a crime against humanity (as defined by International Law).
With Gazans already impoverished and struggling to survive, on November 5, Israel completely sealed Gaza's . This followed an unprovoked Israeli attack on that killed six Palestinians, despite a ceasefire, and Palestinian rocket fire in response. As a result of Israel's closure, the United Nations has been forced to stop food distribution to 750,000 needy people, and 70% of Gaza is now without powerdue to a lack of fuel. According to reports, even candles are now in short supply. "Let's see this for what it is." said UN spokesman Chris Gunness. "Fifty-six percent of the are children. Let us not cause suffering of innocent children." Blocking witnesses, on November 13, Israel denied the entry to Gaza of 20 senior EU diplomats. Israel also has refused to allow foreign journalists to enter Gaza. Foreign Press Association chairman Steven Gutnik called the ban "a serious violation of freedom of the press" and said "it is essential that journalists be allowed to enter the Gaza Strip since it is the foreign media that serves as the world's window into Gaza.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
My only A-star at GCSE was in English Literature. This was mainly due to the war poetry we studied. The imagery, anger and pain in the words captured me. My thoughts slowly went through a change from my glamorised boyhood view of war from all the old movies to an understanding of what war really is ...hell ....lions fighting for lambs.
One of the most powerful war poems is by a soldier from WW1, Wilfred Owen. He takes a line from an old latin poem that was popular at the time to get people to join the army:
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori ("It is sweet and noble to die for one's country")
Owen, in the end, is saying that if readers could see what he has seen they would no longer instill visions of glorious warfare in young men's heads. No longer would they tell their children the "Old Lie," that it is sweet and noble to die for one's country.
Of course on Remembrance Sunday we need to remember the heroes that gave their lives for our freedom.... but the old war poems are also a reminder of the reality and futility of war.
DULCE ET DECORUM EST1
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares2 we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest3 began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots4
Of tired, outstripped5 Five-Nines6 that dropped behind.
Gas!7 Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets8 just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime9 . . .
Dim, through the misty panes10 and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,11 choking, drowning.
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud12
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest13
To children ardent14 for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Another thing I discovered in the middle-east is the incredible effect that one country can have over the world... the effect that one man leading that country can have over the world.
It's crazy to think that decisions made by one human being over coffee with his advisers will decide the gap between the rich and poor in his own country, between war and peace in the middle-east, and the poverty of millions in the third world.
That's why I'm praying that all those folk whose forefathers left the shores of Ulster when our potatoes went bad will make Barack Obama the new US president tomorrow.
They'll be led in song by The Boss...
one of my all-time favourite tunes...
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Here is our video from Jandira 2008 (edited by Nick 'the greek' Williamson).
Check out our website if you haven't already done so... 'Emmanuel Africa'
Also more pics on our flickr
If you still have some web-browsing time you should visit my brother's blog by clicking here. He's writing some amazing stuff about his year living the american dream.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Over the past 2 years there have been 40 Palestinains killed for every 1 Israeli. Palestinian land is being constantly stolen and it's people live in an open-air prison. Where else in the world are so many people denied most of their basic human rights, only to have their problems sweeped under the carpet by the world's media? The status quo exists because of American Christian Zionism. The church around the world is indoctrinated to show unwavering support to the state of Israel (a secular state) no matter what wrongs they commit. This is despite the fact that there are many more Christian believers living in Palestine than in Israel.
When we see a middle-eastern woman in a headscarf on the news mourning her loss do we feel the same symapathy as we do for a western woman? The Republican party's main offensive in the American presidential campaign is to try and make people think (wrongly) that Obama is muslim. I've heard people here say we should be praying for McCain to get in because Obama is a muslim and Sarah Palin is a Christian. Never mind the fact that Palin makes George Bush look like a bastion of intelligence and articulation (watch this).
Sometimes I feel an underlying cynicism or resignation when people talk about issues of poverty, AIDS etc in Africa. Like their problems can never be solved, or they should sort them out themselves, or there's no point because their governments are so corrupt. Do we really see the children in Africa who are dying in their millions as being equal to our own?
Homeless, drunks, homosexuals, immigrants .......
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I was out in Belfast with some mates last night. After a great night we were walking home about 330am and decided to stop off at the 24-hour McDonalds on the Newtownards Road for some quarter pounder meals.
We were chatting to the guy flipping burgers and he told us that they keep cooking food all night in case people come in. They throw out any unsold burgers after 10 minutes and cook some more. He said they throw out about £150 of burgers every night. That's £150 of what they cost McDonald's, not what we pay.
