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Celebrating Life Celebrating Life

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									netherhall NEWS
a bi-monthly newsletter                                       December ‘06 / January ‘07
                                                                                      London, Issue 14

Celebrating Life
a major seminar on medical ethics at Netherhall House

Welfare Society not Welfare State                       The Self, the Soul and the Person
Iain Duncan Smith on solving problems locally   Can Science and Philosophy ever be soul-mates?

The Christmas Crib tradition in Malta              When the Queen Mum came for tea
                                                    Recollections of a royal visit fourty years ago
        netherhall NEWS
        a bi-monthly newsletter                                     December ‘06 / January ‘07
                                                                                                 London, Issue 14

CONTENTS                                                     from the Editor’s Desk
                                                             Editor Zubin Mistry writes about Xmas, Christmas and
                                                             everything in between.

                                                             Director’s Notes                                           3
                                                             Peter Brown writes about the Cardinal’s visit, Christmas
Cover Image                                                  preparations and a new film by a former resident.
                      M u r p h y                            Celebrating Life                                           4
                      O ’ C on n or ,
                                                             Zubin Mistry reports on a recent seminar on Medical
                      leader of                              Ethics hosted by Netherhall House.
                      the Catholic
                      Church in
                      England                                “The Queen Mother was coming...”                           7
                      and Wales,                             Fr. Robert Farrell writes about the day the Queen
                      addressing                             Mother visited Netherhall House.
                      doctors and
                      medical stu-                           Welfare Society not Welfare State                          8
dents who attended the Medical
                                                             Iain Duncan Smith insists that local care should
Ethics Conference at Netherhall on
                                                             replace State interference. Zubin Mistry reports.
Saturday 2nd December.

          netherhall NEWS                                    Inter-faith history made in Turkey                       10
 a bi-monthly newsletter of Netherhall House
                                                             Chris Ljungquist analyses Pope Benedict’s historic
              managing editor                                meetings with Muslim and Orthodox spiritual leaders.
               Kevin Gouder
                 Zubin Mistry
                                                             Mind-boggler                                             12
                   circulation                               Mind-boggling brain-teasers by Prakarsh Singh.
 netherhall NEWS is sent by e-mail to current
  and past residents of Netherhall House.
        It is also available online at:
                                                             The Self, the Soul and the Person                        13
                                                              Can Science and Philosophy ever be soul-mates?
                                                              Russell Wilcox reports from the House of Lords.
 Contact us
 Would you like to be included in our                        Wisdom of Peace                                          14
 mailing list, contribute to or express                       Netherhall’s chaplain, Fr Joe Evans, offers us advice on
 your opinion on netherhall NEWS?                             how we can achieve greater peace this Christmas-time.
 Write to:

 Kevin Gouder                                                The Maltese Christmas Crib                               16
 c/o netherhall NEWS,
                                                             Kevin Gouder writes about the Christmas Crib tradition
 “Netherhall House”,
                                                             in his home country, Malta.
 Nutley Terrace,
 London, NW3 5SA, U.K.
                                                             Christmas Dinner Speech                                  18
 or e-mail:
                                                              Prakarsh Singh and his after-dinner musings about
                                                              intellectual freedom and friends for life.

DISCLAIMER: All opinions expressed in this
newsletter are those of the authors concerned   PLUS! all our regular sections
and do not necessarily represent the views of    Country Trivia: Italy                                              19
the management of Netherhall News, of
Netherhall House or of Opus Dei.
                                                 Desert Island Discs                                                19
                                                 News from Former Residents                                         20
                                                 Guest Speaker Series                                               24
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                     1

    from the
Editor’s desk
  Editor Zubin Mistry writes about Xmas, Christ-
  mas and everything in between.                                                                    Podcast!

A     s winter crescendos into Christmas, I am ever
      wary of becoming a killjoy grinch. Hordes
stagger from shop to shop in search of those ever
                                                           indicators of not only secularist pressures but also
                                                           the growing sense of ‘entitlements’ among religious
elusive presents, heaving their own bodyweight in
ribbon-wrapped gadgetry and jewellery. Or parents          My problem, at root, however, is as follows: the
queue for an age to take their little ones through         ‘consumerisation’ of Christmas and its degeneration
labyrinthine department store grottos for a photo-         into Xmas; the ‘blandification’ of Christmas through
shoot with whichever santa’s on his shift. Or people       vacuous blandishments; and the frowning
allege that others are pinching Christmas by               indignation about Christmas lights. All of this risks
eschewing last year’s vague-and-bland-enough               distracting attention from what could in general be
star-shaped lights in favour of this year’s only-          a period of familial and friendly communality, and
slightly-vaguer candle-shaped lights. While the            detract attention from what should, for Christians,
machinery of the festive season picks up its grinding      be a celebration of the most striking and joyful
momentum, I temporarily withdraw in a half-ascetic,        reminder of the Incarnation. (Lest I seem to be a
half-adolescent tantrum, re-reading C.S. Lewis’            conceited misanthrope, I should add that I notice
wickedly funny satire of the modern winterval              all of the perils of Xmas corrupting Christmas most
experience, “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost                    clearly of all in myself, as I catch my pitiful reflection
Chapter from Herodotus”, in which our                               in shop windows).
bewildered narrator encounters for the
first time a land that celebrates both                                       I noticed the other day that the
Xmas and Christmas.                                                           consumerisation of Christmas is
                                                                               so comprehensive that artistic
What’s my big problem? I                                                        works       lamenting        the
mean, gifts small and large can                                                 consumerisation of Christmas
truly be tokens of real affection.                                              are marketed specifically for
And, don’t get me wrong, come                                                  Christmas! For those of you who
the 23rd or so, I will relent and rush                                        may not know him, ‘Banksy’ is a
to buy my loved ones, friends and                                           contemporary artist who combines
family, tokens of my very real affection for                               outré antics with penetrating social
them. In teeming shops I will discriminately                              commentary in one heady mix of
purchase in an attempt to avoid already-have-one’s,               subversive creativity. A good example of this
wrong-size-darling’s and that’s-just-plain-                would be the time when, in a style as distinctive
disgusting-don’t-you-have-any-taste-no-wonder-no-          and inimitable as Caravaggio’s haunting sense of
girl-will-go-with-a-grinch-like-you’s (this last           light and darkness, he once climbed into the
response is admittedly rare though, sadly, not totally     penguin enclosure at London Zoo and painted
unheard of). And, if and when I am a parent – if           “We’re bored of fish” in huge letters. Anyhow,
there’s a girl out there who’ll go for this grinch – I     another undertaking of his is an alternative and now
am sure that I will discover the delightful                annual ‘Santa’s Grotto’ on Oxford Street. The
opportunities that queues present for deepening            critique of the modern consumerisation of Christmas
filial-paternal ties. And the seasonal debates on          is boldly emblazoned on the window, which bears
Christmas lights and the like are, at least, interesting
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                              2

    from the Editor’s Desk, cont...
the simple, red-painted message: “Work Consume           we let our hair down at graduate student and
Die”. Multiple exhibits within, including                bookshop Christmas parties. I savour rehearsing
disembowelled teddy bears and tired santas holding       family stories that we have all heard a hundred times
signs that read, “Christmas is cancelled”, effectively   before and play-arguing with my sister about which
lead the way to the various items for sale. These        herbs we should use to prepare and season the
range from t-shirts with comments on foreign policy      Christmas meal. You see, my sister is something of
to expensive objets d’art (e.g. a map of London          a seasoning traditionalist, favouring simple
defaced with a pretty rude expletive followed by ‘-      contrasts, with salt, pepper, a pinch of garlic and,
land’, which, at just £1,500, sounds like an ideal       possibly, a snatch of cloves. On the other hand, I
present for any friends you might have who are new       am something of a seasoning revolutionary who
to our fair metropolis. Maybe best to wait for the       strives to shock her out of her bourgeois conformity.
January sales).                                          Habanero pepper, supposedly one of the spiciest?
                                                         Why not. Thai galangel? You can never have
The perversity of the whole thing is that serious        enough. Cardamom? Let’s go crazy. Both in our
political ideas and the critique of contemporary         approaches, then, and in the quality of our finished
Xmas becomes the stuff of                                                         products, she is a culinary
fashionable       –     and                                                       Caravaggio to my Banksy.

marketable - fads. Heck,                  I also look forward to
even the debates on                    that delicate Christmas               I also look forward to that
whether Christmas                                                            delicate Christmas Mass
                                       Mass each year...
should               be                                                             each year, with its
marginalised or is                     offering a shared                             unanimous hymnal
being marginalised has                 renovation of faith that                      celebrations and
interesting          but               fades the repetitive                       warm communality,
d e p r e s s i n g                    trudges up and down                       offering   a    shared
connections with the world                                                     renovation of faith that
                                       Oxford Street...

of commerce. If you type                                                fades the repetitive trudges up
in “Christmas controversies” on                                         and down Oxford Street out of
the Wikipedia website, it is disheartening how much memory. These are the things that Christmas is all
space is taken up by the cycles in which corporate about. If I may not so much borrow as simply steal
giants drop references to Christmas in windows and an idea from a homily I heard at a church just down
billboards only to pick them up again when opinion the road from Netherhall, the real illumination and
changes on what boosts sales. (For what it is worth, warmth of Christmas really rests on us. I hope I
can someone please explain to me how Christmas learn this lesson in the next week or so: to be
is, as ubiquitous advertisements suggest, grateful for what has been given to us and mindful
connected to a soft drink made from vegetable of those less fortunate than us (by which I don’t
extracts that is best served chilled?) Indeed, the simply mean those who don’t have a Playstation
extent to which companies and councils should 2). These are such simple, even trite, ideas. But
accommodate or expunge specifically Christian it’s with a self-conscious, temporary release of my
imagery has been a media hot potato of late. There frown that I realise how easily I forget them, before
are intriguing and even vitally important issues in sidling back into my student cynicism and
all of this. In fact, I can’t help but feel apathetic fantasising about a film I hope to direct one day:
about certain things. Do I really care about the “How the Grinch stole X-mas”.
precise iconography and imagery with which
London’s premier shopping boulevards are Wishing you an enjoyable period of unspecified late-
illuminated? In fact, maybe it’s a good thing that December holidays and festivities, or at least one
they become less associated with Christmas where you get half-decent presents…or, rather,
properly speaking.                                     Merry Christmas.

