So that was 2023

Well now. What a wonderful year. Can I have another one please?

A year of solid progression at work, and with the PhD.
A year in which I started writing properly again – outward facing stuff on the substack, personal musings here.
A year dominated by the sabbatical – and in which I listened to a lot of James!
A year in which I had some proper quality time with each of my children.
A year which finished with my getting engaged
God is good.
I am filled with optimism, excitement and determination for 2024. Avanti cosmos!

Previous years: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.

The only mercies in war

In the context of present crises I keep coming back to the thought that there are only two mercies in war: speed and clarity. In other words, a decisive victory for one side or the other. The worst thing in war is a conflict that never resolves, like a wound that never heals, that continues bleeding and suppurating for years.

So – however barbaric and detestable it might be – the removal of Armenians from the Karabakh region due to the swift military victory of Azerbaijan back in September, that was merciful. There are people alive now who would not have remained alive without the swiftness and certainty of that military victory. Life will carry on.

The opposite end of the spectrum is, of course, Israel. I wonder what would have happened if – at various points – the Israeli government had simply said ‘sod it’ and genuinely carried out some ethnic cleansing, in the way that Azerbaijan has. I rather suspect that the overall suffering would have been less in recent decades, for all sides. Instead, in an attempt to be ‘good’ and to win the good graces of all interlocutors, the great un-endable conflict increases and immiserates all involved.

Perhaps Israel needs a bit more of the Old Testament Heart…

Tearing down the hedges

Recently at Morning Prayer I read Isaiah 5, which describes God’s judgement upon faithless Israel, and it gives this description of God’s wrath:

“Now I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
and it will be trampled.”

I keep musing on the link between boundaries and holiness. We see, daily, more and more evidence of the collapse of virtue in our society, the moral bankruptcy that causes chaos and disorder. So I think: is the lack of boundaries a result of this collapse, or does the collapse flow from the removal of the boundaries? The hedges around the West have been destroyed and now we are being trampled. We are in the place of After Virtue – and, as the man said, the barbarians have been governing us for quite some time.

How to rebuild the boundaries? How to reclaim virtue? This has been my avatar (or one of them) for a few years now: