Annunciation

Annunciation, by John Collier

An Unexpected Visitor.

This post was inspired by an earlier post in which I presented my reflection on the painting by John Collier, to the right.

Dear Cousin Lizzy,
 
 I hope this letter finds you and Zec. well, though I hear Zec. is not his usual self at the moment. A bit quiet?
 
I am wondering dear Cousin if it might be ok to came and stay with you for a while. There’s been a strange, unexpected event. I need to talk to someone and to get away from here for a while. I’m not ready to talk to Mum and Dad yet, or my boyfriend Jo either.
 
Earlier this week, I had a odd feeling since I went to school in the morning. I couldn’t concentrate on the day’s lessons. A couple of teachers shouted at me for not paying attention. At break time friends asked if I was ok. I was glad when it was time to go home.
 
I walked home with Elizabeth (yes, same name as you dear cousin), until we got to her road, then I was on on my own until I got home, a few minutes later. From when Elizabeth left me, the odd feeling I’d had all day seemed to get stronger every step I took home.
 
I could see my house when I turned into my road. It looked normal but the odd feeling persisted. When I turned onto the path to our door, I noticed that the potted lily, that usually stood by the side of the door, had been moved.
 
I bent to up the plant to put back and as I stood up, I nearly dropped it again. A guy was standing there. I just stared for a few moments; I hope my mouth wasn’t hanging open.
 
He looked young, not much more than me but had an air of authority and experience, like someone much older. He was neat and tidy, clean shaven but dressed unusually, in robes. As the thought of clothes struck me, I realised I was chilly. An evening breeze had sprung up and I had no cardigan.
 
He gave me a few moments to collect myself, then introduced himself as Gabriel. I was surprised, but didn’t sense anything amiss. I invited him in. He said no and he was only here to give me a message, which wouldn’t take long. He asked if I was ready and said the message might be a bit of a shock. That was an understatement.
 
He spoke slowly and calmly, at the same time taking my hand in his to steady me. “You’re going to have a baby”. He was quiet a few moments then said, “It’s a special baby”. I didn’t know what to say, couldn’t think. When the shock wore off, I was worried what mum and dad would say, and my boyfriend too.
 
I started to ask how but Gabriel held up a hand. “Look inside yourself” he said. When I did I felt what he said was true. I knew it would be hard, but his calm words made me feel it would be allright.
 
He let go of my hand and I turned to unlock our door. Just before going in I heard, or maybe sensed without hearing, his last few words. When I looked back, he’d gone as suddenly as he’d appeared. There was just the echo of his final words in my head, ‘Call the boy Jesus’.
 
Do say I can come and stay a while, cousin.
 
Love,
 
Mary.

A National Bible for Today.

Some time ago in an online course the a question was posed that:

“If societies today were to produce national bibles—canons of shared texts for their own projects of peoplehood—which texts should be included? Share your ideas about national projects of creating common sets of texts and consider the problems that could arise with the formation of such canons. How might these problems be overcome?”

What follows is my answer to that question.

God did not write the Bible. It was human beings that did write it, and humans who debated and selected the books that it now contains. It does not matter which version of the Bible we consider the same is true. Having said that God did not write it, He did inspire it and used humans to communicate it, eventually writing it down for future generations. He inspired the authors, who wrote the individual texts, and He inspired those who later selected the texts that would be brought together into what we now call the Bible.

Creation of a national bible today, a book that everyone in a nation could respect and live by, would seem to be an impossible ideal with or without fresh divine inspiration. There would always be someone or some faction who would disagree with something in it. There is already plenty of disagreement and scepticism to the present Bible.

The current Bible was written with a purpose for a single people of common origin and faith. Originally the Hebrew Bible it was added to, not dispensed with when the Christians added the New Testament.