I must apologise for being so virulent and negative.     - The Editor
I do think this time of year can be so wonderful. I
inevitably relish time with friends in the run up as     Listen to Zubin Mistry by clicking here.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                                3

 Director Peter Brown writes about the Cardinal’s visit,
 Christmas preparations and Gustavo Ron’s movie.                                                               Podcast!

T  he most significant event in Netherhall’s life
   in these last two months has been without
doubt the visit to the hall of Cardinal Murphy
                                                                  apostolate. St Josemaria used to call it the
                                                                  “apostolates of apostolates”. We are very grateful
                                                                  to them.
O’Connor, the leader of the Catholic Church in
England and Wales.                                                For those who lived in Netherhall House at some
                                                                  point in the mid 1990’s the name Gustavo Ron will
His Eminence came to spend the day with us on                     be familiar. Gustavo was the great entertainer. We
Saturday 2nd December to take part in a major                     may have had better singers living here over the
medical ethics conference organised by Netherhall                 years and maybe even better guitarists, but no one
in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Westminster.               I can recall was a better entertainer. He lived in
                                                                  Netherhall whilst studying at the London Institute
It was great to have the Cardinal here for so long                of Films from 1994-97 and during that time spent
and great to see him so relaxed, in the midst of a                many evenings regaling us with his songs in the
panel of eminent                                                                                   coffee lounge
doctors. There                                                                                     until the early
are full details and                                                                               hours, through a
pictures of the                                                                                    cloud of smoke
conference                                                                                         (no       longer
elsewhere         in                                                                               possible after
Netherhall News.                                                                                   Matthew Knight’s
                                                                                                   anti    smoking
At this time of                                                                                    campaign).
year, however, it
is the more                                                                                                   Well, Gustavo
regular annual                                                                                                has       finally
events that come                                                                                              released his first
to the fore. The                                                                                              film and it’s
Christmas dinner, Poster of Gustavo Ron’s first movie, Mia Sarah, from getting     rave
this year on                                                                                                  reviews:
Friday 8 th December, and then the customary
Carols and Punch (Saturday 16th December), were
both very popular events.                                           If you have a chance to see it, do! Gustavo has
                                                                    promised that the London launch will be in
Underlying all these events is the help we receive Netherhall but don’t wait for that, go and see it now.
throughout the year from the staff of Lakefield
catering school. Without them the activities I have I can't let this opportunity pass without thanking
mentioned above just would not have been Kevin Gouder for a fantastic Christmas bumper
feasible, or at least would not have been feasible edition of the newsletter. It's terrific.
on the scale and in the manner that they were
accomplished. Lakefield in many ways epitomises A very happy Christmas to all former residents
what Opus Dei is all about. They work very hard around the world.
but always in the background. It is a very beautiful
                                                                    Listen to Peter Brown by clicking here.                   „
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                       4

 On Saturday 2nd December, Netherhall hosted a major seminar on medical ethics, organised in conjunction
 with the Archdiocese of Westminster. Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the leader of the Catholic Church in Eng-
 land and Wales, joined us for the event which brought together doctors and medical students to deepen
 their appreciation for the value of life. Dr Philip Howard, consultant at St Heliers Hospital and Senior Lecturer
 at St George's Medical School, delivered the key-note address of the forum entitled ‘Celebrating Life’.
 Zubin Mistry reports.

H     uman dignity does not
      depend on how useful or
healthy we are, but simply on our
                                         Introducing the forum, Cardinal
                                         Cormac Murphy O’Connor
                                         reminded the public that just
                                                                                  The Gospel of Life
                                                                                  In his keynote address, Dr Howard
                                                                                  explained that while “human dignity
being persons made in God’s                                                       is key to our understanding of
image and likeness. So argued a                                                   human rights and medical ethics”,
leading expert on medical ethics in                                               as can be seen for example in the
a major seminar at Netherhall                                                     UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of
House which brought together over                                                 Human Rights, it is not always clear
150      doctors,     healthcare                                                  what people mean by this concept.
professionals and students to
celebrate the value of human life                                                 In his address, which explored
from the moment of conception to                                                  Pope John Paul II’s famous
its natural end.                                                                  encyclical Evangelium Vitae
                                                                                  outlining Catholic teaching on
Dr. Philip Howard, Senior Lecturer                                                medical ethics and the value of life,
at St. George’s Hospital Medical                                                  Dr Howard criticised modern claims
School and Consultant at St. Helier/                                              that the idea of dignity may be
Epsom NHS trust, was speaking at          Keynote speaker Dr. Philip Howard ad-   extended to non-human primates.
                                          dressing the audience.                  For such a view, proposed recently
a one-day forum, Celebrating Life,
jointly    organised     by    the                                                by the Australian philosopher Peter
Archdiocese of Westminster and           because technology can do                Singer and the bio-ethicist John
Netherhall House on November             something, this does not mean that       Harris, human beings have worth
2nd.                                     it should. “Medical procedures,          because they can value their own
                                         while capable of reducing pain in        existence and have a capacity for
Human dignity “arises from being         its many varied forms, are               autonomous action. For them, Dr
a person made by God and not from        incapable of answering the               Howard explained, “human dignity
other characteristics such as            question about whether it is right or    is neither universal nor inherent in
usefulness, strength, intelligence,      good for them to be done. This           human existence per se (...) cannot
beauty, or health”, he argued.           certainly applies to embryonic stem      be regarded as inalienable and is
“When this criterion of personal         cell work, foetal experimentation,       acquired during development (and
dignity (…) is replaced by the           use of cell lines from aborted           presumably lost again through
criterion of efficiency, functionality   foetuses, many of the reproductive       senescence)”.
and usefulness, others are               technologies,          sterilisation
considered not for what they ‘are’,      processes, terminal sedation (a          “It is against this increasingly
but for what they ‘have, do and          term for murder of the elderly or        secular view of human dignity,” Dr.
produce’.”                               incompetent), and who knows what         Howard       continued,      “that
                                         they will conceive of next.”             Evangelium Vitae – The Gospel of
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                        5

    Celebrating Life, cont...
Life – proposes a vision of man          comes from God, but also to its final    of individuals” acting separately,
based upon the unique ontological        end, to its destiny of fellowship with   each one asserting his own
relationship between man and his         God in knowledge and love of him”        interests. “Such a vision,” said Dr
Creator that begins on earth and         (EV 38). Both birth and death are        Howard, “leaves no place in the
ends in eternity.” The view of human     experiences “to be lived,” a view that   world for anyone who, like the
dignity in Evangelium Vitae poses        contradicts the secular idea that        unborn or the dying, is a weak
a striking challenge to contemporary     “equates human dignity with health       element in the social structure.”
wisdom. Human dignity is an
inherent and inviolable                                                              Question Time

                                               ...Human dignity is,
characteristic of all human                                                          Dr. Howard’s talk was followed by
beings; it is intrinsic to human         thus, also ascribed to the                 a question & answer session. The
existence itself and applies             unborn child, who must                    panel was chaired by the journalist
to all stages of human                   be treated as a person                             Sarah Johnson, and
development, rather than                 from the moment of                                  included Cardinal Murphy
depending upon the ability to            conception and whose                                O’Connor, Dr. Anne Carus,
communicate or the                       rights, including the right                     an expert in NaProtechnology
capacity for autonomy; it is                                                            (a system with a 50% success
                                         to     life,   must     be
the basis for respect and the                                                       rate in treating couples with sub-

ways in which human beings                                                        fertility), Dr. Charlie O’Donnell,
should be treated.                                                                Consultant in Intensive Care
                                         and regards sickness as an affront       medicine, and Dr. Helen Watt,
Human dignity is, thus, also             to human dignity.”                       Director of the Linacre Centre for
ascribed to the unborn child, who        Man seeks fulfilment in service to       Healthcare Ethics.
must be treated as a person from         others, said Dr Howard. We are
the moment of conception and             “entrusted to the care of one            The panel took questions on a wide
whose rights, including the right to     another.” When this sense is             array of controversial topics, ranging
life, must be recognised.                eclipsed, when “having” replaces         from IVF to euthanasia, and
                                         “being,” our view of life becomes        encompassing the rights of
Dr. Howard went on to analyse the        distorted. “Quality of life” cannot be   conscientious objection to abhorrent
ideas of Evangelium                                                                            practices,            the
Vitae in some detail.                                                                          differences between
First, human dignity is                                                                        contraception and
an “ontological reality,”                                                                      natural family planning,
stemming directly from                                                                         and the humanity of the
the personal and                                                                               single cell conceptus.
individual creation of                                                                         There was almost
each being in imago                                                                            unanimous consensus
Dei. Such a view, of                                                                           on having a follow-up
course, is problematic                                                                         event.
for the secular world
and runs counter to                                                                             Altogether, the forum
currently fashionable                                                                           served well to contrast,
Darwinist theories.                                                                             in the words of the
Second, man is the                                                                              Cardinal’s opening
glory of God, the only                                                                          words, an attitude that
creature whom God The panel: (from left to right): Dr. Anne Carus, Dr. Charles O’Donnell, Sarah “if we can, we must,
makes for his own Johnson, Dr. Helen Watt, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor and Dr. Philip Howard.      even if we morally
sake,       potentially                                                                         shouldn’t” with the
sharing an intimate                                                                             robust Catholic ethic
bond with his Creator, thereby          merely economic efficiency,                which stresses that “if we shouldn’t,
bearing a sublime dignity. It is both   consumerism, physical beauty or            then we mustn’t, even if we can.”
man’s creation by and calling to God    pleasure, he insisted, quoting the
that shapes his very being.             words of John Paul II. Life has more
                                        profound        dimensions            –
As Evangelium Vitae says: “The          interpersonal, spiritual and religious      Turn to page 6 for journalist,
dignity of this life is linked not only – which must be considered,                 Sarah Johnson’s take on the
to its beginning, to the fact that it   otherwise society becomes a “mass           conference.                  )
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                    6

    Celebrating Life, cont.

