Under the Shadow : A Film Review


Under the Shadow. Directed and written by  Babak Anvari. Cast. Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi, Arash Marandi, Aram Ghasemy, Soussan Farrokhnia, Behi Djanati Atai, Ray Haratian, Hamidreza Djavdan, Bijan Daneshmand. (Farsi dialogue) 1hr 24mins.

Stunning boundary pushing Cinema.

You may be like me and only look at the biography of a films genre only to indicate the sort of film you are likely to see and have an attitude which lowers its significance simply because you are after a good or bad review opinion. One you can discount and play with according to the ‘limitations’ the industry tends to categorise any film into. So this is one which I found delivering as a first sign of something special a bit of a Headstretch being – and it was seen at Sundance very much in the Horror category – put into the niche for which filmgoers are (not) seen as being in need of assistance. It might be a reason of categorisation for an award situation – at best.

The Headstretch is because this film is choreographed in a very satisfactory way and is nothing of a horror film from the outset and due to this confronts you somewhere near half-way with a sure stimulus of horror and peril in the traditional sense of fear psychodramatic cinema. Of that much later but first the beginning and first half is very important and necessary as a discourse on a nations fate in modern times. Attitudes to War, sense of political, cultural, sexual, professional, and not least religious oppression. Babak Anvari’s film as a mainstream first language Farsi debut is in the tradition of Iranian cinema up there on a world class level of superb film making and is in addition a ‘Horror’ movie shifting real perception of cinema and story telling.


Beginnings

The film begins over the titles with a caption of the timescale which is the immediate aftermath of the 1979 Iran Cultural Revolution. The Iranian Iraq war of 1980 to 1988 is the context which this setting within Tehran is a location driven synopsis. Scenes of stock news footage of bombing raids, film makers own stock of people fleeing carnage and bombardment at the street level and wasted buildings, injured and the dead in transit to hospital or static compress the entry to the score of context. From that we immediately are introduced to a Tehran University campus and Shideh (Narges Rashdi) in a brilliant feminine role, exploring her life as a woman in this war torn state of multiple oppressions entering the University to see if she can pass an interview for teen try which she is relying on to equip her to become a Doctor – a bitter confrontation later at home domestically with her husband, Iraj (Bobby Naderi) who himself is a practicing Hospital Doctor raises its ugly head as a depiction of male cultural and nonessential analysis of her station and status – they have a daughter, an only child of around eight who nearly in the later stages of the film nearly takes off as the star performer – Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), a startling performance in the end from a child dealing with the range of emotions horror drafts in, magnificently.

Educational restrictions.

The University encounter does not go well and in true place setting style a little (far from it) aside, within the interview room overlooking Tehran on any given groundhog day is deployed skilfully alongside the narrative of the interview. On return to her neighbourhood and past a checkpoint we are signalled into a set of unremitting and in true meaning of horrific circumstances to her relatively modest small rented apartment block within its own carefully culturally coiffured compound, with a screen tiled wall with a soft garden aspect and sturdy architecturally robust pedestrian gates with at the rear an automatic sliding metal gate separating them off from the outside immediate community. The landlord Mr Ebrahimi and self appointed caretaker Mr Bakar has proprietorial needs over locking these ‘aid metaphor’ gates as the tenants themselves form a block to the outside world of very defining content. They are from time to time all under lockdown. Lights go out Electricity of and a siren signals they need get to the ‘basement’ bottom floor garages for protection from bombing raids.

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Home with Iraj

That sets up the environmental conditions so next the family circumstances. Her husband is as they both are in his thirties and their child is very lovingly cared for and integrations for all are limited. He is a decent Iranian with locked in syndrome let’s call it of a normal Iranian male – in the limited context of character development. Maybe an Iranian male will be so bold as to construct a movie from the male perspective of the scenarios found and not an extreme macho homoerotic even machismo male trying to unlock his inner God status! Back to that in hand so to speak, which has them separate for a time and leaving Shideh and Dorsa in their flat alone.  There are tell tale parts particularly a ‘mute’ young boy who’s staying in the house as a refugee nephew and co-habits the space between the domestic and paranormal as he interacts alone with Dorsa and has a disconcerting attitude Towards those around him as he reflects on his short violent past experiences.

The action ramps up from this point onward as the might and fright of a city under continuing seige as well as the urging so from Iraj for them to leave to his parents safer home out of the city is declined by this confronted woman.

I see the textile blanket/shrouds as a metaphor illusory of complex comfort zones which convey the sub-text of religiosity, dependency, in such claustrophobic worlds.  They are an illustration of the immensity of thought control and world view – the Metanoia, METANOIA, of containment and transformation via. a mechanism not on earth, nevertheless in a place which is contingent with belief in a creator. It may even explain for Westen audiences such concepts applied in general illustrative intuitive places such as I believe this film conveys.

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Contrary views

Some reviewers of the bat have thought of this – and they are partially correct – as being ‘subversively incisive’ on Feminism. Only partially for reason in my mind of the horror element – and clever use of Iranian cultural referencing of a thing called Djinn, apparently referee ended in the Quran, shows the spiritual overarching of Religious and National identity so strongly and intensely developed and present here in this film as to make me construct a theory of the religion and it’s not alone as a religion in this – Rostecrutian, Judaism, Hindism, come equally to mind alongside less evenly Western forms of Religion, Scandinavian Trolls etc,. come to mind including elf dwelling! – which includes in its Dogma and Creedal construct the recognition of other species of spirits wholly present in this world and Universe and actually alongside and acting in relation to everything we do.

For the current world to be vastly and ‘universally’ troubled by mind states which include very dogmatic and fundamental expression of probity and conformity which is elevated to the place of destruction of opposing human forces and symbols in violent forms – Female oppression, Cinema, Books, Entertainment, Freedom of movement, Nationality, is a major part of the everyday – apart from our bread and circuses escapist counter-cultures (to religious intransigence and formative fixed religious persuasions) heaped upon us daily and sought as by products of identity construction

Paranormality.

What is the paranormal – come back in the after life and advise or settle for hokum pokum definitions aside from deeper cinema derived meanings – this apart. Could it be for instance as this film conveys in part to me, a place for the human to reside and ‘aleviate’fears through hallucinatory mind imaginings which are extremely horrific and displacing in spontaneous mental reaction to an imperfect storm of a collection of events linked by the hemisphere of the brain assigned to formulating reality as seen through our CHEMICAL concepts which we form our senses in and which overlaps occur as basic normal FORMULA which only become startlingly disconcerting and UNREAL once they are deployed and become new visions, quite literally, all because the intensity of the circumstantial which here is so evident – from adjustment to loss – this happens on several levels, Shideh’s Mum some six months earlier, the death of a tenant, the loss of Dorsa’s doll, Kima, exulted exercise to Jane Fonda videos. Such is her need for self and demonstrates the energy to do what her ambitions hold.

Cultural controls

Iran and the family is so important a communal statement but it faces the rigidity of interracial, imposed religious practice, guilt ridden political supremacist formulaic governance, oppression of women in everyday life as norms that this film just build a very high tower of escalating horrific paranormal existence. It actually is seen in the mid to late part of the film as a disintegrating universe with all kinds of VFX assisted shuddering, sometimes close up shock inspiring camera effected shaking reality. I detected for instance when a bomb landed in close proximity the screen shook or was seen to frame shift as part of the film cinematography. Intensity builds and builds as events unfold and portray the paranormal events none of whic are to be revealed here. In sometimes Japanese stylised segments the real is uncompromisingly unreal and it would have been an even better cinema experience had I chosen a seat closer to the screen to remove the outside of the frame as much as possible. Sit as close as you discomfort zone allows!

Parallel worlds of Religious Reality and Thoelogy.

For someone who makes it their business in writing and reviewing, even everyday experience, I examine the way the spiritual aspect of all are placed in modern times with the very many interloping and religious bias politically present/absent with very strange results being thrown up by the many forms of media oriented devices we encounter, principally workings on everyday world we live in. Now this is found to have another niche and piece of art – Under the Shadow – is such a brilliant film of an Iranian background and outlet for a dialogue by new director . It’s inventions and strangeness present a highly provocative display of an intellect looking at – principally the Iranian, Tehran, exposure to War in 1980 to 1988. Feminism’s one cited objective of exploration. War intrinsically another but infinitely more tangible is the presence of fear in all dimensions of humanity. The poltergeist of child Dorsa is pivotal in this visceral miraculous oddity.

Conclusion ####4

Harrowing and a view of a world of the war between Iraq and Iran which became a brutal forerunner for more and Oder conflicts pursued with atrocicious effect by the Blair/Bush finish this warfare by warfare as never seen before on a completely manufactured basis.  The world continues to pay the price and directly affected nations have a mountain to climb to remove the human damage created.  This is a superb but brief home situated drama horror which as the account above explains enters territory of the questions of conflict culture and sense of self and identity it is very very impressive.

The achievement is notable as a multifaceted movie which only strangely and savagely effectively brings to the point of breakdown the situation constructed in the realm of the home and person.  It is worthy of many viewings as its pace accelearaetes in the second half as a spiral of visually affective frame shifting tableaux of what is going on and in fullsome strength of the ‘genre’ it places entry to the Cineworld under a dangerously formulaic genre. Can’t recommend highly enough.

John Graham

28 September 2016

Belfast
On at selected Cinemas and available as a download on Netflix but see in an environment like Queens Film Theatre in a close up audio visually intense experience.  See you you get on with this roller coaster of personal paranormality.

On at QFT Belfast from Friday 30 September 2016 (this Friday) until And including Thursday 6 October 2016.

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This – 20.11 – is Transgender Day of Remembrance

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Remembrance of Transgender Individuals
Taken by Murder or through Taking their own life.
Act of Remembrance
Soon after the World mourns the loss of all who fell in the War between 1914 and 1918 as well as the fallen from all other Wars since, it is an other solemn day to reflect on with the 20 November Transgender Day of Remembrance.
During the Wars which disguise themselves by being hatred between Nations, there is another human context which seldom is considered but is responsible for the violation and murder of many fellow citizens and that is purely on the basis of their sexuality.
It was in times of War all differences were sought out and primarily it was homosexuals and the transgender population who were singled out after the Jewish people and other ethnically diverse people to kill.
They suffered just as abysmally as any Jewish person and we’re gathered up and included in mass genocide. Many countries can testify to the many thousands of their citizens who were taken and killed purely on the basis of their sexuality.
Now in 2014
The losses continue without War.
Every year more savage attacks and deaths are occurring through the basic ignorance and uncontrolled behavior of violent people.
They act alone and also together showing the worst prejudice of all,
the prejudice that cannot tolerate another human being who is different to them and shows their own hate to be their inadequacy and being unaccepting of difference.
Continuing Hidden
There is no doubt this continuing death toll is hidden and not discussed in the communities it happens in. Some of those countries where it is a crime to be Homosexual have even less tolerance for Transgender individuals.
The whole continent of Africa is in a dangerous conflict with itself.
With the fragility of each nation coming out of War and Oppression, of
dealing with continued exploitation and corruption or entering into further conflict and displacement the continent has many problems to deal with.
Africa at odds with Africa
The oppression and exploitation of Women continues to set back the future of Africa by Centuries. The aids epidemic and sexual history of Africa is a fundamental indicator of the fractured future progress of democratic freedom and Human Rights advances.