Current UK law is rooted in the 10 commandments and clearly the bible would have to say something about the law, or would it? Both the Christian bible and the Jewish bible say that ‘Thou shalt not kill’, although I understand that there might be some disagreement over the translation which would make it closer to ‘thou shalt not murder’. The UK has a significant, and growing, immigrant population (please, no comments about the politics of this, I am simply stating a fact for the purpose of argument). Some of the immigrants, even second and third generation immigrants, might disagree with ‘thou shalt not kill’. They belong to a culture and/or religion which allows killing in certain circumstances. There have been various reports of so called honour killings by British of Asian origin. An extreme example I know but the point is relevant and apt to cause controversy in compiling a new national bible.

What if we didn’t mention law but tried instead to include something about justice? How would justice be defined: An eye-fo-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth, a life-for-a-life? In the UK the church is still part of the state but even in a secular state, where the church was not part of the state, different backgrounds, cultures and religions would never agree on what should be in or out.

Suppose we include some of Great Britain’s history? It might be ok to give some explanation of the formation of the United Kingdom, but what about some of the more ‘unsavoury’ aspects of our history. Will UK citizens who are not indigenous, or who have ancestry and heritage from overseas want to be reminded about some of our wars and empires, especially if their ancestors were on the receiving end, or about the prosperity of this country brought about by the slave trade until it was abolished? Someone will be offended and we cant do that now can we, in our ‘modern’, politically correct world.

Should the new bible even refer to God, for fear of upsetting the atheist section of the population? In the 70s and 80s popular Irish comedian, Dave Allen, with his own UK television show, used to end his program each week with the words “May your god go with you” (the bold text is my emphasis, not Dave Allen’s). It was a clever use of words to cover the god of any religion but could he say that now without offending the atheists?

If a new bible did mention god, which or whose god or gods should be included or excluded? Eeven if all the deities we refer to as god were actually the same one just by a different name under a different religion, some faithor other is bound to be offended by the name another religion uses.

A national bible should be a unifying document of basic principals, rights and responsibilities (‘responsibilities’! oh dear a dirty word, better leave responsibilities out) albeit that some of it might not be explicit but told through stories, and examples; parables if you will, as exemplified in The Bible.

Creation of a biblical style canon of text is easier in countries and societies where the population had at least the same core beliefs and the same god,. Even this is fraught with difficulty due to multiple denominations and sects within, supposed, single religions. I also think it might be easier to achieve where the rulers are not elected; i.e. not a democracy. New young states would almost certainly find it easier to come to a consensus of what should be included.

The question asks if “societies today were to produce national bibles”. It depends on a common bond, and possibly a common heritage, within that society. In the ‘civilised’ western world, so much of both bond and heritage has been lost through immigration.

The Bible came about because a people had a common heritage, a common religion and a common cause. It was a way of preserving a people’s heritage even in defeat. That situation is only the case now in a minority of, mostly, less developed third-world nations.

Fast Fashion

Beyond greenwashing.

2013 Dhaka garment factory collapse

Regular readers might remember my less than complimentary posts on supposed sustainable, or ‘greenwashed’ fashion from previous posts, for which links are at the end of this article.

Greenwashing is not the primary focus of this post. Here I am not considering green credentials, but the treatment of the people who produce fast fashion, for those addicted to continually updating their wardrobe, at minimal cost.

In 2013 a major news story was the collapse of a clothing factory in Dhaka, India. The building in which it was housed was apparently extended without the appropriate permit to include the factory. Rightly or wrongly, I assume that since it was without permit, it was also without appropriate construction techniques or safety features, all in the name of profit. The result was over 1000 people dead and 2500 injured.

Just like the big food retailers, clothing retailers are constantly trying to buy their stock cheaper from manufacturers, usually from outside the UK in poorer countries where business owners pay poorer wages. The wages are in fact often a pittance, even on the poverty line for the hours an employee is expected to work.

It’s not unusual for retailers to frequently change orders, cancel orders already in manufacture and then to refuse to pay for work already done to an ultimately cancelled order. Or they might want it delivered faster or try to re-negotiate prices after work has already started on garments. The big retailers often delay paying manufacturers for as long as possible. More than 90 days is not unusual.