The dilemmas of a Catholic doctor
 The following is an abridged version of an article by Sarah Johnson describing her experience
 as moderator of the day’s forum. It appeared in the Catholic Herald newspaper on 8th
 December 2006:

M    y job was sorting out written questions from the
     audience to a distinguished panel of experts in
medical ethics led by the Cardinal himself, and
                                                           down after he gave a pro-life answer to an interview

including Dr. Philip Howard, of St. George’s Hospital,     Logic dictates that if there were one career in which
who started the day with a brilliant and illuminating      you should expect to find Christians aplenty, then
commentary on Evangelium Vitae.                            surely the medical profession must be it. Learning to
                                                           heal the sick and tend to the dying has to be simplest,
I was privately amazed by how many medical students        most obvious way of answering Christ’s call.
and keen sixth formers had given up a precious
Saturday in front of the telly to think about medical      So it is extraordinary that the concept of prejudice
ethics, so the written questions which rained down on      against any Christian within the caring professions
my desk over lunch were a wonderfully mixed bunch.         should be a worry for Catholic medical students. Yet
There were abstruse philosophical questions from the       it is clearly what most worries them. Another student
senior medics mixed                                                                        asked: “Have you ever
up      with    blatant                                                                    been tempted to do
attempts from sixth                                                                        something which went
formers to get the                                                                         against your faith and
panel to do the                                                                            ethics but which you
questioner’s weekend                                                                       knew would further
homework for free -                                                                        your career?”
and once we had
weeded out the thinly                                                                      The assumption was
disguised essay titles,                                                                    that being a Christian,
the questions written in                                                                   in particular a Catholic,
a more youthful hand                                                                       is in some way going
turned out to be an                                                                        against the grain of
intriguing selection.                                                                      medical life. Either you
For example: “Have                                                                         are going to encounter
you ever experienced                                                                       prejudice at the best,
                           The audience consisting of doctors, medical students and sixth
prejudice in your formers listening intently as Dr. Philip Howard was answering a or find your faith at
medical          career question about prejudice.                                          odds with what your
because you are a                                                                          superiors expect you
Catholic?”                                                 to do. And that is a terrible indictment of the way in
Two of our panel members, Dr. Charles O’Donnell and        which we regard doctors.
Dr. Anne Carus, the NaPro Fertility expert, said that
no, they had not experienced any overt prejudice. But      ...We no longer think of doctors as experts who trust
I would not really expect them to: Dr. O’Donnell is a      and respect the human body, but rather as interfering
totally upfront Catholic doctor who works extensively      busybodieswho want to ‘play God’. It seems we need
with students and junior doctors on medical ethics.        more doctors who are Catholics, and more Catholic
And Dr. Carus, being a natural fertility expert, is        doctors such as Dr. Howard, to speak up for their
unlikely to encounter prejudice because the more           convictions.
prejudiced people in society are unlikely to cross her
path.                                                      As for Dr. Howard’s story: well, he was accepted by
  Both travel, as it were, with warning lights on and      another college - and he discovered years later that
probably most anti-Catholic or anti-Christian elements     his rejection “on grounds of his faith” had become
simply move out of their way as they approach.             common knowledge - not to his shame, but, it turned
                                                           out, to the eternal shame of the college which rejected
But our keynote speaker, Dr. Philip Howard, told a         him.
chilling story about how an Oxford college turned him
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                             7

T    he Queen Mother was coming the next day.
     The conference hall was not ready. The new
building had just been “finished” but the hall had
                                                        told me not to worry. When she was ready to go
                                                        she put her gloves on the table and her lady-in-
                                                        waiting went over to her. I then spent my time with
not been carpeted and was covered with cement           the 200 or so guests. However the equerry then
dust and this was where the speeches were going         came to me because the Queen Mother was not
to be delivered.                                        budging. A few minutes later the gloves appeared.
The man who was to lay the carpets had assured
us that he would come at midnight. He did and           I asked her about the delay. She said it was a
got down to work right away. The carpets were           very interesting conversation. One of those very
laid and now we had the problem of removing the         nice young students asked her why she did not
dust from the hundred or so black plastic covered       sell all the paintings in the Royal collection and
seats. All hands on deck. Lots of water and effort      give the money to the poor. She said that on such
and the job was                                                                       a principle the buyer
done. When the                                                                        should do the same
seats dried they                                                                      and so on until you
were white! We had                                                                    would end up burning
to wash them again                                                                    the pictures and that
– three times in all.                                                                 would not be very
By this time it was                                                                   nice. Besides they
about 4am and time                                                                    were part of the
for a bit of sleep. All                                                               national heritage,
the        residents                                                                  available to be seen
deserved a break.                                                                     by the public.

The Queen Mother                                                                      After a lot of
was received with                                                                     preparation, with
due solemnity but                                                                     everyone helping out,
she put everyone at                                                                   the day went very
ease with her                                                                         smoothly. It was a
charming manner. The Queen Mother officially opening Netherhall House on 1st November fitting end to a lot of
Her equerry, Group 1966. Fr. Robert stands beside her.                                hard work but it was
Captain Gavin Aird,                                                                   also a new beginning.
had come the previous week to go over the various We thank God for giving St Josemaria the vision
arrangements and insisted that we keep to the to encourage the setting up of Netherhall House
strict timetable which was printed out. After the in those early years, with young men of all races
speeches we all went to the dining room for and religions living in harmony.
refreshments. The Queen Mother had tea at a
separate table with some of the students. Just her Long may that spirit continue.
and the students – no lady-in-waiting. Because
the time had over run I went to the equerry who
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                    8

 Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith gave hall residents a sneak preview of his
 new vision for promoting social cohesion in Britain: a society where problems are solved locally, not
 from the top, and where caring comes before State hand-outs. Zubin Mistry reports.

D    oes political wisdom lie
     partly in recognising that
there are some matters with
                                     The Welfare State
                                     Mr. Duncan Smith noted that
                                     from his time as Conservative
                                                                                 “from the top down” would
                                                                                 reduce welfare payments. Yet, in
                                                                                 fact, since World War II, not
which local communities can          leader (“at the centre of                   simply during period of
deal more effectively than local     government”, as he put it) he               economic bust, welfare has
or even national governments?        made various friends, often from            risen faster than inflation. The
And in allowing the voices of                                                    welfare system has grown by
such communities and small                                                       around a third since 1997 –
charities to be heard? Are                                                       when Labour first came to
“poverty lifestyles”, the cycle of                                               power. Perhaps, suggested Mr.
“dependency and worklessness”                                                    Duncan Smith, “We are looking
and its associated behavioural                                                   from the wrong end of the
problems, best tackled through                                                   telescope.”
local communities?
                                                                                 He said the welfare state itself
These        questions     have                                                  is not the issue, but rather the
particularly occupied the mind of                                                reaction to something else.
the Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith                                                   When people are ill or
since his days as leader of the                                                  unemployed, they demand
Conservative party between                                                       benefits; it is an “on-demand
2001 and 2003. In 2003 he                                                        process”. Why, he asked, are
founded the Centre for Social                                                    demands so high?
Justice precisely to explore
these questions. In early                                                        Welfare Society
November, Netherhall was             Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith addressing the   The answer, Mr. Duncan Smith
privileged to welcome such a         audience at Netherhall.                     suggested, might lie in what he
distinguished and prominent                                                      calls “welfare society”: the social
politician to speak on a topic       “difficult zones”, like Hackney in          bonds and ties that lie beyond
close to his heart: poverty. He      London or the notorious Moss                the state or government. One
outlined the approach and work       Side in Manchester. This                    example, he cited, may be a wife
conducted by the Centre for          reinforced a strong impression              looking after her dying husband,
Social Justice for an in-the-        he has gained about the                     or a child caring for an ailing
pipeline report. In fact, this       workings of politics: “For too long         parent. For him, the welfare
report (entitled “Breakdown          I feel we do our politics from the          society is most obviously
Britain” and drawing upon the        political centre of Britain without         embodied in those “networks of
resources of academics,              really knowing what is going on.”           informal care and support which
practitioners and one of the                                                     ultimately makes us coherent as
largest polls ever used for such     A prime example of this, he                 a society”. Welfare society is
a study) was formally launched       suggested, is the welfare state.            characterised by “the network of
on Monday 11 th December.            Why, when ours is a rich country,           small communities and families
Residents and friends of             does the government have to                 which we in government almost
Netherhall were thus treated to      tackle     benefit       fraud?             never bother thinking about.”
something of a sneak preview         Theoretically, one would
before the official premiere.        imagine that applying pressure
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                      9

