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. 1 Director’s Notes 3 Peter Brown writes about the Cardinal’s visit, Christmas Cover Image preparations and a new film by a former resident. Cardinal 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 editor 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 groups. 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’s NOTES 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 http://www.miasarah.com/indexSite.html getting rave this year on reviews: Friday 8 th December, and then the customary www.lahiguera.net/cinemania/pelicula/2263/ 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- recognised. ” 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 question. 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 :HOIDUH VRFLHW\ QRW ZHOIDUH VWDWH 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. chinadaily.com.cn 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 zaman.com 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 AP 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 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" www.redwierenga.com ? 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 counter-parts. 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 experience. 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 $ 3UHFLRXV 7UDGLWLRQ WKH 0DOWHVH &KULVWPDV FULE 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, www.hbiebtalpresepjumalta.org/) 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 www.sdcmuseum.org/, 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 interviews 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 Persia. 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 former RESIDENTS 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, Spain. 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... Pray for us and the work we are doing here. Give a donation for the Oratory works appeal or for the new disabled access lift. 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. Recommend us to universities, schools or other academic institutions you are in contact with, either in your own country or in Britain. If you know of former residents who do not receive “netherhall NEWS”, get them to contact us or give us their e-mail address. Offer professional and careers advice to our residents or even work experience or an intern- ship. Take part in a former residents reunion somewhere near you to be involved in initiatives to support the hall. 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 UCL… 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 soldier. 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.