Friday, 31 May 2013

The disruptive power of the gospel

I've been travelling this week through the seven churches of Asia, now Turkey, to which John is commanded to write in the book of Revelation. This hasn't proved too arduous, fortified by Turkish fish lunches and soft wine-fuelled suppers.

It's difficult to imagine in the gentle May sunshine and under the pomegranate blossom that these early churches lived in great fear of Roman oppression - it's why John is said to have written so much of his Revelation in code, to protect his correspondents.

But I'm struck also by how little has changed since he wrote his extended letter. At Pergamon, there's a Roman amphitheatre that you reach by passing through an ancient shopping mall, just like we're offered retail therapy at the National theatre or Royal Shakespeare Company. At the ruins of the city of Aphrodisias, there is an old surviving inscription that tells people not to throw their rubbish out of the gate.

And it seems that nothing much changes in churches either. John is forever exhorting the churches not to give up hope; that if they hold fast to their faith all will be well.

Sometimes he's encouraging, sometimes he admonishes, sometimes he's downright rude. My favourite is when he accuses the church in Laodicea of being "neither hot nor cold but lukewarm" and claims that the angel of the Lord wants to "spew you out of my mouth".

Laodicea lies between Pamukkale, which has hot springs, and Colossae, which has cold mountain water, so its water temperature is somewhere in between - John, writing on the island of Patmos, certainly knew his churches.

But no one thinks that John is writing about water quality. This is a church that has grown insipid and bland, easy with itself for being easy. Not unlike a few of our churches today, or the arguments that we have in them. Christian arguments become bland when they cease to be transformative, disruptive and radical. This doesn't always mean doing the latest thing that is demanded, or simply appeasing public opinion.

When John wrote his letter to the Laodiceans, he was accusing them of being smug because they were wealthy, rather than rich in spirit as they were intended to be. As I write in my piece "God is the new CEO" in this week's New Statesman, there are strong signs that Christians in the City of London are recognising that the gospel shouldn't serve the markets, but the other way around. I call these the new Power Christians, because they are serving a power beyond free-market liberalism.

The faith of this new generation of Power Christians is one which is unashamed; convinced of the power of the gospel to transform not just personal lives but the whole framework through which financial institutions operate. These pin-striped disciples are anything but lukewarm. They seem to have a new willingness to bring disruption to the markets for the good of the City and the nation as a whole; and unlike their predecessors they are no longer afraid to use religious rhetoric when doing so.

Surprisingly, they are not being mocked for it, but listened to; their prophetic voices being heard within a climate that seems more ready to accept the Christian alternative than it was a decade ago.
It is not only the markets that are in need of this transforming power. It's the same in all areas of our lives. The gospel shouldn't serve our social attitudes, but the other way around. We should be having arguments about these attitudes and enjoying them.



George Pitcher is a journalist, author, public relations pioneer and Anglican priest. - Evangelical Alliance


Poem: The only happy feel

When nights fall and the drama begins to fade,
I take time to meditate on my hearts ways,
Longing to need my lover's kiss, but she won't recognize me,
So I asked her to the prom,
She rejected whilst drunk on rum,
And I was high on gin.
Ambition to get past this melancholy feel,
So I'm staring long at her picture strong,
But I cannot cry,
Besides I tried, but she is not feeling me,
I wish someone would say they need me,
Because I am bleeding for joy, and thirsty for love,
Spent too long in my own mind,
Walking under the sky,
I am getting desperate eyes,
Weary of being alive, no community would have me,
I guess its my look, my mixed eyes with a face that hardly smiles,
Begrudging my fate,
It seems the music is full of hate, for a guy like me,
Where death is the only happy feel

K.Oni

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Miscellanies 79: Make much of others

The truth is, I understand well one of the principles of life, namely to make much of other people as you can. Lift them up, and do surprisingly great deeds for them. If you know their fancy, if you understand that which makes them smile, do it as much as it is possible, or when the opportunity presents itself. If they are engaged in something, offer help honestly. When there is a chore, do it, so that they would not have to do it. Let them see your kindness as clear as the lover his lover's beautiful eyes. Do it as that selfless Apostle who encouraged the children of light, namely to do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility to count others more significant than themselves. Look not only for your interest, but also to the interest of others. In fact I say, search for their interest first, trace after it as that poor woman who lost her gold coin and turned her house upside down until she found it.

And what a life lived is the soul who lives this way! And in so doing, do not expect others to do it in such a mighty way towards you. Nay, do not let their thankfulness or reciprocal be your reward. Let it come from him who sits on that high throne in heaven. Indeed I know this principle well, I know it is what I must do, it is what I ought to do, it is what humanity ought to bestow upon each other as a daily gift as the sun does give its heat to the flowers. O I know this principle well but seldom do I exude it, for I fear that in all my doings it shall all be done conceitedly and for selfish gain. So my heart tells me, no Ken, do not be so kind for she may mistake your gestures, nay do not run errands for him, for he may think that you are only doing such things in order to be loved by him. No, says my heart, you are doing such deeds for the wrong reasons and such thinking does keep me locked up in my self-pitied dungeon. As a result, I wish for none to show me kindness and in so doing, I am far in doing it to others. I am far in asking others of what their need is and in ever great distance of asking for their help. I would rather my concerns skip humanity and fly straight into the courts of God. But here is where I err, for God has giving us one another to be that blessing of comfort. If this is your condition, repent and be about the business of renewing your mind according to the ways of Christ.

But I do see some go so far in length for others. It is as if they swam the entire sea just to do good to them. Making much of others seem to be their happiness and it makes my heart glad. But how much glad will my heart be if I do it myself. How much more like Jesus, meek, selfless and cross-bearing, not for his sake but for the miserable sakes of sinners, so that in Christ carrying their cross they may be free to run wild in the golden streets of heaven. They have their hearts happy and in seeing that, Christ smiles too, sharing in their joy because it was all his doing.

Make much of others. Indeed it is contrary to the prideful spirit which is common to all humanity, but true love submits. It submits itself to adoration and praise but never to evil, and evil is (as it relates to us) in doing things out of selfish ambition and not counting others more significant than ourselves. I hope I am not mistaken in this, and if I am, it is my fault, my crimson faults for not being well acquainted with clarity.
In love do I submit my heart to you.

A traveling pilgrim
Ken Oni

Poem: It is with me


It is with me as the poor man's plea
For a change, to a hostel sleep
But not as deep as Poseidon's sea
Or as high as the Messiah's seat.
My love is mortal at best
When it rest, no jest can undo thy vest,
For it sets in a heart with sinful pests,
It rest amidst a fraudulent will.
It is with me as any mother's child,
My love for thee, is as odd as all things rare.  

K.Oni

Poem: If ever

A poem for Ben Saunders

If ever a gentle river had a soul, It would yours be.
If ever a stream beamed with light, It would yours display.
And if ever the sunshine smiled, It would yours discover, and rest in eternal blush.
If ever a friend I need,
Whose deeds is as innocent as rainbow's kids,
Then yours, in rush I employ, 
Along with ten thousands more.*


*By this phrase it means that not only me but a lot of other people would seek his help too.

K.Oni

Poem: Woman in beauty

When the sun sets beneath its shades, 
Covered by mountains underneath its aims, 
When clouds aloof the awesome sky
Below the earth of arduous rise, 
Then I am a shooting star, 
A releasing arm in a lover's town, 
Where once, I saw her ravened black hair, 
Glimmering with life that only Cano Cristales* could live – poverty in Spirit,
An enemy to villainy,
Woman in beauty, a sage in learning and a Christ in holiness.


* Cano Christales is known as "the river that ran away from paradise" and it is located in northern Columbia

K.oni


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Miscellanies 78: Her waters emptied itself through my holed cup

In all truths as I can barely afford it, I am glad that things did not turn out this way, namely that I am not hers, for I could never afford the life fitting for her manners. I am not the adventurer, nay, never the goer but the reflective kind, to sit by springs and muse with flowers and paint with the rainbow. I have none of that beat to go anywhere where the world treads and holds in high pride. I am much too grey, too shy. I prefer much to lay among green pastures, whose delicacy, human foot have forsaken for the harsh concrete. It is therefore to be praised that her waters emptied itself through my holed cup and I drank nothing but air.  

K.Oni

Monday, 27 May 2013

How does one convince a nonbeliever that the Bible is the Word of God?

Before I try to answer that question directly, let me make a distinction that is important at the outset. There’s a difference between objective proof and the persuasion or conviction that follows. John Calvin argued that the Bible carries both persuasion and conviction in terms of its internal testimony—the marks of truth that could be found just by an examination of the book itself—as well as external evidences that would corroborate that substantial evidence to give solid proof for its being the Word of God.
Yet the last thing people would want is a book telling them they are in desperate need of repentance and of a changed life and of bowing in humility before Christ. We don’t want that book to be the truth. Calvin claimed that there is a tremendous bias and prejudice built into the human heart that only the influence of God the Holy Spirit can overcome. Calvin distinguished between what he called the undicia—those objective evidences for the trustworthiness of Scripture—and what he called the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, which is necessary to cause us to surrender to the evidence and acknowledge that it is the Word of God.
But I think this is a critical issue upon which so much of the Christian faith depends. The Bible makes the claim that it is the unvarnished Word of God, that it is the truth of God, that it comes from him. God is its ultimate author and source, though indeed he used human authors to communicate that message. In speaking with people about this, we have to go through the laborious process of showing first of all that the Bible as a collection of historical documents is basically reliable. The same tests that we would apply to Herodotus or Suetonius or any other ancient historian would have to be applied to the biblical records. The Christian should not be afraid to apply those kinds of historical standards of credibility to the Scriptures, because they have withstood a tremendous amount of criticism from that standpoint, and their credibility remains intact. On the basis of that, we come to an idea. If the book is basically reliable, it doesn’t have to be inerrent or infallible; it gives us a basically reliable portrait of Jesus of Nazareth and what he taught.
We move from there in linear fashion. If we can on the basis of general reliability come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ did the things that history claims he did, it would indicate that Jesus is more than an ordinary human being and that his testimony would be compelling. I would move first to a study of the person of Jesus and then ask the question, what did Jesus teach about Scripture? For me, in the final analysis, our doctrine of Scripture is drawn from the teaching of Jesus and from our understanding of who he is.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A short story: Ashes into Gold

"But Lord I do have these ashes, this filthy rubbish on my hands, and I have nowhere to put it. They are stuck to me; it is as if they are part of me. I cannot get rid of them. I loathe them as angels detest the presence of lucifer; and the devils seems to be attracted to me. O what wretched ugly ashes I hold, what degrading materials are in my hands."

Christ then replied, "O my child, who plays much in the dirt, lingering in the puddle when I have made you this bright fresh river to play in, come here and I will trade your ashes into gold."

The dirty kid then reply, "But who would pay gold for such despicable ashes?"

"I will." Christ replied standing up to embrace the boy.

"O my Lord, do not touch me for I shall stain your garment."

"Without my touch," responded Christ, "those ashes will cling to you forever. I must touch you and fear not, the opposite will happen. You shall have my golden garment and I will have your ashes."

"Then my Lord, who shall trade your ashes for gold?" At this question Christ laughed and said to the boy, "These ashes will only last three hours or so and then they shall disappear forever."

The boy looked at his lord in mystery and perplexity, but knowing the genuineness of this man who seemed like a person whom he had known his whole lifetime, and seeing the rainbow love that emanated from him, he obeyed Christ at his words and at once was rid of all his ashes and had upon him a golden robe.

"You are now like me, a heir of all things that belongs to my Father." said Christ. "You may now come into the garden and into the palace at will, without the fear of those Cherubims and their flaming swords. They will not attack one with this garment."

"But Lord," replied the boy. "What if I stain this garment by swimming in that puddle?"

"Then boy," answered Christ, "only pray and ask for forgiveness and that Golden garment shall appear to you as clean and lovely again."

"Why would it only appear to me to be clean?" inquired the boy. "Will it not really be tarnished and thus loose its glowing ray."

"Not at all my boy. This heavenly truth I shall tell you, namely that which cannot be rendered is that your golden garment will forever retain its shine as I have given it to you. The reason for that is because it is mine. But it only appears to be unclean to you and rightly so because your conscience, another friend which I have given to you, not as you had it before, but now completely anew, will guide you and counsel you to desire to keep it clean. So every time you swim in that puddle, you shall feel the grieve of your error and come to me in forgiveness, and your garment will appear to you to be clean once more."

"Was it your good friend, who guided me to come to you in the first place?" asked the boy.

