Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
his soj
ourn in Northern Ireland'

What shall it prophet, and
parading season in Belfast

Jon Kennedy  

JONAL ENTRY 1299 | JULY 10 2013

. . . those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

— from the Epistle to the Romans chapter 8, from today's
Orthodox lectionary readings
See the homelitical thought below.

Diary: After posting yesterday's thoughts about how much easier it is for me here in Northern Ireland to get opportunities than in San Jose, a friend replied from San Jose to the effect that I am proving the axiom that a prophet is not without honor except in his own country. I don't doubt the biblical axiom, but her comment gave me second thoughts. I realized it's not Belfast itself that is making my lot easier here than there, and not even most people here, but a few friends who've chosen to encourage and "use" me. It may or may not be easier to find people who are willing to give a friend a boost here than there, but that's what I've found. But they are individual people who have their own wills and their own motives, and if they moved to Silicon Valley they would probably be just as supportive and helpful there.

In fact, back in "the day" there were friends in San Jose (Steve Lester, as one important example) and during my Stanford ministry years (Tim Bartol, especially, comes to mind) who made many things happen that I could not have accomplished without their encouragement and support. So the motivational books have a valid point: what you do to find the right kind of people to support your vision and goals and your success in choosing to spend time with such people makes a world of difference. Maybe I've been doing that here and now without having set out, consciously, to do so, just because I came here to get a "fresh start," and thus I have my antennae up for the people and the opportunities. But I still think there some advantages in being in a small but vitally alive city like Belfast where, as friend Marda says, everyone is separated by only "two removes" rather than the "seven removes" that places like the San Francisco Metro and New York are famous for.

Having been absorbed by C.S. Lewis for some years now, I have often wondered what had been the keys to his great success. Though there were many, a large one that I've never seen addressed head on was the friends he made. Especially J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams encouraged him in important ways and their conversations must have inspired some of the topics of some of Lewis's books and his approach to his topics. All of the Inklings (of which Tolkien and Williams were two) must have stimulated more work and creativity than any of them could have assessed at the time.

When I was growing up in Blacklick Valley, I was more famous than any of my peers, because two savvy adults took me under their wings and promoted me. Rhea Taylor, the schools' music director, make me a star of the Big Bend School stage, and Andy Rogalski make me a star of the local media. When I left school I didn't find a replacement for Mrs. Taylor (nor did I look), and when Andy left Nanty Glo I was left to my own devices. After I moved to New Jersey (as managing editor of the Christian Beacon) one of Johnstown's most successful businessmen, whom I had met only briefly while I was editing the Journal, wrote to say that he was sorry to hear I had left Cambria County, as he had expected big things from me. I've always wanted to know "what big things" but of course I never will.

Moving on to more important topics, it's parading season in Belfast, and the cross-community (which means the Protestants, Catholics, and a couple of Orthodox who regularly meet to consider how to ease the tensions between the districts delineated by "peace walls" or, as one doctoral dissertation calls them, barriers, that criss-cross Belfast. Right now, the city is holding its breath because July 12 is the most important date in the "Protestant" faction, somewhat akin to the States' Fourth of July but with a different kind of fireworks. Parades have already begun, most of which are made up of Orange Order fife and drum bands who come together to march from the outlaying sections of town into the city center.

I put the quotation marks around Protestant above because as far as I can see it is not the "observant" Protestants who build 30-foot highrise bonfires to light up at midnight July 11 but the ones who live secular lifestyles or, as author Tony Macaulay calls them, the "atheist Protestants." I am told that Belfast virtually closes down on July 12 and doesn't open again until the 14th or 15th. The people who can afford to, get out of the city for the duration, but we'll be here. I had hoped to get some visuals of the bonfires, but learning that they begin at midnight put a damper on that. I've always been a night person but not a "wee hours of the morning" person if I can help it.

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Homiletical thought: Christianity has no dualism between the material (flesh) and the spiritual as Eastern religions do, but teaches that the flesh is also from God, created by Him and redeemed through the Son's redemptive work and our own spiritual work (prayer and obedience through use of the sacraments).

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Please support my mission to Northern Ireland in your prayers. You can read my overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

related pages

The Nanty Glo Home Page

Previous blog:
Videos from our Donegal holiday and some thoughts about the sojourn

Report on latest NTAMHS Meeting

Glotube videos



We had to have the garage door repaired. The repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a "large" enough motor on the opener. I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one Sears made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. He shook his head and said, "Lady, you need a 1/4 horsepower." I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4. He said, "NO, it's not.. Four is larger than two."


A merchant gets up early in the morning to get rich; thieves do the same and spend their nights lying in wait for passersby. Shall we be less diligent for the good than they are for ill?

St. Vincent de Paul

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