Storm Centres of History: Beirut and the West Bank

BBC Radio Devon – Pause for Thought:  Storm Centres

During the Pause for Thought recently, I’ve been talking about 7 places I have been to:  Storm-centres of history.

Today, we will go to Beirut and the West Bank.

One of my most important objects is a large iron key.

I bought it from a Palestinian Christian shop-owner in Old Jerusalem.

The Key is a very potent symbol for the Palestinians, Muslim and Christian.

It symbolises the right to return to their homes, lost since the refugee crisis of 1948 when 750,000 Palestinians were removed from their land and homes.

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The Peace of Wild Things

 

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron
feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

– Wendell Berry

The Hermit and King

The Hermit and King

Three Questions

It once occurred to a certain king that if he always knew the right time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake.

And this thought having occurred to him, he had it proclaimed throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to anyone who would teach him what was the right time for every action, and who were the most necessary people, and how he might know what was the most important thing to do.

And learned men came to the king, but they all answered his questions differently.

KingIn reply to the first question, some said that to know the right time for every action, one must draw up in advance a table of days, months, and years, and must live strictly according to it. Only thus, said they, could everything be done at its proper time. Others declared that it was impossible to decide beforehand the right time for every action, but that, not letting oneself be absorbed in idle pastimes, one should always attend to all that was going on, and then do what was most needful. Others, again, said that however attentive the king might be to what was going on, it was impossible for one man to decide correctly the right time for every action, but that he should have a council of wise men who would help him to fix the proper time for everything.

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Al-Nakba Horror – Remembering 1948 and the ‘Trail of Tears’

nakbaMay 15th, 1948 – The Palestinian Catastrophe, known as ‘Al-Nakba’, also known as Israeli Independence Day.  One date, one land, two peoples, opposite ends of the spectrum – one people in deep trauma, the other in deep joy, a joy which is certainly tinged with a darkness of soul that must be continually pushed down and ignored.  It won’t stay there forever.  This anniversary is coming round again, and it is right to remind ourselves what is going on, to stand up for justice, for people, for God’s sake.

Alex Awad:

“Eighty percent of the Palestinians living in Palestine (what is now Israel – excluding the West Bank) fled out of fear or were forcibly evicted by the Zionists.  Most of those who were not pushed out lived on the periphery of the Zionist military action, particularly in the Galilee, and thus managed to stay put, primarily because a cease-fire was signed before they could be evicted.  It was essential, however, for the Zionists to prohibit those who left from returning to their homes, despite international pressure and UN resolutions, and despite Israel’s own promises, made in return for recognition and membership in the United Nations.”

UN Resolution 194

“Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and those wishing not to return should be compensated for their property.”

“The 750,000 Palestinians who fled lost all their land and possessions in 1948 and became refugees.  Just as Jews in Europe were driven from their homes due to pogroms, Palestinians were forced to leave their homes and land because of Zionist ethnic cleansing.  In what may be termed a Middle Eastern “trail of tears”, refugees . . . trecked to Lebanon, Jordon, Syria, and other surrounding states.”

Palestinian_refugees_1948

Source:  commons.wikimedia.org

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Prophets, Peace and Truth

The task of a prophet is not to smooth things over but to make things right.  The function of religion is not to make people feel good but to make them good.  Love?  Yes, God loves us.  But his love is passionate and seeks faithful, committed love in return.  God does not want tame pets to fondle and feed; he wants mature, free people who will respond to him in authentic individuality.  For that to happen there must be honesty and truth.  The self must be toppled from its pedestal.  There must be pure hearts and clear intelligence, confession of sin and commitment in faith.

And peace?  Yes, God gives peace.  But it is not a peace that gets along with everyone by avoiding the hint of anything unpleasant.  It is not achieved by refusing to talk about painful subjects or touch sore spots.  It is a peace that is hard won by learning to pray.  There is evil to combat, apathy to defeat, dullness to challenge, ambition to confront.  There are persons all around us, children and parents, youth and adults, who are being trampled and violated, who are being hurt and despised.  Any preaching of peace that turns its back on these is a cruel farce….

…There are times when truth will receive a wide hearing and times when it will not.  Jesus had a congregation of five thousand one day and four women and two bored soldiers another.  His message was the same both days.  We must learn to live by the truth, not by our feelings, not by the world’s opinion, not by what the latest statistical survey tells us is the accepted morality, not by what the advertisers tell us is the most gratifying lifestyle.  We are trained in biblical faith to take lightly what the experts say, the scholars say, the pollsters say, the politicians say, the pastors say.  We are trained to listen to the Word of God, to test everything against what God reveals to us in Christ, to discover all meaning and worth by examining life in relation to God’s will.

Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses, 86-87