As part of the reasoning Nations offer within Africa offer for their state measure of control they resort to violence and prison when confronted with someone whose sexuality does not meet with their approval.
Far less than understanding the law given to us by The Lord to ‘Love thy Neighbour’ the persons who cannot understand basic Human Rights and fail to see the promise which providing Equality of Human Rights would have on them individually and collectively, go down the route of their forefathers and reject learning which God put us on this world to do.
We are here to learn Gods ways and accept the natural order of things and alleviate pain and suffering wherever it is found. We then should share it with others.
In Africa there is an inherent Law of justice written in everyone’s heart which is either suppressed or exploited. To exploit that Law everyone must respect their own family and then their neighbours family.
The breakdown of family in Africa is foremost a basic lack of resources to meet the modern world and it’s challenges. This breakdown is a legacy of colonial states and the imitation of Western corruption severely slowing down any advances with exploitation by the likes of China and American Universities believe it or not massive obstacles to self determination.
Some youth in Africa believe the modern worlds greatest inventions are weapons of Individual and mass destruction.
Weaponry is the least constructive thing at hand. It cannot create crops or medicine nor can weapons overthrow an enemy. The ‘enemy’ being fought is in the perpetrator themselves. The menace eats away at the perpetrator until they can themselves no longer bargain with their own demons.
They spread their disease quickly to others and hatred defines them despite the calls of acting for a higher authority.

Like the girl looking into the well The Lord is within us and it is without question the most compelling thing mankind can rely on.
You only have to recognize your own instincts for goodness that overwhelm any darkness that might arise and know the greater is willed by God in you.
Where else would it come from?

NI Human Rights Festival events include ‘The Plight of Congoleses Women’
at Crescent Arts Centre Belfast on 12 Dec 2014 a free event from 5.30 to 7.30pm being organized by Mimi Unamoyo (Empowering BME Women) and NICRAS see http://www.humanrightsfestivalni.com and info@humanrightsfestivalni.org Facebook is /nihrf twitter is @NIHRF or #
This also coincides with the worldpressphoto2014 visiting Belfast in which New Zealander Robin Hammond gave a talk on his campaigns in Africa putting on record the maltreatment of LGBT and Mental Health people with some very harrowing and starkly direct images of these areas and issues as found. If further information is of interest see http://www.robinhammond.co.uk and the other World Press Photo 2014 site http://www.worldpressphoto.org.uk
Which freely upload images for your own personal use.
Any images there can of course be obtained directly from the PhotogrPher credited. The use in conjunction with raising awareness is distinctly an advantage given the directness and the professionalism of the Photographers going to see for themselves and recording it.
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The mental Health Image above is from Robin Hammonds collection.

I have included at the foot of this blog a direct lift of text from http://www.stoprapeinconflict.org/dr_congo
This relates directly to the horrific abuse and sometimes death in conflict and in transit sometimes under the noses of the NGOs.
Europe in the Frame
Even in European countries it is treated as a hidden thing and through it being an indictment against any country seeing itself as forward thinking and a democracy, it is a taint on that countries psyche.

The intolerance is of course as all intolerances due to ignorance.

A basic lack of understanding is at the heart of most all fears and prejudices. They are formed in our heads and the teachings of the communities in which these acts occur are to blame for their contiuance.

Change must happen now and change can happen now.

TRANS RESPECT VERSUS TRANS PHOBIA
WORLDWIDE

THIS IS THE TITLE GIVEN TO THE NETWORK GROUP GLOBALLY
FOR A MORE TRANSPARENT AND INFORMED VIEW OF THE HUGE DIFFICULTIES AND PREJUDICES FACED ALL AROUND THE WORLD

Proof
The feelings for mankind are at the heart of this intolerance as are most gaps in our basic knowledge. Feelings of hatred eminate from the same biology of all of us, only in some it is a malfunction they cannot or will not recognise.

Even as medical advances are made to remove peoples suffering through sophisticated reading of medicines and human physiology there is a primitive lack in the human mind which needs radically confronted through the neurological examinations which conflict with our very existence.

There is no preordained instruction to eradicate anyone of difference.
Instead their is a preordained instruction to love thy neighbour.

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Transgender identity struggles with the many consideration within its community to try to find ways of communicating and Transgender Day of Remembrance is one significant bridge.
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This is a Human Rights blog devoted to Human Rights.
There is also a subsaharan African Website with many contacts and directions on the issues directly.
http://www.derechos.org/human-rights/afr/
There needs to be a bridge. It was at a service held to commemorate the losses of this and past years I was privileged to hear Francis Sheils speak for many thousands, hundreds of thousands of Transgender and LGBT community people who are continually facing prejudice simply on the basis of their sexuality.

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Here is the address on Sunday 16 November 2014 in Belfast by Francis Sheils.

Transgender Day of Remembrance 20/11/2014

In preparing what I was going to say today, I was reminded of a performance event I attended, delivered by an American Quaker friend of mine Peterson Toscano, who besides being a writer and performer is a noted biblical scholar, he also happens to be gay and was researching the Bible for evidence of a loving God who had created him and accepted him in his imperfection.

During this research he continually came across individuals who were not expressing the gender roles typical of their sex and expected at that time in their culture.
He gradually recognised that these individuals were transgressing and transcending the typical gender roles of their times.
One of the characters he examines is Joseph, the 2nd youngest son of Jacob, whose sons went on to found 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Joseph is very different from his brothers, he is described in the text as troubled and having regular dreams. He is his father’s favourite son and he is given a garment by his dad a tetromathazine (please forgive my Hebrew), there is definitive description of the garment , nor meaning for the word tetromathazine.
This is the only place in Genesis where the word appears.
Anyway, one day Joseph is sent out by his father to deliver a message to his brothers, I think they were tending the sheep, and on seeing him the brothers set upon him and gave him a severe beating and tore the garments from him, covered it in his blood and sell him into slavery in Egypt.

Years pass and a famine comes, the crops fail and the brothers go to Egypt to get grain.
They meet Joseph, who by this stage is 2nd in command in Egypt and they don’t recognise him because of all the makeup, finery and jewellery.

What does Joseph do? He doesn’t exact vengeance which would have been the expected act of a Jewish male, an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth.
No he acts like the mother hen and protects and feeds his family as only a mother hen would do.

Peterson researched and researched and finally came across the word tetromathazine in one other place, 2nd Samuel where it is used when King David gives his daughter Tamar the garment before she is defiled by her half brother.
It is very clear from this particular passage that the garment is a princess dress given to a virgin daughter on the eve of her wedding.

It is not hard to imagine the same violence being visited on Transgender women today, particularly women of colour, where they are beaten black and blue, their bodies defiled and their clothes destroyed in acts of fury.

I challenge anyone hearing that story not to think of TDoR in future when they hear any of the Lloyd Webber songs from ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is marked each year on the 20th November.
It is the most solemn day of the Transgender calendar.
The day was first marked in the USA in November 1999 to remember those Transgender individuals killed due to prejudice or hatred.

The day raises awareness of hate violence against Transgender individuals, provides a space for public mourning and honours the lives of Transgender individuals who otherwise might be forgotten.
The day was founded in response to the transphobic murder of Rita Heesters on 28/11/1998.

The day is now marked world-wide and in 2013 was formally marked in over 180 cities in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania.

Between 1st October 2013 and 30th September 2014 there were 226 known victims of transphobic murder , not to mention the countless Transgender individuals who took their own lives by suicide that we don’t know of, rather than face the world as their true selves.
Research from a number of studies show that 40% of Transgender individuals attempt suicide at least once before seeking treatment for their Gender Dysphoria (the medical term for Transsexualism – the medical term for the condition that affects us).

Unfortunately for the first time since we began organising this service, we are aware of one young Transgender woman JORDAN HOWE who completed suicide in Northern Ireland earlier this year.

Her friend Capri will be reminding us later of this unique individual whose life was cut too short before she got the chance to let us all see her individual God given talents.

With her family’s permission We are specially dedicating our service today to her memory and ask that you remember her family particularly , that they find solace and can come to terms with their very sad loss when we come to our act of remembrance.

For the past 5 years Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) has been marked by events in Belfast on the actual day 20th November.

Last year for the 3rd time there was also a formal act of worship in All Souls Church in Belfast on the Sunday prior to the day.
We find ourselves gathered here again at the kind invitation of Rev. Chris and the Congregation of All Souls to remember our dead brothers and sisters, no longer with us just because of society’s attitudes towards us.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you all but particularly Linda Ballard for making such an effort to accept us into your midst and going out of your way to make us feel part of your community rather than apart from it.

I was at a service recently where the Minister told the story of an old man from Fermanagh who had to leave the family homestead that had been in the family from time immemorial and move into the town as he could no longer look after himself nor the “bastes”.

Anyway he takes his young granddaughter out to see the place and shows her round and he comes to the well that provided water for the family down through all the generations, they’re about to leave when the wee girl asks him, “ Granda, where does God Live?”
He lifts her up over the well and tells her to look down and asks her “What do you see?”
And he replies “ Well that’s where God lives , he lives in everyone of us”

As we move to the more solemn elements of our Remembrance Service today, Let us all remember that God lives in each one of us and in all of those Murdered Transgender individuals and those who have completed suicide.

That completes the address given by Francis Sheils.

The Service was a memorial in dedication of Jordan Howe.

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Innate Goodness
People have, I believe an innate sense of goodness which inhabits the same mind which has the latent urges of self or wider destruction.
This in Religious terms is accepting the flaws exist.

At the forefront of Nazism was a belief in the principle perfection which has
never had a rational nor any element of goodness.
Human nature carries us, not ultimate perfection. Hence our desire to express our community in societies of many shades, colours and unity.

The person who accepts the world for what it is can be truly accepting of all others. It was as Jesus asked of us to believe in the everlasting existence beyond our measure that has within us the ability to do no harm.

That is our simplest task and yet so many go against God and the natural law believing only they can define the world. They wish others to comply with their thoughts. God has not delivered anyone other than Jesus to speak to us. God in human form and we can take Gods wisdom to turn away from hatred and violence.

Nations have survived famine and climatic disaster with the main constituent being the assistance of other nations.

