Monday, 26 December 2011

Downton Abbey delivered

Downton Abbeyon ITV yesterday, delivered an excellent Christmas special.  Millions watched this popular costume drama, though Eastenders won the Christmas Day ratings war.  It had a wonderful blend of suspense, romance, intrigue, tension, humour and joy, plus a very happy ending.  Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess had some of the best lines.

This Christmas special sets up the third season, which is due in 2012, perfectly.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Alfred Williams was wrong about revival in 2011.

Well, as expected, Alfred Williams's prophecy about a great revival in or starting in 2011 turned out to be completely false, both in the UK and in Nigeria. ( My post of Monday, 28 March 2011 refers.)  We were told to expect "a revival as we have never been seen before". In fact we never saw a revival at all.  We did see terrible lawlessness on the streets of England.  Wales was mercifully spared such anarchy and disorder.  We saw parts of London in flames, looking like a war zone.  The fires and flames of a Christian revival failed to materialize.

Nigeria needs our prayers as we intercede for those who suffer as a result of Islamic terrorism. Boko Haram extremists have claimed responsibility, or rather irresponsibility, for the bombings which have caused the deaths of over 30 people in churches on Christmas Day.

I think some humility is called for by Apostle Alfred Williams and his supporters who boasted about their special knowledge and prophecies.  We should all show humility as we walk humbly with God, do justice and love mercy, the loving kindness of God - according to Micah 6:8.

1 Corinthians 13:9 should make us wary and keep us cautious.  

A Very Happy Christmas and New Year 2012 to all my readers

I wish all my readers a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR 2012.

May you know the joy and peace of Christ and experience life abundant in Christ Jesus in 2012.
He gives us a peace and joy that this world cannot give or understand.  There is a peace that passes understanding in Christ Jesus.

At this time it is good to remember the homeless, as Jesus was homeless at the time of His birth.  It is also appropriate to remember the persecuted, the oppressed and refugees.  Mary and Joseph were forced to flee to Egypt on account of Herod's evil plans.

Today there is violence, bloodshed and wicked oppression throughout the Middle East.  We are told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

My prayers go out to the Barnabas Trust, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Open Doors and all who labour to help those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace and one day He shall return in glory to usher in the perfect age of His rule and reign over all.  There will be scoffers who will deny and ridicule the hope of His second coming. But Jesus will come again. Hallelujah.

Christmas greetings to all viewers of my YouTube channel

http://www.youtube.com/user/Johlibaptist/featured

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Patrick McGoohan in Columbo episodes

Today on ITV 3 many saw Patrick McGoohan's last appearance in Columbo.  He played the part of murderer Eric Prince in Ashes to Ashes, number 67, episode 12 in season 13 (final season).  Patrick McGoohan and Peter Falk were good friends and enjoyed working together in the Columbo detective TV programmes.  McGoohan appeared a record four times as the murderer, and directed all but the first of these episodes.

For the record, Patrick McGoohan appeared in:

By Dawn's Early Light as Colonel Lyle C. Rumford, number 28, season 4 and episode 3.
Identity Crisis as Nelson Brenner, number 34, season 5, episode 3.
Agenda for Murder as Oscar Finch, number 52, season 9, episode 3.
Ashes to Ashes as Eric Prince, number 67, season 13, episode 12.

Patrick McGoohan's final involvement with Columbo was in directing number 68, season 13, episode 13, Murder With Two Many Notes. He also directed The Last Salute to the Commodore, season 5, episode 6.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Bashar al Assad is in denial

Bashar al Assad is still claiming that the UN reports that five thousand people have been violently killed by Syrian security forces are false.  He asserts that he is supported by the majority of the people and has had nothing to do with the state sanctioned murders on the streets. Bashar refuses to take any responsibility for the brutality.  He is clearly in denial about the killings and misery on the Syrian streets caused by his troops.

It is very hard to believe that an intelligent man can ignore the overwhelming evidence of such repression, bloodshed, torture and deaths.  The blood of the Syrian people cries out against him.  

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Sabra Mezze's new Houmous Extra is excellent

I have just tried the new Houmous Extra by Sabra Mezze, a tasty houmous of chickpeas and pine nuts in olive oil.  It is the best that I've tasted.  I can thoroughly recommend it.  

Saturday, 19 November 2011

It's clearly time for Sepp Blatter to go!

Sepp Blatter should retire from his job as president of FIFA.  He is out of touch and brings very little to the beautiful game.  In fact, he should have retired years ago.  He is no longer up to the job and continues to make stupid comments and decisons.  The football world will be far better off without him. I shall rejoice when he goes.

