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Pray the Gay Away

 

A 17-year-old American girl openly declared that she is gay.  She took her girlfriend to the school prom.  Her parents summarily enrolled her into a Christian school where she would for a year not have any contact with the outside world.  The school apparently is known for “praying the gay away”. 

 

This happened in the year 2017, not in 1317, and in the USA, not some backwater country with a paternalistic, dictatorial belief system. 

 

The girl’s parents sent her to the school so that they could ensure the daughter they were given in this life is “changed”.  Talk about conditional love … And they could do this because legally she is still under age and there is nothing she can do to get out of this “school”. 

 

 

How to Tempt the Devil by Connecting to God

 

There is an urgency in the Western world to find means of slowing down and becoming calmer and more peaceful.

 

One of the commercial successes (apart from the myriad books on mindfulness) is the new rage for colouring books for adults.

 

Of course you will not find fairies or clowns or animals in these colouring books.  The purpose of the books is not to practice holding a crayon or staying within the lines.  The purpose of the books is to help adults relax by focusing on repeating patterns and on no particular topic.

 

Quite often mandalas are used in these adult colouring book.  Mandalas are complicated repetitive patterns that originated in Eastern philosophy as an attempt to make a symbolic representation of the Universe more tangible.

 

 

Redefining God’s Word

 

A group of synagogues in part of London have applied for the erection of poles linked together with fishing wire to demarcate an eruv in Camden.

 

An eruv is a marked area in which Jews can carry or push objects on the Sabbath without violating Jewish law that prohibits carrying anything outside the house.  This new construction will allow people in wheelchairs and parents with pushchairs to leave their house during the Sabbath, because the construction of the eruv will in the minds of the Jews create the illusion that their homes have been extended to the boundaries of the eruv, which can be as large as a number of square miles.

 

This is not a new concept. 

Whirling Dervishes and Other Illusions

When the concierge at the hotel n Istanbul where I was staying suggested I might want to see the Whirling Dervishes, I remembered the skill-full dancer that did the incredibly beautiful Sufi whirling dervish dance in Cairo a few years ago.

The dancer started off with a white costume, but the invisible bottom layer of the costume was like a Joseph's coat.  During this performance the dancer turned the top layer of the skirt inside out, then displayed the top and bottom layer like a funnel, and then ended the dance with the white layer on top again.  This was even more spectacular than the belly dancers who were part of the same show.

This is what I expected:

The Bosporus by Boat

When in Istanbul, you have to do a boat trip on the Bosporus River – and the offers are legion and cheap.  Within minutes I had three offers of trips lasting between two and three hours.  I would get a leaflet from one tour operator, and another tour operator in the vicinity would notice this and give me a "better price" – with more attractive sights.  Of course all the sights are more or less the same.  The difference is probably in the quality of the commentary.

Against my intuition I followed the advice of the concierge and booked on a four-hour tour with the Blue Brothers Travel Agency.  They would fetch me from the hotel, and bring me back to the hotel.  They offered the boat trip with commentary in various languages as well as a trip up the funicular to Pierre Loti Hill.  Very reasonable at 20 Euros, I thought.

The minibus arrived at the hotel – with standing space only, but hey, I was no holiday, so no big deal.  More people were collected and we ran out of

Beware of the Carpet Salesman

Istanbul is known for a number of spectacular buildings.

One of these is the Blue Mosque.  This is a massive mosque, and one of many in the city.   I don't know how many there are, but I can tell you it is impossible to look in any direction and not see a mosque - and they are all huge.  From the outside the Blue Mosque is imposing by day, and beautifully lit by night.  

Inside are the most beautiful ceramic tiles in various shades of blue. Sadly, modernization crept up with history.  When electricity was added inside the mosque, it was obviously before the  

 

 

The Fragrances of Istanbul

Many years ago I did a short course on travel writing. As with many other things, that was a flavor of what was to come, which I did not recognize at the time. Over the years I have had the privilege of visiting over 25 countries. I have thousands of photos but never got round to writing about my experiences. I have now decided to make a point of documenting some of the lovely things that have happened to me, and some of the

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370

16th March 2014:

"This is a message of a different nature - not a story, although there are plenty more of those.

Everyone wants to know about the plane that disappeared.  It was an accident.  There was nothing deliberate about it.  They are all still alive - confused, bewildered, disoriented but in good health.

Yes, there are still uninhabited parts of your planet.  They managed to land in one of those parts.  There is enough to eat and they have shelter.

Most of the group will return home in about two years.

You ask how it could possibly take that long to find a massive plane and so many people.  You think because you know much about your planet you know all.

Never give up hope.  When we say some will not return we mean two will pass on and another smalll group will choose to remain.  The rest will return home and be reunited with their loved ones.

We don't care whether you share this with the world or not.  Our truth remains the same.

Blessed be."

When Staying In A Hotel, Wear Pyjamas

What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?  Try and beat this one.

I once had to attend an evening meeting in Kent, south of London.  I was due in London early the next morning for another meeting.  Rather than risk missing the last train home, I decided to stay over in a hotel.

London budget hotels are generally an embarrassment to the city, but I managed

Winning an Olympic Medal - Kind Of

'Your breast stroke is very good.  We will now work on speed.'

That is what my swimming instructor said to me.  So this is how it feels to win an Olympic medal.

I have to put this into perspective.  I have been going to swimming lessons for about seven years now.

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