Under Gods law there is enough for all and their is a saying we are all equal under the Sun as we indisputably are under God.
No one can determine their time on earth.

From the record of the http://www.transrespect-transphobia.org website

TRANS MURDER MONITORING PROJECT TDOR 2014

1612 REPORTS OF MURDERED TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS IN

62 COUNTRIES SINCE JANUARY 2008

Murders have taken place in all major WORLD REGIONS

• including Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America and Oceania

• In Europe there have been 90 killings in 13 countries.

• FROM JANUARY 2008 TO SEPTEMBER 2014 THERE HAVE BEEN 6 RECORDED
TRANSPHOBIC MOTIVATED MURDERS IN THE UK.

TDOR UPDATE 2014

226 REPORTED CASES OF REPORTED KILLINGS OF TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS IN

26 COUNTRIES

TDOR 2014 UPDATE

TMM REPORTS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF REPORTED MURDERS OF MINORS SINCE THE PROJECT BEGAN.

HALF HAVE BEEN UNDER 20

TDOR UPDATE 2014
AMONG THE MINORS MURDERED WERE:

A 13 YEAR OLD TRANS GIRL FOUND STRANGLED IN THE CITY OF
MACUBA IN BRAZIL JUNE 9TH 2014

A 14 YEAR OLD TRANS GIRL FOUND STRANGLED IN THE CITY OF IBIPORA ,BRAZIL OCTOBER 15TH 2014

16 YEAR OLD “DWAYNE JONES” WHO WAS KICKED OUT OF HER HOME
AGED 14, AND ON JULY 22ND 2014 ATTENDED FOR THE FIRST TIME A
PARTY IN FEMALE CLOTHING IN ST. JAMES , JAMAICA , WHERE SHE WAS CHASED AND BRUTALLY MURDERED BY PARTY-GOERS, WHO FORMED A MOB, WHEN THEY REALISED SHE WAS A TRANSGENDER PERSON

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Realisation
Help all who feel as Jordan Howe did find through talking to Professional Medical Advisors or through first step conversations with someone who is aware of the problems Transgender people face, find the strength to come to the conclusion they are equal to anyone they care to mention and have around them more who love them than would ever hate them.

In fact the people who are closest in your own society support you and continue to strive to make things better for everyone in their community and the world. You too are a part of that journey.
That is the vast majority of people’s standard reaction.
Because you cannot read it, or it is not apparent does not make it false.
The perception can be as damaging as the image it creates in your head.

A clear head may not be yours presently which is all the more reason to develop a conversation to get to the heart of your selfs journey.
There will be someone fully ware of the issues you are dealing with and can with a clear head guide you.
The fact is the ability to deal with issues that arise are becoming more clear to society and clarification of what is a complex part of ones identity is highly advanced given the right advice.

This in itself is not advice but a personal viewpoint which in itself seeks to guide you towards those with a very proven appreciation of Transgender identity and the advice is freely given.

A first point of call would be your own GP who should know specialist advisors and the service providers on Gender related issues.

http://www.transrespect-transphobia.org

The website mentioned above is primarily dealing with the issue of Public Information and Education.

There are other websites which will deal with the more direct issues of Transgender identity. The clear message is that there are very many aspects to the help and sharing concerns which can be addressed and dealt with by people whose experience far outweighs any individual. The raft of information is of itself something which can help greatly.

The fact is Trans respect versus Trans phobia is a means of creating Public awareness and is the paradigm, the model to communicate.
It has links to local groups and shares histories and a catalogue of very conscious experience on related Gender matters.

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For the memory of Jordan Howe TDoR 20 November 2014.

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The people who do not understand, simply do not understand.
It is up to society to adjust not the other way round.
Wherever you go in the world build bridges and take the message of inclusiveness with you. It is basically Gods Message.

Jesus sat down with all who he found to be vulnerable and ill at ease.
He assured them of the way of The Lord who would walk alongside and deliver them from all evil. It is Gods wish we talk amongst each other to know the way.

John Graham

20 November 2014

Belfast

Further events and Notices

SEXUAL ORIENTATION AWARENESS TRAINING

DATE
09/12/2014
TIME
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
LOCATION
HERE NI, Belfast
PRICE
Free
CATEGORIES
Talks
EVENT DESCRIPTION
This training organised by HERE NI will give participants a chance to talk openly about sexual orientation, it will run through some of the effects of homophobia on LGBTQ people and will give participants valuable information on language, changing attitudes and how to be more inclusive.
To register for this event contact: cara.mccann@hereni.org by Friday 5th December.

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS

DATE
09/12/2014
TIME
4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
LOCATION
Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings Stormont, Belfast
PRICE
Free
CATEGORIES
Talks
EVENT DESCRIPTION
This transgender Human Rights mini conference presented by Focus: The Identity Trust will examine gender recog­nition legislation in the UK and the Republic of Ireland and will also examine all areas of the lives of transgender and intersex individuals where they experience difficulty in accessing and enjoying the same basic human rights as the rest of society. Meave Mc Laughlin MLA Chair of the Health committee and Focus Identity Trust are delighted to welcome keynote speakers Lord Carlile and Aengus O’Snodaigh TD, who both proposed the first ever gender recognition bills in their own jurisdiction.
To register for this event contact: info@thefocustrust.com

There are many many more events on so check out the website to see what you can engage with.

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Despite the war formally ending with a peace agreement almost a decade ago, the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to be embroiled in a violent and deadly conflict. Having claimed at least 5.4 million lives since the outbreak of war in 1998, the country has also received the unwelcome distinction as the rape capital of the world.

Its strategic importance, as well as bountiful natural resources—raw minerals, land, and fresh water—are a longstanding source of tension within the Congo. The 1994 Rwandan Genocide, which brought an influx of 1.5 million people over the border into North and South Kivu, exacerbated preexisting hostilities in the area. Disputes over citizenship and land ownership only compounded ethnic rivalries and weak governance structures.

“We are always send by our chiefs who tells us “Do this!” Despite your refusal they oblige you to do it; otherwise you will be beaten seriously. As a result, you will do it unwittingly. And you can even rape because of that.” Rape in War: Motives of Militia in DRC, United States Institute of Peace, 2010

Aging Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko had been aggravating inequality among the population, throwing the country into a steep economic decline over time. An uprising born in the eastern provinces, supported by Rwanda and Uganda, seized the fragile moment and moved rapidly on the capital. Yet, new President Laurent Kabila soon gained the wrath of his foreign allies, embroiling the entire region into a continental war in 1998.

While a peace agreement in 2002 was to end to the fighting, violence still characterizes daily life. Especially in North and South Kivu provinces, Congolese rebels and foreign groups remain active and significant military operations by the state have been launched in recent years. In northeastern Province Orientale, there has been renewed fighting with the incursion of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

More than 400,000 women ages 15 to 49 experienced rape between 2006 and 2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That is equivalent to 1,152 women raped every day, 48 women raped every hour, or four women raped every five minutes. If Numbers Could Scream: Estimates and Determinants of Sexual Violence in the Republic of the Congo, American Public Health Association, 2011

Efforts were made to demobilize and integrate fighters into a new Congolese force or reintegrate them into communities, yet the project has faced a massive challenge. Continuing violence provides an incentive to return to old allegiances, with numerous desertions from the army and program. The attraction of mineral wealth has posed an additional challenge and provided extra income to rebel groups, armed gangs, and major political players alike—further aggravating institutional disorder which provides ideal circumstances for committing widespread human rights violations without punishment.

Rape and gender violence in The Democratic Republic of Congo has been marked by extreme brutality including rape, gang rape, genital mutilation, sexual slavery, and insertion of objects into cavities.

“You know, [rape] is also because of the suffering from being hungry, not having anything, living like animals [tozovivre lokola banyama] … Even the dogs here eat better than us! We were hungry yesterday, today hungry and tomorrow hungry [nzala lobi, nzala lelo, nzala lisusu lobi]. Also when we get it, you should see it: look at this! [pointing to plate with dark fufu on the ground]. When we get something this is what we get. Not even the pigs would eat it. Also, is this food for soldiers in combat who have to walk long distances and carry heavy weapons? It also makes people angry and anger makes you want to do bad stuff. Rape is also part of that. But it is not good.” The Complexity of Violence: a critical analysis of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nordic Africa Institute, 2010

As the conflict is fought within communities, violence occurs mostly in homes, villages, and in the fields where people work. Communities are often targeted for conspiring with the enemy or are looted after a skirmish. The Congolese security forces have also been known to loot (and commit acts of sexual violence on the civilian population) due to unpaid salaries or during mutinies against officers. All sides in the conflict have committed systematic rape and gender violence including the foreign-backed groups, local rebels, community-based militia—the Mai Mai, as well as the Congolese state forces.

Reasons for rape by armed men, whether belonging to the government army, rebel group or foreign-backed group, are varied. These include systematic humiliation to counter men’s growing frustration at deteriorating status in society, to breed insecurity and fear in communities, and Mai Mai members have additionally stated that rape provides “magical powers” before combat.

The incidence of rape remains highest in areas where military operations take place, yet there has been a sharp rise in gender violence throughout the whole of the country. The severe gender imbalance, with prevailing impunity, has allowed for a society where rape is acceptable and unpunished. Domestic violence, rape by former troops living within communities, and by men in positions of power—including police officers—is common. Survivors still lack comprehensive support, and are often too ashamed and fearful to come forward.

“The majority of women were attacked in their own homes and most attacks happened during the evenings and nights. This pattern is in contrast to that found in other recent conflicts in Africa, where rape is reported primarily when women go out in search of water or firewood, when they are farming their fields or when their village is attacked.” Now the World is Without Me: An Investigation of Sexual Violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative & Oxfam, 2010

Data to document the prevalence of male rape is being gathered, yet male survivors are still often silent, with little access to medical or psychosocial support. Testimonies point to an increase of systematic male rape with military operations in 2009—the last push by Congo to remove foreign forces from the Kivu region.

Impunity reigns within the Democratic Republic of Congo, and despite the government’s acknowledgement that its own security forces constitute one of the main groups of perpetrators, comprehensive reforms to the security sector have not been enacted. Known perpetrators of mass human rights violations remain within the army and major hurdles remain to provide the Congolese with a security force that is a protector rather than an instigator of gender violence.

Best Wishes and Thank you for getting to the bottom of my blog completed this Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014.

Religion : Something New

imageThe Disquisition.
For an idea to take shape it requires some exploration.
It happens as I was an attendee at a rare Sunday Evening Service at the Church I go to; it last had evening services a very long time ago, it shall remain nameless as in the following you will see convergence and assimilation is what matters.

The service was, as is often the case, the means to accessing and discussing these things.
I related to a reflection from a book I had just finished in which it had me considering the larger questions. Then came bigger questions once I began writing and coincidences started to occur.