"Indeed it was him, known as the wind of  heaven and the one who hovered over the waters at the beginning. And in time you shall know him more and more as a kind friend, only keep in his step and stay away from that muddled water, for it really makes him sad." Christ looking up at the sky saw that the sun had long faded into the sea and told the boy to go home.

"But Christ," asked the young boy, "Is not my home now with you?"

With a tender smile Christ looked at the young boy and loved him and said, "You are quick to learn, aren't you."

"It is not me my Lord, but something inside me prompted me to say that."

"I see." radiated Christ very much happy that the boy could now recognize the voice which belonged to his new friend. "For now you cannot come with me, but you must go to your hometown."

"Why not now," asked the boy who really wanted to supper with his lord for he had not yet eating.

"Because I must go and prepare a room for you."

"Could you not have one of your servants to do it for you, whilst I sit at your feet and hear your wisdom like that woman of old who is famed in that book."

"You remind me of Jacob," said Christ looking at the boy with a wonder and with a face of care. "Because you have persisted in wanting to be by my side this evening, you shall have your hearts desire. But I tell you that it shall be a long while until you see your home again. For those who have visited here have stayed until it all becomes new again."

At this the boy leaped for joy and his heart raced in excitement. Now walking towards the golden palace, far from the dusty city and houses of the plains were the boy belonged, the boy asked timidly: "Dear Christ will I see your Father too."

"Any one who has seen me has seen my Father." replied Christ.

"You mean he is like you", asked the young child.

"I am more like him." Christ said smiling as he walked in his sandals towards the golden palace. "And you need not fear him like you did before for He is the one waiting to meet you."

"Then I am all the more glad that I shall not meet him with my ashes but with your garment."

"It really was his gift to you as well as mine," insisted Christ. Nearing the home of Christ the boy noticed the holes in Christ's feet and remembered how he got them from the book his mother read to him when he was long in his sickness; and then it dawned on the boy that how he was here, he knew not how, but should still be asleep in his mother's bosom.

"I see you have noticed," Christ said looking at the boy with great love. "This whole encounter is so that you may enter into your eternal rest and dine with me forever. Your eyes will one day open once more when I visit your home with my many servants, but for now they shall be opened in my palace."

The boy understood that his sickness was unto death and never again until that day will he stroke the hairs of his mother and kiss the cheeks of his sister. His mind also wandered to that question of Christ when he asked him to return home, understanding that, that was Christ's way of asking him whether he wanted to be healed. But the boy's heart wanted this rest, and although sad that he would not see his family again, yet his heart overwhelmed with bubbling joy like an overflowing spring.

Longing to change

Am I a victim of my circumstance?
Should I blame God or should I praise like Job?
Cursing deep, but that's not a saints way,
Finding my identity in my failures, but they tell me that I'm looking in the wrong place.
Loosing faith because of fear
Too many nights I tear
Leave me alone in my melancholy bed.
At the foot of the cross, here I am with my many sins
This is me uncircumcised, longing to change
To be righteous like old Miss Tucker,
A solitary nun, caring for sixty lepers.
Open my eyes, let me see the God of great wonder,
Who gave it all, crucifying his Son in great anger.
But underneath it all, it was his love, without it there's no hope for the broken in heart.
I'm feeling wilted,
The years of loneliness got me stressing,
Singleness is a grudge I'm currently begrudging.

K.Oni

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Joy of confession - Follow your own advice

I must say or rather confess, that I have given advise which I have not heeded to myself. I have with all of my passion given godly advises in which I myself do not apply to my own soul. I know my error and even in knowing one's wrong, yet one must apply it, and therein is the difficulty. It is one thing to believe for another, it is a wholly another substance for one to believe for their own soul. O, I would exhort the sinner, one who is downcast and feels his own worthiness that he may come any time to the throne of grace and expect a smiling face. I would say this and even declare it to my own soul, but many times I have noticed that I have not moved an inch. My lips ceased with praise and my heart dreaded that Sinai terror. Such is my way at times that only effectual grace ushers me into that divine presence which is my happiness. But I will never cease from given godly advise.

K.Oni

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

I knew a sad boy

I once knew a sad boy who could not be happy for anyone else let alone himself. Every smile on other people's faces would made him reflect on his own miseries, therefore he decided to believe that every smiling eyes was a lie. He knew not how to play nor join in with other's pleasures for such things only increased his melancholy. Even more the voices of happy people irritated him. And what made his condition doubly worse, was that he did not like to see people sad. Such was the condition of the boy that I did look upon him with great pity and had no way of consoling him except to pray for him, that perhaps God may find a way to cure this young miserable boy of his sadness. 

K.Oni

Monday, 20 May 2013

A short story: Conquistar - chapter 2

Samantha and Gemma laid near the comfort of the steady fire enjoying the absence of both of their parents. They were free to converse without the slightest care of their discussion entering into their Father's inflexible ears.

“I wonder what he is up to tonight?”

“Thinking of you,” Gemma replied wanting to believe her own statement. “I suppose a man like him with such gentle-man character is a first for you.”

“And I hope he is the last.”  said Samantha with a sparkle that makes a diamond appear as a common rock.

“I hope so too Samantha.”

“I shall be seeing him tomorrow."

"How exciting. Your smile does show that you are eager for it. You were never good at hiding anything away. You are too innocent and transparent."

Ignoring the veracity of the statement, Samantha replied:

"It has only been two days since I saw him and I am sentient that I have missed him forever. Is this true love?”

“Mother would be better suited to tell you if it is. I have never been in love, although I know what love is in other forms but not in a romantic one.”

“I do hope you feel it one day as I do now, and you shall understand that there is nothing like it.”

“You have only met him twice.” retorted Gemma locking eyes with her sister.

“I know,” contemplated Samantha, “And that is what makes it all the more remarkable. That my heart should beat with such an extraordinary desire to see him again.”

“If Mother was here,” said Gemma impersonating her mother's voice with all of the gestures too. “I am sure she will say, young gazelle it is not always wise to be swift. Sometimes it is better to be a patient snail. And father would say..”

Gemma held her tongue.

“I know what he would say.”  replied Samantha keeping back the hidden tears she cried alone whenever her father expressed his great disappointment in her.

“Let's not think about him until we have to see him, Sammy.”

“He is still our father, and mother says that deep down he loves us. He only has those old fashioned traits in him where it is not manly to show much affections.”