    Welfare Society not Welfare State, cont.
The closest that government            There are five main paths, he              difficult places. For instance, he
comes to thinking like this is in      went on, to poverty: drug or               mentioned Bob Holman (a man
terms of “carers”, as if “carers”      alcohol addiction; worklessness            who, as a Christian Socialist,
are a group of people whose            and dependency; failed                     represents the opposite end of
specific task it is to “care”. In      education; debt; and family                the political spectrum to Mr.
reality, this care and the welfare     breakdown. In addition, there is           Duncan Smith), who describes
society is not economic. It is         a further area which might mean            the inner city not as a place, but
about love and ties and what Mr.       a second chance – or lack                  as “a state of mind”. The inner
Duncan Smith calls “the sense          thereof – namely, the extended             city starts up when people start
that there is something more           family, small church or                    worrying about violence around
than just me.” As the welfare          community groups etc. The                  them, about their kids at schools,
society breaks down, the welfare       breakdown of these groups has              about the crime rate. Most crime
state rises up. It is actually in      had a dramatic effect, as the              is suffered by those living on
the interests of the state, he         Centre’s upcoming report                   estates and yet it is the middle
argued, to have a healthy              suggests.                                  classes who are the ones putting
welfare society.                                                                  bars on their windows! It is easy
                                       Currently, Mr. Duncan Smith                to think that “nobody gives a
To understand this, one must           continued, evidence suggests               damn.”
attempt to understand: what is         that Britain is in a process of
happening to welfare society;          dangerous          breakdown,              Reversing the Tide?
how did we get to the current          demonstrated most clearly by               It may be possible, Mr. Duncan
process      of     “marginal          inter-generational worklessness            Smith suggested, to reverse this
breakdown”; and, what can we           and        addiction         (i.e.         and marriage offers an
do about it?                           unemployment and addiction                 interesting example of this.
                                       that runs in a family). “This              Albeit with exceptions, marriage
Mr. Duncan Smith suggested             breakdown process runs                     generally means stability. For
starting by looking at what drives     beyond money”, he added, “and              instance, the difference in splits
people to poverty, noting that the     is related to an inability to use          between unmarried and married
current government is almost           money constructively.” Work is             couples before their children
“obsessed with defining poverty        more important than just the               reach the age of three is
in terms of money.” Money is           money it provides: it changes              staggering: some figures have
undoubtedly “critical”, but            mores from the dysfunctional to            the former rate of splitting at 50%
poverty is “not only about             the functional. This inability to          and the latter at 8%. Such
money”. For instance, imagine          use money constructively is also           children are more likely to fail at
a drug addict struggling with a        shown by debt. In inner-city               school, to suffer poverty, to suffer
problem and with only 60% of           areas, people do not talk about            abuse and are least likely to
the median national income. If         choice, but rather borrow – from           make it out of this cycle. All of
the state raises him above the         bona fide suppliers – with up to           these things are connected to a
median, he is no longer “poor”         150% interest!                             “cycle of deprivation”. It is
in terms of a definition that only                                                through resolving these issues
considers money. But this Mr. Duncan Smith has met many                           – through consolidating the
money he receives is used to people who work in particularly                      “strength of Welfare society” –
feed a habit that plunges                                                              that we might be able to
him further into a                                                                     address our current
destructive        lifestyle.                                                          problems.         We must
“Regardless of money,” Mr.                                                             “understand demand,” Mr.
Duncan Smith grimly                                                                    Duncan Smith concluded,
concluded, “this is a life                                                             “instead of looking at the
deprived of all the things                                                             supply side.”
you need to have a
worthwhile life.”                  Man with a mission: IDS outlines his vision.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                            10

 Pope Benedict XVI - Pope John Paul’s former doctrinal strongman - has gone beyond the most daring of
 Vatican watcher’s expectations on the possible ecumenical and interfaith advances his pontificate
 could achieve. Chris Ljungquist reflects on the Pontiff’s November encounters with Anglican, Orthodox
 and Muslim leaders.

I n what can be called an “ecumenical blitz,” the
  Holy Father, in the space of two weeks, met with
the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and
                                                           Thus was the profile of the Archbishop of
                                                           Canterbury meeting an intellectually dynamic
                                                           Benedict who enjoys full authority in his flock.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of                      Despite no ecumenical advances whatsoever, the
Constantinople. This latter encounter, it should be        Holy Father and Dr. Williams signed a joint
noted, took place within a Muslim country, Turkey,         declaration of intentions regarding the aim of
while fighting off lingering bad publicity following       complete restoration of communion.
the Regensburg speech on Islam. Such a feat that
would prove difficult even for the likes of a              If the meeting with Rowan Williams was of limited
Metternich or a Kissinger!                                 success, the trip to Turkey, in the words of former
                                                           press secretary Joaquin Navarro Valls, was
                                      The          world   “audacious” on the part of the Holy Father, and “a
                                      remembers the        great historic encounter” between the West and
                                      last      meeting    Islam. Uncertainty prevailed throughout the week
                                      Rowan Williams       before the trip, when an Archbishop on the papal
                                      had with Pope        advance team was physically attacked, some
                                      John Paul II in      26,000 Muslims demonstrated against the Holy
                                      2003 (in which the   Father’s arrival, and after 39 militants had been
                                      Holy Father made     arrested in the Hagia Sophia in a vain attempt to
                                      headlines       by   dissuade the Supreme Pontiff from embarking
                                      kissing Williams’    upon his mission. Also, in a striking reversal of
                                      ring) as a dynamic   governmental
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan
Williams meets Pope Benedict at the   Anglican prelate     policy taken the
Vatican.                              meeting a frail      day before the
                                      Pontiff.             arrival, the Turkish
                                                           Prime Minister
The tide has now turned. The Vatican halls                 decided to greet
witnessed an Archbishop assailed by rival factions         the Pope in
in his church over disagreements on the ordination         Ankara.                        
of homosexuals and women, and the threat of                                        Turkish Prime Minister Recep
schism in the next general meeting in 2008                 On November 28,         Ta y y i p E r d o g a n m e e ts P o p e
                                                                                   Benedict in Ankara.
(shadows of which are already present in the more          Pope Benedict
conservative parts of the Anglican Communion in            XVI arrived in the capital and met with the
America and Africa). Specifically on the question          President of Turkey, the Minister of Religious
of female Episcopal ordination, British Cardinal           Affairs, and addressed the diplomatic corps. The
Cormac Murphy O’Connor has stated that a move              message the Holy Father gave to the civil leaders
towards that direction would make ecumenical               and the diplomats was one, and one only: a
advance “out of reach.”                                    responsible, modern country is “duty-bound to
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                   11

guarantee the effective freedom of all believers.”         title          of
He continued his demand of “reciprocity”, where            “Ecumenical”
Christians in Islamic countries would be given the         for           the
same rights as Muslims in the West.                        Patriarch —
                                                           and Benedict
An issue intimately tied to Turkey’s respect for           addressed him
religious liberty is the question of its bid to become     with his proper
part of the European Union. As Cardinal, Benedict          title, despite
spoke against the bid, arguing that Turkey stands          the          dis-
in sharp contrast to the Christian West. On                                                      and Orthodox
                                                           a g r e e m e n t . Pope Benedict XVIBartholomew I Ecu-
                                                                               menical Patriarch               join
November 27, however, Vatican spokesman Rev.               Bartholomew I hands to greet Christians in Istanbul.
                                   F e d e r i c o         stated that as
                                   Lombardi, SJ,           “successors to the thrones of Rome and New
                                   stated that the         Rome,” they had the responsibility to enhance
                                   Vatican        State    dialogue, and aim towards reconciliation.
                                   does not officially
                                   oppose the bid.         Pope Benedict’s insistence on religious liberty was
                                   The Vatican’s           particularly relevant towards the Orthodox faithful,
                                   concerns          of    as the Patriarchate suffers from grave intolerance
 Pope Benedict XVI greets Presi-
                                   tolerance        for    in various official forms, including the restriction
 dent for Religious Affairs Ali    r e l i g i o u s       on Church property and the forcible and continued
 Bardakoglu in Ankara, Turkey.     minorities        in    governmental closure of the Orthodox seminary
                                   Turkey is shared        once used to train the Patriarch’s clergy.
by other EU member states, and it is something
that will be played out politically. A flip-flop? No,      The Holy Father joined the Ecumenical Patriarch
since the requirements of religious toleration are         in the Divine Liturgy with a homily expressing the
being strongly voiced by the Pontiff — and it was          need for unity, saying: “I can assure you that the
precisely this that made the accession bid                 Catholic Church is willing to do everything possible
controversial.                                             to overcome obstacles.”

On November                                                                                    A joint declaration
29 the Holy                                                                                    was         signed
Father finally                                                                                 expressing the
began the real                                                                                 ultimate goal of full
mission of his                                                                                 reconciliation
t r i p — t h e                                                                                amongst Christians
enhancing of                                                                                   of East and West.
Catholic ties                                                                                  In retrospect, it
with the Eastern                                                                               could be said that
Orthodox under                                                                                 the trip to Turkey
Ecumenical                                                                                     was primarily to
Patriarch                                                                       New York Times stand     by and
                            to Turkey, Pope Benedict
Bartholomew I. In his visitmosque. During his historicbecame the second ever Roman Pontiff support
                 to visit a                            visit to the Blue Mosque, he stood in
The delicate silent prayer, facing Mecca, alongside Muslim spiritual leaders.                  Eastern Orthodox,
diplomatic                                                                                     and     to    work
situation the Pope found himself in continued, as towards the healing of the division that Benedict
the Turkish government does not recognize the has called a “scandal to the world.”