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Something New?
From the heading to this opening section I have added a question mark.
Having read in a book of a reference made by the author concerning ‘Something New‘ I came to realise in the phrase something’s , that came in the later stages of the ‘The Pillow Book of Eleanor Bron’ a hidden detail. She has it seems accumulated, been holding back!, some of the more confounding things for this part of her book, like an actor having taken you through the immensely satisfying passages of the play – the pillow book has opened and insights that have not escaped her, she brings momentous challenges of thought as the heart of the ‘play’ in its denouement.

This observation by EB is the final act, but you are conscious it is only one book in her life and so much more is not revealed.
She is not going to spill the beans about the important stuff; namely her character assessment within herself and her opinions, true opinions on things past and present. No, only the bigger picture anecdotal entitlements we are able to access now we have them here written in this casual form!
Pillowbooks
Pillowbooks are essays on any subject that occurs to you in the course of writing. The object is to arrange the thoughts into common themes and to loosely take things chronologically give a rhythm of structure. The practice is ancient.

Something new? Well, when she has been rehearsing and improvising,as the American acting style of learning developed into, she notices something which illustrates much more than just acting.

In the manner of the writing of a Pillowbook a short title is used.
It comes in these last passages as ‘startling things‘ neither with capitals or bold but italisised.
em>startling things
‘….another actor who takes a piece of text or of behaviour and opens doors and lets in light that makes everyone, hilarious, with that delight that comes almost always not from finding out something new, but a shock of recognition of being emended of something so obvious that you know it, somewhere, all the time. If you can offer something back, and something back, and yet again, and on and on – wonderful.’
Other Meanings
From this you can take much besides the simple recognition Eleanor Bron is making as a ‘startling thing’ ‘something’ which climbs to a higher place. She leaves it at that while being exhilarated by the insight.
She has taken it, as it means so much more. It is reason for acting and portraying ideas before people as a kind of witness giving energy to every thing it touches.
To act out the intention and meanings of mere words is a glorious concept which assists our understanding of many things. The continual – see the repetition in the last sentence of her piece – is what she describes in leading up to this recognition as exhilarating.
Time
More can be gathered by looking into this thought deeply and in the context of mere religion and the universal.
Not being something new shows the existence, the prior truth as being the only something that matters. The truth inherent is that all already exists and it is finite not to be added to.
Therein is everything that ever will be in the future already here.
It is simply not yet fully uncovered.
The saying nothing is new under the Sun is only partially accurate.
The universe which we look back upon, through the achievements of science, is of past times.

The modifications we make through uncovering things and destroying things is a cycle within the existing time that is still. It is a stationary timeless essence of our existence. No time exists. Time being a concept.
The passage I refer to has in it the essence of this thought.
That all is in existence and as some prefer to reason, ‘ye must be born again’ that seems to mean return within.
There is no conflict in this saying as it contains the other thought or truth that is often referred to ‘nothing can be created nor destroyed
So in the saying, it unveils some truth as it was otherwise intended.
The Big Bang theory is complete. The theory is that the creation of – and the creator is the universe itself beyond the creation – time is nothing.
To envisage this concept of no such thing as time and we are within the creation which is without time is the central form which has to be perceived. (In a later part I refer to time as it is used scientifically as a means of connection and measurement.)
To conceive of the theory there is a Big Bang is the culmination of an unravelling of the constituent parts of our existence.

It has become so evident that there existed a moment when we ‘came’ into being – except from what we know of ‘mankind’ that part of the fluidity was not there in the exact ‘creative’ Big Bang – our existence was determined because of it, in and out of the Big Bang. It is what we are.
Creation
We will never have the capability of discovering the ‘creation’ of existence because we are within it. It exists as us and is the entirety of the universe seen and unseen for which there are to be no subtract ions or additions.
Our reasoning is to make discover what is and not to discover what will be.

The fluidity in the above paragraph is in reference to the form we take.

In this form It is as though we exist within the the two reflective faces of two mirrors each unseparated and each containing all the light.
Our universe being within those mirror faces melded and inexorably in the infinite moment continually rearranging in a time which is inconceivable.

Our own world is methodically based on lineage which casts back through exploration of a universe of billions upon billions of years in the formation.
It is our concept of time without any other instruction. No external, and that is all that we see, knowledge is transferred.
The sense of scale is ours through measurement alone. Even the nano level shows temporal differences around any measurement due to the fluidity of all that is in existence.

Our thoughts are conceived around firstly an understanding our own world and life within it. The conditions in which we exist and the powers of spiritual thinking adapt and provide the necessary formula for existence by our reliance on each other and on the regulation through ‘days’ of our lives.
Gaia
Whether you call this the theory of no time or of our phenomena is not of any importance. We live in a time within ‘no time’ where we have despite the insignificance of it ‘invented’ seven days for a week by division of a ‘calendar’ found in the behaviour of the planet in relation to the sun and moon. It is a stretched time where we have seasons and the planet ‘Gaia’
as a model of the earth self-regulating organism is a closer recognition than the one which is adhered to that has seven days. A day is the same in Gaia as the next day and the day after that.

In other words there is no need for a day to have a name and seven of those days advance and the same days name arises. It is not logical but a mechanistic set of conformities which deny us true revelation.
The possible explanation is that we fear that uncertainty while seeking uncertainty through destructive and immoral behaviour.
That of war and that of up recognition of Gaia as a base elemental truth.
Perceived
The cognitive pressures to learn and be able to create ‘everlasting’ conditions, the life after death hypothesis is but one as enlightenment and social realism which are forms of elucidation. Meaning is our questioning reasonings prevailing purpose.
We are the inhabitants in that moment of no time and within it we exist as the quantum parts of that creation.
To act on things we need some certainty and as constituent parts we evolve, are evolving within a frameless universe. The manifestations are a return to our earlier existence through the dissolution of this planet. The planet is a gathering of an immobile part of the universe.
Finite
It may seem as an infinity but it is of no time and the infinity exists only as a creation within something that is already here but we know nothing of.
For Gaia we assume the ‘laws’ of Titan, that ancient Greek god of the sun, represented as driving a chariot across the heavens; identified by the Romans with Sol.
Computed
There is a sweeping away of the many layers of our self deception and it is through the ‘advancement’ of theory which has collected and been revealing new things to us as our advance has led to new methods of learning, the patterns obtained through computing and the relevance of the anti-fragile world is pulling us into the centre of the Big Bang as it is key to our own understanding.

To not look for something new is a positive and it also defines for us a future which does not exist, only our cycle within the already existing is our life.
Now
In the Pillowbook it is the idea that something exists that you knew all along.
The recognition and revalation is exhilarating and it is driving you closer to that ultimate knowledge of your own existence and of not just something but everything. It is as is now.
Adam and Eve
Another aspect in the Pillowbook which drew me into this exploration, this examination of the thought it provoked is concerning the basis of all Religion. Love of one another above all else.
Primarily in putting the case for God as our proof is the greatest proof of all of our capacity to love in the beginning. From Adam and Eve, she explains in passage 203, –
‘Dorna insists there is only one sin. And that is not loving someone enough to be perfect – that is to say, to obey them perfectly. Starting of course with your parent, or parents. Adam and Eve did love their single parent -as much as any uncomprehending child, in those first days of life, does love the Being that feeds and succoured it; but if you disobey that Being it is akin to not loving it and this – seeming not to love duly – is the strongest spring of guilt. This is the real Original Sin.

Gods case and the case for all parents, is that Creation itself is the greatest proof of love.’

Here Eleanor Bron, whose Jewish sensitivity to Religious thinking has enabled and brought her a very well honed and considered approach to discerning hinges in light of her accrued life’s experience, again touches on elements which although totally without proof of concept or realism are harbours of faith of God as creator. They are disproportionately valuable in their wisdom. It is also a probable cause of the authors ability to perform complex roles in virtue of her disposition for learning and drama as a means of delivering understanding. It is warming to realise this singularity of direction is but one of the vast number of directions peoples lives take them.

Knowing your limits of love is a failing in the perfection known through God.

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Action at a Distance – Dice or No Dice

A History of Brief Time
In this time, several reflections can be made of advancements in science and by a small coincidence an exhibition opens this week in Belfast on the theories found by John Stewart Bell.
If a small explanation of his principle theorem is made it is this – Our world is non-local as sub atomic particles act on each other no matter how far apart. Regardless of relation in time or light.
Problematically it has of its relation to quantum theory one thing most evident.

The experiment of separation is achieved through fine distancing which in continuing the separation exacting care enables the exclusion of other forces. It is noted there is still elemental properties within a vacuum so for Jonathan Bell to create an experiment which removes all other elements apart from the sub-particles which ‘bind’ ‘repell’ is the outstanding advance which confirmed the theory for further proofs to emerge.
Event
It is only probability and has no certainty. It is not a deterministic theory in which the future can be predicted. In the circumstances Einstein was philosophically correct in believing the ‘old reliable’ does not play dice.
In this he acknowledges the very eventful – the proximity to being determined through all available present knowledge – as being immense.

Only the absence of this proof is deepening the void and creating an unbridgeable divide between this and the light connection unseen.
The chromatic sciences of art and nature, seen in the film ‘Mr Turner’ as prismatic light obtained through diffusion in glass.
That light passing through air which itself dissipates its colour and scatters before us principally blue which is the light we walk through.

Think of each oxygen particle and four other nitrogen colourless particles which we read through and breath in. Our connection to each other is made through the links of us sharing the same air at some point in different particles of the same element.

It is as though we are linked not only by design, homologous parts are shared between species and our ability to compress and arrange air through our larynx is what makes us able to communicate in a higher order.

That is all that separates us from other species and principally the chimpanzee. It is a reality which environment has stimulated.

Out further is the construct of our finite world within the Big Bang.

Rearview Science
Standing not in front of us but behind us – no science is found in – ‘the future’ – is what is to be uncovered. Swept away by continual trial and error we can connect things as they indeed form their principle.

The dimension of connectivity is physical and JSB John Stewart Bells theorem is the belief not the certainty that each sub particle influences the behavior of another far distant sub particle – [of the same composition?]

In measurement theory there is a held condition needed to allow value to be determined. It is the observance of sub-sets of conditions as they differ minutely. In such small size of variability and in continual flux that they are made invisible to the measurement and for its use.

Science is the discovery of the past not the discovery of the future.

John Graham

4 November 2014

Belfast

The Four Quartets by T.S.Eliot contains this beginning passage.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves I do not know.

Paws for Thought

Belfast

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Skin of different colour
Dedicated to Gunner and Eliot.
Ministers of Dog in developing countries, England and Ireland respectively.
Hot Dogs
This week has been hard for those unused to the heat. Working in this weather and many have to outdoors can bring tiredness and mild heat exhaustion.

