Thursday, December 22, 2005

Au Revoir

...for the holidays!

We're off to Dublin in the wee hours of the morning, then to Belfast in the evening :).

So, wishing everyone a happy holidays and a peaceful new year as we won't have internet access back in the sticks :).


Monday, December 19, 2005

In Belfast?!?!?!

My congratulations to Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close and to Henry Kane and Christopher Flanagan!

They became the first gay couples in the UK to have civil partnership ceremonies in Belfast of all places!!! I'm quite chuffed that my home town was the first. Its not often Northern Ireland manages to be on the forefront of implementing gay rights (or any other civil rights for that matter)! Naturally, the Free Ps couldn't let it go without a protest - but they protest events organised by other churches so where would we be without them, eh?! I'm quite impressed that the protest was so small and only Free P. As I said, they seem to enjoy protesting and will protest just about anything so I doubt very many will take much heed.

As it is, civil partnerships are "marriages in all but name". Personally, I'm hoping for the day when they're truly recognised as being emotionally and spiritually equal to marriage and they can be called marriage should the couple want that.

Still today is one step along the path and one piece of news to be happy about. So I toast to their happiness! I'm loving the big grins on Henry and Christophers' faces :)

Friday, December 16, 2005

I start my new job, first Monday in February. I could have started the first Monday in January, but I don't think its realistic for us to find a flat by then. That gives me one extra and very needed month to finish my PhD, delve into the very depths of my overdraft, find a new place to live and move there.

It all feels rather unreal at the moment. The lady on the phone said, 'Great, I'll make sure the consultant psychologist clears their schedule for that morning so they can show you around and introduce you to everyone.' Finally - clinical work! Woo woo!

Apparently they have taken on another new assistant and we'll be sharing an office. I've seen the office, its really nice and bright. Great working space, and hopefully, a new friend :)

I'm also looking forward to working with people with learning disabilities again. Having spent over 3 years working in an academic ivory tower, where everyone is judged by their intellectual weightiness, it will be nice to come back down to earth. What little experience I have had working alongside people with learning disabilities before has always reminded me of my own humanity and to value people for people's sake.

PS. For American readers - learning disabilities is called mental retardation in your land. It's considered appalling to call it that in the UK!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Please continue to keep Tom Fox, Norman Kemble & the two Canadian hostages in your prayers/in the light/in your thoughts...

I cannot help but be humbled by the grace and peace that comes across in their messages home and in Tom Fox's blog, Waiting in the Light.

"I have been opposed to this war, Mr Blair's war, since the very beginning but I ask him now... to work for my release and the release of the Iraqi people from oppression."
Norman Kember

One thing that has made a strong impression on me is militants who have opposed Western involvement in Iraq speaking out on behalf of these men. More info here. Abu Qatada, described by a Spanish judge as al-Qaeda's ambassador in Europe made this plea from prison in the UK:

"I am your brother Abu Qatada, Omar bin Mahmud...I urge my brothers in the Brigades of Swords of Truth in Iraq to release them in line with the principle of mercy of our religion, if there was no compelling religious duty against it."

How much we need men of peace like these men. Who else could bend the ear and earn the respect of both Western governments and Al Quaeda? The way they have followed may well be the way forward for all of us.

I hope for their release and that they will be able to continue to wage peace in Iraq.

"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God." ~ Jesus


I found the Queen of England lurking in my old files...

Remember this?

Well, Elton's back :)!!!

I will survive my thesis write up...

Chapter 1 done
Chapter 2 done

The worst is over - 300 references (count them) and 62 pages main lit review is finished, accompanied by Elton at his most camp!

Now to write my empirical chapters...*yawn*...


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Peacemakers kidnapped in Iraq

This letter is doing the rounds at the moment - I thought I would put it here to raise awareness.

I hope that everyone who reads this blog, Christian, Quaker, Muslim, Atheist or something else entirely will be inspired by Tom Fox's example and consider how we can all join together not only in support of Tom Fox and those who have been kidnapped, but with the Iraqi people in their quest for peace and justice in the face of Saddaam's regime, the recent invasion by the US and the UK and terrorism.

Tom Fox was writing a blog when he was in Iraq which you can find here. He has written some very challenging and moving accounts of his experiences in Iraq which make for very uncomfortable but very necessary reading.

There are three parts to this blog post:

1. A letter from Friends (Quakers) concerning Tom Fox
2. A open letter from Lorcan Otway
3. A message from Premier Christian radio (whoever would have thought the day would come when Premier Christian radio would get a mention on my blog) concerning Norman Kember who was also taken.

Peace to all,

1. Quaker Letter

Dear Friend--

We are Quakers and admirers of Tom Fox, kidnapped in Iraq with three other peaceworkers on Nov. 26. Please join us in taking action aimed at helping free them, safely and soon. Joining together through the web, we can keep their plight and innocence before the world, and their captors.