Ian Wright, the former England and Arsenal footballer, has turned down an opportunity to give Le Ballon D'Or football award at a ceremony in Switzerland.  Well done Ian, for not wanting to appear alongside Blatter and be used as publicity stunt. Ian Wright says that Blatter must go.  Blatter's recent comments about racism are disgraceful, unacceptable and a deep embarrassment to international football. Yes, he must go.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ken Clarke, jazz connoisseur

Ken Clarke is a really good presenter of Jazz Greats, and you can hear him on BBC Radio 4.  It is very cool for the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice to be able to talk authoritatively about great jazz players and their music.  He is real connoisseur who has a love for Jazz and speaks about this subject with enthusiasm and knowledge.  Dear Ken has just the right voice and delivery for the programme.

Wise words from King Abdullah of Jordan

Yesterday I listened intently to very wise words from King Abdullah of Jordan when he was being interviewed by the BBC.  He clearly has an excellent grasp of the situation in Syria.  It is evident that President Bashar al-Assad has lost legitimacy and it is in the best interests of the Syrian people for him to step down.  If he cares about his country then he should go.

 However, even if Bashar stood down it is doubtful that the current regime would be able to deliver reform and the necessary changes.  A full scale civil war is a possibility, but the future is very uncertain.  Armed pockets of resistance have been on the streets.  Further bloodshed seems inevitable.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Arab League at last takes action

The Arab League are now taking action against Syria, where murder and mayhem are committed by the Ashad regime, particularly in the Homs area.  Syria deservedly should be expelled from the Arab League.  There has been no real reform but empty words and rhetoric. The UN should no longer stand idly by, but they must take a stand against the evil Syrian government.  Political gangsters and criminals continue to run the country and the only outcome is more bloodshed and civil unrest.  Shame on the Ashad regime and its vile violent security forces.

Friday, 4 November 2011

And still the protesters are camped by St Paul's

The key text quoted by Christians is: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.  Matthew 22:21. This should bring about a good settlement based on moral principles.  While the protesters may have a good case against the unacceptable face of capitalism, they do not have the right to camp whether and whenever they please.  In a democratic society we have laws and regulations that take account of the needs and welfare of others. Some of the protesters seem to have no regard for the views and wishes of others.

It has been argued that as a result of the serious crisis of capitalism and the need for the socio-economic issues to be discussed, the protest camp should remain.  It looks likely that the camp will continue until the new year.

Some of those who will be involved in remembrance services at the Cathedral have expressed concern that the  protest camp probably will be spoiling their occasion.  The closure of the Cathedral last month was a bitter disappointment to visitors, tourists and worshippers.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Further thoughts about the protesters by St. Paul's Cathedral

After listening to views expressed on television by Anne Atkins (columnist and writer on Christian affairs) and Simon Jenkins (editor of Ship of Fools), the Church of England could have done far better in handling the situation; they could have engaged, shared and cared.  They had a new congregation literally on their door step. There was an opportunity to use these events to bring the true message of Jesus to the protesters, media and the watching world.  Now the Church of England looks uncertain, dithering and confused.

It has been pointed out that Jesus would not have consulted lawyers.  He feed the five thousand and knew how to speak words of life and meaning to a crowd.  The St Paul's Cathedral clergy seem to be at a loss.  They could have been on to a winner.

Had there been an encampment in St Peter's Square in Rome, the protesters would have probably been subjected to water cannons and hostile actions by the Papal Swiss Guards.

Had the protesters camped by St Helen's Bishopsgate, Church of England with an Evangelical tradition, then they would have been evangelized and given Gospel fellowship.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Voices crying in the wilderness by the steps of St Paul's

Surely the protesters and the priests at St Paul's Cathedral can come to some sort of arrangement so that people can safely enter the building.  The closure of the building could have been avoided.  Now there has been the sad resignation of Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, who was canon chancellor of St. Paul's.  He had sympathy for the protesters and wanted no violence to take place if the protesters had been removed forcefully.

This is a time for dialogue and peaceful protest, but some of the pseudo protesters, who have put tents there for a day time occupation, should leave.  The area is an eyesore and the protesters need to move on to another location.  There needs to be a law against a permanent protest encampment.  There needs to be a limit of the duration of an encampment.  These protesters have no right to live there for as long as they wish.  They need to take the views and needs of other people into account.

Perhaps the priests should start preaching at the protesters, then baptise and confirm them.  After that they would hardly go near a church again.