You will know that this work and I am thinking of work in the fields so well executed through years of practice bears fruit of some kind.

‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.’ (John 15:4)

We as friends of all things human can be consoling and a companion when too much self reflection is going on, You can usually tell by grumpiness or a raised voice and nothing seems to be going their way.

As we know as the master and sent by the Chief Kennel Carer the world for them is a complicated place, poor souls. Never a day goes by without a fresh worry. That is when I act calm and hope they too take the hint.

The Lord is always there and is there for everyone. All you have to do is whistle and The Lord will be at your side. I was worried myself the other day when I heard about a new dog that might be coming here.

Firstly it is MY patch and the scruff may not even be related, may take up loads of room and eat all the food. Mariel thought there is enough to go round and if it didn’t wash or was uncouth then she would soon tell it it was unladylike.

My ears pricked up when I heard it might be a Lady and there was me prejudging the situation. Most I have known have smelt so sweet have doey eyes and are easy to romance so a smooch works out both ways. I call it validation but some call it love.
Both of us could be the others kind.

The point is you see if you jump to conclusions, to digress – I jumped in the air 10′ 6″ last week caught a soggy ball and all to impress the ladies who weren’t best pleased as my breath stank – then you can be badly hurt and hurt others.

By refusing to allow someone to live in your community, to bring the variety if their own habits to a place you clearly don’t OWN you are only making things worse for yourself. Why for yourself? I hear you ask. Well simply because you are denying yourself a new vision and also denying yourself the opportunity to share each other’s vision of GODs creation.
This is GODs universe and we are here but a short while so getting along is only a problem if you make it one.

All bring things you cannot
The creation like the pooch I was fearful of may have a different coat or skin than me and may not be able to leap 10 ft like me but can run twice as fast but not for so long, it becomes clear the only vision needed is the vision of GOD.

Many colours and varieties of people as us Dogs have different skin.
We might have suffered by having the Dog eugenisists try and screw up
various races of us Dogs forgetting Huskies like the cold and dislike Barnes Common racing, whippets hate running in circles and greyhounds at Wimbledon, how pointless is that and as for mastiffs only looney air guitarists like them.

Whatever the colour the blood runs through us all the same colour.

We look to GOD sometimes to repair our road. Damage always occurs with traffic up and down a road used by many. By allowing each to use it and that means groups to march up and down freely singing their songs so long as they are unhurtful it is their right. The Notting Hill Carnival is now well fixed and multi cultural.

In that place Belfast there is no tolerance of others just a victim hood to be asserted.
Every time annual parades occur they get territorial. The Ardoyne formed by Thomas Andrews Linen Mill was to provide jobs instead of war. It symbolised the peoples induction with modern means of living.

The symbolism is not unique and from the Andulucian horse trail I memory of Jesus and the celebrations along the way to the more secular and at the same time religious affirmation of Mexico’s All Souls’ Day to Maypole pagan festivals all culture needs expression. It’s diversity is what is us.

Blimey we were able to turn around the mass eugenic experiment of the dictator and ethnic killer Hitler and return to our path, our road yet deranged people think their religion is more important ant they are right and more important than GOD ever made us. When no offence is given none can be taken.

It is clear to us Dogs that we have these differences as humans do but they refuse in many places and at many times to abide with GOD.

Simply GOD asks us to go the way of loving thy neighbour and giving your thoughts over to Jesus to show you they way. Reading, reflecting, talking, acting, all the fellowship of ALL mankind is the redemption from the world that provides us with our living.

When we refuse to do harm we have reached a goal and can say to others it is the way without fear. Fear is within.
The soul is in you and when the world has reached the point when ‘Our Kingdom Come’ the soul will have done its job.

The job of the soul is to be your witness here on earth. Should you reach the highest goal and be at one with GOD the soul will have done its purpose. It will have been with you as GOD is and the light will not fade.

Listen. Observe others. Hear. Love.

So be it.

Amen

Paw note

Eliot and Gunner are real Dog but they are usually too occupied to sit down and write about their thoughts though are being to do so. These views are my own and I have only the inferior understanding of a human beung therefore can only put these views across as insights from observing these fellows. They are as wise as us it would appear and have no inclination to make an atomic bomb thank goodness as we may be in serious trouble. The thought never crossed their mind which makes me think of them as superior.
Pity they are so hard to train and wash.

Written from and idea inspired by
the Reverend Elizabeth Hanna
Writer, Photographer, Theologian extraordinaire, Wise (owl) peace maker, friend maker. And her actual dog called Eliot.

John Graham

10 July 2014

Taking the Final Journey

imageSt Peters to Milltown
No longer can injustice plaque the life of Gerry Conlon. He has left us so young in his sixtieth year after suddenly cancer was found when a bout of pneumonia had put him in hospital. On everyday he had sought out and helped those who like him were wrongly jailed or discriminated against.

He abhorred privelige and he knew only to well the difference between rhetoric and the action. For this he became a force against prejudice, unveiling the protocols of all factions in power. His life was turned by the framing of the British Government of him and the others known as the Guildford four. I was closer to Guildford that night than Gerry Conlon as I lived in Surrey at that time. Gerry was actually in Dublin.

I was shocked as many were of this atrocity in a quiet town in Surrey. In my local in the town where I worked, which had given me a job, we shared the shock and tried to figure what intent and purpose lay behind it or indeed what possibly could this bring to the resolution of Ireland’s troubles.

Many things in common
To the English I was a Paddy an Irishman as everyone from the North was viewed and barely, if not at all, would there be any ill will or reference to being of the same mind as these murderers, as they understood these criminals were of a class of psychopathy that lay apart in so few but caused so much destruction.

Many older memories of the wars would surface in talk, the reason to again voice concern carried always, that it too needed to be laid in the past – as acts memorably unconsiable – given the cost and the earlier reckoning with a monster of a movement in Nazism and genocide.

There were real stories that I heard of the Second World War told with ferocity for the waste war brings and I felt moved by the direct honesty in contrast to its absence from the miserable human beings carrying out worthless damage and destruction as directed by people searching for an identity.

These speakers I heard were real ex soldiers lucky, they knew, to return.
The ideas they had were modern and equipped the generations subsequently. The Labour Party became suum cuique potentially but other powers conspired against it. The prayer in this era was real and supplicantry. Petitioners for a better future came in many forms, CND, Unionisation, Hospital and Education priorities raised, Cooperative agrarian, agriculturally and commercially. This was the life the Conlons gave their endeavors to as did many Ulster people. The Black and Masons though in the background, subservient to a monarchy that despised its baseless fraternity and were attentive, retained, and lauded the differences to fill their pockets.

There was a betrayal; once war was put behind that none expected, by bigoted racist wealthy zenophobes including the segment which attached itself to the conservative legacy of Sovereign alliance, the despots like Powell and his core hatred of other nations while he caused it to be hated from afar without reason.
This view is engrained in others of this as a basic racist part of Europe and it came while others considered universal human rights. This memory is held by some still externally and underlies those developing nations its own self determination though it is also a passenger of violence.

Why Torture?
Why did the jailers see it fit to torture Gerry Conlon and the others? Why was he tortured? What has altered in the state? Why is that the instruct of Jesus to love thy enemy so problematic to the merciless few?

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War is not the answer
This was an England with the people belonging to the traditions of equality and fairness, charity, fortitude, justice which hinged on cooperative complex arrangements. This a country framing a society which had brought out its sense of responsibility for the peril of others in the War and the Great War.

The fact others within their society used this set of values to establish a hierarchy of abattage and a country or set of post war countries on a permanent state of alert and continued engagement in the proliferation of weapons.

Where war had reduced men to the level of animals the future spoke of the baseless and without thought of the principles given through God by Jesus all groups were destined to disintegrate and become solitary in thought. The unity of purpose brought about by war was lost by the fact war did not explain the Word and God had for many left us to our own devices and the atrocities carried out by man were set apart from the promises of the Bible on this vast world affecting scale.

Ever since these those wars counties, groups, cities, towns, rural holdings were formidably aware of the loss war brings and they took up that calling or so it seemed on the surface for the memory of the fallen.

The fact that so many of their number that were lost had not the glory of the country at their front but the comradeship of the fellow troops in the reality of war, focused on an army advancing towards their families and annihilating families they did not know but knew as human like themselves. A global catastrophe was happening and its apparent cost or outcome could not even become clear until the facts surfaced, when surrender was achieved from the protagonists of violence.

Remembrance
It was a day of remember for us all on Saturday 28th June 2014 one week after Gerry Conlon passed away. To be among those there, to witness his life and passing, was making connections on so many of Gods signs.
The funeral was a final part and his fellow detainees carried their brother in love towards his rest. The higher Church was subdued by this witness, it gave back the spirit to the people this day on whose witness faith had risen to testify to our joining in the worship of God to the father of all things.

The orations were of the Bible and of memory but also when the address was given by Gareth Pierce it was a testament be reminder to us all we should never give up the just fight for Gerry’s sake, as others, as he had given his life in every respect to fighting this fight for and on behalf of others.
It was a leveling of the Word as human expression made us commonly accept that urge to be in our lives real. The Gareth Pierce tribute will be remembered wherever it is heard. In this place which carried so many Conlon family memories it spoke out beyond the walls.

Spiritual Resonance
The disciple Peter 1:2-11 actually responds to us knowing the failings often faced so requiring focus; to be constantly reminded of our role on earth in relation to each other. The important areas for spiritual development he urged – and you if you can replace your spirit source as it speaks to you – growth in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. (2 Peter1:5-7)
This is invaluable to us, it is fundamental we discover this renewal of the areas told through Peter. The abundance of return by adherence to this is unbounded and is immeasurable and the fruits of this knowledge of the truth path of God will be evident. The real rejection of this is the destruction all witness presently in the absence of belief. This is the true tenet of Gods Word.
A simple theological message brought by scripture of the narrow path we are asked to keep to in order to reach enlightenment. Sharing this is part of the message and that is exactly what Gerry Conlon was about in his short period of freedom. He tackled fiercely with true love for the human ever injustice and hurt and harm he came across. He implored, appealed to the unjust to respond and act as their souls tell them to. He never gave up.

This was a country the eventual victor, which probably used secretly torture to obtain information from captured soldiers. Just as the Nazis used
unsanctioned methods so the other armies would be also torturers.
This was a world facing annihilation on a vast scale.

In peace time those instruments are not part of a resolution. They are the product of policy. They continue to be used and will be used while we allow it to happen in our name. By not speaking up and heeding the likes of Amnesty International, a group outside of the UN conspiracy of Nations, the torturers and leadership destruction will not be stopped. History must have its outcomes and this adherence without learning how to avoid continued cycles of violence and cycles of killing young future generations perpetuates the human decaying mind.
The History is taken. It is not appreciated in Gods terms nor is it learnt.
Without reference to the God principles of which it is the fortune of history to have brought into the light for us, the perpetuators of the cycle have many years and recurrences of destruction ahead for us.