Should we buy fast fashion, or not. It is a conundrum. If we buy it, we are supporting an industry that often does not treat its employees well, can barely afford to operate on what the retailers pay them. If we don’t buy fast fashion, are we jeopardising jobs for people who are already poor, living on a pittance?

Bear in mind that what we in the UK (and first world economy) consider poor, would be considered, if not wealthy, certainly comfortable in many places where the garments we wear are made.

If you would like to see an improvement to the situation, please consider signing the Traidcraft Petition, asking the government of the UK to set up a Fashion Watchdog.

Links:

Unsustainable Fashion
Sustainable Fashion … Or Not
Not So Green Fashion 3
Not So Green Fashion Again
Not So Green Fashion
Sustainable Fashion
No Passion For Fashion
Sustainable Fashion: Is it a contradiction in terms
Fashionable

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 27th June

The fourth Sunday of Trinity.

Living and forgiving God, You sent Your Son to live amongst us to pay the price to redeem us. We offer you this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.

Father God, You love everyone equally. The inequalities on this planet are created by humankind. Sometimes by neglect, sometimes by selfishness and sometimes unintended. We protect our own ways and standards of living, sometimes a the expense of others. Forgive this failing and help us to level these inequalities, living our lives by the example Your Son set us.

We pray for church buildings in need of maintenance and repair, that their communities can raise the funds to conduct necessary work. May each church whether modern or traditional, in good condition or need of repair be a symbol of hope to its community and welcome everyone in whether regular, occasional or curious visitors. In that welcome, may we lead more people to You, our Father.

We pray for the Mothers’ Union locally, regionally and nationally. We remember Mary Sumner the founder of the MU organisation. As we prepare to commemorate the centenary of her death in 1921, we give thanks for the global reach of the Mothers’ Union, grown from its founding in Old Arlesford, near Winchester in 1876.

We pray for ministry teams, especially members of those teams moving on to a new calling serving You, our Lord. May they each find happiness for themselves and their families in new position, and success in their new ventures. 

We pray to bring comfort and strength to the unwell in body mind or spirit, known or unknown to us. Be with them and their loved ones.

Lord and Father, be with each of us today and in the coming week. Let the brightness of Your Spirit lighten our souls. Kindle in our hearts a warmth for all humankind, and brighten our minds, so that we might be a light to others.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

The Mary Sumner Prayer

All this day, O Lord, let me touch as many lives as possible for thee; and every life I touch, do thou by thy spirit quicken, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I breathe, or the life I live. 

Amen.

If you Download And Print this prayer, please acknowledge
jandws.wordpress.com

Esther

A modern re-telling of the Old Testament book of Esther.

Originally published as a short series, I am reprising my modern re-telling of Esther’s story as a single post, in a week in which my church is reading from the book of Esther.

 

 

Chapter 1: Vash Deposed.

The dinner seemed to be going well. The guests were in a good mood, the food being enjoyed and the wine flowed freely. The only person who didn’t seem to be enjoying the company’s 10th anniversary celebration, was the president and, as of the anniversary, non executive director, Ceres King.

Vash, Ceres King’s wife was hosting her own party that same evening, much to her husband’s annoyance. He’d wanted her at the company celebration to display a united front to his guests.

Amongst Vash’s guests, as well as her own friends and acquaintances, were wives of some of the attendees to her husband’s company’s anniversary celebration. Vash was part owner and a director of Kings Property Enterprises, though her husband never mentioned this to his colleagues and business associates.

Ceres already considered his wife’s non attendance at the company ‘s event reflected badly on himself and the company. His irritation growing to annoyance by the time dinner was served, and anger as the evening progressed and his intake of wine increased.

Next morning still angry, not helped by a hangover with a splitting headache, he was in the company solicitor’s office demanding to know what he could do about, what he considered ,his wife’s poor behaviour. Her failure to accompany him, he thought, reflected badly on the company in front of investors and shareholders.

