Echoes from Eternity 11. A Bygone pre-War England

The sun came out yesterday, the sky filled with cotton wool clouds, and birds chirped merrily. An idyllic English afternoon in early Spring, in fact. Edward Thomas (1878-1917) in 1905 Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) in April 1913 - colourized by jecinci…

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Q Marks The Spot: Treasure Map 129 (July 2019)

Sacred Treasure If you've not clocked this great little radio series by Nick Spencer, then you must: The Secret History of Science and Religion.Some very surprising realities about global Christianity (esp for those who only follow secular media) - HT…

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We Will Remember Them: #Armistice100

The 11th Hour. The 11th Day. The 11th Month.  Evidently a contrived moment at which to end a war whose conclusion was as complex and mystifying as its commencement. But it was a moment of inspiration to exploit it. It…

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Q Marks The Spot – Treasure Map 111 (November 2017)

Sacred Treasure A lovely tribute to my late friend Tom Chapman, a Norwich pastor who died after a 10-year battle with a brain tumour Phil Whittall offers an excellent summary of Justin Taylor's thoughts on diversity in the church. Stimulating…

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The Uncertainties of Contingency: What if Franz Ferdinand didn’t die in 1914?

I have stood at the very spot where Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were shot by Gavrilo Princip 100 years ago. And the impossible “What If” question occurred to me even then. So when I noticed that eminent historian Ned Lebow had published an examination of the issue, I leapt at it. The assassination was such a fluke, so preventable, so absurd that the yearning for a different outcome of that moment is great. As he says at the start (having summarised some of the counterfactual options),

None of these what-ifs strains our understanding of the world because most royal processions do not stray from their intended routes, and most security details would have rushed the archduke and his wife to safety at the first signs of violence. In this instance, the so-called factual, not the counterfactual, is what strikes us as unrealistic and incredible. (p16) (more…)

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Odds and ends: some random book reviews on China, Marriage… and Auschwitz

So, there’s been seriously long radio-silence from Q in recent weeks. But this is not the result of inactivity. Far from it. Regulars will be pleased to hear that my book is seriously under way – with 5 out of 10 chapters now completed in draft. Phew!! There’s going to be lots to blog on when it’s done – but I don’t have the energy or brain to do both at the same time! Nevertheless, I’ve been keeping up reading and stuff. Here are a few reviews of recent freebies I got on the Amazon Vine programme. There might be something of interest to someone… (more…)

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Friday Fun 45: Exposing an enemy’s deception with some wartime humour

Operation Fortitude was a crucial, bold, almost insane, factor in the success of D-Day in 1944. It was a hugely elaborate hoax, to make the enemy believe that the Allies’ continental invasion would happen across the straits of Calais (Fortitude South) and from Scotland into Norway (Fortitude North). (more…)

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The first time visiting a place I’ve grown up in: Monet’s home at Giverny

Thanks to the generosity of some friends, Rachel & I were able to have a few days in their Paris flat last week (and were even able to cover most of our Eurostar tickets with Nectar points). All in all: a result. But the highlight for both of us was actually 80km north-west of Paris in the little Normandy village of Giverny. Neither of us had ever been before. But I felt was as if I’d been going there all my life. In fact, every nook and cranny felt so familiar it was as if it was a childhood home. For this was the home of Claude Monet, and the subject of decades of paintings. (more…)

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