“I wonder how mother copes with him,” Gemma sadly expressed, “I hope never to marry a man like that.”

"And I wish you no such thing. Although Father has one of the highest jobs in the land, yet it is tragic that he still thinks in the old manner regarding young women. He wants us married and to be under some nobleman. He was very much against my schooling and wanted me to perfect the role of housewife. But Mother would want no such things for her girls. She wants them educated and only her could persuade him where the queen herself would have failed."

"It is all because we have no need of money," replied Gemma. "If we were like the Gothers, I am sure Father would encourage us to make something of ourselves, where we are in a good position to make our own living. Mary Gother always tells me how her Father encourages her to live relying on no man but on her own hands. If she could not work for it herself then one should not have it. She wishes to be like us, to have a Father to whom money does not require a hard toil."

"It is as they say that to one's eyes, the grass is always greener on the other side."

"It is not so green here."

"We must not complain so much younger sister. Our lot is indeed very fortunate and even though we may like Father to be something else, yet he has cared for us and given us those things which brought us to maturity."

"He has only given us material things, dear sister. Nothing so much as affection and love. Nothing so much as in having a care about our interest, namely in those things that charms our heart most. Only mother cares for us in such a way."

"He is a man Gemma, and mother is a woman. She was once a girl and knows our ways. But I do speculate that if Father had a son then perhaps he would be to him as mother is to us."

"I do doubt that."

"But I believe that he would"

"On what evidence do you make such an assurance?"

Samantha paused for a while to think, but could not justify her faith. She looked towards the window and noticed the motherly moon suspended on the empty space. She thought again in her head the question:

"I wonder what he is up to tonight?"

K.Oni

Thursday, 16 May 2013

I knew a sad boy

I knew a sad boy who always thought that he was not worthy of any one's presence, so he sits alone as much as he could. And when among others, he quietens his soul and displays no social emotions as to not give anyone an invitation into his soul and company. But whilst he thought like this, he grew sad and sadder, until one day he decided to leave humanity all-together and rest under a forest tree, until his heart forgets to beat again. 

K.Oni

A short story: For Mr Haly. - part one


Whatever it is to do in life, Mr Haly has not found it. Long has he stared outside of his window watching all kinds of people pass by. Some on their phones, some jugging and some together, but he was always alone, without a single friend in the world. “Good day Finley,” greeted Mr Haly. shopping for his two boxes of weekly eggs. “Good day to you too,” replied Mr Finley. “Have you any business today than the usual?”
“Not at all.” replied Mr Haly now paying three pounds for his purchase.
A greeting was all Mr Haly received from most people except from his mother, who being very old and wrinkled now always made sure to ring her only son every Wednesday and Friday at exactly the twentieth hour of the day. Mr Haly would leave his window watch and sit by his phone to dialogue for more than a minute with the only soul who cared anything about him. But this Wednesday evening, the hour passed by without a call from his mother. “This is unusual.” he thought. “She never misses this moment to call. When I see her this Saturday I shall ask her the reason for her neglect.” Rising to go back to his favourite spot to watch the happy couples stroll hand in hand, his old eighties telephone rang. “Hello, this is Mr Haly speaking.”
“This is Dr Stanley, of Bainbrook home.” Mr Haly swallowed his own breath and listened prudently. “Mrs Margaret has just passed away.”

Having no friend to share his sadness with except his open gaze at the bleak wall ahead of him, he shakingly dropped the phone, and cried. Poor Mr Haly, for he cried his heart out that evening but it was all as if he cried silently for there was no one to hear his sobs. After a while he did lay his head to sleep, having in his hand the soft rugged teddy bear his late mother gave him on his fifth birthday which was passed on to her from her mother. He slept as rough as the wind and awoke as sore as the cold. That morning Mr Haly received a phone call that his late mother had left him an urgent note, that he was to come at once to collect it and read it. Decorating himself as fashionable as his late mother had taught him, adorning himself with his grey trousers which steadied at his ankles, bright red socks, blue shirt, and a red-white striped jumper, Mr Haley lastly checked that he had his big round glasses around his eyes and headed to Bainbrook home.

Arriving at the care home, he was greeted with a smile that all employees by company laws were to present to customers; there was nothing more said to him other than the business he had concerning his late mother. “This is the letter, Mr Haly,” said Mr Stanley offering the sealed envelope to Mr Haly. “Thank you,” he replied walking away to read his mother's last letter to him in his bright blue 1990 Citroen XM. “Dear Haly, I can now see with dim eyes the end of my frail life. What concerns me most in this happy hour for an old woman is not my own sufferings but that which awaits my only son at my departure. I know it is not your fault that friends escape you, for you have tried much. But for some reason that God only knows, people seem to pass you by when you have all the qualities of loveliness and gentleness. There is one last errand I want you to do for me. (Even in death she orders me about Haly thought with small tears falling from his eyes). There is by the river a small church that I use to take you as a child. Go in and ask for Mr Pinkirk, for he came to me last week with much urgency that there was a young lady, a decade younger than yourself who desires to meet you and that urgently. (“What for?” Mr Haly pondered). Go and see him as quick as possible in order to meet her. For my hope of your happiness for some strange reason is to be found in her, and whatever you are to do in life, I sincerely and heartily believe that it is tied up with her. My teddy-boo, all my strength is about to leave me so I finish with these last words from my decaying mortal hands: I love you and so did your late father.”

Mr Haly admired the paper for a time after digesting what he was to do. Small loving tears marked the lined paper and after taking in a few deep breathes, he immediately aimed his wheels for the church.

“If I remember correctly, the church is right after the next turn on the left,” he thought to himself. Anxious to understand the reason for his wantedness, he began to walk gently towards the time-worn Anglican church. The sunflowers had risen beautifying the stale injured grass. The morning still sparkled but Mr Haly's anxiety caused him to forgo the notice of the bright coloured dressed lady that sat on the bench at the church's garden. “The vicar is out if you are looking for him sir.” spoke softly and elegantly by the young lady. Mindful to her voice, Mr Haly stammered in his response and said: “I am looking for Mr Pinkirk.” Recognizing his apprehensiveness, the young lady rose to her feet and repeated her first speech. “He is out, sir.”
“Do you know when he will be back?”
“He often returns at the eleventh hour.” replied the young lady.
“Then I shall wait for him.” added Mr Haly, now walking away as to go back in his car to sit. The young lady called out to him and offered to him that he can sit with her for she too was waiting for Mr Pinkirk to return.

