Thursday, 21 August 2014

Ben Myers on order & power

Apocalyptic and creation
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Gold found by primary school kids

Alston school archaeology project comes up with the goods

Saturday, 16 August 2014


People across large swathes of northern Iraq and Syria are suffering at the hands of a group that have taken to calling themselves Islamic State (IS). They were previously known as ISIS or ISEL, and they still are referred to as such in some quarters. In northern Nigeria, a similar group refer to themselves as Boko Haram.

I do not think we should use these names.

To use the names they choose for themselves only serves to legitimize them, along with their aims and their behaviours. Every time the name is used, especially in the major media services, they become stronger.

Q.What's in a name?

More than we might like to think.

So what do we call them?

'Those murdering bastards in northen Iraq' or wherever they happen to be (TMBxyz)?

'Those Terrible Terrorists' (TTT)?

It is tempting, but no. That is just to accept the rules of the game, their rules: WE ARE RIGHT, YOU ARE WRONG. In doing so we trap them in the circle of hate and horror and consign ourselves, with them, to a bunker mentality.

Further, as a Christian, I want to take seriously what Jesus said about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. Miroslav Volf has written peruasively about these issues in his book Exclusion & Embrace.

If I am to pray, I need a name. If  it not IS or TTT, what is it going to be? - "I pray for my poor misled and deluded brothers and sisters who are involved in or sympathetic to the movement in (fill in the blank) that is causing so much death and destruction, hurt and horror." No, seriously. I have to call them something. What name does love choose?

And, the major news services have to call them something. What can they use?

It is not an easy problem to solve.

Words like 'Islamic' and 'Terrorist' are loaded and unhelpful, legitmising either their entrenched view of themselves or our entrenched view of ourselves. Love steps out of the barricades. We could try to find an unloaded language. It is difficult but maybe not impossible. Stick to the facts and avoid prejudice. What are they (apart from murdering bastards). They are people. First & foremost. That means that at some level they must, in some repect, be like you and me. Second, they are armed, that is undeniable - perhaps 'militia' or 'movement' or even 'militant' are even-handed. Third, they want something in much the same way as we all want something. We may not understand what they want - they may not understand what they want - but the fact that they think they want it drives them to do what they do. 

My best attempt is .... (please wait ... thank you for your patience)


Meanwhile, we can pray without words. That is the great thing about having the Holy Spirit in your life. God understands when we pray in/out of/through love. (see Romans chapter 8). We can love without words. Better still, we love with actions. (That's a tough one. I'm not sure I want to go there right now.)

As for the news media - 'The armed insurgents in ...' might do it for now.

Language is a tricky business. We have to be careful what we say.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Ipplepen dig, Devon

Exeter University summer dig.  Roman settlement.  Blog.

Lufton summer dig

Newcastle University summer dig in somerset. Blog, 2014

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Thoreau and Walden Pond

Book and author.  As interviewed on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning.
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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Ursula Le Guin in conversation

Electric Literature piece with Michael Cunningham: