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

My Google+ diary and Belfast blog

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Today's Scripture: Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians 2:14-17; 3:1-3,
from today's Orthodox lectionary readings.
See the homiletical thought below. 

Today's diary - life in Northern Ireland

I've been reading about shamrocks since at least my Big Bend School years (ages 11-13) as I was always looking for tangible links to St. Patrick and Ireland. Most pictures purporting to depict shamrocks show a plant that looks like the one at right, which has three heart-shaped leaves (search "shamrock" on Google images if you need proof). I'm sure one of the encyclopedias I consulted years ago flatly said that the shamrock is oxalis acetosella or wood sorrel, which is what the photo at right depicts. But now (or as many here say, "noeye"), the Wikipedia entry for shamrocks, though it still uses a photo of the plant above as its main depiction, gives as its first answer, "clover," and even reports that over half of all Irish call clovers shamrocks, even though clovers have oval-shaped, not heart-shaped, leaves.

But I have an explanation for that: most Irish have probably never seen a "real" shamrock, because, as I said in this Google+ entry, real shamrocks are relatively rare here. But they do exist and a real connoisseur (your's truly) knows where to find them. I found these at the top of Knockmany Hill a week ago. It seems that wood sorrel, true to its name, grows only in the woods. In Pennsylvania, we had them profusely in the woods, but also had a nearly identical plant, which our family called (for some reason I never heard) "bird seed." It had the same leaf shape, but unlike the wood sorrel they grew out in the sun, usually next to a building, and they were a much brighter shade of green, almost chartreuse. They also did not seem to grow as large as shamrocks (er, wood sorrel) gets. They were edible, with a sour but, to my taste, pleasant flavor. The wood sorrel has a similar taste, but not as light. Interestingly, the Wikipedia report on shamrocks says that Irish, at least centuries ago, would eat wood sorrel; maybe that's why it's so rare now. I'm joking in the last point, of course; they're rare now because woods are rare. And I believe I read years ago, also, that oxalis acetosella is the source for the active ingredient in aspirin, which could be another reason people of ancient times found themselves eating it; it may have been a pain reliever.

Today's Belfast weather continues to be more like April than August, unseasonably cool and cloudy, but with no appreciable precip.

Check out today's Christian worldview segment for more "diary" info; it's a rare instance that straddles both the "journal" and the worldview discussion, but I decided it's mostly the latter. «

A closer look
Links to news, features, and opinion pieces. See caveats, below.

Today's must-read item: a movie about a heroic high school coach

Nuns' conference leader: 'we are no longer at home in the culture and church'

Book review: 'we are relational souls in the image of a relational God'

BBC warns: Internet-controlled homes could become 'houses of horror'

Modern-day miracle: blind man regains his sight at Orthodox shrine

St. Silouan the Athonite said keeping your mind in hell cures depression

Pope in interview: 'God will give me two or three more years'

More Colorado newborns are being exposed to pot in the womb

It is not loving to affirm persons in their sin; relativism and Orthodoxy

Orthodox blogger discusses validity, importance of 'near-death' stories

US Second Amendment at work: robber seeking easy mark becomes one

Alaskan reporter describes 'three flavors' of Orthodoxy in his state «

Christian worldview - Shadowlands
(This department alternates with Writing stuff)

Last night, Jack Lamb invited me to a showing of his DVD of the Richard Attenborough 1993 theatrical film of Shadowlands at the home of a couple in his church, the dramatization of the story of the friendship between C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham that eventually led to their civil marriage and, finally, a church marriage and a great love story.

I've written elsewhere that seeing Shadowlands shortly after its release in theaters had led to the biggest change ever in my adult life. After seeing it, during the next four months I devoured all the C.S. Lewis books in my personal library (none of which I had read all the way through before that time), along with around 50 other books by and about Lewis.

Reading that much Lewis and realizing that he believed in "free will" in a way Calvinists—as I had been throughout my ministry years, never do—set me up to consider changing churches. I had become convinced that his theology is more consistent with the New Testament as it was interpreted by the early church, than Calvin's approach is. About six months after seeing Shadowlands and embarking on my "Lewis plunge," when I returned from my first trip to England and Ireland that spring, a letter was waiting for me from a former evangelical convert to Orthodox Christianity, challenging me to look into Orthodoxy. Doing so, and realizing that this was much closer to Lewis's spiritual home (traditional Anglicanism) than my Presbyterianism was, by the end of that year I was chrismated (confirmed) into the Orthodox Church.

All of which is a prelude to saying that seeing the movie a second time last night, though it stands up as a very good story of a mature love relationship, hardly depicts the C.S. Lewis I have subsequently come to know through my reading and writing. Jack Lamb and I both spotted many more discrepancies between the film and the real history of Jack and Joy in this second viewing than we'd been aware of before, but the main thing to me is that the Jack Lewis it shows giving frequent talks to large assemblies of middle-aged women, and whose preoccupation was suffering and pain and a superficial theology derived from his own ideas, is not a faithful rendering of the real C.S. Lewis, in my opinion. Over the years he gave a few talks to women's groups, for one minor thing, but he was not in any kind of habit of doing so. And though his book, The Problem of Pain, is the probable source of the spurious theology presented in Shadowlands, it was "ancient history" in his life before he met Joy. And more importantly, there is nothing in it that he ever refuted in later writings, as Shadowlands' treatment of his career suggests.

I still recommend the movie for anyone who does not know Lewis. Seeing this was not the first time I saw a movie that got me into a strong reading regimen, and the fact that my first viewing of this had that effect on me is reason enough to recommend it. But know that if you like "this" C.S. Lewis, if you'll follow my example and go on to get to know the "real" one, you'll find him a man of much more substance, credibility, and integrity than Attenborough's pastiche.

And if you do that, your worldview is likely to be enhanced far more than anything else I'd be able to say in this space. «

Today's video




Today's quotes

Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification.

— John Donne (c. 1572-1631) «

I, a sinner, have been trying to love God for more than forty years, and cannot say that I perfectly love Him. If we love someone, we always remember him and try to please him; day and night our heart is occupied with that object. Is that how you . . . love God? .

— St. Herman of Alaska «

I wrote on a friend's timeline that I doubt this is an authentic C.S. Lewis quotation. Though he says much about painful experience and he might have spoken of "monkey bars" at some time, it does not ring true. Can anyone provide a source for this alleged quote? «

Homiletical thought: Paul describes the Gospel and its preaching as a sweet fragrance that attracts seekers after truth like incense in the worship of God. As a perfume may enhance the closeness and aura of an attractive person, sweetness in the message enhances it to those who are looking for something to hope in.

We live in desperate times and many are overwhelmed by the rising tide of trash. Give them the fragrance of the Lord and His Truth«

§     §     § Return to top

Caveats on "A closer look"; links to articles on current issues—news, features, and opinion that may signify how the cultural winds are blowing. Note that most 'news reports' are not 'objective' and if some are 'neutral' it's because the writers and editors are disinterested (could care less about the topic). Neither are 'news reports,' in general, highly accurate or unbiased; try to discern the bias of any report's source; always read aware and at your own risk. «

Unless specified otherwise, none of the message memes used in this blog are the creation or property of the author, but are reposted here from the social networks. «

Quotations usually have not been vetted (and thus may be falsely attributed). «

Videos used here are embedded from video websites (most frequently YouTube), and occasionally these are removed from the sites from which they were embedded, or permissions on those sites change, causing them to "disappear" from these pages. This is also likely to happen to links to articles outside this site. This is beyond the control or remedy of this blog. «

Comments: Please leave comments on my Facebook or Google+ page. «

§ I have now uploaded over 3,000 photos and videos, mostly from my current visit to Northern Ireland, but also including several hundred photos and videos from my summer in Pennsylvania (2012), and some photos of the family, on my Flickr site. Most of these are now organized by sets. Click here for the Flicker site.

For more and more spontaneous posts, follow me on, and Twitter (click on either icon to go to the site).

Google+ works more automatically, so most of the pictures I post (excluding Flickr) are posted there. Feedback: Please comment on anything in today's blog on the Facebook and Google+ pages linked above, and of course via email to

Feedback is always welcome.

§     §     §

Please pray for my mission to Northern Ireland. You can read my background overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is The Loom, 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile, international: 44 7455 980890; from within the UK, 07455 980890.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy


related pages

The Nanty Glo Home Page

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This blog is just
an attempt to communicate
between an American lay missionary in Northern Ireland, his friends there, his friends in his home parish in Silicon Valley, California, and his friends in his native coalfields of Western Pennsylvania, and any others interested. When time for deeper reflection is lacking, this may consist mainly of reposts of things from online networks that seem to resonate with members of his circles.

The Nanty Glo Home Page, on which this blog resides, and all its departments are for and by the whole Blacklick Valley, Pa., community. Your feedback and written or artistic contributions, also notification about access problems, are welcomed. Click here to reply.

Suitable letters to the Home Page will be considered for publication in the Forum department 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 mission to Belfast, Ireland. Click here to download it directly to your Kindle or your Kindle bookshelf on your PC or smartphone.

C.S. Lewis Society of Northern Ireland

Blogs I follow:

Glory to God for All Things

Dock Cafe - Life in the Titanic Quarter

Sitting around the campfire with Jim

The Belfast Lord Mayor's blog

Other books by Jon

Author page
on Amazon

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