You search the scriptures,
because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it
is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me
that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men. But
I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have
come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; if another
comes in his own name, him you will receive.
One big difference I've noticed between life here in Northern Ireland
and in the USA is the increased emphasis on social programs and bringing
social programs like "the arts" to the communities and to
senior citizens like myself. I worded that sentence carefully because
I'm not sure whether there actually is a big difference between
the two cultures or it's more a matter of my noticing these programs
here and having ignored such things back "home" in San Jose.
San Jose probably has as many museums and other public agencies that
conduct lots of programs that I've never heard of because I've been
too distracted by the busy-ness of my personal pursuits. Here, one
of the emphases of my mission is on getting to know as many people
as possible, so I've been looking for opportunities to get out and
make new acquaintances, and my colleagues Marda and Ward have also
been looking for (and taking advantage of) such opportunities to get
to know lots of people and they have been widening my horizons.
The UK (of
which Northern Ireland is a "province") is more socialized
than the States, which is most noticeable by long-term visitors by
way of its medical program, the National Health Service, which provides
medical services without charge even to visiting noncitizens. England
introduced socialized medicine just after World War II (when the country
was virtually bankrupt, ironically), and even though the Conservatives
(especially the late former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) have
tried to push back on the costs, expenditures, and the taxes required
to make the program possible, socialized medicine has survived and
seems as generally accepted by both parties here as Social Security
is accepted by everyone in the States now.
But one social
service area in which the United States seems (but again, I may be
under-informed) to have a more comprehensive program than the UK is
"senior nutrition." I know from my frequent visits to my
brother Bob (who attends the senior lunch program in his town every
day) and my time living in Pennsylvania last summer that such programs
are common around the country, five days a week, year round. Here,
I have not heard of any comparable senior nutrition program. I have
been invited to a once-a-week lunch program put on by a Belfast church
which runs from fall into spring but is suspended for the summer.
Both the one my brother attends and the one here charge a fee for
the meals, but the fee is less than lunch in a restaurant and, at
least theoretically, it is more nutritious than a fast-food lunch.
The Belfast church lunches cost three pounds (compared with $2.50,
I believe, in Willows, Bob's town). But though the charge here is
approximately twice that in Willows, at the end of the church lunch
"season," the program provides a field trip by tour bus
to a fancy restaurant out of the city (subsidized, I've been told,
by the "profit" on the three-pound lunches and a five-pound
charge for the trip and final lunch).
"field trip" took place this Tuesday, when a luxurious tour
bus took us about twelve miles northeast of the city to Carrickfergus,
which is also on the Belfast Lough (the huge "bay" that
connects Belfast to the Irish Sea), but Carrickfergus is much older
than Belfast, having been a medieval castle and monastery town. "Carrick"
is Irish for "rock," and Fergus, presumably, was the name
of an early king or warlord. Below is a photo and a video taken on
in Carrickfergus was built by the Normans (residents of Normandy,
a province in what is now France) in the twelfth century, and is one
of the best preserved ancient castles in Ireland.
This view of it was just outside the restaurant where we had our lunch
the > on the video above to play it. After the video launches,
you can double-click the screen to enlarge it to full-screen. If your
browser cannot open the video in Windows Media format, you can try
it on YouTube, here.
which runs under six minutes, was taken at the beginning of our return
from Carrickfergus, taking a scenic route on back roads through several
suburbs and over the countryside. It was a beautiful afternoon. Most
of the footage above is within the town of Carrickfergus.
Though Jesus was speaking to Jewish temple leaders of his time in
this passage, except for its reference to His hearers "searching
the Scriptures," I think it applies as well to most people in
the Western world today. Most people in the Americas and in Europe
know that the church preaches Jesus and teaches His way to eternal
life, but because they have been turned off by some superficial exposure
to "the church" or Christianity (or because they are unwilling
to consider changing their ways, in many cases), they are unwilling
to listen and hear the Good News He wants them to hear.
§ § §
my mission to Northern Ireland in your prayers, especially for my
second talk this Sunday on C.S. Lewis and his impact on the world
through his Christian writing.
You can read
my overview of this undertaking here.
My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern
Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. NEW Mobile: 44 7455 980890.
man said to his wife one day, "I don't know how you can
be so stupid and so beautiful all at the same time."
The wife replied, "Let me explain. God made me beautiful
so you would be attracted to me; He made me stupid so I would
be attracted to you!"
has never had a brain, and has never missed it.
Nanty Glo Home Page and all its departments are for and by the
whole Blacklick Valley community. Your feedback and written
or artistic contributions, also notification about access problems, are
welcomed. Click here
letters to the Home Page will be considered for publication
in the Forum departments unless they are specifically labeled
"Not for Publication."
Jon Kennedy's recent book,
C.S. Lewis Themes and Threads,is available
for purchase at $2.99. Purchase supports the author's
to Belfast, Ireland.Click
download it directly to your Kindle or your Kindle bookshelf
on your PC or smartphone.