Legally, the solicitor informed Ceres King, he could remove his wife’s directorship, though this would need to be done with some care and a suitable pretext, since Vash was a shareholder in the company. However, the lawyer reminded Ceres, the company articles would require him to appoint a new director in Vash’s place.

Before the end of the day in which he had spoken with the solicitor, Ceres kIng had the personnel department drafting a letter to be circulated to some of the main executive recruitment and headhunting agencies.


Chapter 2: Esther supplants Vash.

When applications and referrals began to arrive from the recruitment agencies to fill Vash’s position, Ceres King took little interest to begin with, content to leave matters in the hands of his personnel department now that his initial irritation with Vash had subsided, at least until a shortlist could be put to him.

When the shortlist of potential candidates had been selected, they were all invited to a residential selection process which would culminate in selection of a single individual to fill the vacant directorship. Selection would take place at a country house hotel, owned by Ceres King’s friend Thomas Heggerty, hired for the purpose. The candidates would be allowed the full use of facilities at the hotel including sports, leisure and beauty treatments during their stay.

Matt Mortlake or Morti as he was often called, an under manager in King’s business empire, thought that the position in Ceres King’s company might be suitable for his cousin Esther, who had recently finished a business studies degree. He had raised her after the death of her parents, a result of a road accident.

Esther wasn’t on the shortlist of candidates, nevertheless Morti persuaded King’s personnel manager to let her fill the place of a candidate who had failed to arrive for the selection process. The personnel manager wasn’t hard to persuade. Esther charmed him as she seemed able to charm everyone with her wit and beauty.

When Ceres King met with the candidates for the directorship, like everyone else he was charmed by Esther. He immediately wanted to hire her but for the sake of appearances continued to interview the remaining shortlisted candidates. A week later, Esther was summoned by Ceres King and formally offered the position his wife had previously held.

While Ceres King had been interviewing the candidates for the position in his company, Esther’s cousin Morti had chanced to overhear a conversation between two high officials of the company. Bingham and Taplin were apparently plotting to depose Ceres King from the presidency of the company he had founded.

Morti told his cousin Esther of what he had heard and she in turn informed Ceres King. King immediately sacked Bingham and Taplin without either severance pay or references.


Chapter 3

One of Ceres King’s business advisors, Adrian Hammand, seemed to have King’s ear more than other directors and company officials. Most directors, and other officials within King’s company deferred to Hammand, usually with the hope of ingratiating themselves through Hammand with Ceres King. Matt Mortlake, unlike the other directors and staff did not try to curry favour either himself or vicariously through Haman.

When Matt Mortlake’s refusal to accede to Hammand’s views on business came to his ears, Haman set about plotting to get Mortlake sacked. Hammand wanted not only rid of Mortlake but also members of the trade union, of which Mortlake though not a member but was known to listen to the union officials. Haman would dress his plan as efficiency and money-saving measures to improve the company balance sheet.

Laying out his idea before Ceres King, Hammand didn’t find it hard to secure King’s approval to the prospect of boosting profits and efficiency. Keeping the details between himself and King, even excluding the other directors, Haman had letters prepared to all the regional managers. They were to find excuses, under the guise of rationalisation within the company, to make redundant all union members. Such a move would destroy Mortlake’s support within the company, effectively forcing him out.


Chapter 4

Matt Mortlake had been escorted off of company premises and banned from re-entering. He stood at the company gates in protest at the sacking, under the guise of redundancy for efficiency, of all the known union members in Ceres King’s company.

Officially no one in the company was allowed to communicate with Mortlake, though he did manage to get a message through to Esther. When she heard that Matt Mortlake, cousin Morti, was at the gates, she asked her assistant Heather to go and talk to him and find out what had happened. Esther couldn’t go herself without risking it being discovered that she was his cousin.

