October 29th to October 31st
MONDAY OCTOBER 29
I had a queasy moment this weekend. My nine year old son came running over to me. "Dad, look at this funny new game I got off the Internet." It was a simple shooting arcade, using the mouse to control an on-screen gun. The target was an animated photo of Osama Bin Laden, prancing about on a cartoon body. You could shoot off his arms - or make his head explode. I told him to turn it off - and that he wasn't to play it any more. He asked me why. "After all," he said, "Hasn't he killed thousands of innocent people?" I'm not sure if I made any sense but I tried to explain. "I feel," I said, "That if we relish the thought of blowing him up, even in a fantasy, that makes us as sick as he is."
TUESDAY OCTOBER 30
Changes since Sept 11
This world has always been a crazy place - and a dangerous one. There has always been fear, there has always been anger. There has always been conflict. There has always been injustice. This world has also, always, been a happy place - and a hopeful one. There has always been wisdom, there has always been trust, there has always been compassion and there has always been tolerance. In this respect, nothing has changed since September 11. Nor, probably, will it ever change. We have no choice over any of that. But we do get to choose which side of the coin we want to look at.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 31
Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain - when people would gather round a bonfire to mark the onset of Winter. Many "divination customs" were associated with this. Lovers would cast two nuts into the fire. If they burned together, their marriage would be happy. If the nuts jumped apart, the relationship was doomed. Sometimes, stones would be placed around the edge of the fire, each representing a person in the community. Much would be read, next morning, into the way those stones survived. Though the church struggled for years to suppress it, the world today seems more convinced than ever that spirits really do walk abroad on All Hallow's Eve!
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