The power of god is the power of loving thy enemy as you love your neighbour. Is it the case that this suggests our neighbours themselves are as flawed as us. It does of course. It advances the possibility that we are often close to violence. The word of God asks, implores us to act by communicating IN the laws of God, to tell the story and basis of why we are asked to deal with our lives in a way which is to cause no harm to another.

Just as Ireland has over centuries sent men through poverty and through need to countries to fight and fall the English they sometimes fought alongside were on that line between life and death also.
The future sometimes reveals things and falsehoods of the pursuit of war while also advising how much human barbarity has been avoided and brought to a halt as a result of war. The cost is learnt also.

There is no basis of justification on the one hand for the bombing of which Gerry Conlon was falsely accused along with the three others of causing and on the other no basis for framing individuals of the crime. To charge them with crimes they did not commit, to continue once framed with a paucity of evidence and false statements to punish them through a facade of court trial with the cruelty of torture once convicted is an indictment of the whole system the British Government had constructed since the wars.
This being a throwback to madness of monarchy created using the protection of the reputation and subsequent propaganda all focused on sovereignty and religious service to the Crown.
This was also not the Great Britain the lost generations had fought to uphold and in whose name countless policies were subvened.
How could this happen except through the vile instructions found in the many layers of control of the Government, with its secular instruments and agencies, whose aims are for the retention of the sovereign power in use since Elizabetan times. Except this was not Elizabeth I but Elizabeth II whose service has been wrapped up in the second World war and the subsequent recovery. Without accident or design the status quo has been held to, without fail and in misguided allegiance to former goals and objectives.

The monarchy being also overtaken in their primacy by advantages taken by groups of unlikely victors in the spoils of war and their uncontested wealth accumulation.
Firstly sovereign depends on subservience and adherence to ancient outdated and misinterpreted manifestations taken from the scriptures. There is no such demand on those that have overtaken the role of sovereignty. Wealth also depends on the removal of religion and Gods values.
Hardly can a hypocrisy be so flagrant yet so ignored and so attributable.
They collectively not only have devoured any reputation of fairness they have set back to medieval times any possibility of hanging on to the equality and justice which the Bible has led us deeply in instruction despite of and however twisted and contrived exhortations made outside the true Word.
The discussions is warped and removed, mostly through choice of the people with most to loose and answer to, from the inate values which most of us are born with and are born into systems of variance which removes meaning from Gods word and replaces it with dogma and doctrine divided and divisive. This is clear on all continents.
The hypocrisy endemic in English Politics is no longer its own master. It is driven by the machine of knowing, the attachment to the written laws without any analysis. Total dependency is supreme and poisonous.
The ‘Bon savages of war’ are given their instructions still, as before except no longer will the so called savages take the certitudes of the Nations interest as their inner most value, more important than tenets of God found in the many alternatives to the Established Church. They as servants defending nations are sons and daughters of Victims more read to tell the real time purposes in place. In countries where analysis is undermined and the local press act as functionaries of the aggressor or not at all the people cannot be expected to realise the depth of their mis guidance.
So apparent is this the regimes they are allies of become dictatorships rapidly, once the initial surge and adoption of no going back has occurred.
They are taken prisoner by a cause and it is not one of freedom.

This world has many prisons filled with people whose reasons for being held are corrupt. Mexico oblivious to Human Rights, the USA also running a prison system which responds to Courts. 95 percent of court cases, or thereabouts, are convictions. These convictions are based on plea bargaining. The justice principle is not in place. Instead any case on which plea bargaining is rejected by the defendant it is then subject to the most draconian measures and sentencing regimes it is possible to enforce.
Then the prisoner becomes isolated within the incarceration with the minimum of priveliges and humane treatment. So when the USA speaks to others of their treatment of citizens the clear response would be to ask The USA to rid itself of such in humane unjust practices and prove to the world it upholds the values it expects of others. Instead it hectors and prevaricated while opposing nations which do not fit their own image of principles.

Religion in the USA has forgotten largely the morals and ethics which have evolved from the Bible and the Word of God.
They replace God with extraordinary visions of damnation and hellfire where there is no such instruwith religious practice by zealots unable to adjust to their neighbour.

Reading and making connections is in Religious terms required continually as it is accepting the flaws exist in mankind and we therefore need to re- associate ourselves daily in faith for the future of mankind.
At the forefront of Nazism was a belief in the principle of perfection which has never had a rational nor any element of goodness. It has been again taken by religious zealots of many diverse religions to be their own salvation without the fundamental realisation they too are flawed in the eyes of God and only God will be their salvation. It does not reside in the destruction of others.
Human nature carries in us not ultimate perfection. Our desire to express our community in societies of many shades, colours and unity is an outward expression of the inner denial. Within God resides in us.

 

 

Gerry Conlon had much to challenge God with but he chose instead to challenge his fellow man, his community, the world he knew with the ethics and believes which came to him naturally from his beliefs in the principles of good. This is perhaps a commitment made in respect of the devotion given to God by his parents to their own faith. Though in prison his mother prayed every day of his detention to God for his release and for justice to be found. Through the extraordinary devotion of his advocate Gareth Pierce who maintained the unparalleled presence of social care and support he undoubtedly needed after 15 years of intolerable hurt and harm.
Gareth Pierce acted selflessly in maintaining the connection with those she secured justice for. Finally at rest in paying tribute to his life and extraordinary tenacity she spoke about his having departed this life victorious. Gerry Conlon left this temporary world with his dignity and integrity intact.

Mary : The Biblical Context

imageMary Mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene

The Gnostic Gospels contain The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; some have called her the thirteenth disciple, a scripture not part of the recognised Christian bible but a biblical text which has to be used by us to inform our views and to reinforce faith. It is regarded by many, in common with the Gnostic Gospels as a text which enters into the spiritualism and is as such in people’s minds untrustworthy.
That is something each individual must make their own mind up on and diverse as we are there are assuredly vast differences and interpretations on the written word. Where we see conflict though we should strive to understand more deeply and that is the challenging thing most would find hardest when they have a preformed set of beliefs and do not trust anything which questions part of that belief. I believe in the contrary, that it will reinforce your beliefs and faith by reasoning and placing these conjectures in the open an engaging in meaningful discussion as a way of expressing the one word. The word of God. Spoken through Jesus in act, deed and
Word.

I have recently read on the concepts, for that is all they possibly can be, of the question whether Jesus, through not being a sinner, how could he imagine the human sinfulness he saw all around him ? The interrelation of the supposed paradox fascinated different writers while at the same time they appeared to miss the logic that this exceptional person being in the form of a human was sent to us by the creator to establish the word on earth and in our lives forevermore. They gave no evaluated meaning to the exceptional, to the supreme uniqueness of the story of Jesus setting it apart from all others. It is possible these considerations have of themselves some value, I understood with more clarity the exceptional Christ by contrasting this with the apparent diversity of views on sinfulness.
So The Gospel of Mary Magdalene also enters and remains with us.

In the case of the second Mary I undertake to look at in this opinion piece, I have read the excellent book The Testament of Mary.
It’s is a fully acknowledged work of fiction, an axiomatic form which is written by Colm Toibin a writer of considerable skill and himself; he has made the point in the past people of other nations are embedded in religions of one kind or another, with deep effect of them in later life when they shape themselves and look back on all heritage, not just religious, he himself had a seriously affecting Catholic upbringing which obviously informs this work and is another document of scholarly value to which we can vex and challenge our perceptions of the life of the mother of Jesus.
Muslims believe Jesus is the son of Mary. So do countless others, Christians and many if not, importantly, all faiths have this as a core belief.
The significance therefore is for us to look further into this life and make a place bigger and larger for Mary whose womanhood is also of significance and irrefutable importance both as Herself alone and as the Mother of Jesus. The place for these thoughts is within us.

I produced two poems of sorts in order to distill my thoughts.
They will not win a Pulitzer Prize but all I am after is a greater understanding and extending to others the question of their own related beliefs and dis beliefs as a means of fulfilling God’s will as brought through Jesus

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene was written for us to share.

Mary Magdelane
Of the one beyond all beings.
A divinity profound of Mother – Father.
Seven flaws In our sphere.
Mary knowing oneself the prequel?
Seek, search look for the hidden.
Disciples testify of Gods laws.
Among us created heaven our habitation.
Not seen nor heard, no heart recalls.
It is prepared Our Kingdom come.
Trample like children the old rags.
Be rid of shame and guilt.
Offer certainty of Good.
Then it will be.

On whose words Mary gave were given These

Mary

What is returns
No sin is outside you
Inside God replaces sin
Look within for that being
There you will find peace
Tell then God’s laws

Let all religions be one
Underneath all known
Is the unseen vision
Uncover it through your mind
Not soul nor spirit
The answer lies between
See the unseen cover (I protect you with)
The soul Protects, conquers ignorance
Will be no more when it is done
The soul said “I am imprisoned” And
“I show you the destruction”
So other forces exist

First there is darkness, desire second,
Then, ignorance, wary of death,
flesh has power, little reason, loathing
self intoxicating pedantry
My words spoken
Turning, stillness fills me
The truth Jesus revealed
I have given to his disciples
Testifying his words
Be one with it and us
No other law exists ‘cept
The Lords
They began to teach

John Graham

May 2014

and on The Testament of Mary

The Testament of Mary A fiction without malice or hubric thought.

A critique in Poetry. A dialogue by Mary Mother of Jesus.

To know is to understand.

I know the past
want others to confirm my truth
foolish desires set aside
but others suffer just the same (Farna)
the Godess breaks my loneliness (Solitude)
Before, my time, tomorrow never comes
I alight, now the future speaks (all around me)
Now
The Temple summons us from nothingness
Prayer replenishes, the day and night (ahead)
By the pool of water and miracles
Beyond lamentation, Lazarus
Stills time, is renewed
Born Again into an empty life

A gathering, a wedding, (and a feast)
The risen, from his cell ( beneath the ground)
The unscrupulous, the arranger
among them came her son

Where water now is wine
Purple robes, confronting
Then home, without my son
The crowd await another fate

What is forgotten? What can be foreseen?
What time was the feast of Cana in?
It was a time after
a terrible truth arrived, new (Jesus is to be crucified)

On time a cross appointed
pointing to a sky full of stars
A multitude, a paradox
We see only some shine brightly

Why so, is this not the universe?
Are these days, our last days also?
I am in this house, this refuge
To see, to be prepared for dark then light (Witness)

Pilates speaks “Behold this man”
to a vast square filled with deceit
The palm, the power, the hand
“Behold the King” Pilate then delivered

From my core tears swelled
Fixed determination took
Bones and tendrils torn (upon the cross)
No turning, crying opened out

How long must this agony prevail?
When it comes to telling of this
words will have endless powers
Once written to bear witness

My son, My Lord
Plain spoken words remain (will be written)
The mortal words when written
speak of your immortality

A thousand things can and do distract
but being born and dying, young (thus)
The last hour powerless, I fled
Mary first, leaving others tending

Hearing his last words (for then)
the sweetness of tending, holding
May last for evermore (but as a dream)
With stealth we made our way (our own survival)

In strangeness, in dream,
I become fastened to strangeness
Statues, carvings mean nothing (the real the one thing)
They betoken death (life has been)

Until He returns, Lazarus walks the world (empty)
I smell the wood off the paper (my reading)
The book I read new like God
as God is here, is always new

Is it despair or grief or confusion?
I, Mary, saw he had many followers
Even after this, I Mary was in two places
As a Mother and with the Son of God

John Graham
May 2014.