When Heather returned she explained to Esther everything her cousin Morti had passed on. Heather told Esther how Hammand was using the excuse of efficiency savings and an increase in company profits as an excuse to terminate the employment of workers in the company who were members of the union. Cousin Mortlake wanted Esther to go and talk with Ceres King, to find a way of keeping the employees.

Esther sent a message back to her cousin, that she would talk with Ceres King when she could, and when he seemed less pre-occupied with Hammand’s ideas. It was hard to get past Hammand to speak with King. Hammand had managed to get King’s secretary dismissed under false accusations and supplant her with his own choice.

When he received Esther’s reply, Mortlake reminded her that her own position would not be safe within the company. Sooner or later it was bound to be discovered that they were related. ‘I will find a way to see King.’ Esther sent her reply. In the mean time, you must contact all the dismissed union members and prepare them.


Chapter 5

After Esther received cousin Morti’s message, she contrived a way to speak with Ceres King. It wouldn’t be easy, with Hammand’s coconspirator in place as King’s secretary. Fortunately the floor on which King’s personal office was located was a little old fashioned. King’s secretary was in an anteroom to King’s own office, which did not afford a good view of the rest of the floor.

Esther found excuse after excuse to visit the floor outside King’s office. On one of her visits three days later, Esther was able to catch King’s eye as he came out of the lift to go to his office. Under the pretext of getting to know both King and the company policy and ethos better, Esther invited King to drinks that evening, suggesting that he might like to bring Hammand along too.

Whilst chatting over the drinks later, Esther tentatively hinted that she might have some ideas that would benefit the company. She invited King and Hammand again the following evening to a dinner party she was giving, suggesting she would be able to tell them more after a little more time to fill out some details.

Hammand seemed pleased that he’d been invited, with Ceres King, to drinks and then dinner with Esther. His good mood was short lived when as he left the company that evening for home, he spotted Matt Mortlake by the company entrance.

Hammand was back in a better mood later that evening, when he boasted to his family about Esther’s invitation, that he was the only person in addition to Ceres King who had been invited. Though he still wasn’t back to his usual composure knowing Mortlake was still around.

Together with his wife and family, Hammand spent the rest of the evening plotting how to get rid of Mortlake once and for all.


Chapter 6

Sometimes at night when Ceres King couldn’t sleep, he would read over old company records. On one particular night, flicking through some, so he thought at the time, inconsequential papers, King discovered that Matt Mortlake had foiled a plot to unseat King from his position as company chairman.

The next morning, now doubting that Mortlake should have been banished from the company, King was wondering how he might make amends for the apparent mistake of Mortlake’s exclusion. ‘Have you any thoughts’, King asked Hammand, ‘how we might reward someone’s loyalty and exceptional service?’

Hammand could not know then what King had discovered in the old company documents, nor would his ego let him suppose King intended to reward anyone but himself. ‘A promotion perhaps’, suggested Hammand ‘maybe a better car and a bonus added to this year’s salary.’

‘Go and arrange the car Hammand.’ King instructed, ‘A premium brand. Mercedes perhaps. I’ll have the company secretary prepare the remainder of the reward package. ‘There’ll be a dinner too, at which to give the presentation. Perhaps you’d do the presentation to Mortlake yourself ,now he’s been reinstated.’ ‘Mortlake!’ stammered Hammand, taken aback. Ye …s, of course I’ll see to it.

After Hammand’s unexpected encounter with King, he rushed home to tell his wife what had happened. While he was still explaining a taxi arranged by King arrived, to take Hammand to the dinner that had been arranged.


Chapter 7

On the night of Esther’s invitation of Ceres King to dinner. Esther made sure there was plenty of wine for her guests. King, even after slightly too much to drink was no fool, ‘Why have you invited me here,’ he asked Esther. ‘What is it you want to ask me, or maybe ask of me?’

Sir, I want you to keep myself and the union members on in your companies. They are good, skilled workers. Making them redundant might save the company money in the short term, but you will also lose skills that are hard to replace. You will need to recruit and train new artisans. the plans are flawed.