K.Oni  

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A short story: Conquistar


Simi was well known among the girls of his college and beyond. His fame rested on his handsomeness and charm. When he was fourteen years old, he dated a girl two years his senior. Her name was Samantha, Irish by origin but English by birth. And when she found out that Simi was two years younger than her, she was embarrassed that she had fallen prey to such a lie. She cried for days, receiving letters from people she didn't even know in her school about her stupidity.

 'How desperate were you?' wrote one letter. With no strength to reply and with a soul full of shame, she decided to move school and was never seen again by Simi until one rainy day in late October.

Simi was walking on the pavement that led to his house when across the road he saw a blonde beauty, five feet tall struggling to cover her head from the rain.

'I need to help her', he thought.

The day did not lend itself as the perfect day to hunt a fox, that was what he saw his mission has. Every girl was a fox to be hunted, played with then shot. He understood his role in life as a conqueror, 'to conquer and to go on conquering' was his motto. Simi wasn't born like this but his older brother who called himself Diango, drummed it into him ever since he was five years old. Diango would take Simi to the park and tell him:

 “You see all this little girls, little princesses, you are to be their prince. They are damsels in distress, they need rescuing. They need a prince like you and me to come and save them. This is our task, this is our duty as Conquistar's.”

Conquistar was Simi's last name. Born to a Nigerian mother and a Spanish father, the mixed look granted him to look like an Egyptian prince. Six foot tall with a domineering presence, soft eyes with a herculean body, he was almost irresistible by sight. That was what Samantha felt when she caught eyes of this handsome man walking towards her. She ceased her struggle with the rain and was blushing when Simi offered her his umbrella.

“That is very gentleman of you. No man or woman for that matter has ever offered me their umbrella. It is usually every man and woman for themselves under this British rain.”

Acting to be shy as someone not familiar to be so close to a woman, he pulled back a little and said with a smile that increased Samantha's blush:

“The mark of a true gentleman is to make a lady feel like a lady.”

Unable to hide her rosy coloured cheek, she looked into the eyes of this kind stranger and said:

“Thank you. After the rain shall we meet again so that I may give you back your umbrella?”

 Simi replied with tongue in cheek that: “I am not the kind to reject a woman's proposal. Although I wish that you do keep this umbrella. See it as a parting gift from me to you. I shall take my leave now.”

Almost disappearing from her sight, he turned around and shouted, “let us meet tomorrow night at Tope's cafe near the bridge.”

Immersed in the excitement that tomorrow night will bring about her seeing this lovely stranger again, she walked home dancing in the rain.

“You are back already, it's not eight o’clock yet. Coventry must have taken the party out of you.”

 Samantha knew that she was being welcomed. She hugged her sister Gemma, who returned the warm acceptance.

“Mama phoned earlier asking about you,” said Gemma studying her sister's paradise face. “And what is it with that positive smile on your face?”

Still lost in that moment of kindness, Samantha replied: “Let us settle by the fire, and I shall tell you why I am full of blush.”

Stripping herself of her wet attire, Samantha covered herself in her pink spotted pyjamas ready to discourse with her sister about her encounter.

“The fire is ready and your hot chocolate too.” shouted Gemma from the kitchen. “I made it the way you like it.”

Strolling downstairs, Samantha made her home next to the Victorian fireplace and conversed with her sister about her meeting with that gentleman and what he was like. The eager anticipation of tomorrow's date as Gemma insisted that it was, ruled the last quarter of their chatter.

“He might be the one,” said Gemma, somewhat seriously.

“Time will tell,” wisely replied Samantha.

The morning came with no love to nourish the flowers. It was as if the sun remained asleep in its chamber. However much Cambridge lacked the sunshine this morning, there was plenty of it in Samantha's soul.

“I want to know what love is, I want you to show me...” she happily sang along to magic fm's morning love tunes.

“I want to know what he thinks of me,” she mused to herself. “I want to know what he is like. A man with such gentleman qualities can only be of the nice sort of ilk. At worst he can only be too nice as to make a lady see him more as a gay friend than a boyfriend. Nevertheless I have had my fair share of rotten apples.”

Samantha's love history is short and unfortunate. Her beauty only seems to attract guys who were full of self-confidence with a cheating violent disposition. They only wanted one thing from her and she wasn't prepared to give it.

“They must wait or they...” she often said to herself. As a result of this deep archaic morality, she has been called all types of names, and at one time almost forced against her will. This put her of men for a time, and this man of refinement will be her first date for two years. “If it is a date,” she thought. “Any how a lady must not break her promise.”

Decorating her nails as she often did since the start of her puberty, her sister studied her face with an old look that Samantha was well aware of.

“Stop trying to read what is in my heart. I can tell you what is in there.” said Samantha focusing on perfecting the colouring of her nail.

 “I know too.” replied Gemma.

Worried that her sister was perhaps too fond of this modish gentleman, Gemma thought about reminding her about the misjudgement she has made about men in the past. But she refrained, for as well as having a sharp tongue, she was also a woman of the books, or as her mother calls her, 'a classical lady with a rifle tongue'.

Her beauty rivaled Samantha's. They both had the sincere virgin look about them. And although very contrary in character, they complimented each other well as all good sisters should. Gemma watched Samantha all through the morning and did sisterly things with her all through the day, and even helped her pick the right dress.

“That's just about right.” commented Gemma. “Not too desperate and not too uncaring. He will be blown away if he has any eyes to recognise anything that is lovely.”

“That's about the nicest thing you've said to me today.” smiled Samantha filled with a nervous excitement.

Picking up her velvet Armani bag, she headed to her front door but not without first glancing at herself in the hallway mirror.

 “You look beautiful.” said Gemma deliberately, who was worried for her sister and with a crossed finger hoped that this guy was not anything like the men in her past. “Dear God, please let this be a good encounter.” she silently prayed.

Simi was a man of early arrivals. He believed that it was a man's duty to appear waiting for the woman, rather than the other way round. When she walks in, he would have the advantage of studying her, of noticing the first things which are very important to the evening's direction. He could tell the confidence of a woman by how she approached him when they saw him sitting there with his glistening smile and small display of nervousness. He would have prepared for them a glass of water, for this was safer than being excessively forward. This chivalrous act was to him all part of winning a girl's heart. He understood that every woman was different and this early data collection would dictate which traits he exhales.