Syrian protesters are slaughtered regularly

Peaceful protesters are being killed regularly by government security forces.  Scores are reported to be dead over the last few days.  The death toll rises and world leaders are appealing for the bloodshed to end, but the country looks like a civil war will occur, especially as the level of opposition is gaining strength. The majority of the people would like to see the removal of the Alawite minority rule under  President Bashar al Assad.  There is no democratic framework or free press in Syria.  Bashar continues to appear charming and reasonable while his troops and henchmen shoot opposition activists in the street.  Despite growing condemnation in the Arab world he remains calm, confident, composed, assured and dignified when interviewed by the media.  He is quite unlike the stereo-typical tyrant and despot.  Some of his comments show that he appears out of touch and unaware of the terrible suffering of his people.  He seems cocooned in his peaceful world of family harmony and untroubled comfort.  This must be a facade, as he is a very intelligent man with a good grasp of political events and he is no doubt well briefed by his security advisors. But Bashar chooses to play the role of the unassuming and frugal leader who wants reform.

He may live humbly and be a humorous and charming chap at dinner parties and social events, but there is an iron fist and bloody hand beneath the velvet glove. His opponents have felt the daily harshness of his regime.  They know the reality of his "reforms": repression, torture, bullets and brutality. They hold Bashar al Assad responsible for so much suffering.

Some may want Bashar al Assad to remain because they fear some of the alternatives, such as a state of chaos,  Islamic extremism and bloody factional conflict.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Manchester City thrash United at Old Trafford

Few people expected Manchester City to thrash their rivals at Old Trafford by six goals to one this afternoon.  It was a comprehensive victory that was helped by the sending off of defender Johnny Evans for a foul on Mario Balotelli.  City were able to punish the 10 man team and rip the United defence to shreds.  It was a joyous occasion for City fans who have never enjoyed such a sweet and massive win on United's home turf. United fans are finding it very hard to take such a humiliating home defeat. This marks a very low point in the club's history, but United will bounce back to winning ways.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Ten years in Afghanistan

The war in Afghanistan started ten years ago today, on 7 October 2001. Most people in the UK and USA no longer believe, if they ever did, in the Afghan war.  It is not winnable.  Afghanistan is in a mess of corruption and inner conflict.  This military conflict has cost too many lives.  In the last five years the loss of life has increased dramatically, as there were relatively few casualties in the first five years.  It has not been worth the terrible loss of life, both civilian and military deaths.  Analysts admit there have been tragic mistakes, which have been very costly indeed.  The public have been sceptical about the goals.  The military public relations and propaganda failed to convince us of the necessity and value of this conflict. History indicated that it would end in failure, loss of life and wasted expenditure. It was sadly a disaster ridden enterprise.


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: 2011 film

After all the praise from critics, all the rave reviews, excellent cast of top British actors and hype about this version of the John Le Carre novel, I was disappointed with the film.  The dismal sets, drab colours, bad hair days and slow pace did not help. Quite depressing and morbid. The seventies were much brighter than this, unless you were in East Berlin.  It did lack pace and suspense at times. It was heavy going and ponderous too often for my liking. Some scenes should have been cut as they added nothing to the film.  So I am not surprised to hear that cinema goers throughout the land have been walking out before the end and pronouncing the film very dull and boring.

The acting was good and there were some great cameo performances.  It does make way for a sequel with George Smiley back at the Circus and on the trail of Karla.


It fails to be as good as the Alec Guinness TV series, but that may not be a fair comparison as the TV series had many episodes to deal with the intricacies of the plot and develop the characters.  I much preferred the TV series, which was vastly superior.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mission Impossible in Afghanistan

The US attempts to rebuild a nation in Afghanistan by deploying thousands of troops and killing many civilians is sheer folly.  According to latest estimates billions, perhaps trillions, of dollars have been spent in Afghanistan on mission impossible. (One estimate puts the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan at four trillion dollars.  Such an amount would considerably reduce world poverty for years, but perhaps that does not allow for the corruption at work in poor countries.)  The death toll of US combatants is very sad.  The USA's reputation remains in tatters.  Torture, rendition, Guantanamo Bay, civilian casualties, aiding corruption, abuses of human rights, and other practices have lost the moral high ground.


Americans in Afghanistan have caused what some commentators call the hydra effect. Chop one head and others grow.  Killing one insurgent leads to others being recruited and trained to fight to end US occupation of Afghanistan.  There is no shortage of young men willing to make and plant roadside bombs (improvised explosive devices) to kill and maim US troops. This is a conflict against a very determined guerilla opposition that  cannot be won by conventional means. Yet mission impossible continues and dollars are wasted on this stupid war.  

Recent Riots in England: some interesting questions

We now know that many of the rioters were young criminals, as about 75 per cent have previous convictions.

Fraser Nelson also asks:

How many of those convicted finished school?
How many were brought up in a workless household?
How many by a lone parent, how many in welfare ghettos?

It is not just about poverty, because some very poor families do not produce delinquent children or engage in anti-social behaviour.

It is not a socio-economic problem, but a moral problem.  My father-in-law grew up in South Wales where poverty was rife during the Great Depression of the 1930s but the people had high moral principles fostered by the chapel, community and trade union movement.  There was a sense of community and those who engaged in anti-social behaviour were subject to effective local sanctions.  Today we have lost that sense of close community that shaped good manners, good conduct, consideration and care for others. In good communities people pull together and help each other; there is a sense of decency, concern and care for neighbour and neighbourhood.

I have known extremely poor people and missionaries who lived on low incomes among poor people in rural and urban environments, but they never resorted to theft, looting or anti-social behaviour.  During the Second World War and during the 1950s, there happened to be very many people who certainly by today's standards would be classed as extremely poor and needy yet they lived a highly moral life and worked hard for low wages.  The children were brought up on the ten commandments, so stealing was wrong; they had a sense of accountability to God, parents, school and community.  They did not want to let any of them down.  They avoided bringing disgrace and shame.

 In some housing estates there is alienation, anonymity, anti-social attitudes, high crime levels, violence, selfishness and inconsiderate behaviour.  There is no sense of shame, responsibility or accountability.  The youth lack moral guidelines, a moral compass. They do not know right from wrong, but do what is right in their own eyes.  They have not been helped to develop a social conscience or good ethical code of conduct. We are now reaping the consequences of bad seed in bad soil.  Sunday schools once helped these young people. How many of them had any form a Sunday school education? It has been said that a child who goes through the Sunday school system rarely goes through the juvenile court and criminal justice system.

High population density may have something to do with it, because putting some people in overcrowded conditions can cause aggression. But areas of Holland and Japan which are densely populated have low crime rates.  Social deprivation may be a cause, but it is, like poverty, hard to define.

European Football: England's dismal performance against Wales

England managed a win over Wales at Wembley on Tuesday evening despite a dull and dismal display in front of their supporters. A crucial easy miss by Earnshaw denied Wales a deserved draw.  The Welsh had a lot of possession on English soil, which surprised many pundits.  But England's failure to maintain possession and dominate in midfield must worry the manager and his staff. The midfield failed to feed Rooney and create enough goal scoring chances.

England's current high world ranking (currently fourth according to FIFA) flatters them and on this latest performance they will fail to maintain it.  We have world class defenders, but our midfield looked very mediocre, far from world class. We completely lacked authority in midfield.  The Welsh midfield were often much better. At times they outshone the England team, particularly in the second half.  Spain, Germany and Holland are way ahead in quality, midfield skill and general performance. Other sides ranked in the top ten have much better midfield balance and quality.  They hold the ball well and look comfortable in possession. We cannot seem to do that in so many games.  Don't expect England to do well when they come up against international class players. Our midfield mediocrity will let us down again. Our midfield does not gel at Wembley in recent matches there.  It has been found wanting. It is high time that we had a convincing win at Wembley.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Berners Roding Church

The abandoned and  neglected church at Berners Roding has fascinated a number of visitors.  One photographer has commented on the lamentable state of this once sacred building, which dates back to the 14th century.  It is shame that it has not  been preserved, perhaps as a retreat or place of prayer.  It could have been a poustinia where troubled souls could find solace and comfort for a time away from the pressures and problems of modern/post modern life. A poustinia in the Russian Orthodox Church tradition is a place for prayer and fasting. It was often found in isolated places, where a room had a bed, Bible, desk and a chair.

All Saints Church, Berners Roding














The graveyard at Berners Roding




Travellers at Dale Farm, Church land and Romans 13:1-7

The travellers at Dale Farm who are threatened with eviction need somewhere to go.  They would want to continue their way of life where they could park their caravans and cars etc.  The local churches have been involved in the mediation process.  I wonder if any of them has thought about offering some land owned by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church to help these travellers.   These churches own vast amounts of land and property. They have a lot of land attached to theological colleges, convents, monasteries, cathedrals, neglected churches, educational institutions, retreat centres etc.

Has Vanessa Redgrave thought about accommodating some of the travellers on her land? Perhaps she has thought about putting them in her back yard or on her property.