‘Who planned this?’ ‘Hammand” replied Esther to King. ‘He plotted to get rid of Mortlake and improve his own standing and power in the company.’ Angry, Ceres King stalked out of the dining room and into the garden considering what to do about Hammand.

When King returned to the dining room, he walked in on Hammand pleading with Esther. But when Hammand saw King’s expression on his return, Hammand knew that King had already decided his fate, no matter what Esther said.

Drawing his mobile phone from his pocket, deliberately switching it to speaker so that Hammand could hear the call King phoned the company security officer. ‘Harper, this is Ceres King. Sorry to call you so late. I want you to ensure that Hammand is only allowed on company premises to collect his own personal belongings.’ King continued, ‘He is to be escorted by one of your officers at all times until he leaves the premises, after which he will not be allowed back in for any reason.’ I’ll take care of it sir.’ replied Harper.

‘It would be unwise for you to request a reference, Hammand.’ King told him with an icy calm edge to his voice. ‘And if your name should appear on any other board of directors.’ King left the threat hanging in the air as Hammand turned to leave.


Chapter 8

With Hammand in disgrace and sacked from the company, Esther, to her surprise, was offered by Ceres King Hammand’s former seat on on the board. During the meeting for her appointment, Esther took the opportunity of revealing to King her family relationship to Mortlake, having decided it best not to keep any more secrets.

Mortlake, under King’s instruction, was re-instated into the company. His former position had already been filled, by a good man that there was no reason to remove. Mortlake was therefore appointed to Esther’s former position, now that she had taken Hammand’s seat in the company’s boardroom.

In her new seat of authority, Esther once again raised with Ceres King the matter of the dismissal of union members and affiliates from the company. ‘You have authority in that matter.’ King informed Esther, ‘You and Mortlake can draft a letter to all the appropriate managers in the company rescinding redundancy notices. Send it letter on my behalf. That way there can be no argument about it or managers who will question it.

With union members reprieved or reinstated, there was a general air of celebration in many of the company’s offices and factories. There was also a degree of concern by those employees who had not shown support for the union members. Some viewed it as a chance to improve their own prospects within Ceres King’s company. There was also a considerable number of new recruits to the union, as a result of Ceres Kings change of heart and dismissal of Hammand.


Chapters 9 & 10

Now that the union members of the workforce were reinstated in Ceres King’s industrial empire, and Matt Mortlake was back in a position of authority, production began to return to normal. Trust and cordial relations with the workforce was slowly being rebuilt, but not all the employees were happy.

More workers signed up to join the union. Those that didn’t started to find it harder and harder to do the jobs Ceres King employed them to do. Some employees who had not shown any degree of support for the dismissed, albeit now reinstated, union members were almost invariably subjected to non-cooperation, some sent to coventry. Some resigned.

A little later, it was discovered that Hammand wasn’t the only member of his family working in Ceres King’s company. Hammand’s sons, his brother and nephews were also employed. Little by little Hammand had been manipulating and and bribing various managers and other influential employees, to advance his relatives within the company. They were all offered the chance to resign, with a reference but without a severance package, or be sacked. Without exception they resigned.

There were celebrations by the union members that they all had jobs again. As a gesture of conciliation and good will Mortlake and Esther, with Ceres King’s agreement, arranged from company finances to share the cost for the celebrations. In future years, on the same day so that events would not be forgotten and no one might be excluded from the company provided they could do their job, the celebration became a company tradition.

The Princess On The Glass Hill: Fairy Tales 19

In Andrew Lang’s The Blue Fairy Book, originally a Norse fairy tale.

Whilst some of the fairy tales I reflect on would not in their original form be considered suitable for the current era’s children, The Princess On The Glass Hill could be told to a chid of any age.

