Sin, the Plague of Plagues. Such was the title give to a work published by the English Puritan Ralph Venning in 1669, shortly after the Great Plague of London had killed an estimated 20% of the city’s population. This horrific event would have been fresh in the minds of his readers, and for them the comparisons were easy to make between those two fatal epidemics; each bringing widespread death and destruction, one physical, the other spiritual. Today it is rare for us to see firsthand death and disease on such a vast scale, yet sin, that plague of plagues is still with us. Bringing death and destruction with it sin saturates our modern, advanced society, infects every respectable home and drags the prospering multitudes of this world down into the depths of hell.
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Sunday, 13 January 2013
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force by the Ulster Unionist Council and Sir Edward Carson. Their purpose was not to terrorise the inhabitants of Ulster but to defend them, should Home Rule be imposed. Following on from the rally at Balmoral at Easter 1912, the Carson Trail and the signing of the Ulster Covenant on 28th September 1912, the formation of the UVF was seen as the next step in ensuring that Ulster remained British. The purpose of their formation could truly be said to have been for God and Ulster, to defend their land should it be cut off by Britain, against the repercussions of 'Rome rule' that would surely follow.
Monday, 7 January 2013
Fifteen years ago the Good Friday Agreement was signed by the majority of political parties in Northern Ireland. It was endorsed in a referendum by 71% of the population and was seen as a historic breakthrough in the peace process, a way of putting 'The Troubles' behind us. In 2006 the St Andrews Agreement was the means of restoring those institutions set up in 1998, the agreement of all the main political parties surely the sign of a new Northern Ireland, one where the violence on the streets would surely be a thing of the past.
Yet the events across Northern Ireland in recent weeks have shown that little has been achieved by these two agreements. Indeed it could be said that the situation is worse now than it has been for several years. So called dissident republican groups continue to target members of the security forces and loyalists have engaged in rioting in recent weeks as a result of the removal of the Union Flag from City Hall. Why are such problems still evident in Northern Ireland society. Loyalists will say that their rioting is provoked by the erosion of their British culture. When republicans riot they will often blame an Orange march. Yet this does not truly answer the question. Why, in such circumstances do people respond with violence. What is the mindset that causes a youth to throw a petrol bomb as their response to a band parade?
Friday, 4 January 2013
On 3rd December 2012 the decision was taken by Belfast City Council that the Union Flag would no longer fly from City Hall 365 days a year, but only on a small number of designated days. This decision has understandably been met with anger by many in the Loyalist and Unionist community who have seen it as a further erosion of their British culture and identity. For the last month street protests and rallies have been held across the province in opposition to the Council's decision. Sadly on some occasions legitimate protest has also been accompanied by violence and intimidation.
Many people have claimed that it is 'only a flag', yet the flying of a flag is an important issue because of what a flag represents. It is not simply a piece of cloth but is an important symbol to people of who they are. For any countries flag to be removed will naturally be met with a hostile reception by those loyal to it, as it will be viewed as an act of surrender and retreat. There are 5 things symbolised by the flying of a flag which show why it is so important: