Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Moving house...

I've moved my online home...

This blog has been great, and I hope the online friends I've met here come visit me on the new one!

Click here for an explanation and for my new blog.

Update your links!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

When psychiatrists do something right...

It humbles me to admit it, but American psychiatrists have done us all proud.

Big up the American Psychiatric Association, look what they've done:

Click Click


Ha! Turns out the BBC got it wrong - never ever ever trust the media.

A quick flick around the web and I have discovered that it was the American Psychological Association who made the announcement. See here for more info.

It just goes to show that the media don't show much concern for accuracy and more importantly, that psychologists are still leading the way on progressive values.

Now, to advocate that the BPS makes a similar statement! :D

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Peace Protestor Tagged

A UK peace protestor has been electronically tied. See the BBC's website for more information.

Anyway - I've been learning all kinds of interesting bits and pieces about Quakerism in the UK. I'd love to hear what some of my American Friends make of them.

So here goes:

*40% of people who are members of British Yearly meeting do not consider themselves Christian (I'm surprised that the numbers are that high, but then again, thinking about it, I know a lot more Quakers in the UK who don't consider themselves Christian than those who maybe that's not all that surprising).

*Some attenders in the UK don't become members as they feel unable to affirm the peace testimony (particularly in relation to WWII).

I've been mulling over the peace testimony and some quotations from other Friends and wondering what it means for me and for other modern day Friends. Anyone care to say anything?

"...I lived in the virtue of that life and power that took away the occasion of all wars." George Fox

"We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the spirit of Christ, which leads us into all Truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world." (Declaration to Charles II - although I'm told that this was written to reassure Charles II and others that Quakers would not bear arms against them or anyone else, and so perhaps that context is important to bear in mind.)

Other expressions of the Quaker peace testimony can be found here.

Thoughts please?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Baby onions & shallots


A deep and meaningful post today. One to lift one's heart to the very highest of spiritual ecstacies...or not.

On Saturday I made the mistake of giving Ken my Thai cook books and saying, 'Here you go darling, pick a recipe and after Quaker meeting, we can go to the Asian supermarket and get the ingredients and make it tomorrow for dinner.'

Ken picked a recipe with a long list of tasty ingredients, lemongrass, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, shrimp paste, coriander seeds, garlic (120g of the stuff), coconut milk...yum yum yum. Two of the ingredients were shallots and baby onions. We bought some baby onions in the Asian supermarket, and then toddled over to another supermarket to buy shallots. There really didn't seem to be any difference between them - except the shallots were marginally bigger. They looked, smelt and tasted identical. So why were they listed as two separate ingredients - can anyone enlighten us, are baby onions and shallots the same thing?

Let this be a lesson to you - Ken picked one of the tastiest recipes in the book, but also one of the most complicated. Three hours later, with a kitchen splattered in shrimp paste, our hands reeking of garlic, a very very tasty curry emerged - but it took three hours of mixing, pounding, blending, stirring and frying to get there. Do not give men cookery books and tell them to pick what they like!

So - baby onions and shallots - does anyone know if they are different?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Fish on pilgrimage to find water

There must be water around here somewhere!

"I laugh when I hear that the fish in the
water is thirsty.
I laugh when I hear that men go on
pilgrimage to find God."


Thanks to Meredith from Graceful Presence.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Kingdoms, Monasteries and Mosques

I went to see 'The Kingdom of Heaven' at the cinema last night. It starred Orlando Bloom (nice), but he looked uncannily like my younger brother in this film (off-putting). It brought home to me the ease at which we enter war and the sheer insanity of it. I'm not going to write an entire review of the film, nor am I going to write about the Crusades (I would only betray my ignorance). There was something else that struck me - not the politicking between kings and rulers, but rather the situation of ordinary people of whatever religion - mere pawns in a game of political chess, disposed of carelessly in senseless acts of war designed to promote one religion or one culture above another.

I am fortunate enough not to have witnessed a great deal of violence. (Yes, even growing up in Northern Ireland, its not something I've really experienced witnessed personally.) However, it is my conviction that the only way for peace in Northern Ireland is for Catholic and Protestant communities to meet one another, engage freely and openly with one another and respect the traditions of the other. On Tuesday night, a series entitled 'The Monastery' began on BBC2. (Apologies to non-UK readers). This is high quality reality TV (seriously). A group of men of various backgrounds have entered a Benedictine monastery for 40 days and the program is following their experiences.

One character, Gary, stood out. He is a fellow Northern Irisher, was formerly involved in the UDA (a paramilitary group) and spent much of his life in prison. Yet, more than any of the other characters - he was spoken of the acceptance and warmth he has experienced amongst the monks. The experience seems, to me anyway, to have had a unique impact on him compared with the others. I wonder, if entering into a Catholic monastery has something to do with it. When welcomed by another, especially if that other is someone or something we have previously had misconceptions about or are alien to, there can be a special appreciation of hospitality and sense of welcome.

I am reminded of an experience I had last summer on an interfaith walk for peace. The walk, which is taking place again this year on June 12th in Southampton should anyone care to join us, is a walking tour of various places of worship in Southampton - from the Hindu temple, to the mosque, to the church and the synagogue. It was also where I happily found the Quakers for the first time. As is typical of me and those who came with me, we arrived slightly late having spent more time than we had predicted finding a suitable parking space and so were somewhat disorganised and dishevelled. New to interfaith meanderings, I entirely forgot to bring something with me to cover my head. Thankfully, where it was necessary, head-coverings were provided. However, when we arrived in the mosque nothing was provided. Fancying myself as rather culturally aware, I approached one of the men at the door and asked if they had anything I could cover my head with. He ushered me into the room saying that it didn't matter.

There was something special to be welcomed as I was, uncovered, into another's sacred place. The mosque was special for some reason. Sitting on the soft carpet, listing to the Qu'ran sung in Arabic, I felt a special peace and the atmosphere felt more hospitable to me than anywhere else. It is in places like this that we make peace with one another, and places like this where perhaps, peace can begin on a broader scale. As we recognise and embrace our shared humanity, and learn to bow our heads (or cover them), respecting the religion of another, perhaps we can learn to live together, valuing the freedom of others and the value of their religion as much as we value our own freedom and our own faith.

Although I have not witnessed much in the way of religious violence, I have witnessed a more subtle form of violence - that of devaluing the faith or religion of another. In Northern Ireland, many protestants believe Roman Catholics are off a different religion, and some are want to ensure that everyone knows that this other religion is false. It is the same in other places - I've sat through prayer meetings where earnest Christians have prayed for the salvation of Muslims. By this they don't been liberation and peace for Islamic communities - they often mean that they want Muslims to become Christians. This too is fanaticism. Just as in the past, the temple in Jerusalem was jostled over and trampled over by those claiming it as their own, so today, true religion, true faith is trampled over by those claiming the whole truth for themselves.

It is only in learning, respecting and embracing that we can find peace. Perhaps friendship and hospitality can overcome the madness of fanatics.

Were there worlds beyond which they could never touch, or did all that is possible enter their consciousness? They could not tell. . . . Perhaps life is a mystery, not a muddle. . . . Perhaps the hundred Indias which fuss and squabble so tiresomely are one, and the universe they mirror is one. They had not the apparatus for judging. -EM FORSTER, A PASSAGE TO INDIA

Wednesday, May 11, 2005



Finally - its my 3rd year of PhD research and at last, I have a finding. A significant result, that no-one has ever found before. YES YES YES!

Sorry, that's all.

Thank you and goodnight.