Are some of the wealthy travellers prepared to buy some more brown sites, like old scrapyards, to help them?  It is alleged that there are some very wealthy travellers who have become rich by evading taxes on their income through some their commercial enterprises.  Travellers have been accused of parasitical practices by taking advantage of the free health care, transport infrastructure, local amenities and benefits of society without putting in the funds through taxes, revenues etc.

Some, however, see travellers as a persecuted minority in a complex and structured society that treats them badly and unjustly.  According to this view, and others close to it, the travellers have a right to their independent, non-conformist culture and way of life.  It has been argued that they are often vilified for petty crimes by a hypocritical and hypercritical society that tolerates enormous fraud and foul practices in the name of commerce, banking and enterprise.

Some of the travellers who claim to be practising Catholics, committed Christians, preachers and pilgrims, and  other religious labels and affiliations need to consider the message and meaning of Paul's letter to the Romans in chapter 13, verses one to seven.

We pay taxes to the authorities because they are God's servants who give their full time to government administration.  Verse six clearly enjoins these acts.  We are to give everyone what we owe them and that includes taxes, revenue, respect and honour.

Those who put themselves above reasonable laws and established rules in a democratic society and deliberately disobey them, should take heed.  According to Romans 13:2, they are clearly acting against what God has established, rebelling against God and inviting the judgement of God on themselves.

This applies to certain members of the travellers, but it also applies to the incredibly greedy tax evaders who have lied, cheated and sought refuge in "tax havens", who are guilty of criminal acts that cost the British tax payer far, far more than the small amounts of lost revenue from the travelling community.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Maldon

A next door neighbour retired to Maldon, where her son had a shop and worked as an electrician.  Seaside towns in Essex seem to appeal to elderly folk.  Frinton is known as being on the Costa Geriatrica.  Some say: Harwich for the continent. Frinton for the incontinent. Maldon is a popular Summer outing and weekend destination for families with young children, because it has wonderful playgrounds and water features for the kids.



 Parking can be expensive, but the spacious Promenade Park gets very crowded on warm Summer days in August.  It cost me twice as much to park in Promenade Park, rather than parking in Butt Lane in the centre of town.  The Butt Lane car park can get full very quickly in August!

I last visited Maldon on a pleasant August day, when hordes of children were enjoying the playgrounds and ponds around Promenade Park. My children enjoyed coming here on warm Summer days during the school holiday season.



Maldon is wonderfully charming and has some delightful quiet spots, even on busy school holidays.



Hythe Quay attracts many visitors.  The Jolly Sailor pub, once used in a Lovejoy episode (Series 3, No Strings) starring Joanna Lumley as Victoria Cavero, is a popular watering hole.   The photographs of the lovely Lumley lady have sadly been removed.





I love to walk along the ancient streets.  What a delightful place!









Ancient and modern work well together.


The staff at the Tourist Information Office (Coach Lane) and at All Saints' Church are very helpful.  They will provide you with plenty of information about Maldon's fascinating history, amenities and places of interest.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Syria: killings continue, resentment rises and abuses abound

Some sources believe that over 500 civilians have been slaughtered during Ramadan, which has now ended.

The opposition to the Assad regime is growing stronger.  Reform is no longer an option.  The hearts and minds of the people are now behind a complete removal of the evil dictatorship.

The human rights record of the House of Assad, stretching back years, is appalling. Murder, torture, mayhem, injustice, imprisonment without trial, and political corruption have been experienced by the oppressed Syria people.  They remember the days of Hafez, father of Bashar, who was responsible for the Hama massacre in 1982. Well over ten thousand civilians were murdered.  There will be much rejoicing when the House of Assad eventually falls. Such is the level of oppression and secret police state practices that no creditable opposition has been allowed to grow. A transition to democracy will be a difficult and painful journey for the Syrian people.

 Bashar al-Assad is particularly unpopular on account of his Alawite beliefs and his autocratic government which has  favoured the Alawite minority. Alawites are considered to be heretical Muslims by many mainstream Islamic scholars and believers. Alawites are a branch, some would say sect, a rather secretive sect, of Shia Islam.  The vast majority of Muslims in Syria are Sunni.  The Alawites account for about 12 per cent of the population, yet their influence in government is considerable. Bashar al-Assad has an inner circle of trusted Alawites around him.

Alawites take their name from Ali ibn Abi Talib, who was a cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad.