Reflections at the foot of the Cross

imageReflections at the foot of the cross

Into the space God makes we enter
Solemn interegations to make
At the foot of the cross
We vow to share the wisdom
Release the hidden joy in agony
“My God, My God, Why
Hast thou forsaken me”

We too ask, so learn to reject
worldly things and in us have
God reside to live our lives
Praying for humanity to be
Shed of sin ourselves together
One in The Lord, Nowhere
Is more aloud than here
At the foot of the cross
The silence speaks onto us.

John Graham
Easter 2013

Religion cannot divide as it converges on the same spirit.

On Good Friday time is taken by millions throughout the world to reflect on Jesus and his crucifixion.

From Palm Sunday through to the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, after the first Moon after the vernal equinox it is a time into which many face the sacrifice Jesus made for us and thank God for this faith and ask for his forgiveness of our sins that he promised through the sacrifice of Jesus.

The resurrection is the event that follows and we await deliverance of mankind in the return of Jesus to cleanse the world of all evil and restore us to the purity of God. We cannot conceive of how this is to be achieved but by putting in place the message of Jesus it is only the beginning of us seeking our redemption. To be Born again is for some the essence of that discovery, an encounter with God and Gods message. That is interpretation which is only part of the story. At what point you allow God to enter your life is of your choice alone and an acceptance of the words of Jesus into your life. It cannot precede that point in life which you are delivered or Born Again. You cannot live in an exultation in whatever sense you perceive it. To be born again before we have passed is a separateness here on earth which provides false beliefs and is born of the self not God. God makes us so we are not separate but divided. The division is between those that will or will not accept the guidance of God in the prophet Jesus. The acceptance of spiritual guidance is not alone with Jesus, it is created by God whose deliverance of us is our journey in life. When it is Gods will he will again send his prophet and only son Jesus to return us to his Kingdom. When we are returned to him we shall be Born Again. Our atonement for our sins must be to accept the Lords forgiveness.

I believe that it is essential you open your heart and mind to Jesus, to the ways of Jesus and whatever capacity you have, you will be guided through this life by Jesus.

When you pass on you will be reborn. To anticipate or acclaim you are fully reborn is pre-empting this rebirth as it is a bridge yet to cross. God intends for us to live to our fullest in order we are reborn. We read and learn and practice his intent. No one is turned away from the Kingdom of Heaven.
God turns away the sin and during our lives provides the strength for us to not be sinful. So to have faith is to have it in degrees and with the words of Jesus we can seek out the fulfillment of Gods wishes for us, no matter how short or long our existence here on Earth is. The testament is yours and yours to make. Like Matthew the tax collector turned disciple the disciple went out and found others who were sinful and showed them a simpler truer way.
The day of judgement is Gods alone and it is for your sins you have to account. We can be punished on earth by our peers for our sins in our world and be denied privileges of freedom and other things. Only God can take your sin away so you are left to deal with any sin on Earth with the tools and guidance God provides for you.

Since lent is followed; as the forty days of fasting and penitance beginning with Ash Wednesday, by the actual event of Good Friday, it is the pivotal point after the birth of Jesus for our discovery of God.
The Bible is the scripture written by those who came after and in in the very words of Jesus within the Bible are the firmest expression of what God has created. We are continuing on a path set for us as mankind and for all living things. In our lives is discovery.
First we should hold our faith lightly, no setting up false boundaries among deities through creeds and doctrines but observe others faith or lack of it and help them carry the one spirit they possess, the spirit of God forward for their future good and for the future good of all in the Kingdom.
Secondly we should hold love strongly in our hearts and minds and love strongly all in the Kingdom. We face such profoundly affecting choices in our short time here that we need and we have the guidance provided by God to recognise, this life, as other peoples lives, are gifts from God.
No more is asked of us than we hold this faith in our own spirit lightly
and love our neighbours as ourselves so all may flourish.

John Graham

Easter 2014

Belfast

Peace be upon you

Seamus Heaney : Other Places

Part Colin Davidson portraitPublic Poetry Reading Ulster Hall April 10 2014
Part of the Seamus Heaney :A conference and commemoration.

My introduction.
Prayer as the Christian faith has it from the scriptures, is a private communication. A conversation alone with God.
Poetry it is said, and said once more here, as Prayer with the paper proximity and choice of seclusion acts of lone conversation with another’s words.

As human beings we do not conform to ideals but need the shape of others to resonate and collide with to approximate our truth.
Nothing we know is absolute, yet humanity abides and continues in our souls. Other Places are also other people, ourselves alone together.
The gathering on this occasion was homage to a Master and the only way it can be described here is in poetry which the item below attempts.

Other places

The Ulster Hall it’s theatre stalls
collapsible like a boxing ring
fill with people awaiting recited poems
published ripe as nectarine pipped and clean

The pastel walls spot residual damp
Almost hidden behind freshest paint
Focus instead onto the hall wide stage
command the organs pipes gold and gilt

The ear of the replenished soul is cupped
the evening is upon us air is gathered in
The favoured literati remember the sagacity
chosen decks of words joined here spill forth

Virgil yes, remembered, Plato yes,
a festival of learning each other’s speech
No language mutating hard thought, eased
the mind is mine enough to sculpt a poem

My current taste of Stevie Smith has gained
through thinking of Seamus Heaney recognising
‘A memorable voice’, envious of Palmer’s Green?
Seneca scored ‘How do you see?’ 1972 then.

Now girded we recoil ‘we shall kill everybody’
‘It will be too much for us… we shall..’ Seamus
knew the quicksand of a life and poems of the ear
Warmth drew on his breath ‘Be good to one another’

The poets try their damnedest to reflect
to profoundly, simultaneously move on
To catch this latent energy of now
excellence needed summoned every word

Universe, a train, tea ripples in a cup
Dublin, Malahide, Montana, Missouri
Dundee, Derry, no three counties
Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire

But the world as seen from Lanacashire,
Lanarkshire, Gloustershire, Middlesex
.. Oft ‘Rockall, Finisterre’ a field a radio,
A Church locked up grave silent under sky

Where have we been? we haven’t seen
the half of it before our eyes, sat down to tea
With furrowed brow aghast at the obscene TV
Bodies churned up with wild flower gutted

Home is near this place, divided
It’s in this world at least, our body’s
reside one place at a time, Home
That place we know, we’ve seen and been.

Seamus filled our hearts our heads
with things we knew lay beyond our walls
Two fields were plenty enough, a fence
to start a war or plough thus eat.

Suffering from wielded power
Opposition brooked, hunched carries on
paying by blood a fast a pilgrim
hatred, all sins now gathered in

Seamus left us half afraid, for
the other half we return, to
stations next to words, who
Since you think, mind, ever placed

Black cubes, huge sound boxes hang
from the hall roof amidst the plasterwork
Ornate and sparse words ejected, contact
The flesh and bones in regular lines, the rows

Giving your senses reason for endeavour
immaculate organs in decay seek another
body another’s skin to hold, meniscus thin
That water of us we live within

From the trenches, written, ‘Dearest War
Remember me,’ Dead of Hampstead Heath
The airey Christ takes care of them, peace
be upon us, render us relief, hear his song.

Under the bridge, the water flows, taking
your angst reflection downstream, with
the leaves, the twig you snapped, the Kingfisher
Soars, slickly through our canopy, this earth

John Graham

April 11 2014

Belfast

Kingfisher
That Kingfisher amongst the awesome beauty this world provides can make our hearts soar and think as G.M. Hopkins wrote :
‘Each mortal thing does one thing and the same;
from ‘As Kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame’
The division of presence of things. Into this we know our own diversity, what the Hopkin’s folk call self-nature. From the inward poet; G.M.H. Bespoke of his own nature, that he seeks and obtains just cause within to act out his being as influenced by the divine spirit. Christ ‘plays in a thousand places’.

In For my brother – Missing in action 1943.

For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
The money of Whose tears shall fall
Into your weak and friendless hand,
And you buy back to your own land:

The silence of Whose tears shall fall
Like bells upon your alien tomb.
Here them and come: they call you home.

Thomas Merton

A Clear Midnight
THIS is my hour O soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes
thou loves best.
Night, sleep, death and the stars.

Walt Whitman

The themes we encountered and which I have gone beyond for my own exercise take in the Seamus Heaney effect of most Northern Irish people who read his work. It is our narrative and has been the worlds progress to hear this voice. This commemoration comes within a void. The spring void.
The Easter resurrection so vivid in a spiritual life. Our being challenged by thoughts of others and our own actions. So has it been, this re-encounter with the work of Seamus Heaney, appearing as a miraculous body of work building on the work gone by and kept for future generations to which he generously opened consciousness buried within.
Even now or because it is such an additional wealth for us to carry forward, the themes he covered were of people and places and also of death and I cannot but wonder how Stevie Smith felt of the close to home troubles and 1972 violence as she struggled with her Christian beliefs. How marked upon her Seamus Heaney’s work was and how incendiary most poetry can be, either in the private act of reading or as prayer.

John Graham

Calvary : A Film Review

Easter reflectionDirector and Writer john Michael McDonagh. Score Patrick Cassidy, Cinematographer Larry Smith, Production Design Mark Geraghty. 100 mins.
The hill on which sacrifice is made.

But first a poem by anon.

The first Irish poem ( allegedly!)

I am the wind which breathes upon the sea,
I am the wave of the ocean,
I am the murmur of the billows –
I am the ox of the seven combats,
I am the vulture upon the rocks,
I am the beam of the sun,
I am the fairest of plants,
I am the wild boar in vapour,
I am the salmon in the water,
I am a lake in the plain,
I am a world of knowledge,
I am the point of the lance of battle,
I am the God who created the fire in the head
.
(ed. P. Murray)

It is soon to be Easter and time for reflections on the sacrifice of Gods only son on earth. This is the Earth we live on, set between heaven and earth is Jesus. Our own view is contained physically. Until we climb higher.
The Plateau of Benbulben features a great deal as a slab of biblical proportions overshadowing the tables of Sligo, small tables which we gather round, in the towns and villages beneath.

