Life, the Faith, and Everything: 4 August

Signing A British Crash at Borders last Saturday reminded me of going to craft fairs. My wares were out on a table. Most people walked past with hardly a glance. A few looked from a distance. The odd few came and picked up a book, half of them eventually buying. The staff disagreed about the best way to attract sales – welcoming eye contact with passers-by, or a discreet distance for potential approachers to believe they wouldn’t be pounced on? I settled mostly for the compromise I have seen at craft fairs – sitting at the table reading a book of Jewish jokes.

Saturday was a good selling day: lousy weather on the weekend after pay day. The Borders people said the monthly pay day used to make a little difference. Now it makes a big difference.

On Tuesday I began leading a short course in church: ‘Praying Jesus Way.’ We’ll go through the ‘Our Father…’ prayer in 5 weeks. The 10 who came were receptive to seeing that Jesus commanded us to pray ‘Our Father…’ and that the Holy Spirit urges us to say ‘Abba, Father…’ Jesus said ‘Father…, I have given them your name.’ So what is the name of God that Jesus gave us? The 10 good and true Bilstonians thought the answer was obvious ‘Abba, Father.’ (If I say, ‘David, I have given them your name’, it’s not hard to work out what the name is.) But it’s revolutionary theology. The whole Church is so stuck in saying ‘Lord, Lord’ instead of ‘Abba, Father…’ The plucky 10 also individually mimed out being the younger, Prodigal son, beginning, or continuing, I hope, to experience God as Father.

On Wednesday I met up with a young Sikh man who had phoned me out of the blue when I was in West Bromwich asking to come into church and have someone pray with him. On Thursday I met with a young Hindu woman who phoned me out of the blue, wanting to be baptised because she has been asked to be a godmother. Both are remarkably open and interested in Jesus. It’s like fishing when the fish jump out of the water and say ‘catch me!’ God is up to something!

The excellent Jewish American Tikkun magazine has a great article Was Kosovo the Good War? David Gibbs, teacher of history and political science at the University of Arizona, has read extensively through the background sources, including many British ones. He demonstrates that the strategy of the Moslem Albanian Kosovans was to provoke the Serbs into retaliation. They succeeded, probably beyond their expectations, with NATO adding their immense fire power against the Serbs. NATO bombardment of Serbia provoked yet fiercer retaliation against Kosovan civilians. In the end, it was the Serbs who were ethnically cleansed from Kosovo. Thanks to NATO, the Kosovans won.

The Serbs were far from gentle and peace-loving. But they were far more willing to accept compromise than was publicised. (They only refused to give NATO free access to the whole of Serbia and the rest of the former Yugoslavia.) The Kosovans, it seems, were hardly better than the Serbs. Their final ethnic cleansing, with NATO soldiers on the ground doing nothing, was also a crime against humanity.

Roger Harper


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