Monthly Archives: April 2015

BLUEBELLS ARE BLUE BUT DAFFODILLYS ARE LELLOW

Do you always hear everything correctly? Even with perfect hearing it is easy to mishear or misunderstand something. Often,despite having good hearing, I have trouble making out what actors say in a film and am frequently asking, ‘What did he/she say?’ or rewinding the film to run that bit through again. I don’t have that facility in the cinema or theatre, of course.

The other week, Coco, who is three years old, asked me why I was carrying my ‘noculars’. That’s what she thought my binoculars were called. To her young ears, that’s what she thought she had heard as that word obviously had not appeared in her vocabulary before. Later, she also told me quite emphatically, ‘Bluebells are blue but daffodillys are lellow.’ Now, she is an exceptionally bright little girl and a credit to her parents so it’s easy to assume that throughout the world people are constantly being misunderstood.

Very young children learn the language by hearing others speak. However, they don’t always seem to hear it correctly, do they? Perhaps its our diction? Personally, I love the words made up by children and still use certain phrases my children used long ago when little.  I expect many other parents do that too….or am I the only weird one?

There are plenty of examples of  misheard words in song lyrics. Years ago I remember many people thought Desmond Dekker was singing ‘My ears are alight’ in his song ‘The Israelites’. Or how about  Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody with the line that sounds like ‘Spare him his life for his pork sausages’?

So often, we can take offence at things we think people say instead of what is actually said. We attribute thoughts and feelings to people inaccurately. The written word is particularly dangerous, particularly now we have the internet. (Political manifestos beware.)  Once something is out there it can spread faster than butter on hot toast (yum) and is difficult to withdraw. I am often amazed by what I read on Facebook or other sites and wonder whether the author has even stopped to read again what they have written before posting. Comments on FB can sometimes be misconstrued. You cannot hear  the inflection in the voice or see the twinkle in the eye. The ubiquitous LOL doesn’t always cut it.

With Easter just gone I expect many will have recently heard the words Jesus said on the Cross, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani’ ( ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’) The bystanders there thought he was calling on Elijah and some thought he had given up. In fact it is more than probable that He was reciting the words of Psalm 22 written hundreds of years before, which starts with those words and goes on to describe the position of someone in Jesus’ situation on the Cross. It is a terrible description of suffering but in the last verses there is mention of a glorious victory. It may have been finished, but it was not all over.

Therefore, I like to believe that Jesus was using a sort of code to lift the spirits of his followers. The Jews had a verbal tradition. The Psalms were not numbered then so He had to say the first lines and most people would know what Psalm to which he referred. Some of course misheard, or preferred to mishear it,

Anyway, the election debates continue and It’s interesting to note how many times a politician starts to answer a question with, ‘I’m glad you asked that question’ or ‘That’s a good question’ or ‘Ah, but the real question is…’ before continuing to not actually answer the question but spout some rehearsed Party Policy rhetoric. Do they deliberately mishear or are they just buying time to formulate an answer to something they dare not answer truthfully?

So, if you hear that the Green Party are set to replace the Royals with locally sourced, organically grown vegetables, don’t be too quick to judge them, You might just have misheard.

(3) MASKS ON MARS.

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I like José Mourinho, the football manager. There, I’ve said it. Now all the non Chelsea fans and Mourinho haters will have switched to another site but I hope not.

He can polarise opinion amongst fans but for me he is the sort of intelligent, courteous, attractive and empathetic man I’d like to be. He seems the type of man who would make a great best friend. He is also a religious man but says that he never prays to God about football. Nor do I. There is an immediate paradox isn’t there? If two believers pray for their different teams to win when they are playing each other, how does God answer that? A draw every time? No, it doesn’t work does it?

Anyway, I mention Mourinho because so many people rant against him and base their judgement on what he does on the side of the Football pitch and his media interviews. But what mask is he wearing? The true Mourinho is not the same as the public one. We all wear masks in public. We want to be enigmatic and charismatic at the same time.

José is a principled man and not many will know of his charity work or how,  when he was younger, he taught children with Downs’ syndrome  and severe mental capabilities. He had a lot of success because of the empathy he engendered. One of his most fantastic experiences was  as World Food Programme Ambassador Against Hunger. He took his family with him to show them what real poverty is like and to demonstrate to his children the privileged life they have.  At  his job he is driven and keeps people balanced between positive and negative results, emotions and actions, However, he says that at home he cannot hide his emotion because they know him too well, The mask comes off maybe?
We  judge and interpret things as we want. For example, my wife’s innocent comment about sleeping problems was met with cheeky grins and remarks by others in the school Staff Room when she declared, ‘I’m hot in bed’.
We are all guilty of judging whether it be the proverbial book cover or someone we have just met. The danger is that we rarely have all the facts to make an assessment. We all have secrets and quite possibly it is the secrets that define us. Are we as good as we think we are? Alternatively, and maybe more importantly for those who are always castigating them selves, are we really as bad as we sometimes think we are? It can work both ways.

Astronauts on the publicised future Mars mission will find it very difficult to mask their true feelings in the claustrophobic life they have chosen to act out their remaining years. Maybe what secrets they had on Earth will remain here but if they are eventually leaked into the small Mars community, will it have any effect or make any difference? The slate wiped clean? The masks never worn again?
People often talk a lot about their past. In the Mars situation it will be the present only that counts. For surely, their future will only be determined by what they do in the present. Mars for them has no past. They are at the beginning of Mars’ future. They can influence the atmosphere and what grows in the soil. Eden reborn, if you like. Are we any different here?
If we on Earth could ignore all historical differences between countries and races wouldn’t we be in the same position as the Martian pioneers? We could shape a different future for this planet.
Climate change anyone?

K. L. Freeman.

(The picture above is  the Mars Rover on the ‘Mojave’ site, Mount Sharp, Mars, courtesy of NASA.)

(1) JUDAS: ZEALOUS OR ZEALOT?

As it’s almost Easter I am musing on one of history’s famous traitors. Or was he? Was he inherently evil or just misguided? I refer to Judas Iscariot who is described in the Gospels as having betrayed Jesus with a kiss on the Mount of Olives.

There have been many postulations of why Judas did this and his motives. I can add to those but what really arouses my interest is why was it necessary for him to betray Jesus and what drove him to so do?

John’s Gospel infers that as the treasurer of the band of disciples, Judas dishonestly misappropriated their funds but would that drive him to engineer Jesus’ death? I have my doubts.

Many think that Judas wanted to force Jesus into demonstrating his power against the Romans and that to me has some credence. My main reason for thinking this is the clue in his name, Judas Iscariot.

The word ‘Iscariot’ derives from the word ‘Sicarii’ which describes a group of  rebels and assassins who used a special type of dagger. It comes from the Latin word ‘sica’ meaning dagger. In short, they were ‘Dagger Men’. Of course, some historians believe the Sicarii came a few years  later but to my mind that does not negate the connection. When the Gospels were written, much later than A.D.33, it is reasonable to assume that the writers would label Judas as a rebel or terrorist by using the epithet ‘Iscariot’. Contemporaries would know what the writer meant.

For me, it’s a short step to believing that Judas was a member of one of the many secret organisations dedicated to overthrowing the Roman tyranny. In  particular, this links him with the Zealots; zealous defenders of the Law and national identity of the Jewish people. They were the Sicarii. Did Judas have pressure exerted upon him to use Jesus for political purposes? Did the Zealots know of Jesus’ miracles and thought that if he was truly the ‘Messiah’, a warrior king, by orchestrating his capture he would destroy the Romans if he faced torture and death? It is quite possible that Judas’ political leanings would want him to bring the moment to the boil and that he completely misunderstood Jesus’ references to ushering in the kingdom of God.

So, we have a motive for Judas ‘betraying’ Jesus. However, why was it necessary to betray him at all? Why didn’t the Chief Priests and members of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council) simply arrest him in the daytime in full view? Simply, they feared a riot and Roman punishment as a consequence. Even though his reputation was bigger in the rural areas than the town, Jesus was popular with many and the noisy welcome for him on his entrance into Jerusalem would have been noted. If he was to be taken it had to be at night in secret.

Now, at Passover Jerusalem swelled to probably 400,000 inhabitants; at least double the normal population. There was never room enough for all these people to find accommodation in the city. Therefore, certain areas were designated to certain tribes for them to stay and pitch their tents or shelters. The Galileans stayed on the Mount of Olives which was where Jesus and his disciples made their camp. It was very dark at night in those days, so trying to find one Galilean on the Mount of Olives amongst thousands would be like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles.

That’s where I feel Judas comes in. He was needed for the clandestine arrest to be made. Nevertheless, was Judas predestined to make his betrayal, or did God just use that event from human choice to help His own plan? I prefer the latter.

Judas was necessary for God’s plan to work so Jesus could become the sacrifice by which all other sacrifices were redundant. The Passover lambs, raised on the hills of Bethlehem, killed by slitting the carotid artery and then hung on wooden posts to drain their blood and die, would never again be necessary. The symbolism is inescapable. No need for many lambs. There was now only one ‘Lamb of God’.

One final thing that is worth considering. When Judas realised his mistake and that Jesus was not going to be the type of Jewish saviour he thought, he returned the thirty pieces of silver given by the Sanhedrin and committed suicide. Was that the act of an evil man or one who was so contrite he could not live with what he had done?

Judas made a mistake and was clearly upset by it. Nevertheless, don’t forget that Jesus warned ALL the disciples that they would desert him and they did. They ran away and even Peter, The Rock, denied him three times.