Chris Ljungquist, an American in his first year at Netherhall, is a Masters student at the London School
of Economics.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                               12

                    The Christmas season is in full swing
                  My childhood memories of Christmas include listening to ‘Jingle Bells’ by Jim Reeves.
                 I remember sending hand-made cards (with a fir tree on the front) to relatives. It also
               meant spending time with family, stress-free holidays, dark Belgian chocolates, nicely
                 wrapped presents with red ribbons, a lit Christmas tree, and of course the red-garbed,
                     rosy-cheeked and white-bearded Santa Singh who came to our home in India. I later
                      came to know that Santa Claus originated as a mispronunciation of Dutch Sinterklaas,
                      which is a contracted form of Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas). This institutionalized
(mis)pronunciation started in America and it was then naturally (mis)commercialized across the globe.
This brings me to the riddle that you will need to solve without help from Saint Nicolaas.
                     Oek m_bb adem j^Wj ? Wc Yec_d]
                        <hec j^[ `_d]b[ e\ co X[bb"
             8kj [nWYjbo m^e ? Wc _i dej Wd [Wio j^_d] je j[bb$

                          9^_bZh[d" j^[o WZeh[ c[
                           \eh j^[o \_dZ c[ `ebbo"
        Xkj ? Ze dej i[[ j^[c m^[d j^[ ^Wbbi Wh[ Z[Ya[Z m_j^ ^ebbo$

                     Co `eX e\j[d b[Wl[i c[ \hep[d"
                    ? Wc W cWd j^Wj Wbb i^ekbZ adem"
        8kj ? Ze dej Ze Xki_d[ii _d j_c[i e\ ib[[j eh _Y[ eh idem$

                         ? jhWl[b ckY^ ed Xki_d[ii"
                     8kj de h[_dZ[[h ^Wkb c[ WhekdZ"

                ? Ze Wbb co jhWl[b_d] \_hcbo ed j^[ ]hekdZ$

                      ? bel[ j^[ j_c[ e\ 9^h_ijcWi"
                   8kj j^WjÊi dej co leYWj_edWb i[Wied"
          7dZ ? Wiikh[ oek j^_i _i \eh W iekdZ [Yedec_Y h[Wied$

After you have figured out this riddle, try this experiment: take melted chocolate and observe how it coils
as it is poured onto a plate or a slab of ice-cream. The straight question is: what makes the chocolate coil?
You can even try this with shampoo, but better be careful with the ice-cream afterwards.
Send in your answers to:

Merry Christmas!

Answers to last issue’s quiz:
   1. The possible number of opening moves in chess is 20.
   2. Diophantine lived till a ripe age of 84.
   3. Japan’s mortality rate is higher because it has 23.2% of its citizens over the age of 60 as compared
       to 7.6% for India.
The only correct answer was sent by Dermot Grenham.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                               13

       A discussion between philosophers and scientists on The Self, the Soul and
       the Person showed that it is not easy to cross disciplinary divides – but that
       it is still worth trying!
                                                                  by Russell Wilcox

O     n 27th November 2006 a
      group of more than 30
distinguished philosophers and
                                    Additionally, the organisers had
                                    not fully appreciated the extent
                                    of the differences that were to
                                                                              felt about canvassing such
                                                                              ideas in front of their secular
scientists gathered in a            emerge within the philosophical
committee room of the House of      camp itself, with some taking a           All told, however, the very fact
Lords to discuss a range of         more strictly Wittgensteinian             of getting so many experts of
issues surrounding the concepts                                               diverse      opinions      and
of the self, the soul and the                                                 backgrounds together to
person. The initiative had                                                    discuss matters of such
emerged out of a visit made to                                                magnitude in a cordial spirit of
Netherhall House by Baroness
Susan Greenfield who is the first
female director of the Royal
Institution, a distinguished
neuro-pharmacologist and a
well known populariser of
                                                                               “      Susan Greenfield
                                                                                herself seemed also a little
                                                                                frustrated that discussion
                                                                                did not focus more directly
                                                                                upon issues such as
science.                                                                        immortality and religious
After a prolonged discussion
with philosophy Professor
Christopher Martin and
interested Netherhall House
                                                                              mutual learning was of singular
                                                                              significance. Almost everyone
residents, it was decided to          Baroness Professor Susan                enjoyed the event, even if they
organise a cross-disciplinary         Greenfield, the first female director   had suggestions about how to
                                      of the Royal Institution, a distin-
conference in order to explore        guished neuro-pharmacologist and        improve upon the format in any
what insights might be derived        a well know populariser of science.     future encounters.
from applying non-dualist, non-
materialist perspectives to the                                               There remains a clear desire,
expanding body of neuro-            and anti-metaphysical posture             particularly on the part of
scientific empirical data.          than was helpful.                         Baroness Greenfield, to
                                                                              continue the discussion and
The conference was only ever        Susan Greenfield herself                  there is every hope that, now
designed to be exploratory and      seemed also a little frustrated           that the disciplinary ice has been
it was intended to form the basis   that discussion did not focus             broken, a longer term, less
of more tightly focussed and        more directly upon issues such            tentative and therefore more
rigorous engagements on             as immortality and religious              fruitful, conversation will
subsequent           occasions.     experience. In part, this was due         emerge.
Nevertheless, it was clear from     to the somewhat broad ambit of
the      start   the     mutual     the conference’s remit, but in            Russell Wilcox, a doctoral
incomprehension between the         part too, it was due to the               student at SOAS (the School of
disciplines was going to render     coyness with which the                    Oriental and African Studies),
any concrete outcome modest.        believing philosophers present            helped organise the seminar.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                       14

        a meditation for Christmas

                     7KH :LVGRP RI 3HDFH
 Netherhall’s chaplain, Fr Joe Evans, offers us advice on how we can achieve greater peace this
 Christmas-time. This is an abridged version of a meditation he preached in the hall chapel on 16th
 December, concluding a series of weekly reflections given last term on the nature of wisdom and
 how to grow in it.

T   his term we have been focusing on wisdom. We
    have seen so much on this theme: perhaps too
much! But hopefully a few ideas have stuck: that
                                                             my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I
                                                             give to you” (Jn 14: 27). After his Resurrection he
                                                             appeared to his disciples to give them peace (cfr Jn
wisdom is desirable, that we must be like the men of         20: 19). In the light of all this, St Paul can insist that
antiquity who sought wisdom as their goal.                              Christ “is our peace” (Eph 2: 14) and sum
We cannot fall into the modern superficial                              up his ministry as follows: “He came and
mentality which makes looking “cool” its                                preached peace to you who were far off
priority. We should love and seek wisdom                                and peace to those who were near” (Eph
more than anything else on earth: more                                  2: 17).
than health, more than beauty, more than
silver and gold ... There is no point looking                          Our Lord Jesus talked of a peace the world
wonderful and being a fool on the inside!                              cannot give. It is certainly true that the
                                                                       world cannot give peace. So many wars
Today we conclude our exploration of                                   continue today in so many parts of the
wisdom by considering that wisdom                                      world: wars, massacres, genocide ...
without peace is not true wisdom. In the letter of St        Sometimes it is claimed that religion causes war. But
James’ letter we read, “the wisdom that comes from           remember that the greatest killing of the 20th century
above is first pure, then peaceable ...” (Jm 3: 17). If      was provoked precisely by anti-religious, godless
we are not at peace with ourselves and with others,          ideologies: Fascism and Communism. Men kill
we have not yet achieved wisdom.                             because they are evil. They kill in the name of God,
                                                             and they kill even more when they reject his name.
Peace is one of the great gifts of Jesus Christ: he is
the Prince of Peace. Precisely at Christmas we will           Violence is a lie, it is stupid, gross folly which only
read an ancient prophecy about this                                              leads to a spiral of ever increasing
wonderful child born for us and the                                              violence. “I will just get even and

gifts he will bring us. It is from the            It is said of Abraham          things will stop at that”. But they
prophet Isaiah and goes as follows:         Lincoln that a colleague             never do. Christianity’s “impractical”
“For to us a child is born, to us a son     once criticised him for              solution, on the other hand, requires
is given; and government will be            being too conciliatory. “It          us to forgive, to turn the other cheek:
upon his shoulder, and his name will        is your duty to destroy your         if they take your coat, give your cloak
be called Wonderful Counsellor,             enemies”, the man said. To           as well. And yet this “impractical”
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,             which Lincoln replied: “Do           answer, to love always, even your
Prince of Peace. Of the increase of         I not destroy my enemies             enemy, to forgive always, to accept
his government and of peace there           when I make them my                  injustice while praying for your
will be no end” (Is 9: 6-7). When           friends?”                            persecutor, is in fact the only thing
Jesus was born at Bethlehem,
angels appeared in the sky and
celebrated his birth singing: “Glory to God in the
highest, and on earth peace among men with whom
he is pleased” (Lk 2: 13-14). Christ’s birth is a gift of
                                                                      ”          that actually works, that actually
                                                                                 does lead to peace. Only love
                                                              triumphs, revenge never does. As St Paul wrote to
                                                              the Ephesians, Christ – his grace operating in our
                                                              hearts – breaks down, destroys the hostility between
peace!                                                        men (cfr Eph 2: 14). Fr Raniero Cantalamessa,
                                                              preacher to the Papal household, commenting on this
Throughout his life on earth Jesus renewed the                passage, explained that the way to achieve peace is
offering of this gift. On the night before his death, the     not to destroy the enemy but rather to destroy the
same night he gave us himself in the Eucharist, he            enmity. It is said of Abraham Lincoln that a colleague
also gave the gift of peace: “Peace I leave with you;                                                              )
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                      15

    Wisdom of Peace, cont.