The café chosen was one that invited conversation. Slowness of mood was the dominating atmosphere. The air was clean, the beers were few and the wine plenty in orders. Only classical instrumentals were allowed to come through the speakers and one only ever heard them if one open their ears to listen. Walking into this moderate sized room, Samantha looked left to right to see if her stranger was to be located. She approached the bar with a mind full of self-awareness and need of being acceptable by sight. Simi maintained his eyes on her, discovering her need for affirmation. Turning her eyes to her left, she noticed a fashionable man waving calmly at her to signify that he was the being that her eyes were searching for.

Approaching with a stammering composure, Simi rose to welcome the lady by pulling out her chair to take her seat. He made eye contact with her and smiled. Unwilling to make the general mistake of complementing a woman at first sight on her general beauty, he focused on the particulars.

“Your cream fingernails goes well with your purple shoes. I like it.”

This unpredictable complement relaxed her fretting mind. She returned with a blushing smile, and  took a sip out of the cup of water that was intended for her. This little acts of kindness made her weaken the armour she had prepared for her heart. With an ear that wanted to hear more about him she said gratefully:

“Thank you for the umbrella yesterday.” And looking at him embarrassingly, she confessed that she had forgotten to bring it.

“What would you like to drink?” asked his soothing voice, diverting the conversation away from what was past.

“This water is ok for now, thank you.” she replied shyly.

He continued as if ignoring her answer.

“Wine? I hear they have here the Chateau de St.Cosme.”

“That is something father would drink,” she thought to herself.

“There are soft drinks of all kinds, fruit juices, cocktails, and if you are feeling naughty, there is gin too. But as you say water is fine too for now. As you are content with water so shall I.”

“He listens too.” she observed.

Taking another sip of her water, Simi watched her closely and studied her pretty face with an appetite that one day she would only be part of the fading memory of girls that he has conquered.

Understanding that the girl who settled right in front of him was one for conversation, he asked her about home. But seeing that it was awfully rude of him to ask such a question before knowing her name, he politely and playfully asked her:

 “At birth or a few days later, or much before, it is normal for those who care about the baby to inquire about the baby's name. And here we are meeting for the first time, two minutes into what I perceive to be a date and yet I do not know your name. O how can I be guilty of such a crime.”

Samantha laughed at his playfulness and freeness and went along with the tone of communication.

 “I am the guilty one for it was you who rescued me from the evil rain, and it was my due of gratitude to at least have required your name as a token of my appreciation.”

At this moment of delight, they both appreciated one another with Samantha confirming in her mind that this truly was a noble guy of high character.

“My name is Samantha.”

“And I am Simeon.”

Ever since a year ago, Simi introduced himself as Simeon to new girls for he feared his reputation as Simi the women slayer was a hindrance. Unaware of the fact that it was the same guy who had lied to her six years ago concerning his age and whom she still holds a mountain of rage and anger against, she revealed to him that she was educated at Coventry and that she is currently looking for employment as an English teacher.

It was remarkable that she did not recognize him, and he did not recognize her. The reason for her ignorance was that Simi had dispensed with his blue baseball cap if he was to win the hearts of many more damsels in distress. And the reason for his ignorance was that Samantha had long separated herself from that naïve sixteen years old little girl who was pathetically deceived.

His gentle brown eyes charmed her alone, his timely smile and excitement made him all the more agreeable to Samantha. His subtle touches on top of her fingers electrified every feminine reserve in her body.

“Your father must want you home.” he said whilst looking caringly into her evergreen eyes. “Let me not keep you late for after-all we have tomorrow and next week, or whenever you wish, for I am always willing to see and hear more of you.”

Seeing the sincerity of his care she replied:

 “My father is away."

“Whether he is here or away, I always aim to be a man of one mind.”

“What a man of nobleness.” she concluded to herself.

Although she was tempted to say that she was now old enough to stay out as late as she wanted.

She held her tongue and before she could rise to her feet, he stood up to display his respect for her and she did not miss the gesture. Walking out side by side into the scarcely visible evening, he signaled to a taxi to take her home. Samantha expressing that it will do no injury to walk home, he insisted that it was better to be safe than sorry. She accepted his kindness and his whole smoothness and politeness dominated the field of her mind.

“I wish he was my first kiss,” she happily thought sitting dreamfully in the back of the taxi gazing inattentively at the hidden nature that passed her way. She had lost her first kiss to Simi, the boy who lied to her six years ago and ever since then, she has regretted it.*

K.Oni

*Tell me what you thought about this story because I am thinking of making this the first chapter and write a whole ten chapters more or less. Be honest. If it is rubbish, Il re-write it or throw it away and just leave it. I am only in the nursery school of writing yet. 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Explaining the Universal Phenomenon of Religion


Have you ever wondered why there’s a universal phenomenon of religion? You can go anywhere on the globe and you’ll find evidence of cultic practices of sacrifice. Why is that? I suggest that it is because the original program and prescription for the worship of the living God was sacrifice. Adam told it to Cain, Abel, and Seth. Seth told it to Enoch, and he told it to his sons and they to their sons and so on. It was taught to Abraham. It was taught to Isaac. It was taught to Jacob. It was taught to Joseph. It was taught to Moses. It was also taught to Ishmael and to Esau, and so the idea of the requirement of sacrifice in faith pervaded the whole human race.
But today the need for sacrifices to be made in faith is forgotten—we hear that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. In fact, the basic requirement of sacrifice is unknown—it doesn’t matter what your religious practices are. It doesn’t matter what you worship. It only matters that you do worship. It’s said that the Jews worship God in their way, the Muslims worship God in their way, the Buddhists worship in their way. The unspoken assumption is God is obligated to receive, honor, and respect any kind of worship that people bring.
God didn’t respect all of the worship in Genesis 4. He had no respect for the worship of Cain. And Cain responded in anger when he saw that his worship was unacceptable to God. A faithful man, a righteous man, would have said, “O my God. I’m heartily sorry for having sinned against You. Teach me Your statutes, O Lord, show me the more excellent way. Change my heart, so that the offering that I bring You next Sabbath day will honor you. I’m glad, at least, Holy Father, that You were pleased with my brother’s offering. Father, give me an attitude by which I can learn from my brother, because my brother lives by faith and is trying to obey You.” But that was not Cain’s response.
In reality, that is never the response of the godless to the godly. Which of the prophets did they not kill? Which of the reformers in church history was not despised by the organized church? Like Cain, who rose up and slew his brother Abel, wicked churches have spilled the blood of true Christians. In fact, it was the church that rose up to kill Jesus because He did not respect their sacrifices.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Miscellanies 77: Precious is that blood


How precious is that blood that washes away all of my sins. It is my only hope of a happy life. It is my only consolation of approaching the throne of grace. How happy I am with that blood and with the man who's blood it is. I am forever grateful and glad that it covers all of my awful sins. Sins I commit willingly and sins in ignorance. They are all covered by his precious blood.