To this end, we have put up a new website,:

We believe that the most help those outside Iraq can be to these prisoners is to make clear to the world, and especially their captors, that they were in Iraq NOT as spies, military contractors, or even missionaries, but as unarmed advocates of peace, justice, and reconciliation.

They have done no wrong, and deserve to be free and safe. We call on their captors to let them go, now.

If you agree, here are the specific steps we advocate. Time is of the essence:

1. Visit the website: There you can sign a special petition page, aimed at the captors.

You can also link there to Tom Fox's Iraq blog.

2. Hold a public vigil or prayer service focused on the call, expressed in your own words, to release the captives, end the occupation and stop torture. Join with like-minded groups, and invite the media to attend and report on your action.

3. Write to newspapers, call in to radio shows, and tell them of the innocence of these peaceworkers and your support for their immediate release. Mention the website!

4. Send emails to the feedback pages of media such as Al-Jazeera, Al Arabiya and other major national and international media, especially in the Gulf region (any other links??), repeating the call to free the captives.

5. If you are part of a group or church with a peace and justice emphasis, ask them to join this effort in whatever public way is appropriate to their polity.

6. Let us know what you are doing.

7. VERY IMPORTANT - Pass this message on! Tell your friends about the website, petition, and action suggestions..

With your email help, we can quickly reach supporters of peace and justice throughout the world. Together our voices can make a powerful chorus for freeing the captives and ending the war.

As this urgent effort continues, we'll be updating the site. They have done no wrong, and deserve to be free and safe. We call on their captors to let them go, now.

Thank you and Peace,

Chuck Fager & John Stephens


2. Letter from Lorcan Otway

Please pass this along, if any can translate the following into Arabic, please do me the honor of so doing. I am placing this letter into many hands, in hope it will reach those for whom it is intended.

An Open Letter to our Brothers holding Tom Fox and other CPT members in Iraq:

Dear Brothers in the one God:

It is early morning in America. I am a Quaker and I am trying to find words to stay your hand. I can only say that hatred is blind and love is unconditional.

Many people from our nation have come to your nation in blind hatred and killed innocent people. Tom Fox is not one of these people. He came to your nation with all his human fears, because his love was unconditional. He came to ask his own people not to kill you. He came not to judge you, innocent or guilty, but to say live together in peace and find a better way. He did not come to change your government, but to change our own people's hearts towards you.

He came to your country in the same light that Rachel Corrie went to Palestine to stand in the way of Israeli tractors destroying Palestinian homes. To spare Tom Fox and his companions is to show the Israeli people that it was wrong take the young life of Rachael Corrie.

I ask you to stay your hand, because we will still love you, no less or no more, if you break our hearts by taking the life of these good people who love you.

I ask you to stay your hand because you can. When you stand before your God, next to the American who wore an army uniform, next to the one who drove the tractor that killed Rachael Corrie, and our God asks each of you, why have you taken the lives of innocents, what difference will there be in your answer? When, some day, and I pray after a long life of loving works, Tom stands before our God and is asked why he placed his life in your hands, I think you know his answer. Because hatred is blind and love is unconditional.

"Whoever has saved a life, it will be as if he has saved the life of all mankind" (Quran 5:32)

Gods love and mercy to thee

In unmovable Friendship

Lorcan Otway

A member of the committee of Ministry and Counsel for the New York Quarterly Meeting
of the Religious Society of Friends
also known as Quakers.
3. Message from Premier Christian Radio, courtesy of Kate K from talkback

It is likely you have seen or read reports on the capture of the Christian aid worker Professor Norman Kember in Iraq. As a conscientious objector to war, Norman Kember was visiting the Middle East as a gesture of support for other Christian aid workers in the field.

A devout Christian, Professor Kember spoke to Premier Christian Radio weeks before his trip as part of Remembrance Sunday. He told Dr Rob Frost his visit to Iraq was 'a gesture of solidarity with the Christian peacemaker teams in Iraq.' He hoped to 'meet ordinary Iraqis of various backgrounds, Shiats, Suni, Christians and hear their stories, then come back and talk about it.'

We are all praying for the safe release of Norman Kember and his fellow hostages, for his wife Pat and the families and friends of all the hostages involved in this terrible event. I urgently request you do the same.

Church Leaders please contact everyone within your congregation and network urgently and ask them to pray for the release of Professor Norman Kember and his fellow hostages. Fellow Christians please log on to the premier website to listen to the full interview with Professor Kember to find prayer points and an area to leave your own prayers.

Prayers for Professor Kember and his family members are needed as a matter of urgency, please persist in your prayers and in encouraging other Christians around you to pray.

Yours in Christ
Peter Kerridge
for Premier Radio