This film is another from the brother John of the McDonagh brothers and follows his The Guard also starring Brendan Glesson.

The mortal life foresaken after Jesus has revealed for mankind the powers of God, has found disciples and put forward values for them to show, to attain, teaching us to respond to evil and drive it out. His death was necessary to affirm the truth. We now the seven deadly sins, what sin is.
In this film the earth is expressed by the sea’s edge and horizon fixed in our relation to it. The sins by the journey taken in one week by the Priest among the people he leads or claims missionary over.

We occupy that place where our soul resides between the earth and the outside. As individuals the earth provides us with its time immemorial constants. This film casts its gaze upon the sea as a metaphor for life lived under the force of Gods design. The characters of the village behave in all manner of ways with each other and those that attend Father James’s Church, maybe go to confess their sins. The village in which it is set has pop culture symbols and characters of modern Ireland none of which have anything beyond stereotyping. The players are walking on fault lines in the script which is untidy. The framing jars at the very beginning after a confession when a stud is questioned about his affairs by the mainstay Father James. Odd angles enter, then leave? It settles into relative normality though the village street, something there yet absent provides no sane backdrop.
Some scenes are best forgotten but in the midst of them irritatingly the story rises on quite a few occasions only to drop the ball with incredulous words. Maybe that betokens the nature of us and the intention is to show our absurd responses to things.
Father James biggest problem becomes an act yet to occur which involves his death.
Naturally hurt at this possible outcome he consults his Bishop. Sure why wouldn’t he and then sets off after the absurd dialogue on Gods work. Don’t call the guards.
Father James faces among his parishioners no small difficulty of leadership which as a decent man in his chosen task he need now also contemplate his own demise. That radical, the truth, has on its tail repentance, the sinner has left the building, the vengeance is seen as himself, institutional good, emphasize his goodness for it shall therefore be inexplicable,representing God in confronting ungodliness. Brendan Glessons character is not seen in his Church except to show it as a sort of temporary form, that of a timber barn unlike the bells, smoke and mirror kind associated with the accepted religion. Very puritan. Very Scandinavian.
In the working of this tale of mystery; Father James it seems knows the affected, the filmmaker relies on Irish flavoured bitter humour and a screwed up parish to recall the grotesque, the embedded hatred kept in a seemingly logical and local narrative of which Father James is unsullied and innocent.
That placement of contempt of the Church seems to loom large as though everyone is affected, has been effected by it. As in the North; the vehicle being there the ‘troubles’ there is a communal bereavement, a causal change in the mindset of good and evil. All through the visceral loss of sense in Godliness. Brendan lashes out in a great scene on such a confrontation, his own faith challenged. The villagers make up their own religion in the void.

Of the person whose aim is to create another vile sin a week on Sunday he has an uncomfortable relationship as is the case on most points of the compass. None have any reverence towards him. A mere mortal though a good one. Willing and able to help with clearly the soundness in mind – judgement is a trammeled word – to administer in the doubts that this earthly conscious offers proverbially.

Performances from the uncommitted (atheist) Dr Harte, Aiden Gilen, Dylan Moran, Michael Fitzgerald Wealthy Man, Fiona, daugher of James, the beautiful red haired Kelly Reilly over from her exile and escaping to the ‘lost’ father; a key and solid piece of consistent convincing acting and the venerable Chris O’Dowd, imperious to the fact real life exists and a show is not life, stripey butchers apron, very fetching, his is a character in who you despair, at least I did because his manner was unconvincing except latterly.

In contrast the film is imperious when a scene of confrontation by a driver and his daughter represents the most vivid effect of how far we have come, that this is embedded in the everyday. The man represents most the condition alongside Fiona whose authorize connection with her dad is placed alongside her harmful loneliness. This splintering of the film in my mind at once decisive then a second later irregular. Many a slip between hand and mouth does mar the story. Perhaps it is the chattering of the seven deadly sins that mark it.

Brendan Glesson carries the central theme of forgiveness forward as a human being. It is as the Holy man he need minister to the mere mortals needs. He is Father James Lavelle, the incumbent here in the Yeats territory of Sligo. Yeats believing in eugenics at the same time advancing his own symmetry of poetry into floored and literary history. Clearly the air is affecting.
Brendan Glesson of course, given his honed gift of acting and his knowledge of the writer, directors aim gives full endeavour, thrusts centre frame in a for the most part restrained perfected act of role playing. In uniform the glory is not his, like forgiveness it’s Gods. He acts the part and if only.
The film, as its import takes us into the life’s of those in this place, in the course of the week, teases us to point to the portentous guilty sinner.
They are all sinners as us, with degrees of imperfection. This is seen to best effect in the father daughter relationship. There the writing is not a let down but superior and sustained in telling each’s story. Proper storytelling.

The sadness, grief, cruelty, anger and hurt here is Father James’s burden.
The past he cannot resolve except to use religion which his flock reject.
Whereas God gives to each of us a share of the burden of mankind; each taking as much as he can cope with, here the burden is cast out among the stereotypes. Each exemplifies Gods meaning. Each is a discovery for the viewer to relate too. Each of us will be affected by different elements making this film a highlight of cinematic achievements that Ireland lays claim to very occasionally. It follows on from recent themes of Irish cinema with Philomena having been the most recent comparator.
The sweep of the West of Ireland gives us Gods creation. That sea and land sometimes taken for granted and man demystifies with bungalows, estates, supermarkets and edge of town DIY stores. Reached by shiny motors.
Holy Motors. Now there’s a film way beyond this collection of humanity.
It has an episodic linearity which is spectacular.

Ireland’s character is visible with the ever present question – How could we have allowed this to happen? and this plaque is/was more than a burden but an altogether mortal execution without remorse. This is the whole nature of the film which only occasionally but very dramatically is realised here.

In the North similar practices took place yet the deflection the church chose to provide; as after the famine, as in civil war, was to seek restitution and forgiveness in the Holy Orders. What hope existed vanished in their sinful hands. They came thick and fast and clung as an overburden, way beyond the simple Christian message of loving thy neighbour. Vengeance is mine sayeth The Lord. Not yours or the Priests. James Lavelle knows his enemy is not the murderer but the sacrifice made missing for the perpetrator not having God in his life. He cannot offer anything to assuage the harm and carries the guilt through the week.

On these Sligo beaches where many a famine victim perished and were turned into the dust and sand of the beach, the continuum of earths reminder of the cycle of life speaks daily. Wave after wave of consciousness is brought about by recalling our history and this film while being a small element; pretends no greater part than to construct a story for us to contemplate.
We are beginning our return to Calvary and to forever face the self.

Conclusion
I don’t accept there is this degree of hypocrisy or anywhere near it, nor the extent of cynicism depicted in the Irish psyche as this film engenderers even with its black comedy stic on the seven deadly sins.
Ode to the Christian Brothers it is not but it creates a surreal picture of the life Ireland occupies as if it goes on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and sees there the divisions that still exist and the myth perpetuated of the promised land -returning with eyes wide shut. Has it the substance (topic) abuse (Eg hard-knock Irishness doled out by Dorries) a Tory with a six figure advance heart ache turns on like a dose of piles?
No we have not reached the ‘bottom’ in platitudes in Ireland or with this film being merely in the doldrums which Irish society is awakening to. For too long have the stories seemed unreal and this perpetuates that excursion. This film goes someway into trying to place self discovery on film.
As fanciful as Noah is as a biblical epic story, so the people were led onto the land, out of the hands of the Philistines, reality becomes fiction?
Partially only. No one reads reports except the Press and we have a miraculous remaining belief in mammon. Forgetting Mat. 6: 24 No one cannot serve God and riches.
Digs and dugouts are plentiful as are the (off screen) entaglements.
The bashful Publican is forgiven his bashfulness (cut to the washbasin and the show a bruise not the act, but wait, but the gory is explained how? Drama.
It lacks as despatch a homily a bit more precise than the derivative ending.

*** 3 stars

Screening
QFT Friday 11April to Thursday 24 April 2014

John Graham

Belfast

Wednesday 10th April 2014

A supplementary passage on Easter and sacrifice.

In this Film Calvary is a journey taken to uncover in the hills around Sligo the truth. A passage of forgiveness. An itinerary of reaching for the truth. Conquering the flesh against evil and replacing the belief in mortal life with a spiritual one.
Like the pain accompanying childbirth the new life overcomes the torment.
Such a blessing is reason enough to reconcile Gods healing of your spirit which is capable of being damaged as is the soul by wayward acts and dislocation in lives. The hill is the place of sacrifice. Thomas asked how will we know the path we are to follow, where will you go? What happens after death. Simply Jesus tells Thomas “I cannot show you what the will be; my teaching is the path, the truth and the life.” To the folk of the world this is all they are left with but it remains part of our daily lives.
The faiths divide up and segregate people (place chosen religion here) and further prophets emerge and are given the hope of human response that they alone are the true renewal of God. We need to live by the same God, the one that separates you from the world and worldly things. Those things of hate we are set to overcome through belief in the creation. The meaningful discovery that all life comes from the true God, that you only exist through knowledge within. The sacrifice is the meaningful act. That Jesus has gone, returning to God, leaving behind the living world, returning to God asking for us to be saved from evil through the knowledge he has shown.
That reality we are not born of ourselves but through Gods placement of us. We come from a time beyond the creation of the earth, True life exists outside of us in that time were love was born.
On Calvary the promise of the return is foremost. As Jesus invited everyone to the Lords table where there were to be no shortages of the things we need to live, the food, the shelter, the love within us so we cherish the word, his word. In his own death he asks, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthami?”. My God, My God to what have you abandoned me?. “Drink” was his request, and given vinegar, said “It is done! Father, I offer my spirit into your hands.”

Golgotha is the name given to the hill outside Jerusalem we know as Calvary.
The story of Jesus being revised and rewritten so many times still tells much the same story of this event. In his life he left behind manifestations and proclamations of true goodness with the knowledge if we accept God evil need not exist. Therefore he is asking us to unite with the one immortal being, the creator from who we gain the spirit to love. This Easter time we are offered to take the symbols of the Lords table in communion. No one is turned away. There is no credal obstacle to faith. That faith where only God exists and that we are part of, that spirit living through Christ his son until we are returned to our Father and thy Kingdom come. The return is the return of the spirit to all in the Kingdom of God.
Life itself comes from knowledge of a model proclaimed by Jesus as the basis of everything? The return is – Let his power be manifest among the people.