Exclusion Zones

Here is my Thought for the Day for last Friday morning, which you can hear in it's live form, trimmed of the bits in italics in order to fit the 2 1/2 minutes, here, at both 26 and 86 minutes (in between thoughts about the late, great Burt Reynolds). Ten days ago fire devastated the old Bank Buildings in Belfast. Thankfully no-one was killed but it caused millions of pounds of damage and put Primark employees’ jobs at stake… It quickly became clear that it would also have a massive impact on the businesses around it, but most people were astonished that the pedestrian exclusion zone around the unstable shell of the building will probably be in place for around 4 months, causing disruption to traffic and commerce… leading to understandable demands from surrounding business owners for the empty shell to simply be demolished, despite the outpouring of affection for the grand old building in the wake of the fire… Difficult decisions need to be taken in the near future, and there will b…

Playing the Rests

It's been a while, but I've been outrageously busy in the real world of Methodism without attending too much to the virtual one (which is ironic given the subject of my post), but as usual the necessity of coming up with something for Thought for the Day on Radio Ulster has prompted me to post again... Here's this morning's offering which you can still catch here 26 minutes in and 87 minutes in... With a hat-tip from Alan Meban in a piece about checking emails on the way in to work in between. They will probably get round to posting it here as a clip later on.
I am sure that anyone who has to travel during rush hour has noticed the increased travel time required over the past few days with schools starting to go back after their holidays… It will be even busier on Monday, and that’s without those in some parts of Belfast having to pay attention to the start of the new Glider service… The summer break is over for most us, and within schools and churches and many other se…

Good Friday’s gone…

Good Friday’s gone… What was good about it? The triumph of cynical pragmatism Oiled by silver in the hands of the right man? A curious combination of tears, jeers and cheers As political enemies and religious leaders Thought they had got everything sorted.
But that was then This is now. Here, in this God forsaken place… Where we go backwards instead of forwards Everything has turned to ash.
Or maybe  We’re in the unholy darkness of holy Saturday. No one there to offer leadership Everyone has run for cover While young people bear stigmata Bodies broken, blood shed. Where is the hope?
We believe in the resurrection… But perhaps even hope needs to die Before it can really take place. Selah

Words and Actions

Well it is now nearly 48 hours since the proverbial curtain came down on the 2018 Four Corners Festival, and I have just about recovered enough to crawl out of my cave and put fingers to keyboard for a final blog on what has been an amazing 11 days... More events, more participants, more media interest, a wider demographic range engaged... All in all it has been great... All the events went relatively smoothly, with good attendances at them all, despite programme typos and ratbags who claimed free tickets for some events on eventbrite and then didn't come, depriving others of the opportunity! It doesn't mean that we don't have things to learn. For example, next year we DEFINITELY need more volunteers to help at the various events... I can't keep up this pace at my time of life!
The wheels nearly came off the wagon coming round the final bend though, when the snow closed the Glenshane Pass and robbed us of our keynote speakers Fr. Pal Farren and Archdeacon Robert Miller …

Stories of Hurt and Hope

The have been a number of typos in the printed programme of the 4 Corners Festival this year... we on the organising committee didn't do a very good job of proof reading this time out.

One of those resulted in last night's production "Now Hear This - Stories of Faith" by Play it By Ear Theatre Company being listed as taking place in the same venue as the previous night's "Those you Pass in the Street" by Kabosh Theatre Company, over in the Agape Centre on the Lisburn Road, rather than its actual venue in An Culturlann on the Falls Road. For this reason we had staff at the Agape primed to re-direct those who had ended up at the wrong venue, and we took the decision to go up 15 minutes later to allow for stragglers. There were a few, but not many, and we had a reasonable house, though not quite as many as the previous night.
Afterwards one of those who had come via the Agape Centre came to me slightly bemused, because whilst they had gone to the other ve…

God Words and Godly Action

Yesterday over lunch I tuned in to BBC's Bargain Hunt which happened to be from Greyabbey in Co. Down, and after a lot of scrabbling around in the disproportionate number of antiques and collectable shops in that small village, one of the experts Charlie Hanson bought a late 17th century book entitled "The Protestant Reconciler" as his bonus buy. It cost a grand total of £12, all of his "leftover lolly" and despite some scepticism on the part of the auctioneer at Ross's in Belfast, it made a significant profit.
I thought that there was a certain level of irony in all of that given that, sadly, reconciliation has never been seen as a particularly profitable endeavour by the church here... Protestant or Catholic. It has been, far too often, an afterthought (like Hanson's bonus buy) or a fringe endeavour. On Sunday night the 4 Corners Festival hosted an evening at Skainos in East Belfast exploring the role of the church in peace and reconciliation here in…

A City United in Song

The previous night people had gathered in the Oh Yeah Music Centre in the Cathedral Quarter to hear songs of the ceasefire, expressing some of the hopes and frustrations of the years since Troubles... then last night a larger group gathered in that quarter's eponymous Cathedral, St Anne's for a different set of songs "Hear Us Now! - A Festival of Choirs..." compered by UTV's Jude Hill.
Some of those there had moved not from the Oh Yeah Music Centre, round the corner, but the other cathedral in this divided city, St. Peter's off the Falls Road, sharing in a tour of the two cathedrals and a walk between them, taking in the St Peter’s Immaculata Youth Centre en route, and at the end of the festival of choirs the Schola Cantorum from St. Peter's brought things to a close leading a sung Compline.
But before that the audience enjoyed 5 other choirs performing a wide range of music and reflecting both the diversity of our city and the unifying, healing power of m…