Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Similarities between classic Bible story and events of coronavirus

Some of the oldest surviving biblical manuscripts with a direct link to early Christianity  Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

The Passover is regarded as the main Jewish festival and occurs in the Hebrew calendar on 15th Nisan in spring time each year.

This year it begins today, April 9, for seven days with the traditional Passover meal the preceding evening, as all Biblical days start and end at sunset.

The story of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt is told from generation to generation and the symbols of unleavened bread (bread without yeast), wine and other items are consumed as Jewish families recall the Ten Plagues, following positively by the Ten Commandments, and the crossing of the Red Sea followed by the crossing into the Promised Land (Israel today).

At its essence it is about the relationship between God and His people and how they experienced divine intervention and protection, most notably being spared the Destroyer or Angel of Death as it swept through Egypt killing every first-born child and even animals after Pharaoh refused to let the Hebrews go. The instruction was to daub blood from an unblemished lamb on the lintel and door posts of their homes thus when the Destroyer “passed over” the Israelites would escape the fate of the Egyptians.

The Israelites remained within their homes until all danger had passed. Egypt had been ravaged by pestilence and plagues galore and the country was devastated as a result. In the end the stubborn Pharaoh lets the people of Israel go.

There are similarities with this classic story from the Bible and events today with the ‘plague’ of coronavirus and so many people having to stay in their homes till the danger has passed. We know in the end the final outcome was one of overcoming and redemption. We do hope for that too in the present situation which has come upon so many countries in almost ‘Biblical’ proportions.

The Last Supper of Jesus, which many Christians commemorate at this time of year, was that same Passover meal that featured the unleavened bread and wine and the telling of God’s redemption from slavery through the shedding of the blood of the Passover lamb. The New Testament says, “Christ our ‘Passover’ was shed for us, therefore let us keep the feast (of Passover)” – which the early Jewish Christians did to remember His death on this date. This was later changed to a day of the week rather than the actual date and so the two no longer link up.

We can be mindful of these things this Passover, with both Jews and Christians in their homes while their places of worship remain closed. There is enough rich symbolism to satisfy both faiths. It may even bring some understanding between them as they both recall redemption and deliverance.

Bangor, Co Down


Makem’s body of work represents first major post-Heaney poetic affirmation

I  WISH to draw the attention of Irish News readers to a body of verse which I am convinced raises poetry out of its ongoing crisis  and more profoundly than any other modern poetic affirmation, interprets  the great questions and aspirations of the age. I am a retired head of the English department at St Colman’s College Newry and refer to a four-part collection The Tribe of Earth by Peter Makem, a native of Derrynoose,  living in Newry.

The quality of this work is just supreme by the highest standards. It is mature, lyrical, beautiful, masterfully structured and totally different in themes to anything else that I know of. It comes at an opportune time because in many respects, poetry is in a state of crisis.

This is largely due to the modern fixation with the ‘sense of place’. Peter moves to the totally different notion of the ‘sense of being’ – not Being as a divinity but the philosophical term. It marks a fresh identification of the great drives and aspirations of the human race that have dominated world history and world art. I am convinced that this body of work represents the first major post-Heaney poetic affirmation,  utterly different in overall themes, method, structure, and style but of equal brilliance in every respect.

One of the prominent themes is the notion of the Ireland of the Light comprised of the Four Ages and projecting a coming Fifth Age.

They are as follows: first, the affirmations of the early stone monuments, famously such as New Grange. Second, is the monastic age in the sixth, seventh and eighth century including the great illuminated books.

Third is the ‘Restoration’, the great cultural and artistic movement of the latter third of the 19th century regarding the founding of the GAA, the Gaelic League, the collections of Irish music, the gathering of the legends and myths, the national theatre and the surge in literature. The fourth age is Imperium Hibernium – the Irish empire – the immense Irish emigrant contribution from all traditions here to world civilisation over recent centuries.

The Fifth Age projects an Irish destiny, the resolution of the great philosophical problem of the Being of beings and so raises the western world out of its great decline. Two of the four sections of the poems, ‘selected verse’ and ‘a book of meditations’, are now open to all on the web-site www.petermakem.com

Warrenpoint, Co Down


Step back from negative thoughts

IN this time of doom and gloom when there is so much negative conversation and people are rightfully worried about the prospects of contracting the dreaded coronavirus it is also important that we step back from our negative thoughts and divert our mind to the positive things in our lives.

We can do this by building a roadblock on all negative thoughts especially in the late evening because if we go to sleep with such thoughts they will stay active and this will not only disturb our sleep but leave us waking with thoughts which will become an obsession for us.

One way which has been proven to have worked is to take a pen and write down three things that you are thankful for in your life, this could be, your health, your family your job or anything that you appreciate in your life, just dwell on these positive aspects for a few minutes and they will dispel your unwanted thoughts and leave you having better sleep and waking in a positive frame of mind.

Be grateful for the things we have in life and appreciate what we have because gratitude will make our life much richer.

Clogher, Co Tyrone


Closure of Ulster Way

I came across a sign saying that the Ulster Way was closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
If this is true was it agreed by Stormont? If so, that assembly should take decisions based on facts and stop following Westminster like herd animals. People, trying to stay fit and healthy, are regularly stepping off pavements unto the roadway to avoid each other while wide, open spaces such as the Ulster Way are being closed to them. Here, we have a population density of one-third of England and those, deciding on issues that affect the health of our population, should bear that fact in mind.

Larne, Co Antrim


Draconian legislation

We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that has already claimed many lives.

Yet, in the midst of this crisis, the UK used the occasion to foist draconian abortion legislation onto Northern Ireland that permits the termination of babies up to birth.

The UK has already aborted more than nine million of its own people. How many more deaths do they want?

Glenavy, Co Antrim

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Letters to the Editor