So I've done some rough calculations:
They probably throw at least twice as many out during the day than at night. However most McDs are 24-hour. A very generous estimate would be that the average McDs throws out £300 of burgers every day altogether.
Google tells me there are 25 MickeyDs in N.I. so that's £7500 wasted per day here.
There are 31,000 McDs in the world so that's £9,300,000. Nearly £10 million a day and that's being generous! Probably far more.
Rainforests are being destroyed around the world, millions of tonnes of packaging are used for a few minutes and then discarded, and I'll not even get into a world poverty rant... all because lads with bum fluff moustaches and squeaky voices are being forced to throw out their handiwork.
McDonalds boycott anyone?
Thursday, September 04, 2008
As requested here are a couple of the videos from our speech. They're only really funny if you were there and I can't be arsed explaining...
btw... if you are thinking of leaving a comment along the lines of...
'you're next then'
'when's your big day',
'you need to get a move on John'
'I know a great girl for you'
...leave it out, I've heard it all before!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
They rage against war and injustice but also seem to be doing something about it with their non-profit organisation that aims to connect social change with music (www.flobots.org)
Check out this video and their other songs on youtube. Album's out in September...you heard it here first!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
'I don't know what you feel about the prosperity gospel,
the health, wealth and prosperity gospel
but I'll tell you what I feel about it
'God is most glorified in you,
when you are most satisfied in him,
in the midst of loss
Friday, August 01, 2008
Here are some of my pics instead. My camera broke but still managed to get a few shots first. There's more on my flickr site here. Also check out Tim's site for some brilliant photos.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
- School is flying up. The site is beyond words. It truly will be a beacon of hope for the surrounding villages.
- Over 50 sick children brought to clinics be treated for various illnesses and tested for HIV.
- Visited and supported the work of others in pregnancy crisis centre and in the slums.
- Kid's clubs, sports coaching, women's work, teacher training.
- The relationships we built with teachers, kids, builders two years ago have now developed into true friendships. It feels like home.
This team have been amazing. They have come with open eyes and open hearts and have responded to the need they have seen around them.
We stood on top of the hill yesterday, where the secondary school is being built, praying with our Ugandan friends and I experienced the presence of God like never before. Every day we see new things to respond to. The project has become huge. It's gone way beyond our control and past the point of no return. After years of feeling frustrated with poverty, injustice, AIDS, education issues we at last feel like we're not just talking about it but in one small part of the world we're able to respond and make a real and lasting difference.
It is a great privilege to help lead these teams. This project is becoming one of the most special things I have ever been a part of. This could be the rest of my life.
ps Nicky is here and he's single and desperate. Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see his photos on his bebo.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I probably won't blog much over July. I want to experience more and process less on this trip... leaving the processing until I come home.
I wrote this after I went to South Africa in 2004 -
In your womb grew resource:
Rubber, Oil, Diamond, Slave,
Taken from you.
It was us
who raped you,
Stole your innocence,
Battered you, chained you, sold you.
Left extremes to battle
in your no-man's land,
Darkness and Light
Doubt and Faith
Despair and Hope
Apathy and Love.
Yet you remain
hard pressed not crushed
Perplexed not in despair
Persecuted not forgotten
Struck down but not destroyed.
And in you
my soul has found
everything it has exchanged for extravagance
Sunday, June 01, 2008
My lads have had great success on the sports fields with both football and rugby teams winning their leagues (see pics).
These things have made me realise that, although I retain dreams and aspirations about where I'd like to be and what I'd like to do, I find much joy and fulfillment in my current job (for now!).
Here's a quality quote that jumped out at me from our class novel last week.
Monday, May 12, 2008
When I compile my all-time favourite movies (The Last of the Mohicans, Legends of the Fall, Apocalypto, Gladiator) they all seem to have a common theme- adventure, sweeping landscapes, stirring classical soundtrack, wildness. The kind of movies that you watch and then go to bed and dream of being in a different place in a different time and being wild!
I watched 'Into the Wild' the other night and it's gone straight into my top 5! The amazing true story of Christopher McCandless who sold all he had, gave the money to Oxfam and went to live in the Alaskan wilderness by himself. Read about him here.
The movie covered many thoughts I have had about escape, wildness, society and in particular travelling alone. I have always had a desire to take off by myself on an adventure. Where I'm unknown, free from expectations and responsibility. However I have also spent much time considering if any experience would be true and fulfilled if experienced alone... with no-one to share it or to remember it.
