Archive for December, 2015

How do we express God’s special expedition that is Christmas for a new babe (not a relative)generation? Something that captures the less-is-more to the point of complete self offering.  In a way that makes sense to the 21st century. Often we trot out the familiar words that are closer to James Stewart (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) or Charles Dickens (“A Christmas carol”), than the original vision.

This poem (below), used in Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols”, expresses the bizarre ironies of God-coming-in-might as a baby, in terms of a renaissance army with all it’s force. The poet made the contrasts so vivid, striking. Read on:

Poem: New Heaven, New War

This little babe, so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake.

Watching. And Being Watched

Posted: 16 December 2015 in Cultural, Haiti
Tags: ,

Watching & Being WatchedSomeone was shouting – oh, at me it seems. Up a hillside, looking at some trees blown over by recent strong winds I had my camera out.  But the abusive shouting was by a local man.  Oddly I was not going to take a picture of him. But the hostility to picture taking is quite something.  As my companion had been here many years I asked him why.

Several likely reasons were likely.  That man was asking himself – if you want something, like a picture of me, then what do I get in return? If you take a picture of me, you are capturing something of my spirit, which makes me vulnerable.  Indeed, if you have my image, will you use it to abuse me, like with some sort of digital voodoo doll?

I’ve blogged on this before, but this reaction gives another perspective.  From what I gather elsewhere, the sense of hostility to “le blancs” (the whites) is far more prevalent than in Uganda. And the reaction to pictures may just be a reflection of that.  But then again, there is quite a bit of anxiety and tension directed towards neighbours too.  It is not just a “blanc” thing.


The Beast quote

Well that’s a proverb here, but I wonder on its veracity. One of the staff I know here in Haiti is getting married soon.  So how does marriage work here?  There is no pattern of arranged marriages like in South Asia, nor family contracts like in Uganda.  Nor is there bride price, nor dowry.  Men meet women and that is that.  Marriage often following from pregnancy.  Abortion? It is illegal and socially not in favour either, due in large part to the Roman Catholic Church.  Sometimes mother will press younger daughters to abort, partially for reasons we know in UK – damage to education and work opportunities. But also because the new (more…)

An elderly man accompanies his wife into the consultation room. One of them is seriously ill.  One tells the doctor “we have been married for xx years, and we have only ever had one fight.  It is still not finished!” Old gag?  Perhaps, but an elderly couple in rural Haiti knew it to crack it.

I was asked to preach in Hospital and the topic before me was men and women.  Hot issue anywhere, let alone in a place like Haiti where things are so different.  So I asked a local doctor, a pastor, a community nurse, and some experienced expats for a little background, during chit-chat or after meetings.