once criticised him for being too conciliatory. “It is your   poisoner of peace (more than radio-active
duty to destroy your enemies”, the man said. To which         substances!) and confession heals us from its poison.
Lincoln replied: “Do I not destroy my enemies when I
make them my friends?”                                        Finally, let me propose a few “tactics” to grow in peace
                                                              this Christmas-time and to foster peace at home. The
Another of Christianity’s great practical “impractical”       first one is to know how to lose. Peace is certainly a
teachings is that peace is a consequence of war, but          consequence of war, of battling against ourselves,
war against ourselves. As St Josemaria Escriva,               but to achieve family peace we must voluntarily lose
founder of Opus Dei, wrote: “Peace, and the joy which         many battles with others. In other words, we have to
comes with it, cannot be given by the world. Men are          learn to back down and give way: not insisting too
forever ‘making peace’ and forever getting entangled          much on our point, gracefully following what the other
in wars. This is because they have                            wants to do, admitting we were wrong, etc.
forgotten the advice to struggle inside
themselves and to go to God for help.                                           Peace comes from accepting our
Then He will conquer, and we will obtain                                          limitations and those of others.
peace for ourselves and for our                                                     Christ came to earth to do some
own homes, for society and for the                                                    good in Palestine. He did not run
world” (Forge 102). It is only by a                                                   frenetically around the planet
hard fight against our own bad                                                        trying to cure every sick person.
tendencies that we can avoid                                                     He chose very limited men to be his
fighting with others. We have to fight                                     disciples and worked patiently within their
against our bad moods, our grudges                                      limitations. If we push ourselves (or others)
and resentments, our touchiness. It often                             too hard, trying to solve all life’s problems, we
needs a hard interior fight to forgive, but if we                  will never achieve interior peace. Remember
struggle, God will give us the grace to do so. I once          that, through the limited goals of his mission, Jesus
heard, in a lecture, about a Burmese Christian women          brought redemption to all humanity.
who had been beaten and left crippled by government
soldiers. When asked what she thought of these                Maybe, quite simply, we need to be more people
troops, she answered: “I love them. I am a Christian          centred and less activity centred.
and I forgive them with my whole heart.” We were
shown a picture of the woman: her face beamed with            Finally, strive to be, in the words of St Josemaria,
a radiant smile. It was the face of a woman in whom           “sowers of peace and joy”. Christians are called to
love had conquered.                                           promote peace, soothe tensions and build bridges.
                                                              We don’t just forgive ourselves, we must help others
Where can we find peace? The greatest “place” of              to achieve reconciliation. But, as 20th century Popes
peace is in prayer. Then we leave our problems in             have reminded us, world peace is the fruit of justice
God’s hands and he soothes and consoles us. Prayer            and development. We must act and lobby to oppose
is the great unburdener. For us Catholics, praying            and break down, peacefully, those unjust structures
before the Eucharist is a particular “space” of peace.        which provoke resentment and violence. True
And then, in this Christmas period, we can pray before        peacemakers are not passive.
a crib scene, contemplating the Holy Family, Jesus,
Mary and Joseph. What peace we can find                       January 1st is both world day of prayer for peace and,
contemplating the prince of Peace lying in the manger!        for Catholics, the feast of Mary, Mother of God. As
It is no coincidence that St Francis of Assisi, the saint     we put the New Year under Our Lady’s protection,
who promoted the crib devotion, was one of the                we ask her intercession for peace on earth. Good
greatest peacemakers of all time. At a moment of              mothers always foster peace, and Mary, Queen of
great hostility between Christians and Muslims, he            Peace, is the peacemaker par excellence. To quote
was able to go to and meet the “enemy”, the Sultan            once more the Founder of Opus Dei, whenever we
of Egypt, in cordial dialogue. There is a lesson here         are threatened by inner storms, “she will bring peace
for our own age.                                              to your soul” (Way 498). And, I would conclude, not
                                                              just to our souls, but to the whole world.
Going to confession is a great means to acquire
peace this Christmas. The Sacrament of Penance is
the Sacrament of Peace, because sin is the great
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                           16


         Kevin Gouder writes about the Christmas Crib tradition in his home
         country, Malta, in light of the crib he recently built for Netherhall.

History of the Presepju
The Presepju, Christmas crib, is thought to have been           not very popular anymore. M.U.S.E.U.M. was to prove
introduced into Malta from Italy by rich noblemen,              instrumental in stopping and reversing the decline of
probably Knights of the Order of St. John, who ruled            traditional Christmas and in 1921, its founder Fr Preca
the Island between 1530 and 1798. At first, presepji            started a tradition of having a Christmas Eve procession
were not popular, the expensive Italian pasturi (which          with a life-size figure of the Baby Jesus being carried
are figures made out of clay, or in modern times, plastic,      shoulder-high by four boys at the head of the
representing the shepherds, Magi, angels and the Holy           procession. These processions are still popular today
Family), definitely not helping. The first true Maltese         and form part of the Christmas Eve celebrations. In
crib, with home-made pasturi tat-tafal, clay figurines,         the days leading up to Christmas, the Society also gives
is believed to have been made in Malta in 1617 and              a small crib to every child or youth attending the centre.
was displayed in the Dominican Friars’ Church in
Rabat. A crib dating back to 1670, today treasured and          Another more recent society, the Ghaqda Hbieb tal-
looked after by the Benedictine Nuns, can still be found        Presepji, ‘Friends of the Crib’ (http://
in St Peter’s Monastery in iMdina,                     society, was formed
known by tourists as the Silent City                            in 1986 and now they have an extensive number of
and Malta’s old capital, before Valletta                        members. Every year in the weeks running up to
became the capital shortly after the                                     Christmas, the Society puts on an exhibition
Great Siege of 1565.                                                      of cribs of all shapes and sizes and also
                                                                              hosts a competition with prizes for the
Over the centuries, cribs                                                        best cribs in each category.
became more popular and also,
interestingly, more ‘Maltese’                                                                      The     presepju       is
with Italian-looking                                                                                  nowadays again very
buildings and trades                                                                                   popular in Maltese
people         being                                                                                     houses and its
replaced by local Netherhall House’s Maltese Crib complete with the pasturi and traditional windmill.    place in the house
ones. For example                                                                                        is usually in the
flour windmills were and are still popular buildings to     tieqa ta’ barra, the front window, for passers-by to
feature in crib scenes.                                     admire or in the intrata, the front hall, where visitors
                                                            are usually entertained.
Revival of the Presepju
The Societas Doctrinae Christianae M.U.S.E.U.M.             Symbolism
(Society       of   Christian     Doctrine),        http:// The Presepju besides being a traditional Christmas, was founded by Blessed Fr.              decoration in Malta, is also full of symbols to help us
George Preca in 1907 for Catholic lay men and women         reflect on the way we are leading our life. This is done
who want to dedicate themselves fully to God and to         mainly through the pasturi. There is the ‘Ghageb’, The
help the Church in the faith formation of children, youths  Amazed, usually a poorly dressed man who is placed
and adults. M.U.S.E.U.M is an acronym in Latin:             just outside the grotta (cave) and who looks
‘Magister Utinam Sequatur Evangelium Universus              overwhelmed at being present at the site where his
Mundus’ translated as ‘Divine Teacher, May the Whole        Lord is born. He represents those among us who,
World Follow Your Gospel’.                                  though materially poor, like a child, search for
                                                            happiness in the simplest of things, “Let the little
By the early to mid 20th century, perhaps due to strong     children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such
influences and fashions imported from Western Europe        as these that the kingdom of God belongs”, (Mk 10:
by the British (who ruled the country between 1800          14). There is ir-Rieqed, The Sleeping Man, – usually
and 1964), cribs were thought of as old-fashioned and
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                        17

placed in a smaller cave neighbouring the main Grotta,       climbing down the face of the Grotta, a perilous path
who despite being so close to the Birth of his Lord,         indeed, to see his Lord rather than taking the more
may not even be aware of it and continues to sleep.          comfortable gentle slope. He represents those in our
He     represents                                                                                    world who are
those among us                                                                                       persecuted
who, despite being                                                                                   because of their
given the golden                                                                                     faith and who go to
opportunity to meet                                                                                  great      lengths,
the Lord in our                                                                                      sometimes risking
everyday dealings                                                                                    their lives to learn
with             our                                                                                 more about their
‘neighbours’, prefer                                                                                 Lord. The xabbatur
to lead a more                                                                                       is a beacon of
individualistic life,                                                                                encouragement
“Truly I say to you,                                                                                 and       support,
as you did it to one                                                                                 “Blessed are you
of the least of my                                                                                   when men hate
brethren, you did it                                                                                 you, and when
to me” (Mt 25: 39).                                                                                  they exclude you
                                                                                                     and revile you, and
There are it-tliet                                                                                   cast out your name
Slaten Magi, the AWAY IN A MANGER: A close-up of the Holy Family in Netherhall House’s Maltese Crib. as evil, on account
Three Wise Men,                                                                                      of the Son of
who are usually placed outside the main grotta with          Man...your reward is great in heaven” (Lk 6: 22).
their presents: gold, incense and myrrh. They are a
constant reminder to those among us who have risen           Fighting pagan imports
in the echelons of power that “You would have no power       In today’s commercial Milied, Christmas, the Presepju
over me unless it had been given you from above” (Jn         competes against other ‘traditional’, but pagan,
19: 11). There are ir-rghajja, the shepherds who,            decorations and customs imported from Western
though considered poor, gave whatever they had to            Europe - the Christmas Tree, the flashy lighting, the
keep their Lord warm on that cold night, “And he said,       robin, Father Christmas, the Snow Man, the mistletoe,
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than      bells, frantic shopping and excessive eating. The
all of them; for they all contributed out of their           Presepju, together with the Purcissjoni tal-Milied
abundance, but she out of poverty put in all the living      (Christmas procession), il-Priedka tat-tifel (preaching
that she had” (Lk 21: 3-4). They remind us to be kind,       of the child), il-Quddiesa ta’ Nofs il-Lejl (midnight Mass
generous and ready to help in whatever situation. Then       Service) and Recti tal-Milied (religious Christmas plays
there are ix-xarraba u d-daqqaqa, the people drinking        and mimes held at schools and at M.U.S.E.U.M.
and playing instruments, usually placed at the top of        Centres), all thrive to keep Christ in Christmas. Until
the presepju, away from the grotta. They are also so         now they have managed to do so ...
close to the birth of their Lord but they are in a different
situation than the Sleeping Man. The latter, maybe,          Il-Milied it-Tajjeb. Happy X Christ-mas to you all.
was not even aware of it, but they knew about the birth
since, before settling down in the Grotta, St. Joseph
and Our Lady had asked them for refuge and were let
down: “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid
him in a manger because there was no room for them
in the inn” (Lk 2: 7). They represent those among us
who are aware of injustices and poverty and yet pretend
not to notice.