I have asked this question to many travellers that I've met. The story of McCandless is quite emphatic on this. The clip below shows the part of his journey where he is alone and starving and remembering the people he met when he first set out. What he writes is the essence of his story:
On that note we are looking at 'Community' in TRUE tomorrow night. Don't miss it!
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
My brother JBAM left this song as a comment on my last post. I post it by way of apologising to him for taking his car and abandoning it in Carrickfergus (this too shall be made right!).
Also because the lyrics are powerful and moving. Check it out on youtube, by a guy called Derek Webb:
and hate you for loving the things that you cannot keep straight.
people judge you on a curve,
and tell you you’re getting what you deserve,
this too shall be made right
children cannot learn when children cannot eat.
stack them like lumber when, children cannot sleep.
children dream of wishing wells,
whose waters quench all the fires of Hell.
this too shall be made right.
the earth and the sky and the sea are all holding their breath.
wars and abuses have nature groaning with death,
we say we’re just trying to stay alive
but it looks so much more like a way to die.
this too shall be made right.
there’s a time for peace and there is a time for war
a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
this too shall be made right
I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door
I join the oppressors of those who I choose to ignore
I’m trading comfort for human life
and that’s not just murder it’s suicide
this too shall be made right
Monday, April 28, 2008
At present I feel entrapped in place of disillusionment and frustration. So many dreams unfulfilled and goals unrealised. I want to lay down my life to see this kingdom come but struggle to surmount the extenuating circumstances and self-doubt that block the way.
These words have grasped my heart and brought fire to my soul. To be a true servant of this irresistible King is the chief end of all of my hopes, dreams and ambition.
Friday, April 11, 2008
They steal from the sick and the vulnerable with twisted scripture and fraudulent promises. Promises of health, money and a long life if only we could have a little faith and make a donation to the 'Lord's work'.
Anyway, it's not all bad. Here's a video I enjoyed....... (I have a child-like faith!)
'Mock the devil and he will flee from you' C.S.Lewis
Monday, March 31, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Well my wee bro got married yesterday. Was a beautiful day. Great to have the extended family under one roof along with friends old and new. Felt proud to be his groomsman, brother and friend..... and delighted that he now has a mighty fine wife!
Anyway for those who requested it, here is the video we showed. I'm glad to say that Sheena's mum has forgiven us!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. George Bush said today that they had achieved:
700,000 killed and 4 million refugees..... and here is the financial cost... keep reading......
It is estimated that the overall cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is somewhere between $5 trillion and $7 trillion for the US alone and another $6 trillion for other countries.
Officially, the US spends $16 billion every month to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan (this figure includes only direct expenses).
The United Nations estimates that $195 billion would end world hunger and most of the devastating diseases afflicting the world’s poor. AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, extreme poverty could all be brought into manageable numbers or completely eradicated for less than the cost of one year of war in Iraq!!!
The world is so screwed up.
(btw this is a criticism of War, not of America which has produced many good things and great people like Eilis!)
Monday, March 10, 2008
Brian H had a great poem on his blog recently about the task of a Christian being recklessness. Well a lot of rage has gathered inside me that needs venting.
Violence breeds violence. Violence escalates. How stupid is mankind? Will we never learn? Violence makes things worse.
Last week the Israeli army killed 125 people in Gaza (over half civilians including many children). Their blockade on Gaza amounts to collective punishment by denying Palestinians their basic human needs. Christian Aid, Amnesty and other organisations have critisised the situation stating that the peopel of Gaza are 'battered and starved'.
The Israeli government say their actions are to stop rocket fire. Has it stopped? Of course not it has got worse. The threat on the Israeli people has become greater because of their government's actions.
Also last week a Palestinian gunman slaughtered 9 Israeli students in Jerusalem. What did he hope to achieve by taking these innocent lives? He has put his own people under more threat.
The US (and allies) want to defeat terrorism so they bomb the hell out of Afganistan and Iraq.
- The war costs the US $275 million per day
- Almost 4,000 U.S. soldiers killed and more than 60,000 wounded
- 700,000 Iraqis killed and 4 million refugees
The thing that pisses me off more than anything is Christians who (even on this blog) justify the some of the actions I have mentioned as being part of God's plan.
Not the God I believe in.......
The God I believe in makes it possible to view all men as equal- Arab and Jew, Iraqi and American.
((MLK) thanks Bro T!)
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Everyday when I get home from work I check out the world news online to find out what is happening in Israel and Palestine. It breaks my heart almost daily as I read of more deaths. I rarely talk or write about it because it's hard for people to relate when they haven't seen the situation.
