The Envelope…

Ah, the joys, the joys…
How quickly the annual bananafest and Los Angeles bonhomie creeps up on us. I do hope all the gay backslapping has finally broken it’s back and a worthy winner will be found for best film in the form of Good Night and Good Luck with a riveting performance by David Strathairn. Nice to see our very own Dame JD as the spectacularly rude Mrs Henderson, a coup if she collected, one feels. Best support might be Rachel Weisz’s but the sheer quality of ‘The Constant Gardener’ might have simply swept her up for the ride.

The image? Oh. Nothing to do with the above. It’s Janica Kostelic, the Croatian skier. Years ago, my son and I skied in Austria with Ante, her father, and Ivo her older brother. They were both much faster than me. I must give back the gloves I borrowed….

Eyeless in Gaza

76 seats to Hamas….Let joy be unconfined. In Gaza City, at least where rock-throwing and gunfire seemed to underline the new regime’s priorities. GWB and Tony B seem not to want to do business, however, which is guardedly encouraging. A friend from Israel said to me tonight that ‘everyone’s walking on eggshells, which seem to be cracking underfoot.’
I wondered if the aims and objectives of the above have changed since May 2005, when the US Navy produced their report, part of which follows….

HAMAS

Other Names
Islamic Resistance Movement

Description
HAMAS was formed in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various HAMAS elements have used both violent and political means, including terrorism, to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel. It is loosely structured, with some elements working clandestinely and others operating openly through mosques and social service institutions to recruit members, raise money, organize activities, and distribute propaganda. HAMAS’ strength is concentrated in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Activities
HAMAS terrorists, especially those in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have conducted many attacks, including large-scale suicide bombings, against Israeli civilian and military targets. HAMAS maintained the pace of its operational activity in 2004, claiming numerous attacks against Israeli interests. HAMAS has not yet directly targeted US interests, although the group makes little or no effort to avoid targets frequented by foreigners. HAMAS continues to confine its attacks to Israelis inside Israel and the occupied territories.

H’m. Yassir Arafat is turning in his grave.

Visa run to Dubai

Dubai. A city with a heart but not much of a soul. At least everything works here, but the city chuckles fatly under a carapace of wealth and privilege. Polite natives but everyone’s out to make a fast buck. Don’t think I’d like to live here, but OK for a visit. Biggest indoor snow slope in the world, and the most luxurious hotels. But, see later….

BURJ AL ARAB

‘Built in the shape of an Arabian dhow sail and dominating the Dubai coastline, this is one of the world’s most spectacular and incomparably luxurious hotels. It offers unparalleled standards of comfort and service in a unique and unforgettably lavish setting…..’

H’m.. Nice, innit…Drove past it in a Mercedes cab, which stops if requested for the poor and unwashed to gawp at the admittedly impressive structure. All suites – the Sultan of Brunei keeps a $24,000 penthouse here all year round, visiting perhaps twice a year. H’m

Paradise Postponed

SO, a maniac from Islamic Jihad is causing trouble again in Tel Aviv, presumably in the vain hope of destabilising upcoming elections. I hope that the exaggerated rewards awaiting him in Paradise will be worth it. Speaking of which.. Best Foreign Film at the Globes: “Paradise Now”. In Hollywood’s desperate and rather wan attempts at PC it revealed the country of origin as ‘Palestine’. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but no such country exists known to the World Bank, the UN, or even thePalestinian Authority who haven’t applied for statehood yet. In a further ironic touch, the film hasn’t even been seen in Nablus where it was filmed. Locals who’ve seen it on satellite give it mixed reviews, believing it not to further the Palestinian cause. Another little wrinkle in spacetime.. H’m
The image is of two hesitant and rather well-heeled suicide bombers from the movie.

Women, Worship and Guitars


It’s a very lazy Sunday here, temperatures tipping the 70’s and a pleasant afternoon for a chilled salad. I find my thoughts wandering in all kinds of slightly divergent directions, and find myself musing about women. One in particular, and the fact that I miss her very much. Being Sunday, I’ve been turning my attention to worship. Well, not because it’s Sunday, instead perhaps just because I picked up my guitar and began to play. I can hear her voice in my mind, that massive, rich contralto singing ‘This is the Air I Breathe’, and my spine melting…..

C.S. Lewis wrote – “It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men.” His presence. H’m. It’s not a ‘place’, neither is it constrained by a timeframe, just a sense of being and completeness. Almost a loss for words. Lamar Boschman from the International Worship Institute in Fort Worth puts it well…

“When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.”

I miss my guitar. A 1976 Martin D28 which helped me countless times towards visions of Shekinah. The image is of a Martin D45 Celtic Knot, possibly one of the finest instruments in production. One day….yeah.
Tomorrow is my birthday, shared with loads of people I’ve never heard of, most of whom are dead. Also Martin Luther King Day. Enjoy..

Paraskavedekatriaphobia

WHAT an absolutely delightful word, meaning a fear of Friday 13th, which I am learning how to pronounce. Happy Birthday to anyone born today, it’s supposed to be ‘lucky’ ( whatever that means.) The Knights Templar weren’t so fortunate on Friday October 13th, 1307, when the King of France rounded them all up and over the next seven years, systematically exterminated them. The Pope excommunicated him, so serve him right.

The Christian philosopher and Biblical apologist Immanuel Swedenborg once wrote..

Number 13 consists of the number 10 and number 3. Number 3 is a holy number and as it is part of number 13, the holiness of number 13 remains.

Which, I suppose, only goes to show what a little fuzzy logic can do for an argument.

Numbers have always fascinated me, in particular, our attempts to ascribe specific meanings to them. I remember reading ‘The Bible Code‘ with interest until it became clear that the weight of statistical evidence had overcome the tingling bravura of it’s findings and it turned out not to be true after all.

Still, in any given year there can only be a maximum of three Fridays the Thirteenth, so I guess we can all rest easily in our beds for over 99% of the year.

The image is of Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, a treasure house for Templar-watchers. Oh, and, yes. I have read the daVinci Code (along with about 80% of all sentient life-forms on the planet), believing about a third of it.

Reflections on acquisition

When I was younger, I craved ‘things’. Cold, expensive goods that did little more than tickle my vanity and massage my pride, proclaiming my excellent taste to the world. Yes, sometimes, I acquired such ‘things’, often at the expense of the more prosaic, unselfish and useful. I think it requires a visit to the abyss of near – destitution, together with a sovereign work of grace to break a stubborn, prideful soul……
I still have ‘things’, which I look after. However, if it came time to leave them behind, walk away from them and not look back, I believe that I have moved far enough along my pilgrimage to be able to do so without regret. Which is quite a liberating feeling….