There is another figurine which was very popular when
I was younger but seems to have declined in popularity
since my family (despite going to great lengths) could
not find it in any Hanut tal-Presepji (Crib Shop). He is
called ix-Xabbatur, the Climber, who was usually placed
Kevin Gouder, from Malta, is in his third year at Netherhall House and at the Imperial College where he is doing a
doctorate in Aerodynamics (Turbulent Flow Control).
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                          18

          This year’s Christmas Dinner was once again a wonderful way to round off the year and to help
          people prepare for the great feast of Christ’s coming to earth. The staff prepared an outstanding
          meal and equally outstanding were the speeches made by Chris Ljungquist (on behalf of the new
          residents) and Prakarsh Singh (on behalf of the old ones). Chris, an American Masters’ student at
          LSE, eloquently highlighted the “intellectual freedom” he has experienced in the hall, describing it
          as a place where ideas can be frankly discussed and exchanged. And we give below the full text
          of Prakarsh’s speech. Despite a few in-jokes which readers may not catch, the basic message is
          very clear and captures beautifully what Netherhall is all about.

M    any people think that good speeches should be humorous. I, however, will stick to plain kind
     words. As Mother Teresa has said, “kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly
endless.” In Japan, one kind word can warm three winter months.

Over the past year and a half that I have stayed here, I have come to
appreciate Russell’s sense of intellectual humour and Peter’s sense
of what he thinks is humour. I have been touched by Kevin’s
commitment to the hall, have been by enchanted by Miguel’s carefree
rain-song singing and dancing, have enjoyed every bit of Father Joe’s
friendly grilling. I can’t say the same about Juan’s not-so friendly billing.
I have laughed at Shane’s cricket catching and Khurram’s light hearted
chit-chatting. In the words of Kahlil Gibran: “in the sweetness of
friendship let there be laughter. For in the dew of little things the heart
finds its morning and is refreshed.”

I feel our destinies are shaped by what we think and what we think is
influenced by our conversations with our friends. Here at Netherhall,
I have been able to forge friendships that I will cherish forever.

William Phelps, a 19th Century American (incidentally, a Republican),
said: “How essential it is, to acquire some intellectual or artistic tastes
in youth, in order to furnish the mind, to be able to live inside a mind
with attractive and interesting pictures on the walls.”

I think in this respect, Netherhall provides us with artistic colour in the
form of regular concerts. In addition, the wealth and diversity of
knowledge in our library is enough to paint our mind with many                  Prakarsh Singh addressing the hall, on be-
interesting pictures several times over.                                        half of the old residents. Here, residents
                                                                                applaud that “...Netherhall... brings us
This brings me to the definition of Netherhall.                                 warmth and sometimes even hot chocolate.”

Netherhall is the fire underneath the melting pot of ideals which brings
us warmth and sometimes even hot chocolate. It is the wind that carries us like pollens so that we may reach
our destinations. It is the water that keeps our minds quenched with weekly talks and daily get-togethers. It is
the earth – calm, quiet, supportive and caring.

Just like everything was thought to have been made up of the classical elements, we too become one with the
wind, water, fire and earth that is Netherhall. We adopt the ways of spreading happiness, laughter and light
around us. Here at Netherhall, the diffusion of goodness and deepening of spirit is a dangerously contagious
phenomenon. I will end by quoting a Spanish proverb which says: “Tell me whom you live with and I will tell you
who you are.”

Prakharsh Singh is an Indian PhD student at the LSE. He is in his second year in the hall.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                     19

                                                                        'HVHUW                   by
                                                                                                 Prakarsh Singh

                                                                        ,VODQG 'LVFV
                                                                        Curious facts we heard during
                                                                        Sunday evening’s resident

                                                            E\          November saw Javier, who is doing a
                                                                        Masters in Aeronautics at Imperial College,
                                              )UDQFHVFR 9LORQD          being interviewed by Kevin. He told us
                                                                        about his trip to every nook and corner of
Around 70% of the total art and artistic buildings in                   the world. He likes having steaming English
the world can be found in Italy. These include                          tea and stale French cheese.
famous buildings like the Colosseum, the leaning
                                                                        Next, Chris was interviewed by Joao. Chris,
tower of Pisa, the cities of Verona and Florence                        the budding Republican senator who is doing
and romantic Venice, the “city on water”.                               Comparative Politics at LSE, argued cogently
                                                                        in favour of the war in Iraq. He confidently
               Italy is the only team to have won the football          spoke of being pro-life. In the end, he said
               world cup 4 times. (the only team that has won           he wanted to take a machine-gun to the
               it more times is Brazil)                                 desert island.

                                                                        The following Desert Island Discs had
              The English flag was first the flag of Genoa. The         Miguel, the Philosopher-cum-Pianist-cum-
              English bought the rights to the flag to protect          Polyglot, being interviewed by Eddie, the
              themselves from the Portuguese                            dilettante Philosopher-Pianist, and an
              fleet as they would not attack the                        accomplished debater. Miguel told us about
ships that fluttered an Italian port’s flag as they                     his fascination with the music of
                                                                        Rachmaninoff and left us mesmerized with a
were much stronger than the Portuguese fleets.                          self-composed piano piece, that he played
                                                                        in the auditorium.
The word jeans comes from the slang for the
word genoa as the material was first developed                          The following Sunday, Jan interviewed Amir
in the northern city Genoa.                                             from Iran. Amir is doing Civil Engineering at
                                                                        Imperial College. He gave us a slide-show
                                                                        portraying the cultural heritage and
Italy is one of the biggest and finest wine-
                                                                        geographical diversity of Iran, accompanied
producing countries in the world.                                       by the serene Santoor music of his beloved
Although pasta is most commonly associated with Italy it was
in fact first made by the Chinese. When an Italian Tradesman Then, I had the chance to interview Aik-Wee
(Marco Polo) travelled East and visited China he discovered from Malaysia who told us about his love for
                                                             his pet monkey. He is pursuing Civil
it and brought back to Italy.
                                                                        Engineering at City University. He likes
                                                                        jungle-trekking with (somewhat uncivil) tigers
                         Pizza was invented by the Neapolitans          and snakes.
                         during a period of war when food was
                         scarce because it is so cheap to make Finally, Paul, who is studying archeology, was
                         and the ingredients used could be very interviewed by Prasenjeet. Among other
                                                                interesting experiences, Paul told us of his
                         easily found.
                                                                    archeological visit to dig at the city of Pompeii,
                                                                    Italy, which was destroyed by the Vesuvius
Francesco Vilona is in his second year at Netherhall and at Univer- volcano in AD 79.
sity College London, where he studies Construction Management.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                    20

    Alumni re-visiting Netherhall House; news about former residents - it’s all here...

       Passing by...

                                                                      We were recently visited by
                                                                      Horacio Patanian (2000).
                                                                      Horacio who is now a football
                                                                      agent was over from Argen-
                                                                      tina to promote his players to
                                                                      various clubs. He went to
                                                                      meet Gustavo Poyet, a
                                                                      former guest-speaker in
                                                                      Netherhall who is now the as-
                                                                      sistant manager at Leeds
                                                                      United, a once great club
                                                                      who are in need of a little
                                                                      help. After seeing the direc-
                                                                      tor playing on Primrose Hill,
                                                                      Gustavo        immediately
                                                                      thought he could slot nicely
                                                                      into the Barcelona team and
                                                                      arrangements for the transfer
                                                                      are underway.

 Olivier Coste (1997-99 and
 2002-2004), the quintessential
 Frenchman, recently visited
 the hall. He now works for the
 European Union in their for-
 eign affairs section. Specifi-
 cally he deals with EU rela-
 tions with Sri Lanka and the
 Maldives. He is pictured here
 beside his old friend and ad-
 versary Peter Brown. No
 doubt Peter has been teas-
 ing him yet again about the
 Euro “gravy train”, i.e. the Brit-
 ish assumption that a job “in
 Europe” means little work
 and loads of privileges. Olivier
 never denies it! He was in Lon-
 don to meet his friend, Mexi-
 can Enrique Huesca, also a
 former Netherhall resident,
 now studying in Pamplona,
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                              21

   Former Residents: Passing by, cont...

   Lorenzo Biassoni, consultant in Nuclear Medicine at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Lon-
   don, and former Netherhall resident (1993-1996) was in Seoul for the World Federation of Nuclear Medi-
   cine and Biology Congress from 22 to 27 October 2006. While there he met with Seoung-ho Cho (2005)
   and Seok-hong Shin (2004-2005). In this photograph they are in Seoul visiting the Royal Palace.

