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Jon Kennedy's recent book,
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s planned mission to Belfast, Ireland. Click here to download it directly to your Kindle or your Kindle bookshelf on your PC or smartphone.


Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
his sojourn in Northern Ireland'

Northern Ireland diary
. . . and seducing women

Jon Kennedy  

JONAL ENTRY 1271 | March 29 2013

My son, . . . the commandment [of your father] is a lamp and the teaching [of your mother] a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adventuress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread, but an adulteress stalks a man's very life.

— from Proverbs 6:20 - 7:1,
from today's lenten Orthodox
lectionary readings

Diary: Jack collected me at 10 a.m. yesterday to go to a community coffee hour at his church (Townsend Presbyterian). The group was six or seven local residents (all seniors), some of them not attendees of the church but there mainly because, as Jack said, it may be their only outing or social activity of their week. There are always biscuits (Brit-speak for "cookies") at such events, but yesterday several of the ladies were plying us with plates of tempting Easter traditional sweets, including "wee doughnuts." I had to wonder whether they were wee enough to have no ill effect on my blood sugar and decided they probably were (the flesh is weak, and so we die).

The church is immediately adjacent to a heavy steel gate that closes Townsend Street from traffic between Shankill and Falls Road in the early evening, part of a wall that divides the Catholic Falls Road section from the Shankill Protestant section of Belfast. Just adjacent to the wall is a baracks where British troops were billeted during the fighting days of "the troubles," from whence they could and did run out to quell rioting or uprisings (this was in the days of the Clinton Administration, as he came here to encourage the two sides to work out a truce that has more or less "held" ever since). I must get a picture of the wall later and post it; one has a way of putting such thoughts out of mind when scurrying from the car into the church as fast as possible in hopes of outrunning frostbite (I have bought gloves but not found any earmuffs yet)!

On the way from my place to the church we drove into the Falls Road district and thence to the Clonard Abbey, a Redemptorist (Catholic) Monastery, where Jack was checking on the time of a march on (western) Good Friday (today) that he has joined in past years and hopes to today, too. I also will join the procession if I get collected again and will try to get some footage. We were rushing to get to the coffee hour, so I got introduced to a younger man from New Jersey known to Jack that I suspected is a monk or brother (though not cossacked) but didn't have a chance to pursue more details.

Today's photo is a panorama view of the row of houses where I live on Crumlin Road, Belfast. The arrow indicates 227, the Loom, where I live, immeditely next to Russell's Shop4You. To the left of Russell's is Crumlin Chinese, an excellent Chinese take-away place, which also sells fish and chips, a weekly staple of the diet here. It opens only after 5 pm, so a roll-down cover protects the door and front window during daytime hours.

In the afternoon I walked a quarter of a mile down Crumlin to my new doctor's office. Dr. Paul Corrie was welcoming and cordial, taking his time to get acquainted, learning about my work here, my past, and of course my medical conditions and prescriptions for them. Getting prescriptions filled here was a major concern when I began considering this venture. Marda assured me that the National Health Service would take care of it. Dr. Corrie was not as confident of that, so we will see. I use nine prescriptions daily, the "cocktail" that my Kaiser Permanente physician came up with back in San Jose, for my diabetes and hypertension; Kaiser was reluctant to send them to Pennsylvania last summer (but in the end, did so), so I've been assuming they would decline to send them overseas. Dr. Corrie agreed with the meds I am taking, saying that he might have to do some substitutions as not all are available in their American names. He recommended that I change from taking most of them at supper time to breakfast time, and now if I could only remember which ones he recommended changing.... He also recommended losing weight to avoid having to graduate from taking pills to insulin to control my blood glucose (he was more forthright about this than my Indian-Californian doctor has been).

Wednesday's snow flurries, by the way, resulted in no new accumultation, and again yesterday, though bright sunshine was flooding my room when I got up, we saw lots of flakes swirling through the air off and on. But the streets and sidewalks are progressively clearer now. I occasionally see dump trucks passing, probably going to the lough (from the Scottish "loch," pronounced "lock" in both spellings, and the equivalent to the English/American "lake") filled with snow that must be coming from the roads in the higher elevations as part of their clearing. I earlier referred to "the bay" which connects Belfast with the Irish Sea, but it is more correctly called Belfast Lough, though I never heard before of a lake that is not entirely surrounded by land).

Today, I'm stuck in the house waiting for my furniture to be delivered by Re:store, hoping it gets here before time for the (western) Good Friday procession (which, Jack was told, begins at 4 or, as they more commonly say here, 1600).

The Bible passage for today from the Proverbs portion of the recommended readings (there are passages from Genesis and Isaiah also each weekday of lent) is the most detailed Old Testament passage I've seen addressing adultery and fornication (the New Testament has more and more-detailed teachings on those subjects that most Bible-literate Christians are aware of). I was struck by its use of "do not let her capture you with her eyelashes," which made me think of the countless representations we see in dramatizations ranging from Shakespeare to commercials of women "seducing" by blinking their mascaraed eyes and flashing their powder-lined (or fake) lashes.

Solomon takes a practical approach, almost (but not quite), intimating that a young man would be better off working off his excess passion with a cheap harlot than an adulterous but "free" woman married to a neighbor. Better than either of those, however, he clearly advises that the young man should follow his father's and his mother's advice about his youthful passions and use self-discipline instead of women. Which raises the question to us parents: how much advice and teaching have we given our young men? Have we failed there? Is there any way to make amends?

§     §     §

If you missed my overview of my venture in Northern Ireland, check it out here.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

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