The Miracle/Not Miracle of Joshua Martin

I learned today the good news that Joshua Martin, the youngster from Donaghadee, Co Down, who had been going through treatment for an aggressive cancer – was cured. Fantastic news! Most cancers now seem to have decreasing mortality rates, which is a real mark of where our society is at – I’m not that old but even I remember as a kid hearing cancer and thinking, “well, that’s death then…, ” and now the word ‘treatment’ is synonymous with cancer. I heard Joshua on local radio a few weeks ago talking about the process he’s gone through, I was moved by his account – driving in to work and there I am listening to a kid who has suffered through so very much at a young age – and then he said the ‘g’ word. Categorically, I am not ‘Anti god’ nor ‘anti-religion’ and I can understand why religious people thank their god for things, because that’s what you believe, that’s cool with me – each to their own. My problem comes when their god gets the credit for man’s skill. Here’s the article in today’s Belfast Telegraph I’m not seeing a lot of thanks there for the work of researchers and scientists, doctors and nurses, radiologists and oncologists… I have a real issue with the concept of people thanking their god for the good things but never even remotely expecting that the same person should, in theory (loose use of the phrase) be equally responsible for the bad stuff. Also, the arrogance, the sheer bloody arrogance to suspect that because a churches members all prayed really really hard to...
2016 – NI Year of Food & Drink: The NI Cookbook

2016 – NI Year of Food & Drink: The NI Cookbook

Earlier in the year I attended an event at St Georges Market promoting NI producers, both food and drink, I met James McIntosh – a local chap doing fantastically well as an ambassador for Aga cookers and by all accounts, big in China as a TV chef. James spoke at length about his love for what we have here in the province and he quite clearly has a passion for it. 2016 is to be the, “Northern Ireland year of food and drink,” promoting what we have here in NI both to locals and people abroad, we could and should try to become a destination holiday for foodies, why the hell not, look at what we have! James McIntosh is putting together the NI Cookbook where local farmers, artisan producers, brewers, distillers, fishermen, butchers and the rest of the field (so to speak), can share their stories, have a light shone on their creations – both to be marketed at home and abroad. The Year of Food and Drink is something I will hopefully be writing about a lot over the coming year, and I expect I’ll spend a lot of that time reminding people of the ‘Drink’ element of this… Hopefully the local producers will come out of the year a league beyond that which they started in, already local success stories are getting traction elsewhere, Hannon’s Meats, Keen Nut Butter, Finnebrogue Venison, Hilden Brewery, Ruby Blue Liqueur to name but a few – who knows what brand leaders we’ll be talking about next December, but initiatives like McIntosh’s should contribute to that list being longer and longer....
Tis The Season: What December Means To Me

Tis The Season: What December Means To Me

Christmas has always been an odd time for me… familial instability, constant upheaval and extremely anti-social work hours… this is the first year since I moved back to Northern Ireland that the festive season isn’t overshadowed by work and chaos. I moved to England when I was 11 or 12, I spent every christmas back in Belfast on school holidays with my grandfather or occasionally in Canada with my uncle, I’m not sure I’ve spent a christmas day with my mother since maybe age 10 or 11 – given the constant chaos (for want of a better word) of ‘home life for me in my teenage years, it was preferable. Eventually I moved out and off to Uni in London (that’s another story for another time…) where I spent one christmas day alone in a house (everyone else went home for the holidays) and the other christmas day of my time in London, I have no clue whatsoever what I did… I sometimes think my mind is a series of locked boxes with the keys lost – such little memory of growing up and even now I’m incredibly forgetful. So yeah, I have no clue what I was up to for Christmas 2007 – an entire holiday season remains a mystery. Eventually I wound up back in Belfast and working in the bar trade, and what a burden that is at times! Overall, hospitality is a great industry to work in but never underestimate the effect that unsocial working hours can have on your life. In February my partner and I will celebrate our 8th year together, yet this...

The Cinema, The Church, The God & The Claims

Short one this. The debate on the DCM not allowing an advert which contains nothing but ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ is multi faceted but as usual in these discussions, entirely polarizing with very little room for manoeuvring on both sides. Consider this though, advertisers are accountable to various statuatory bodies… What if the Lord’s Prayer was shown as an advert and I, as a secularist, objected to the suggestion that a deity can give me bread daily. If I don’t receive this free bread on a daily basis, have I been lied to? What of other statements in the prayer? If Garnier, Coca Cola, McDonald’s or Nestle make a claim in an advert that someone refutes as being without evidence or being misleading, the onus is on the company and the advertiser to establish fact in their claim. Good luck proving the Lord’s Prayer is 100% legally sound in fact and claim. These are the rules companies play by, if the church wants in on the game then it better think about the consequences. Furthermore.. Can I take an advert out before movies that is just me saying the following phrase for 60seconds “there is no god, there is no god, there is no god – religion is a lie, religion is a lie, religion is a lie…” And expect no objection from established...