 How you can help Netherhall House...
 Š Pray for us and the work we are doing here.
 Š Give a donation for the Oratory works appeal or for the new disabled access lift.
 Š Do you know anyone coming to study in London? Maybe your son or a nephew, or the son of
 a friend. Recommend Netherhall House to them. For example, we still have some places to fill this
 year and we’re looking for suitable residents.
 Š Recommend us to universities, schools or other academic institutions you are in contact with,
 either in your own country or in Britain.
 Š If you know of former residents who do not receive “netherhall NEWS”, get them to contact us
 or give us their e-mail address.
 Š Offer professional and careers advice to our residents or even work experience or an intern-
 Š Take part in a former residents reunion somewhere near you to be involved in initiatives to
 support the hall.
 Š Most important of all, be exemplary parents, professionals and citizens so that people can
 see by your deeds that Netherhall leaves a profound and positive mark on its residents which
 endures throughout their life.                                                               „
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                        22

Neil Pickering went East in early December to meet up with former Netherhall residents.
He describes below the people he met and some of the memories they cherish from
their time in the hall.

It is such a great joy to contact again all those who have passed through the doors of Netherhall and
 to see the different stages of life, their family, their career, but all with the common experience of
once having made Netherhall their home in London.

                                  It is probably easiest to identify everyone in
                                  relation to who at the time was the Director. From
                                  those just starting, or early in their careers, who
                                  remember Peter Brown as Director, such as - in
                                  Hong Kong - Jason Hung, Adrian Chang, Louis
                                  Pang, Ryan Shek, Henry Cheng, William Liu, JJ
                                  Lee, Henry Suen, Bing Yang, Eugene Low.
                                  Those in Singapore such as the recently married       Neil, Pan Tongudai (1969),
                                                                                        Kanit Muntarbhorn (1968), at
                                  Sony Adhiguna, Kris Tan, or in Japan – Harushige      Pan's home in Bangkok.
                                  Nakakoji, Haruo Tohmatsu who straddles both
                                  Peters. Amongst those wanting to know how
                                  Peter Herbert is doing in Taiwan are Johnny
                                  Chan, who now has a son called Colin, Gerald
                                  Ho, YS Lee, John Wong, Stephen Lam, all more
The group at Macau University     fully fledged in their respective professions; and
who came to study English in
the summers of 2005 and 2006      in Singapore Daniel Chia, Raj Devadas, Edward
(some are from Macau, others      Lam, Laykok Tan. As one delves further than
from mainland China).             the last two decades, the maturity of years, often
                                                                                        Hiro Ohnaka and Daisuke
                                  with grown-up families, begins to be seen. From       Yokoyama in Osaka (both stud-
                                  the 1960s, Denis Chang in Hong Kong, Freddie          ied English in Netherhall in the
                                  Long in Malaysia, Augustine Chong in Singapore,       1990s).
                                  Pan Tongudai and Kanit Muntarbhorn in
                                  Thailand; from the 1970s Tony Eccles, Anthony
                                  Chan, Dixon Louie, Alec Chan, Mak Sai Yiu, of
                                  Hong Kong; Hari Gunasingham, Lim Wah Tong,
Neil with Prof Minoru Umezu       Peter Heng, Terence Siew, Eugene Lim, of
(1974) at Doshisha Univ, Kyoto.   Singapore; Prof Minoru Umezu and Hiro Goto in
                                  Japan. From the 1980s, Joseph Chan, Luis
                                  Pedruco, Mark Yeo. Others may have come just
                                  to study English, such as Hiro Ohnaka and             Hiro Goto (1978) with daughter
                                                                                        at Gloria Jeans Coffee Shop,
                                  Daisuke Yokoyama in the early 1990s, or much          Ashiya (one of a chain which he
                                  more recently the group from Macau who studied        runs in Japan).
                                  English in the last two summers.

Neil with Harushige Nakakoji                                                                                       )
(2000) and his father in Japan.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                        23

    Memories to treasure, cont...

                                 As always happens, the pattern of frequent travel
                                 around the region – plus the fact that each
                                 country warrants more days - means that it is
                                 impossible to meet everyone, and sometimes a
                                 phone call has to suffice.

                                 Other friends, such as Vincent Lam and Bill Tam,
Eugene Lim (1979) and fam-       who have helped Netherhall without ever staying        William Liu, Adrian Chang, Alec
ily in Singapore.                                                                       Chan, Henry Cheng: all in NH
                                 there, but were still impressed by the hall’s
                                                                                        in 2000s except Alec (1977), in
                                 homely atmosphere, as well as younger friends          Mandarin Hotel, H.K.
                                 such as Andrew Quake, Anthony Pang, Mike Tay,
                                 all form part of the wider ‘family’. And this family
                                 is much appreciated by their own families,
                                 whether the wife or the parents. This was
                                 particularly shown by Harushige’s father who
                                 took time off to show me Lake Biwa and the
Henry Suen (and Amy his girl     Castle remains of the era of Nobunaga, the
friend) with Eugene Low and      emperor soon after the arrival in Japan of St.
Anthony Pang in Hong Kong.                                                              YS Lee (early 1990s), Bing
                                 Francis Xavier in 1549. One might see soon in          Yang (2000s), Mak Sai Yiu
                                 Netherhall the sons of some of these eventually        (1977), Neil, Stephen Lam &
                                 becoming future residents: Willie Cheng’s son          John Wong (early 1990s).
                                 has just started at LSE; Alec Chan’s son at

                                 In the brevity of an article for Netherhall News, it
                                 is impossible to convey the personal story of each
                                 one. It would need a book to relate the memories
Dixon Louie (1979) with Neil.
                                 of each, like those of Pan Tongudai who headed
                                 the House Committee at the end of the 1960s,
                                 or tell of all the friends they made. Some former      Luiz Pedruco (mid 1980s).
                                 residents even remember Bill Boardman’s jokes
                                 (but dare not repeat them)!

                                  It is heartening for them to know that those they
                                  remember best are still in touch, and even still
                                  “floating” round Netherhall, whether it is previous
Joseph Chan (1982) with Neil.     Directors such as John Henry, Jim Mirabal, (Frs)
                                  Stephen Reynolds, or Bernard Marsh. Indeed,
                                 Augustine Chong goes back as far as Fr Dick
                                 Stork, as he was the very first Singapore resident.    Ryan Shek, Jason Hung, Neil,
                                                                                        Johnny Chan, Louis Pang (all
                                 Another past director still very much around is        late 1990s, early 2000s) in H.K.
                                 Javier Castanon who sang with Hiro Goto in the
                                 then Netherhall band of the late 1970s.

                                 Many of the stories are those small intimate ones
Gerald Ho and JJ Lee with Neil   of a family, which one would not write down in an
in Hong Kong.                    article, but which all make up each person’s life.
                                 And sometimes photos speak louder than words.
                                 I hope you enjoy seeing old friends in the ones
                                 attached to this article.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                 24

 Soldiering, Making Violins, William Cobbett... Guest Speakers talk to Netherhall residents

Major General Sir Sebastian Roberts OBE on the Covenant of Soldering, 6th December 2006
by Jan Carl Stjernsward

Major General Sir Sebastian Roberts, the
commander of the Army in London, began
his talk by outlining the historically
unprecedented need of explaining why
someone should become a soldier in Britain
following the collapse of the USSR. Defence
of the nation is no longer an obvious motive:
however, he suggested that the island
geography of Britain had made its army and
the motivation for joining it very different from
that of continental Europe. The British army
has always been an expeditionary army, and
“fundamentally mercenary” in nature. The
citizen army of many other European nation
states is absent here. He also outlined the
                                                  Major General Sir Sebastian Roberts OBE (third from right) with
special connection with the Commonwealth director Peter Brown, residents (left) Javier Carbonell, David Strinati
and the U.S. which the British army enjoys. and (right) Rufaro Butau, Jan Carl Stjernsward.
This brought him to another major point,
which was the politics of the British army. It has a uniquely apolitical history compared to others. Further,
the oath upon entry is to the Queen and superior officers, not the government, nation or constitution.
The purpose of a soldier, Major General Roberts made clear, is to kill. To do this properly certain ethics
are needed: the most important is selflessness towards comrades, civilians and enemy wounded and
captured. The erosion of Christian morality has in his opinion posed new challenges in expecting these
values from candidates.
In return, the comradeship of the soldier is like no other profession in that you “throw yourself into the
closest mutuality with people possible to imagine.” It acts across class and national barriers.
Finally, technological developments in audio visual media have meant that any individual can communicate
his situation from the most isolated and harsh places. This has created an accountability check on the
army as it literally comes under public scrutiny, something the Major General saw as positive for ensuring
good ethics.
On being asked about how much its views are taken into account for defence expenditure programmes,
it was suggested the army had good means of expressing itself through the MOD. While some thought
the future would mean increased mechanisation, Sir Sebastian pointed out that the complex nature of
land warfare in addition to cost effectiveness would ensure the continued presence of the human foot
Jan Carl Stjernsward, from Sweden, is in his second year at Netherhall House and at the London School of Economics
where he studies Government and Economics.
netherhall NEWS y DECEMBER 2006 / JANUARY 2007                                                                           25

    Guest Speaker series, cont...

       Professor Simon Majaro gave residents an enthusiastic demonstration of how to make a violin. The Profes-
       sor, a former business lecturer and a great friend of Netherhall, now dedicates himself to the promotion of
       chamber music. In particular he helps run the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust, a body which supports and
       funds chamber music. Numerous young musicians play in the monthly recitals at Netherhall and in other
       locations thanks to the work of Cavatina.

       Hugh Arnold, pictured left, who came to address residents in November on the life and works of William Cobbett,
       a famous British journalist, politician and agriculturalist from the 19th century.

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