As it was commanded in Genesis 9:4 that, 'you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood,' yet we are commanded in the New Testament to drink the blood of Christ because it is life to our souls. Let my drink constantly be the blood of Christ for in it is contained all the nutrients I need to keep me healthy for the rest of my days. O, it is precious!

In Leviticus 17:14 we read that 'for the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.' O what a life given, what a blood poured that can make atonement for my soul. For today I feel the weight of my sinful deeds and I need an atonement. I do have it in full in the blood of Christ. How precious it is that it covers all of my sins and more.

The Jerusalem council in the book of Acts gave a few rules to the gentiles that they are to abstain from. One of them was that they are to abstain from blood, that is to eat food that has blood in them. But I cannot abstain from drinking the blood of Christ. I must come to his communion and drink his blood all the way into my soul, until all the arteries of my heart are filled with his life given blood. For I am in desperate need for its cleanliness.

I have sprinkled his blood on my heart so that the destroyer will pass over me, the divine wrath will not rest on me. O what a deliverance, what an escape! In the Old Testament, the blood was used to purify almost everything. It was used as a sin offering, trespass offering, for cleansing leprosy, peace offering, atonement, and for the sealing of the covenant. Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. There is no forgiveness. O now do you see my thankfulness to him who bled on that cruel day? Do you see my gratitude to his Father who sent him and allowed his enemies to break his Son's skin, so that the precious blood, yea that invaluable precious blood may wash me white as snow. Yes it washes me whiter than snow. I swim in it. I bathe and shower in its overflowing richness.

O come with me sinners, come you who are a sinner, broken and know the guilt of your deep depravity. Come now once again, I have come many a time and have always found forgiveness. There has not been a day when the man whose blood it is has turned me away. He will not turn you away. You only need recognize that you are in great need of his blood to cleanse away your filth. It is free. You have no price to pay, nay, not even prices of eternal good works can afford its pay. It is priceless or it is free. Come now by faith. Apply the Calvary sprinkling upon your heart. Pray now. Ask and ye shall receive. Perish not in your sins when you have a free offer to have it all taken away. Only fools perish in their sins. O what a precious blood and how exceedingly precious it is when it is applied to one's own soul.

K.Oni

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A short story: Scarlet Rachel


On his penultimate evening in Bristol he broke three promises – one that he would walk to London with his cousin from Bath, two that he would visit his father's grave, and the third, a fresher promise made to the girl he loved. When he and Rachel had discussed, months before to light up their love for one another, the best they could do was come to a mutual agreement of cold separation. 'No texting,' she said when they came to this agreement, 'no facebook, no phone calls, no nothing.' His voice had always weakened her, his appearance intensifying her zeal to kiss him, and his eyes luring her into what she knew was bad for her. 'I don't want to know anything about your condition, any changes or whatever, I don't want to know.' As he walked out of the coffee scented room, he witnessed her eyes fall to the ground, having a feel of utter resolution at the decision made. Her look of utter resolution lingered late in his mind this evening as he watched from his window the soft swaying leaves of the orchard tree.

'That was three months ago,' he thought. 'She always watches me whenever I departed from her.' Taking a deep breath, he laid on his bed, staring at his dull ceiling in a longing remembrance of how this very room was the place where they had indulged in their deceit and imprisoned the fame of their togetherness. She would stay until past midnight, ignoring the calls from her boyfriend and shower him with affections that she knew rightly belonged to him. 'We had a season of love, a spring of passion now ended by her.' he reflected. 'What was it all for?' 'What did I become?'

Agitated by the lingering fondness to lay his eyes upon her and talk through the meaning of their undercover relationship, he rose from his loitering to once again walk along her road. The evening, very quietened with only the irregular disturbance of a speeding car, and the rough pavement which led to her house often reminded him that what laid ahead was fraught with perils- her anger, her hatred, her disgust. 'How did she deal with the promise.' he thought. 'Did guilt haunt her? Am I dead in her mind? Will she look hard on my face and when I depart from her will she watch me go?' This thoughts ceased him from realising that he was nearly by her door, only the familial smell of the slothful roses in her garden awakened him to his nearness. He thought: 'Will she be inside. What if her parents answer the door.'

Before knocking, he listened for Rachel's voice and opened his ears as he often did in the past. If classical music was playing, it was the sign that she was inside. He pressed the bell. The nostalgia of it all induced him to breathe deeply. His nervousness under the starry sky made him step back from the door. As he did so, a young girl opened the door and said. 'Do you want Rachel?'

Hit by the irony of the words, the shock of seeing Rachel's eyes in her younger sister's looking directly at him, he could not answer her at once. The young girl did not wait for his reply. 'She is inside. You can come in and see her.'
'I would rather see her outside.' he replied.
Moving away from his sight, she withdrew closer into the house and went to retrieve Rachel.

He waited apprehensively going over his introductory words. 'What shall I say to her.' The hallway lights shone brightly on Rachel's face, revealing her scarlet hair and dalmatian pyjamas. His face was hidden from her. She approached the door. Seeing him, an unbelieving expression adorned her face. He realised the full cruelty of his treachery. She slammed the door but he stopped it before it closed.
'Leave, John. Why are you here?'
'I have come here to see you'. John continued. 'I can't bare it any longer not knowing how you are doing.'
'Keep it down.' she interrupted firmly. 'Ben is inside.'
'You are still with him?'
'More than that, we are engaged, getting married next week.'
'And you wasn't going to tell me?'
'Well one of us was keen on keeping their promise.'

