Tuesday News Roundup

Some reflections on some of the news stories that have done the rounds over this last week or so…

Jonathan Brady/ PA

Kate dances with Paddington.  

There have been a few stories about childbirth recently – the new breastfeeding emoji, a big phone-in on Radio 5 about the pain and trauma so many couples go through with the IVF process (especially if it is unsuccessful), adoption, and this one.  It’s not really a story about childbirth, but (inevitably) every story about the Duchess of Cambridge will ultimately be about childbirth until next April and beyond!

I have heard many curmudgeonly commentators protesting that this is NOT NEWS!  “Woman has baby – shock!”  And I have to admit I have been one of them – I have even shouted it at the radio!  Imagine!  🙂

But more sober reflection makes me more generous.  Of course it is news – it is glorious, joyful news worth celebrating when hopes and dreams about new life and new possibilities and new futures come true.  Soon you will be able to celebrate with the new breast feeding emoji right from your own phone!  🙂

Lord give us generous and open hearts which enable us truly to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.


New Saints.

These are Prelates attending a holy mass for the canonisation of 35 new saints in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City. The new saints include 30 martyrs murdered in Brazil in the 17th century by Dutch Calvinists, three Mexican children who died in the 16th Century and Italian Capuchin Angelo d’Acri. 

Most of these new saints were Martyrs – including the three Mexican children.  The children were martyred in the 1520s for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions.

“The saints who were canonised today, and especially the many martyrs, point the way. They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to love, they said ‘yes’ with their lives and to the very end,” Francis said on Sunday.

Sadly, the bulk of these new saints were martyred by others who also called themselves Christians.  

Lord, save us from the kind of faith that is so sure it is right that we are willing to silence the voices of others.

Danish Siddiqui/ Reuters

 Diwali Celebrations.

Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere (also marked by Sikhs and Jains).  Here, a girl plays with firecrackers in Mumbai!

It’s a festival of LIGHT – the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.  Yet every year curmudgeonly Brits moan that local councils announce celebrations of Diwali or that schools include it in their calendar.

Lord, show us how to work in partnership with anyone who celebrates the victory of light of over darkness and longs for the victory of hope over despair.  For you are the Light that came into the world – the Light that darkness cannot overcome.

Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images

Rohingya refugees.

Thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar wait for hours in the sun to enter the refugee camps on a rice field near Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since late August during the violence in Rakhine state, causing a humanitarian crisis in the region. 

When refugees are glibly mentioned in arguments about Brexit in the UK – let us consciously keep pictures like this one at the forefront of our minds.

O God, who art the unsearchable abyss of peace,
the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings
and the bestower of affection,
who sendest peace to those that receive it;

Open to us this day the sea of thy love
and water us with plenteous streams
from the riches of thy grace
and from the most sweet springs of thy kindness.

Make us children of quietness and heirs of peace,
enkindle in us the fire of thy love;
sow in us thy fear;
strengthen our weakness by thy power;
bind us closely to thee and to each other
in our firm and indissoluble bond of unity:

(Syrian Clementine Liturgy)

Shannon Stapleton/ Reuters

Racist hatred in America. 

A white supremacist is met by demonstrators near the site of a planned speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer, on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Christians in America cannot stand by quietly, or (worse) tacitly support such bigotry as many do in the hope that it will further some of their own narrow-minded causes. Neither can we, their brothers and sisters in Christ turn a blind eye – for we are not immune from this and our own Brexit arguments have already led to an increase in hate-crime in the UK.

I read about a fabulous response to the planned speech by Richard Spencer.  Alligator Brewing, a tiny brewery in Gainesville, mounted its own protest to Spencer by promising that anyone got tickets his appearance could exchange them for a draft beer at Alligator. Alligator, in return, disposed of the tickets so they couldn’t be used. 

“We unfortunately can’t stop him from bringing his hate to Gainesville,” the brewery posted on Facebook and Instagram. “But we can empty the room so his disgusting message goes unheard.”

Other bars joined in – a fantastic example of commited, non-violent, principled protest!

Alligator Brewing received DEATH THREATS because of their peaceful protest.   (Click here for more)

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

(Pastor Martin Niemöller)

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