Salvator_Mundi.jpgShock 1: $450 million for a painting.  World record shocks many.
Shock 2: Portrait of Jesus as Saviour of The World, bought by Saudi Arabia, stalwarts of Muslim conservatism.

On 15 November 2017, this modest but enigmatic portrait by Leonardo da Vinci was auctioned for a massive $450.3 million setting a new world record.  The painting will be loaned to The Louvre in Abu Dhabi.  The painting is titled “Salvator Mundi”, or in English “Saviour of the World”.  A mysterious Jesus is blessing the viewer with his right hand and in his left, is a transparent globe, representing the cosmos.  Just the thing you’d expect a Saudi Arabian prince to buy?

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9788483063279-us-300.jpgDemi-God for some, very-devil for others, Marx is a marked man.  So when a biography says he was fun – that’s worth looking at.

Francis Wheen’s account of Karl Marx (Fourth Estate) is hugely acclaimed.  And rightly so.  Karl’s famous image really gives the wrong sense of the man.  Francis says he ended up a bourgeois Victorian.  But she shows what a lively character he was.  Very sharp intellectually, man of thoughts and ideas, rather than cutlass and pistol.  Driven personality, hard arguer, verbal bully, intemperate, heavy smoker and drinker, devoted father and grandfather.  But – dry and dusty he was not.

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Glad to be in prison

Posted: 22 November 2017 in On the Pilgrim's Road, Prisons
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PH-Prison-Service.jpgBarry* stood up in the Chapel service. “I’m glad to be in prison”. General muttering from the other men. “No, I am. I would be dead by Christmas if not.  I’m a long term drug addict and I’ve been told that my heart won’t last this way.  I’ve now got a chance to get sorted.”  The Chaplain had just asked if anyone had anything they’d like to thank God for during the week, at which Barry was up immediately.

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Arundhati Roy’s “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”. A Good Read?  Like beauty being in the eye of the beholder – the simple answers are usually misleading.

I finished it and had mixed feelings. It had very good reviews and I really don’t know why. It is in effect a critique of India’s political classes, dangerous nationalisms, its cruelties to Muslims, Dalits, the Hijra, and Kashmir in particular. A story well worth telling, and I’m quite interested in that. It has been a tale told by others many times.  Indeed, there is a long tradition of English medium Indian writers dishing the dirt on Indian society (Rohinton Mistry, Arvind Ardiga, etc)

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I did not know

Posted: 1 November 2017 in Prisons
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They did not know

“I did not know”.  Jay was a drug dealer, now enjoying a long stretch in HMP Slade for supply of significant amounts of Class A drugs.  He had spoken with a parent whose son had died from an accidental drug overdose.  Though the son was not likely to be one of his own end users, Jay still saw the connection.

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Haitian graveyard

I was so pleased with the hospital budget planning, and outcome.  A sudden patient death was a shock. Cause of death – our budget?

This more complicated than you might think. The patient had all their care to date at Hospital Convention Baptiste d’Haiti (HCBH) in Cap-Haïtien in north Haiti. That day the patient suddenly arrived with a haemorrhage.  The doctor prepared for surgery.  Unfortunately when they were to announce start, there was an emergency elsewhere. Another patient was now in surgery and was being anesthetized.  The hospital had one anaesthetist.  So it called upon a sessional anaesthetist as backup.  But they were not available.  HCBH called the government hospital in town, but they could not help.  Then called the Roman Catholic hospital that was not too distant.  They could help.  The patient was rushed off in the ambulance, but it was too late.  They died.

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Irma hisses, then travels on its way

Posted: 10 September 2017 in Haiti
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Haitians move boat to safety

“How’s Haiti, after Hurricane Irma?” I’m being asked.  The hurricane moved a bit north of Haiti and so missed the really bad stuff.  Lots of wind and rain, but I have heard of no deaths, and no destruction in the Hospital area.    However, there has been severe flooding and loss of crops.  With all this, there is the serious risk of another cholera outbreak.  See ITV early evening News Sunday 10th.  Nevertheless, all this could have been far far worse – we are truly thankful to God.

Answer to prayer?  I think not.  If the hurricane is not going to hammer Haiti, it will blast somewhere else in its travels.  It is a fallen and incomplete world, and while there is mainly order, chaotic events like hurricanes happen.  Our standing before God and prayer is what counts.

So what use are our prayers?

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