Closing the door behind her, she guided him unwillingly to sit on the bench tucked away in the corner of the garden, now befriended by new sprung daisies.
'I'm going away tomorrow.' his voice indicated that he wanted her to care. 'So I came here to tell you. I wanted to see how you were, if you still thought of me and like me, regretted not contacting you sooner.' She remained silent.

'Won't you even look at me?' he said softly. 'You haven't changed a bit. Still beautiful, still looking after your scarlet hair. I see that you haven't dyed it back to brunette. Did you keep this colour because of me?' Reaching to stroke her hair he leaned closer to her lips and said: 'here you are, my scarlet Rachel, right in front of my eyes, just like a dignified scarlet flower in all its glory.' Pressing to kiss her, she pulled away with all the strength she could muster.
'I think you better leave right now.' And after a pause she informed him that her father has recently been elected the Bishop of London.'  Looking into his eyes for the first time this evening, she said with teary eyes: 'Goodbye, John.'

'Is everything ok out here.' sounded Ben's curious voice. Composing herself, Rachel replied; 'Yes dear. This is my old friend John. I don't think you have ever met. Come and say hello dear.

Wise to her reasons of why she bought Ben here to join in their conversation, John was in no mood to linger around the man who rightfully and soon legally will have his scarlet Rachel. Rising from the old rugged bench, John gave his goodbyes to Rachel and then shakes Ben's hands to signify his departure. Walking away towards the rough pavement which had often led to her house, he looked back at her to see if she watched him go. Noticing that her curious eyes remained on him, he shouted, 'Don't you want to know where I am going away to?'
'I am still keen on keeping our promise.' she replied.

By K.Oni

Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor's Good-bye, Goodbye. (Similar story line and some phrases and expressions use in this piece can be found in her story) Her story is much longer. =)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Miscellanies 76: Your worth is not in men


Let worry no longer clothe you, earthly desires no longer control you. Linger not on the devil's accusations that woe is you for you are not good enough, not perfect enough, not beauty enough, not righteous enough, not worthy enough. Have you forgotten that your Father has traded your ashes for incorruptible gold, your sins for the outstanding worthiness of Christ's righteousness. Have you forgotten that the Father has given you an eternal reminder of his love, namely the cross and Resurrection of Christ. Cease from swimming in such dark puddles and come and bath in the blue-white waterfall of his freedom.

Linger much on that unchanging character, namely God. Men are men, mortal, their opinions change. Your worth is not in them but it is in God. It is him who does not change, and what a consolation this is for your soul. If he has loved you before you were born, yea elected you unto salvation, shall he now hate you after sending his son to die for you? I can only believe that his love for you can only grow, but I say that it is unchanging from all eternity past.

His constant love is your paradise, with this knowledge you can live anywhere and deal with every circumstance. Long not for that mortal affirmation but secure yourself in that divine declaration, 'I will not forsake you'. The saints are precious in his eyes and you, yes you especially, the crowning of creation is infinitely special in his heart. He will not forsake you, he will not leave you in your desperateness.

K.Oni

Friday, 3 May 2013

Making poverty personal

Dhaka in rush hour. (Wikimedia Commons)
Dhaka, food banks and development

Poverty cast a shadow over this week's news, locally and globally. Demand for food banks hit a record high, with 125,000 children among those receiving food aid last year. A trial of the Universal Credit began – perhaps the most ambitious and bold welfare reform in 70 years. Horrific pictures reached us from Dhaka, where more than 500 people were killed when their workplace collapsed around them.
 
They should do something. When we encounter poverty and suffering, who do we call on first? Often we call on government, the biggest they of all. Bishops encourage the coalition to think again on welfare reform. The Trussell Trust asked politicians to “create fresh policies” to address the growing demand for food banks. This week, in response to the Dhaka tragedy, many of us called on Primark to insist on higher safety standards from suppliers, and the Bangladeshi government to enforce them.
 
Laws matter, democratic structures are available and asking government to intervene is no bar to taking action yourself. But – and I confess here – armchair democracy can sometimes take the place of practical action. When I frame a problem as political, I am in danger of leaving it to them, avoiding personal responsibility, making demands of those I believe to be more powerful or better suited to the task. The Apostle John asks a great question: “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?”
 
Christian love for others – charity – cannot be outsourced or delegated. The government is not the charitable arm of the Church. Jesus says 'sell your possessions and give to the poor' not 'let Caesar tax us and help them himself'. The political response needs to be matched by the personal. Where we take responsibility, we can experience and share God's love in action.
 
Are food banks a wake-up call? Yes. They reveal need and shake us into action. They show the power of people like you and me, caring for our neighbours, to stop personal crises becoming full-blown disasters. Three new food banks are launched every week, mostly by churches. We should rejoice, not in the need, but in how far it is being met, and wake up to the untapped possibilities for doing more to serve each other.  
 
Is the disaster in Bangladesh on our conscience? Yes, we should be humbled by our power as consumers, and think hard about our personal stewardship of the resources God entrusts to us. We should take care, when we buy, to think what behaviours and processes we are commissioning every time we do our shopping.
 
Poverty is our battle. To fight it, we need to take care that true and positive stories are not drowned out. Consider this: in Bangladesh, a child born in 2008 can expect to live to 66; in 1970 it was 44. Headline poverty rates have fallen from 57 per cent in 1992 to 31.5 per cent in 2009, according to Save the Children. Globally, extreme poverty has halved in 20 years on World Bank figures, from 44 per cent to 23 per cent. Sub-Saharan Africa has been growing at five per cent a year, faster than the global average, reducing poverty over the last decade. In Britain, despite all its food banks, inequality has stayed broadly constant for 20 years. This week, I was inspired to see a new partnership between Oasis and Starbucks, providing "suspended coffees" to those who need a warm drink. I loved learning more about Stewardship, a community of givers transforming generosity from an act to a way of life. I listened to a friend filled with passion for building primary schools in parts of the world where there are none.
 
When we encounter a story or statistic that touches us, there is an instant emotional spark that drives and colours our reaction. It is a moment of danger, as our instincts, habits and prejudices leap in and short-cut our response. Reflecting and shaping reactions is an important part of developing character. When poverty seems insurmountable, will we remember how far we have come?
 
In those moments when we feel moved to demand action from others, can we also develop the will to act ourselves? Can we see injustice as a personal challenge, to stretch out our circle of concern, as far as love can extend it?
 
By Neill Harvey-Smith is a consultant with Garnett & Simpson and a writer