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Dark clouds, despair and designated destruction at Dale Farm, Essex

Travellers living illegally at Dale Farm, Oak Lane, Crays Hill,  near Basildon and Billericay, CM11 2YJ, Essex, are facing eviction.  Dale Farm is believed to be the largest illegal settlement in the land.  There are proposals by Basildon Council to remove the travellers, who are currently living on green belt land without proper planning permission.  A forced clearance is possible.  The existing buildings constructed without planning permission will have to be destroyed.  According to Basildon Council this dispute has been going on for ten years, and families have lived in these residences at Dale Farm  knowing that they are breaking the law. It is estimated that over 80 families are resident there illegally.  Some do live there legitimately on a scrapyard site, where planning permission was granted for homes. The land is legally owned by families of travellers.

The travellers' appeals to the High Court have failed, despite pleas for consideration under the UN convention of human rights, relating to children, and the poor health of an elderly resident.

Political activists have been forming a protest camp at Dale Farm.  The barricades will go up and an expensive policing operation looks inevitable, though many attempts to find peaceful solutions, involving local churches, continue.  The cost of removing the families and bulldozing the buildings on green belt land could be millions of pounds.

Vanessa Redgrave, the actress, has championed the travellers' cause.  

An awful Afghan August for US troops

This August has been the deadliest so far for US troops in Afghanistan.  Despite talk of progress in the decade long war, over twice as long as World War II for American forces, the death toll is the highest for the conflict. It is worse than July 2010, which was previously the deadliest single month.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Gun Law in Libya

There is concern about the amount of weapons on the streets of Libya today.  Many young men who are heavily armed could be difficult to control.  Care needs to come at this time of conflict so that cohesion rather than chaos reigns.  There are reports of violence and vengeance.  The stench of death can be smelt in hospital wards. Dead bodies decay around Tripoli.

There is talk of democracy, freedom and a brighter future.  But there is also fear about tensions and terrors, death and destruction because some will want to settle old scores.  Gun law rather than justice with order may already be on the streets of Tripoli.  Civil war is always bitter. Scars and deep wounds last for years.

There is no easy way ahead, but blood, sweat, toil, trouble and tears.  Gaddafy and his gang have had their day; they have left a bloody legacy.  Still they fight on and deny the people the peace and prosperity they desperately desire.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sitting ducks in Afghanistan

We don't seem to get it.  As perceived occupying forces, infidels and unwelcome foreigners, those associated with the British government are considered legitimate targets for the Taliban.  Their fighters are prepared to kill themselves and others, to rid their country of foreigners who threaten their independence.  A Taliban spokesman has said "We will become independent again from all foreigners, especially from the British."  Our historical record, which is remembered and goes back to the 19th century, in Afghanistan does not make edifying reading. We have bribed, caused bitterness and shed innocent blood.  Last Friday there was a double suicide bombing at the British Council compound.  At least ten people have been murdered.

The attack was at the time of the 92nd anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from Britain.  And British politicians think that we can do "vital work" there.

We are not welcome and our workers are sitting ducks.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Calling time on the Assad regime. Time for Assad to go.

Now key world leaders are asking for Bashar, the Brutal Basher, al Assad to step down as he has lost legitimacy.  More pressure and more sanctions are being brought to bear on the Assad regime of repression.  Sadly the small people will continue to suffer for his sins. The Syrian regime is in crisis.  The economy has deep problems. The health service is stretched to cope with the injuries, the many wounded from the troubles, the protests, and the demands for democratic changes. Thousands have already died during demonstrations.  The bullets of Bashar's men have been making the situation worse.

Not even rigorous and far reaching reforms can now wash away the blood on the despot's hands.  This dictator has lost the respect and support of his people.  It is the brutal military and special security services plus the support of some unethical nations that keep him in power.  How long will Assad cling on?  His days are numbered.

Syria will be well rid of this regime. It's time for regime change.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Brutal Basher Bashar al Assad

Certain nations have been very slow to condemn the brutality of Bashar, Brutal Basher, al Assad's regime of terror and evil repression.  Hilary Clinton, however, has been calling for sanctions against the Assad government.

Assad, the brutal basher, has lost legitimacy to rule, so it is time for him to go.  Although he can appear as a charming and well educated young man, he is a political gangster who should to brought to justice for his evil reign of terror.  Like his father, he has shed much blood and criminally abused his people.

Shame on  any country that harms the innocent, peaceful protesters with legitimate grievances.

Shame on any country that curtails the freedom of the press.

Shame on any country that denies basic human rights and democratic freedom.

