Saturday, 25 March 2017

Sleepers and Squatters.

BEN  "If I want to sleep this way I'll  darn  well sleep this way".

ADELAIDE " If Ben abandons his crate I'll be more than glad to make it my squat"

Friday, 24 March 2017

"Blood at the Root": a book which "blew my mind away" - it's a tale of the perennial American tragedy.

One day when I was aged about fourteen or fifteen I was at the home of my good friend Stephen Meyer.   His parents had gotten out of Germany "just in time"  in 1939.

I was browsing through one of their books and came across a picture of z cremation oven in a Concentration Camp.    I could not bear to look at it, and I slammed the book shut.

I was tempted to do the same when coming upon grainy black and white pictures of public lynchings in a book I read last week.

The Book is "Blood at the Root", by Patrick Phillips  (published by W R Norton and Co in 2016).

"Blood at the Root"is the harrowing take of the ethnic cleansing of Forsyth County, GA, where, in 1912,  all Negroes  (the word of that era)  were slaughtered, or driven out with great violence, often with the blessing of the white Church Pastors.

Despite  Federal Civil Rights legislation,  Forsyth County was proud to be a "Whites Only" County as recently  as 1987.

It's a book that fills me with anger and sadness.

I am sad because professing Christians encouraged and supported this ethnic cleaning back in 1912,  and in the "whites only" policies of the late 1980's;  ...

....and because even in 2017 we have so called White Nationalists closer than close to the centres of power at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500.

When any group is singled out for hatred, slaughter, unfair imprisonment, legal or unofficial discrimination it never leads to any good.

Bad things are happening to many ethnic, religious or minority groups in so many countries.  The world is dripping in blood, from Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, through South Sudan, to Myanmar.

We of the western democratic (?) and "Christian heritage" countries like to think that we are better than that.  Of course that is not true. 

The harrowing and horrendous events recorded in "Blood at the Root" make me sick to the stomach. And it could happen again.



A gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America.
Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn of the twentieth century was home to a large African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. Many black residents were poor sharecroppers, but others owned their own farms and the land on which they’d founded the county’s thriving black churches.
But then in September of 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. One man was dragged from a jail cell and lynched on the town square, two teenagers were hung after a one-day trial, and soon bands of white “night riders” launched a coordinated campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. In the wake of the expulsions, whites harvested the crops and took over the livestock of their former neighbors, and quietly laid claim to “abandoned” land. The charred ruins of homes and churches disappeared into the weeds, until the people and places of black Forsyth were forgotten.
National Book Award finalist Patrick Phillips tells Forsyth’s tragic story in vivid detail and traces its long history of racial violence all the way back to antebellum Georgia. Recalling his own childhood in the 1970s and ’80s, Phillips sheds light on the communal crimes of his hometown and the violent means by which locals kept Forsyth “all white” well into the 1990s.
Blood at the Root is a sweeping American tale that spans the Cherokee removals of the 1830s, the hope and promise of Reconstruction, and the crushing injustice of Forsyth’s racial cleansing. With bold storytelling and lyrical prose, Phillips breaks a century-long silence and uncovers a history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the twenty-first century.



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The wonderful life of friends of mine who live in Beirut. A tender and affectionate essay from Rula Asfour

