Saturday Supplement

As I write this up, the news is dominated by the vote on Syria and the death of Seamus Heaney, but neither have produced much by way of blog comment yet... Watch this space next week... Instead this week's trawl through the internet is dominated by one event...

REMEMBERING AND REALISING THE DREAM
This week saw the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior's "I Have a Dream" speech, spawning a range of columns, blogs and events the world over. Most interesting for me was this piece by Gary Younge, arguing that the remembrance of King's speech and overall message is very selective... He railed against 3 major evils in contemporary American society: Racism, economic inequality/poverty and war... Has the dream been achieved? The removal of formal segregation may have gone some way to address the first of those 3 issues, but have the other 2 disappeared off the radar? They are certainly live issues here... And I wonder what MLK would have made of the whole firearms debate, particularly in the light of the actions of Antoinette Tuff, referred to in this Guardian column. I'll leave it to my American friends to debate that one...
But bringing it back to NI I was at an event in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church that night, where Jim Wallis was speaking as part of the promotional tour for his current book "On God's side". It wasn't intended as an anniversary event, but Jim noted the influence of that speech, and the work of MLK on his life and work, and certainly the pursuit of the common good, which is the subject of the book, seems in tune with the vision that Dr King articulated that day in DC, and his lifetime pursuit of the "beloved community". Sojourners, Jim's organisation, also took the opportunity of publishing 10 decisions that we can make to foster the common good... and they are worth taking on board. I will probably refer back to this event when I've finished with the book, but here is the host, Steve Stockman's take on the evening.
As Stocki says, at the same time Chris Lyttle of the Alliance Party was hosting an anniversary event in Stormont attended by a large number of MLA's and other political/civic leaders. There were those at the Wallis event who noted the irony of such an event given the current stand-off at Stormont on so many issues, but this piece by Allan Leonard of the Northern Ireland Foundation, not only describes what actually happened within the Great Hall that night, but also some of the challenges it sets before our public representatives and the whole of civic society here.
One of those at the Wallis event who, as Stocki notes, reminded us of the other event happening at Stormont, was John Brewer, who was quite critical of our politicians' leadership at this time... His site "Compromise after Conflict" has been turning out interesting pieces on the situation here... Including input from politicians, be it the less traditional Unionism of Basil McCrea or the less compromising Jim Allister... No prizes for guessing which flavour of Unionism I think will serve the common good more... But for me the most inspiring piece was by Colin Parry, who, like many of those Jim Allister speaks for, is a victim of our conflict (and it was a conflict Jim... yes, there was a terrorist campaign as part of that conflict, but it went WAY beyond that and still does) having lost his son Tim to an IRA bomb, but his principled and highly nuanced response is a way of redeeming an evil event, and preventing such evil events in the future, and as such is very much in keeping with Dr. King's dream...
Finally on this subject is this supposed Fourfold Franciscan blessing... again an appropriate resource in this week of remembering and seeing how we might realise King's dream...

UNPICKING MYTHOLOGY
The piece by Younge referred to above seeks to unpick some of the mythology around King's "Dream" speech. Two book reviews I read this week highlight books that seek to do the same in other spheres... First, Patrick Mitchel reviews a book by J.P. Mallory looking at the "Origins of the Irish" which may do something to dent the romantic notions of a united celtic nation.
Second, in a somewhat longer review of "God's Philosophers" atheist and humanist Tim O'Neill explodes the idea, beloved of new atheists and old anti-papists, that the medieval period was a science-free zone because of the heavy hand of the church of Rome...

SOME LIGHT RELIEF
This supplement has been a bit tough going, so, to pick you up here is a bit of musical fun from Paint... Mind you it manages to deal with environmentalism, the war on terror, bestiality and the treatment of native Americans... I suppose this picks up the previous paragraph in that it is exploding the Disney myth...



AND FINALLY...
I began with a dream, so it seems appropriate to end with sleep... But according to this piece, in this changing world even sleep isn't what it used to be...

Shalom

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