Category: Writing

Babel

Babel

Babel, or the Necessity of Violence by RF Kuang debuted at the first spot on The New York Times Best Seller list, and won Blackwell’s Books of the Year for Fiction in 2022 and the 2022 Nebula Award for Best Novel. It is a work of historical fiction that revolves around four translators from different…

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Yusheng

Yusheng

Two years ago I wrote about the Southern Chinese New Year tradition, “Lo Hei!” As we went through those reflections again with friends this year, further thoughts came out. The tradition is also called “Yusheng” (魚生) meaning “raw fish,” which is the key ingredient that is lifted up (“Lo Hei” 捞起) in the festivities. 魚…

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Radical

Radical

This is the third in a series of 3 posts about a trip to the Holy Land. In my first post, I wrote: “My strongest initial impressions from this trip might be summarised with the words ordinary, familiar and radical.” The ordinariness and familiarity of the land serve to highlight all the more the utterly…

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Jaffa

Jaffa

Jaffa is a small ancient port town at the southern end of the modern city of Tel-Aviv. The name of the town is well-known because of the variety of orange that was grown and exported from there in the 19th century, which were used to flavour ‘Jaffa Cakes’ that McVitie’s developed in 1927 and now…

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Origins of the alphabet

Origins of the alphabet

There is a credible theory that the vast majority of the world’s alphabets evolved from an innovative re-purposing of Egyptian hieroglyphs by Semitic peoples from Canaan and the Sinai peninsula between 1850 and 1550BCE.  In 1905 Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie and his wife Hilda found some ancient inscriptions at Wadi-el-Hol to the north of…

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Work and Worship

Work and Worship

“Avodah”, one of the key Hebrew words for “work,” also means “worship.” Jonathan Sachs, former Chief Rabbi in Britain, writes about Exodus 1:13-14: ‘These two verses contain the word avodah in one form or another five times. Translated more literally, they read: The Egyptians made the Israelites labour with crushing rigour. They embittered their lives…

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Familiar

Familiar

This is the second in a series of 3 posts about a trip to the Holy Land. In my first post, I wrote: “My strongest initial impressions from this trip might be summarised with the words ordinary, familiar and radical.” I was surprised by how small the land is. Places whose names are familiar from…

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Ordinary

Ordinary

I was privileged to spend two weeks in the Holy Land with my wife and sons in March 2023. We were guided by Brian and Peri Zahnd (pastors of Word of Life Church in St Joseph, Missouri) and Jack Sara (Palestinian native of Jerusalem and president of Bethlehem Bible College). Over 8 days they took…

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Framework

Framework

The “Holy Land” is home to more than 12 million people and a significant place for at least the half of humanity that is Jewish, Christian or Muslim. It is a beautiful and conflicted land treasured by so many. I am mindful that I am neither a native nor a resident of the land, nor…

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How badly do we want to communicate?

How badly do we want to communicate?

In order to add billions to the UK’s GDP, the Government wants to double the number of 14-15 year olds who study a foreign language at school, primarily through investing £14.9 million in a Centre of Excellence to: “Improve standards of language teaching across the country in line with the teaching methods set out in…

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