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Stamping out stories

This year’s religious Christmas stamp shows “Joseph, Mary and Jesus escaping Herod’s wrath by fleeing to Egypt. Joseph leads the donkey carrying Mary and the swaddled infant Christ, while in the background Herod’s pursuing soldiers encounter a peasant tending a wheat crop. A legend relates how a field of wheat miraculously grew as the Holy…

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A Red Thumb

Celebrity farmer Matthew Evans, a man who seems to be able to turn a weed into a watermelon, was asked recently by a radio interviewer if he had grown up with a “green thumb”. He replied that his parents were “brown thumbs”, the sort of people who can only grow a lemon tree. My heart…

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Christmas rapping

Joyful arrangement Perfect engagement Total amazement Holy delight The Father is leading The Son now is speaking The Spirit is breathing Let there be light! Darkness intruded Innocence looted Garden denuded Love took its flight Guilt put its root in Death put its brute in Fear sunk its boot in Cold-hearted night So incarnation Came our salvation Grace in formation Heavenly Knight Lamb took his station Bloodied oration Standing ovation He won the fight Whoever perceiveth Whoever…

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Wretched rags

Martin Luther was right to rail against those wretched rags called indulgences. The 31st of October will mark another anniversary of his famous hammer-fist against them on the church door in Wittenberg. And 502 years later, his argument still stands. Indulgences are foolish in their conception, false in their logic, fatal in their hope, and…

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The Paltry Haul

In a reflection on the sad songs of Frank Sinatra, Paul Kelly composes a beautiful soliloquy on the losses in life. In part he says: “You reflect on all you’ve missed – how much of your life you’ve forgotten, how much has streamed by you, how paltry the haul in your little net.” What a…

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The perfect skimmer

I was stunned to learn recently that the world record for the number of impacts made by a skimming stone was eighty-eight. I think that I may have achieved seven or eight with a good skimmer on a good day at the beach, but eighty-eight is ridiculous. All I can say is that it must…

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Curling 101

I never thought I’d admit it, but curling is an exciting sport. On a recent holiday we managed to try our hand at the old game of broomsticks-on-ice. And what a surprise. An ice rink that is smooth and clear. Heavy polished stones that need to be carefully launched and with a subtle twist. Brooms…

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An eternal sigh

I overheard a lady at a coffee shop telling the barista about her recent experience of shifting house. “Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” she said with a sigh. All those waiting for their coffees pursed their lips with a smile that was all too knowing. What a vexatious experience to endure, and…

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Invictus

Yesterday I was reading William Ernest Henley’s famous poem ‘Invictus’. The final verse sent a chill through my bones: ‘It matters not how strait the gate / How charged with punishments the scroll / I am the master of my fate / I am the captain of my soul.’ I thought to myself, “William Henley,…

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Storming Area 51

Area 51 is a military base in the Nevada Desert which, according to some, holds many intriguing secrets from far-away worlds. Conspiracy-theorists have always held that the 1969 moon landing was filmed in one of the hangers, while others swear that alien corpses lie encased in military-morgues. Residents who live in the vicinity are preparing…

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