Shame on any country that persecutes Christian leaders and true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Shame on their leaders and politicians who are responsible for these evil ways.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Named and Shamed: Reece Donovan

Reece Donovan of Milton Court, Cross Road, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Essex, has been identified as the person who robbed injured Malaysian student Asyraf Haziq Rossli.  Apparently Asyraf was assaulted in Barking; his bike was stolen and his jaw was broken. On CCTV, shown throughout the world, a crowd gathered around him.  At first it seemed young people were trying to help him.  Asyraf was evidently dazed from his injuries and in broad daylight he had possessions taken from his rucksack by a young man wearing a baseball cap.  Reece Donovan, 21, has been charged with the robbery so he will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court very shortly.

If Donovan is convicted then he will probably be known as Disgraceful Donovan.  He is, of course, innocent until proven guilty.  Mistaken identity would be serious.  I thought that I heard his surname was Sullivan, and the thought of a David Sullivan being shamefully treated for an offence that he did not commit would be tragic.
There is concern that the speedy procedures of the courts could lead to miscarriages of justice.  Let's pray that there is not undue haste but due process of law and sound judgement in our courts.

The robbery has been strongly condemned, notably by PM David Cameron in one of his recent speeches.  Asyraf has received hospital treatment, media attention, and strong support expressed in words, cards and cash from well wishers throughout the country.  He has said that he will remain in England to complete his studies.

Friday, 12 August 2011

A Lost Generation?

Politicians, church and community leaders, and social commentators are asking the question: do we have a lost generation in England?  Do we have an underclass of young people growing up without morality and moral restraint?

There are clearly many theories and complex social problems surrounding the criminality of these young rioters, looters and louts who have taken to the streets over the last few days to wreck havoc, destruction and damage. Some people say that gang culture is much to blame for the recent arson, anarchy and thefts.  Others believe that bad parenting and poor home life, where a lack of discipline and decency prevails, explain many of the problems. A few put the cause down to environmental factors, including government cuts, social alienation, unemployment and the loss of opportunities.

One thing is apparent to me.  These juvenile delinquents have little respect for others, their neighbours, their neighbourhoods, their country, basic morality (thou shalt not steal), the police, those in authority, the rule of law, and God.  They live godless and self centred lives, without a social and moral conscience.  Some of them  have grown up thinking that they are free to do just as they please and anything what they want, without recourse to established morality, anybody else or the needs of others.  Their way of life is, in effect, based on: if it feels good , then let's do it.  They wish to do what is right in their own eyes.  Selfishness reigns supreme.  They are lost,  walking the broad way that leads to destruction and spiritual death.

  It is time for the true members of Christ's church, those called out of this present evil world where the good seed is choked and harmed, to reach out into the highways and byways to bring the gospel of hope and salvation to these needy young folk.

We need to look again at youth work, youth clubs, youth ministries and youth projects.  In the past we have managed to touch young people in deprived areas and places of poverty and poor social conditions.  Think of the Mayflower Centre in East London, London City Mission halls on council estates, and successful church youth clubs in the inner cities.

Church leaders and people in Christian fellowships are arranging for special prayer meetings, vigils, prayer and fasting sessions, to take place throughout this troubled land.

It is time to watch and pray, time to seek God's wisdom, and time to see the power of God touching these lost sheep so that they are plucked out of devil's hands.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Catastrophic criminality in Croydon

Croydon burns this evening.  Shops, residential properties and businesses are ablaze as a result of sheer criminality.  Fear is on the streets and people are afraid of the fires around them.  Young yobs have torched premises, deliberately causing damage and danger to many residents.  Parts of Croydon now look like a war zone, especially Reeves's Corner around Church Street.  The public need to be well protected from these waves of violence. It must be heartbreaking for the people living there seeing their precious possessions and property being destroyed. Politicians and people in authority are urging parents to bring their children home and off the streets. Croydon seems out of control in some sectors. The Fire Brigade officers are really stretched.  Emergency services have considerable problems.  This current chaotic situation in Croydon could lead to serious injury and loss of life.  It is a catastrophe.

Havoc has hit Hackney

Law and order have broken down on the streets of Hackney, London E8.  And now violent scenes are being shown in South London around the Lewisham and Peckham areas. Shops in Rye Lane, Peckham, London SE15, are on fire and flats are being destroyed.  Anarchy and arson are clearly evident. This behaviour is completely unacceptable and we should be supporting the Metropolitan Police in their attempts to restore law and order.  Mrs Teresa May, the Home Secretary, is right about the situation: there are absolutely no excuses for this violence and looting.  This lawlessness by criminals must stop and they should be brought to justice. These riots are symptomatic of delinquency and moral declension in our inner cities.  Youths without morality are revealing their spiritual bankruptcy.  They are wild, wicked creatures of darkness.  They are a disgrace.  They have shamed their families and communities.