History has Judas damned for evermore as unforgivable, probably because he failed to rectify his mistake later like the others did. However, what do you think Jesus would have done if Judas had gone to the cross and asked him for forgiveness? That really was Judas’ biggest mistake in my view.

K. L. Freeman

2) AN ECLIPSE OF THE SON?

The recent solar eclipse was probably a non event for most people. As Joni Mitchell sings, ‘So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way’.

Yet the fact that clouds obscured the event from many people’s view did not mean that it was not happening. It just could not be seen.

There are many things like that. Electricity, sound waves, thoughts and the depths of the oceans or universe are all things which we know to be real although we can only observe them by the effects they have or using hi-tech equipment. Like the wind, which we only know is present by seeing the leaves rustle, the branches bend, sails fill, or feeling the cooling of our faces.

A poem called,  An Element of Time  reflects this:

‘Where does the wind go

When it ceases  to blow?

Does it rest in some lofty hollow?

To conserve its breath,

Or contemplate the death

Of those innocents

In storms that will follow?’

The sun has a wind so we are told. A solar wind which is a stream of energized, charged particles, primarily electrons and protons, flowing outward from the Sun, through the solar system at speeds as high as 559.2 miles a second. The solar wind is the force that blows the tails of comets back away from the bodies of comets as they go through the solar system

Throughout history solar eclipses have always had an effect whether it be superstition, prophecy or fear, or sometimes all three. It’s not really surprising as our existence on this planet depends on the Sun. Mostly though, just like the appearance of comets, eclipses were taken as omens of doom.

Therefore, when Jesus was crucified it is quite credible that a hardened Roman Centurion would be moved to say, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’, as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. It wasn’t just some sarcastic response to Jesus hanging there. He knew something strange was going on; as darkness is said to have covered the land for three hours.

Perhaps, though, people have not realised the significance of his comment. Solar eclipses don’t last three hours. Totality is only for some minutes. So what caused the darkness? The Centurion and probably many present in that land would have known this was something unusual, supernatural if you like.

Moreover, the crucifixion was at the time of the Passover Festival. This is held near a full moon. It is scientifically impossible to have a solar eclipse when the whole of the Moon’s face is towards us as the Sun would be behind the Earth shining on the lunar surface.

So, what caused the darkness? Those that say it was an eclipse still have darkness covering their minds. Perhaps they need the light from the Son?

K. L. Freeman.

(4) WITHOUT FEATHERS.

 

Woody Allen has written a few books and displays an impressive use of vocabulary and phraseology. Even if you don’t like his films his books are very funny. One of them is wittily entitled ‘Without Feathers’.  It is a reference to the Emily Dickinson quote, ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’. Well, I think it is witty anyway.

This title came to mind when I was watching the  UK Election Debate on TV the other evening between the main party leaders. A young woman in the audience asked them what hope they could give to young people who now often leave University with a £40,000 debt and then struggle to get on the housing ladder. First time buyers have to now raise huge deposits as well as having to start to pay back their tuition fees once they begin earning a decent salary.

The various leaders gave somewhat unconvincing answers to my mind but what nobody seemed to throw into the equation as well is the spectre of Care Home fees. These can sometimes deprive children of their inheritance at the other end of their lives because the family home has been sold to pay for the exorbitant fees charged for what often is pretty poor care anyway. These are usually over £1000 a week and it does not take much mental agility to deduce that within four or five years in such a Home the value of the house which would have been left to the offspring has been eliminated.

So, youngsters in the UK are seemingly penalised at both ends and no wonder some are despairing at ever owning their own homes. They cannot rely on help from inheritance unless they live in Scotland or have very rich parents where fees and care costs can be easily absorbed. In Scotland they have a more enlightened view and elderly care is paid for by the state. I don’t really think David Cameron’s proposal to reduce inheritance tax  is going to be the answer for many, do you?

I have possible solutions but I am not going to rehearse political arguments on this platform as that’s not the main thrust of this article. No, the point is that there is always hope even if you cannot see it coming. One thing that is forever certain, is the uncertainty of life in all its fragile, exciting and sometimes frightening experience. I am in the Mr Micawber camp here. Charles Dickens’ character was always confidently expecting ‘something to turn up’. His name is synonymous with someone who lives in hopeful expectation and for him it eventually did.

I am not deluded enough to think that is the case for everyone but in my experience there is rarely a situation where there is absolutely no hope at all. An old proverb (29 v 18) states that ‘without vision the people perish’.  I would alter that to ‘without hope the people perish’?  All politicians should make this their mantra.

On that first Good Friday the disciples  must have felt all hope was gone. It wasn’t; it was just the beginning.  We are never without hope even after death. The hope yet to come . We are not without feathers.