It is a tale of three brothers trying to win the hand of a princess. The two elder brothers frequently pile jobs on the youngest, called Boots, often treating him like a lackey.  He does not have good clothes and often sleeps by the fireplace in their home, in an effort to keep warm.

The father’s farm each year, on which the brothers lived, had their hay meadow eaten on the feast of John The Baptist. Each of the brothers in turn is set to observe and prevent the loss of crop. As you might already have guessed, only Boots managed the complete. The elder brothers had been too afraid to stay at the hay meadow for the whole night. If they had, perhaps the story would have a different ending.

When the king organises a competition for the hand of the princess in marriage, the older brothers refuse to take Boots, saying he would make them a laughing stock. Boots, however, has other ideas and manages to take part in the King’s challenge. The older brothers do not realise Boots is competing until it is too late.

The princess is at the top of a glass hill. The King had decreed that whomever could reach her, could marry her. Boots’ brothers and a host of visiting princes fail to ascend to the princess because the glass is too slippery. Their horses can not grip the surface.

When Boots saved the hay crop he acquired some magical items, of which the older brothers were unaware. Boots had hidden them from his siblings. These help him to beat not only his own brothers but also a host of princes to the princess, eventually marrying her and winning too half the kingdom.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this tale is that it reverses the gender roles of another fairy tale. I have previously written about Aschenputtle, Better known as Cinderella in a simplified form considered more suitable for children. In The Princess On The Glass Hill, it is the put upon young man who, with help, manages to win the hand of the princess.

 

Brave, Foolhardy or Greedy

When David slew Goliath (1 Samuel 17), was he brave, foolhardy or just greedy?

By Caravaggio, circa 1599

Possibly he was all of those things.

I don’t think there is too much doubt that he was brave, because even as God’s anointed one he was small compared to Goliath and he was not battle hardened; he was no soldier. He may have slain animals whilst protecting his flock of sheep but that is a very far cry from fighting a man, who is armed and attacking. David was also probably scared and it seems to me that, no act can be considered brave if your not frightened of undertaking it.

If David was trusting in the Lord God, then the act was not foolhardy, although it might seem so to unbelievers. If however David was trusting in his own abilities, challenging Goliath would be incredibly stupid. David’s weapon of choice, the sling is very inaccurate even used by an expert, so the chances of felling Goliath with his first shot were tiny.

Samuel tells us that David said he fought Goliath in the name of The Lord but that doesn’t rule out the other possibilities too. David did slay Goliath but was it to save Israel, or did he have his eye on the prize? We know from David’s later actions as king that he was not sinless, even though he was faithful, so we cannot completely ignore the possibility of self interest.

The Wedding Feast At Cana

A reflection on the 1653 picture by Paolo Veronese.

Click for larger image.

The wedding feast at Cana, by Paolo Veronese, circa 1563

The story of Jesus attendance at the wedding at Cana is found in the Bible, in the New Testament book of John, chapter 2: 1-11. The scene is of Jesus’ first recorded miracle, turning water into wine, when wedding supplies seemed to be running low.

From the description in the Bible, we know that Jesus was a guest at the wedding. We don’t know if His mother was a simple guest or had a role in the festivity.

Veronese’s picture is huge, measuring nearly 10M wide by 8M high. It hangs in the Louvre, in Paris. Veronese’s picture gives a vivid view of a wedding celebration but, it seems to contain anomalies regarding the wedding feast itself and the era in which it is set. 

Probably the most obvious anomaly is the building architecture surrounding the wedding feast. It appears much too advanced for the biblical era of John’s original telling. Additionally, the attire of the guests is also too modern for the time of the wedding at Cana. The picture is perhaps only intended to be representational.

Representational or not, what initially caught my attention though was not the architecture. It is the position of some particular guests. This is a wedding feast remember, so at the main table I would expect to see the bride and groom and their immediate family.

Look at the centre of the picture and the centre of the feast table. Where the bride and groom should be, is Jesus and his mother Mary, not the bride and groom who should be in pride of place.