Anarchy on the streets of Tottenham, N17

Images of lawlessness have been broadcast across the UK on our television screens.  Arson, looting, stone throwing, vicious violence against the Metropolitan Police and their vehicles, criminal damage resulting in the destruction of homes and businesses, these disgraceful actions by "mindless people... intent on causing violence" have angered Tottenham residents and the nation.

It is claimed that much of the anarchy on the streets around N17 was caused by outsiders and troublemakers who took advantage of the chaos.  They allegedly came to steal and to bring havoc to the locality.  Some businesses and residents will now find it difficult to continue working and living in Tottenham.  It has been said that these riots and destructive events have "ripped the heart out of the community."

There was a breakdown in law and order.  Let us hope that the Met. Police and community leaders will be able to restore, rebuild and revive this troubled town.  Justice needs to be seen, and criminals need to be brought to justice so that they are punished for their crimes. Some are demanding corporal punishment for major crime. (Major Crime and Corporal Punishment? It's an old joke!)

What kind of upbringing did these delinquents have?  Without parental discipline and the good example of a father as a positive role model, they have become wild and wicked.

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Hebrews 12:8, to quote the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible, now celebrating 500 years of influence.  I wonder how much biblical influence and Christian teaching these "bastards" had?  Some of these crime ridden estates are sadly breeding grounds for bastards, kids out of control, where teenage pregnancy rates are unacceptably high.  Absentee "fathers" and ill mannered mothers are failing to bring children up with social skills and a good understanding of decorum and decency.  I bet that there would be evidence of irresponsible parenting if one looked into most of the backgrounds and home life of these lawless looters and destructive delinquents.  There is often a clear correlation between bad parenting and criminal behaviour.

Many who travel to see Tottenham Hotspur playing at White Hart Lane (though the ground is in Tottenham High Road) may be quite unaware of the area's high rates of crime, teenage pregnancy, unemployment with serious social problems: gang violence, racial tensions, drug dealing, and gun possession.

There some large churches and Christian ministries in Tottenham, London N17; they bring a message of hope and good news in what has been described as a "hurting community". May they rise to the challenge to bring Christian caring, sharing, and bearing the burdens of those in need.

We live in times when community care, cohesion, co-operation and Christian ethics are sadly missing.  Selfish, sinful and stupid behaviour that does so much harm has been very evident in Tottenham, N17, in the London Borough of Haringey.



Saturday, 30 July 2011

Pleshey, Essex. It was a pleasure to be at Pleshey yesterday afternoon

Pleshey is a peaceful place.  It has a retreat centre, a lovely church, an ancient motte and bailey castle, two pubs and many charming cottages. Sadly there is no longer a cricket team; the pitch is currently in quite poor condition, particularly the wicket square, and the last match was played about two years ago.

I spoke to a retired gentleman, born and bred in Pleshey, who was working on his five allotments; it is good to hear an authentic Essex accent.  The ugly estuary English accent seems to be spreading throughout Essex. 


The castle moat is now a pleasant water feature







The Diocesan House of Retreat, Pleshey


 Holy Trinity Church, Pleshey


The Parish Church is, to my way of thinking, rather Dibleyesque.  I can see many parallels with the Vicar of Dibley. Visit the church and look into the way things are run.  Reverend Geraldine would be happy here.

                                   Pleshey Cricket Club pavilion and outfield


The ramshackle pavilion has seen better days.  The square is in need of tender loving care and some matches played on it.  There are not enough committed cricketers and locals to tend and look after the ground.








Cottages are lovingly looked after. The thatch on this cottage is a work of art.  Long may this skilful enterprise of quality thatching continue.


The publican is evidently trying to make a go of the Leather Bottle in lean times.  Many pubs are closing and are struggling to survive under harsh economic conditions.


The White Horse has been a popular restaurant and destination for the discerning  diner for many years. 

The old Pleshey village pump has been charmingly preserved for posterity.


The former Pleshey village school buildings are now a private residence.


The old Pleshey blacksmith's barn will soon disappear.  The plot is destined for a new development.



The village allotments are wonderfully well tended, but will future generations find the time and the energy to maintain them to their present glory?


The Old Mission Hall, Pleshey

In the middle of the last century children's voices could be heard singing Christian choruses at this mission hall; it is now a private residence.  A certain way of life has disappeared from the village in these increasingly secular times.






Revision and additional information posted on 8 August 2011.

Dedham

Dedham
River Stour