Saturday Supplement

HUGE backlog... so much so that when I went back to my list of links I couldn't think why for the life of me I would have wanted to pass some of them on... Ah well, such is the ephemeral nature of the interweb... But there is still a huge collection here... So I will keep my comments to a minimum and just throw them out there under a few broad headings... Some are, as the signpost says, useful, others merely funny, and just because I've put them up here doesn't mean I necessarily agree with everything in them... but they are worth thinking about or will at least give some of you a giggle...

I said the last time that there would probably be lots of pieces on Seamus Heaney in my next Saturday Supplement following his sad demise. Sorry to disappoint. I only offer this one by Roy Foster in the Observer, as well as another one from the Guardian the next day by Mark Lawson on David Frost who has gone to the great eternal interview... 

One of the areas that moved swiftly over the period that I have been compiling links was the ongoing conflict in Syria... Many of those I had saved concerned the chemical attacks and threatened retaliation by the US, and the repercussions in Westminister... However, all that came to naught with ex-KGB hardman Putin showing Nobel Peace laureate Obama a democratic way of resolving the current impasse. 
I know it isn't as simple as that, and the current UN statement doesn't sort out the unholy mess that is Syria... but it is perhaps a start...
But for those who remain confused about the Syrian conflict, perhaps this last remaining link on the subject will help... 

If the Syrian conflict is complicated so are our own little local difficulties. 
I was relatively slow to pick up on the satirical site "Loyalists Against Democracy" but their piece "They're not British, They're Brutish" leaves no-one in any doubt as to their opinion on the current state of loyalism and its flag protest.
The subsequent piece, posted in the wake of Willie Frazer turning up dressed at the High Court dressed as Abu Hamza (along with Jamie Bryson dressed as Cher some suggested on the Slugger O'Toole site) is also fairly sharp in its demolition of Mr. Frazer's supposed rationale (and I use that word relatively broadly).
For those who don't know anything about the "fleg" protest, here is Jake O'Kane's summary, and solution as offered on BBC NI's "Blame Game", although Dave Magee's open letter to the BBC/Blame Game challenges the appropriateness of the humour in that piece, with some validity... However I would also have major problems with his last paragraph... But then again, these last two links demonstrate exactly what I was saying earlier about not agreeing with everything that all of these links are saying...
Meanwhile, over on Compromise After Conflict, Basil McCrea articulates the position of his new NI21 party on flags...

If Loyalists against Democracy represents a somewhat cynical view of our current conflict, John Brewer's Compromise After Conflict site offers a much more nuanced perspective... I could simply have offered a link to the entire site, but over the past few weeks, as well as the Basil McCrea blog cited above, I have particularly been taken by a surprising and creative contribution by Aine Carson, one by Gregory Campbell where I also surprisingly found myself agreeing with a fair proportion of what he said, two by a retired policeman and a victim of a UFF attack arguing for compromise, a closely reasoned piece by David Mitchell and a highly personal yet prophetic piece by my friend Father Martin Magill.
I mention there about being surprised by Gregory Campbell, but another politician who has consistently surprised me in the current Lord Mayor of Belfast, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, with his consistent attempts to reach out to the loyalist/unionist community (attempts that sadly are not publicly being applauded or reciprocated by the same as of yet). In this piece, Steve Stockman, neighbouring cleric in south Belfast, comments on an engagement between him and PUP councillor John Kyle on the issue of "heaven", offering a vision of a transformed Belfast.

If the engagement between republican and loyalist politician isn't radical enough, check out this Australian discussion between a believer and an atheist... It isn't the most theologically or philosophically profound discussion I've ever heard but they find themselves agreeing with each other more than they might expect, and Richard Dawkins and his ilk don't get a good press in it. Nor does his approach seem to have worked with Dr. Laura Keynes. Whilst I am often critical of some of the stuff that comes from the Answers in Genesis-camp, this is an interesting piece looking at this intelligent woman's rejection of the dogmatic atheism that Dawkins et al employ.
Whatever the difference, it is often assumed that the person you disagree with hasn't really thought things through while you have all the answers... In this piece Rachel Held Evans encourages us to reject that assumption... If we did then perhaps we might find all dialogues much less confrontational.

The dialogue between advocates for the poor and those who are apologists for the austerity measures and welfare reform of the current ConDem coalition remains fairly toxic however... At the beginning of the month the self-righteous "Tax Payers Alliance" (a coalition of people who don't really want to pay tax... particularly if it is going to benefit anyone other than themselves be it in this country or abroad) published a reactionary report calling for benefit recipients to work for their government "handouts", prompting Niall Cooper to publish this post, entitled  "Work for the Dole: More lies and misinformation about poverty."
The government currently don't see the link between their welfare policies and the increasing use and need for foodbanks, but a couple of weeks ago  piece appeared in the Guardian (echoing an earlier piece based on the same Canadian story here) arguing that unless they were carefully managed and balanced with lobbying work, foodbanks could become part of the problem rather than part of the solution... Actually few of the people I know involved in foodbanks see them as the solution... just a temporary treatment for a chronic condition.
Meanwhile a blog on the Oxfam site mentions food banks, but turns its ire on Jamie Oliver and his latest foray into cooking for poor people... 

Someone away back suggest that lists are the laziest form of blogging... I beg to differ... Partly because I may be about to launch into another series of lists myself inspired by the wonderful WhyNotSmile and her response to a recent meme starting here. But also because they can be a great way to get a discussion started... Try these for a start:
10 Things Christians Should Say More Often... (I would agree with about 10/10 on that list)
15 Things Jesus Didn't Say... there's a fair bit of disagreement in the comment section of this one prompting...
15 Things Jesus Did Say... Prompting more comments from those wanting chapter and verse... and prompting me to slap my forehead...
10 Reasons Why I Am a Wesleyan... Though I would probably only agree on 5/10 this time...
The World's 50 Most Unusual Churches... A photo list... I think 31 is perhaps my favourite... Although the following video of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which I posted earlier in the week on facebook, illustrates why it would be one of my favourite church buildings (my current one in Belfast South excepted of course)...

Be careful who you encounter in an incidence of road rage...

All that should keep you going to about Wednesday!



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