I knew Rula Asfour, her husband and two daughters when they were part of the St. James's, Cambridge MA Episcopal Church, and I was the Rector.  It was a sad day for the congregation, but a  great day for the Asfours when they decided to return to the Lebanon.  In about 2003/4 I was privileged to visit them, only to have a most wonderful two weeks during which I met many members of their wonderful extended family (Rula's mother made the best Tabbouleh I have ever eaten), and to visit places such as Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Baalbeck etc, and up into the mountains from which we could see the then peaceful Syria. Lebanon is a small country with a storied history  (Phoenicians, Greeks,Romans, Ottoman Turks, Crusaders, French etc etc) and a bewildering (for European minds) mixture of Christians, Muslims, Druze & c. Most of all I will never forget the enjoyment of the fabled middle eastern hospitality, and  the gorgeous, gracious and good  opportunity to meet many members of Rula's family.  I even made a "pastoral call" on Rula's father who was very ill and in a Beirut Hospital.  Here is Rula's recent essay.
By Rula Asfour
    March 22, 2017 at 16:12
BEIRUT: After thirteen years of living abroad, my husband and I took the decision to move back to Lebanon. Our move coincided with the birth of our third child. We left good posts where we were empowered decision makers, and despite the shortage of career opportunities in Lebanon, we headed back to a place we call home knowing that the salaries in some of the best institutions were one third or even one fourth of what we became accustomed to in the States.
With all its problems, Lebanon, in our minds and in our hearts, is a blessing. The African saying 'It takes a village to raise a child' is absolutely true. In Lebanon, the extended family is that village! For us, the family is the first and foremost reason why we moved back to Lebanon. Strong family ties provide a healthy atmosphere for our children to mature and grow in.
It fills the children with unconditional love and gives them a strong sense of security and self-confidence. It is also gratifying for our parents to be around our children, and to partake in their nurture. Sharing regular meals with the extended family on a regular basis is priceless. Over the summer, when the weather is beautiful in the mountain, we try to meet at the family home, in the remote village of Douma.
Moving to the United States more than 20 years ago, we had to adjust to a do-it-yourself way of life. On a typical day, my husband and I would return home from stressful jobs and have to take care of our children and their needs and activities, as well as cook, clean, do the laundry, complete backyard chores, not to forget snow plowing in the winter. That lifestyle affected us as a couple.
We argued quite a bit, typically on Mondays about whose turn it was to throw the garbage, and had little quality time to spend together as a couple. It was simply overwhelming! In this context, our move to Lebanon was a major upgrade. Not only is family support readily available, but services such as childcare, housekeepers, and concierge are within financial reach providing us with more quality time to spend together as a couple and with our children as a family.
We decided to live in Ras Beirut, when we returned to Lebanon, for its convenience, where we and our children walk to work, university and school. Traffic in Lebanon is an absolute nightmare. However, in Ras Beirut, one rarely needs a car. The proximity of things is unparalleled. Good schools, universities, health care, hospitals, movie theaters, seafront promenades, playing fields, concert halls, and a rich variety of restaurants and cafes are all within a 10 minute walking radius. As if to escape the hardship, the Lebanese have developed a knack for living life to its fullest. Delicious food is abundant at marvelous Mediterranean settings. Travel and Leisure recently named Beirut the Best International City for Food.
This is not to say that life in Lebanon is relaxing and comfortable. Far from it. Tenacious security, a missing state, outrageous traffic and driving, rare career opportunities, noise and air pollution, astronomic real estate rates, daily power outages,inexplicable water shortages, combined with a relatively high cost of living, a garbage crisis and dismal Internet are but a few of the daily challenges we have to deal with.
Yet, I genuinely believe that it is faith that brought us back to Lebanon, our homeland, to a caring and loving extended family, to a wonderful support system, to a haven of good food and to magnificent year-round weather. We saved our marriage and raised our children within the value and safety net that matters to us most, regardless of the hardship that surrounds us, and we constantly thank God for the many blessings including the heartstrings that led us back to Lebanon: our home.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Greycing &c

I grew up about a mile away from Eastville Stadium, deep in the heart of the East  Bristol (UK) working classes.

Eastviille Stadium in the olden days. You can see the dog track

Back then the Stadium was the home of the Bristol Rovers Football (Soccer) Club;  I think too  of Motor Bike "Speedway" racing, and of GREYCING.

South Bristol also had a Greycing Track in the Knowle district.

Newspaaper ad. for Greycing  (In this case, not in Bristol

As a kid I had no idea what "Greycing" meant whether in Eastville or Knowle..  It was a while before I cottoned on to the fact that it was shorthand for Greyhound Racing.

(The Eastville Stadium is now the home of an IKEA store;  the Knowle Stadium  is most likely a site for homes.  Such is the typical  fate for  former places of the cloth-capped working class men in the U.K.).

My newly beloved Greyhound rescue BEN was once a racing dog here in SRQ.

The document I received today reveals that he raced 26 times and that he came in first four times, and second three times.

PSHAW  Ben is no longer a racer  (thank goodness).

He is my best pal!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

No more Church for me

I took myself to Church for the 8:00 a.m. service this morning, leaving Ben in his crate.

In my absence, and due to separation anxiety, he trashed his favourite pillow which I had foolishly left atop his crate.

The solution to this problem is clear.

I simply cannot go to Church again.