When I was in Palestine I wrote here that the situation in Gaza was a timebomb. Over the past few months it has begun to blow. Due to rocket fire from Gaza, Israel have launched collective punishment on the people there. The borders are closed and the supply of the basic needs for life have been restricted.
Everyday you read about the Israeli army moving into Gaza, killing militants and far too often civilians. As those of us born into the Northern Ireland troubles can relate to, there is much fault on both sides. Two days ago a Palestinian rocket killed an innocent Israeli. This was the first Israeli killed by a rocket in nine months. In response Israel launched an attack yesterday killing 5 militants but also a six month old baby. Today 4 palestinian boys were killed while playing soccer.
(Picture: A wee palestinian lad who I played footie with outside Bethlehem)
In the nine months since the last Israeli died, 200 palestinians have been killed. The population in Gaza are struggling with poverty and oppression.
I love Israel and her people but I wonder if their government is really obeying what YAHWEH has commanded through the Torah and the prophets.
Isaiah pleads with the people to seek justice, correct oppression, and defend the fatherless and the widow (Isaiah 1:17). Proverbs teaches that the Lord will plead the cause of the poor over those who rob them or cheat them in courts of law (Proverbs 22:22-23). The list goes on.
Israel's prime minister Elud Olmert says he wants 'terrorists' to pay a heavy price.
But who are the terrorists?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Really excited about going back to Jandira this summer. I wrote about the last trip here.
This year I'm helping me old pal Al lead two teams of 76 people altogether to build a secondary school. Plans are coming together and we got a kick-ass team assembled. Check out the Emmanuel-Africa website that Zico and Rick have put together.
This will be my fourth time in Africa and I'm more excited than ever because of the potential of this project. To give secondary education here is to give hope and a future. We believe that ‘Light to the Nations Secondary School’ can produce men and women of God who can be future leaders and influencers in Uganda. Read more about it on Al's blog.
We holding a big auction on 29th March. All proceeds going to the building fund. Let me know if you think you could contribute any items that would make us some cash.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I spent another couple of days in Rostrevor last weekend with the Benedictine Monks. I wrote about my previous visit here. I would highly recommend a retreat there for anyone who would like to get away from the noise and stress of life.
The monastry is a modern building set in a valley surrounded by the mourne mountains. It is designed to let the maximum amount of light in.
Brother Thierry has become a friend (a friend who reads this blog!). An hour in conversation with him provided me with more wisdom and reality that reading 20 books could. It feels like having a chat with Jesus, at least how I imagine that would feel.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
In the middle of a tough weekend a friend gave me an article which contained some beautiful but painful truths. It is by Mike Austin in 'Philosophy Today'. He is writing about authentic love through the words of Soren Kierkegaard and Bono (my two favourite writers!). I'll try to summarise it so stop reading now if you don't want to be bored by me clumsily writing about love.
Kierkegaard claims that authentic love is not a mysterious feeling, a mood of the soul or an empty promise. It is 'sheer action'.
The work of Kierkegaard and Bono seems to agree that romantic/human love is founded in preference, inclination, impulse and passion. This love is only a form of self-love, not focused on the well-being of the other. This love is expecting even demanding something in return. I love so I'll be rewarded with her love, her care and her affection. If my love is based on my preferences or on the traits of the one I love and my preferences or their traits change then my love changes.
'I could never take the chance Of losing love to find romance, In the mysterious distance Between a man and a woman' (U2)
Their solution then is to base love with something more lasting and stable. Romantic love must be based in divine love to be authentic. Kierkegaard claims that we should conceive of love as a moral duty.
Love as a duty is rooted in the eternal. God is unchanging like our emotions so this is a more firm foundation for our love. We become committed to another as a matter of conscience. A duty to love one another. Three become one.
Love as a duty doesn't take away the freedom, impulses and passion of romance. It is more free because it does not change when the object of love changes. On our own we fail to persevere, we tire of the other person, we feel like moving on to someone else. But authentic love (love as a duty) binds us together and gives us courage, strength and wisdom to hold on to the one we love when love's counterfeits would fail.
If anyone is still reading that was a really crap synopsis but ask me for a copy if you would like to read it. It may help you to avoid the mistakes that I made.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Don't forget about TRUE this Wednesday night. We'll be looking at the journey so far and getting excited about the year ahead, learning how live out this Kingdom lifestyle. Our special guest is a popular local celebrity!!
Check out the TRUE blog. I have put up a breakdown of how the offering that you gave at the last TRUE has been distributed. A real highlight of my Christmas!