Monday, 23 September 2013

Please note . . .

. . . that postings on this blog will resume at the beginning of October 2013.  Thank you.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


It occurs to me that religion is so often a force for division, hostility and even violence in our world chiefly because it becomes an end in itself rather than a means toward a better understand of oneself, one's world and its Maker.  An old colleague I came across last week - the first time I'd seen him for maybe twenty years or more - expressed the perspective by which he lives in what I thought was a succinct and relevant way :-

"Under God, and by his grace, I shall put Church before self, and Kingdom before Church."

It is that last section (and its equivalent, which there surely must be, in other faiths) which gets ignored. The faithful allegiance given to church is praiseworthy of course, but it can be the cause of great harm unless it is informed and moderated by an awareness of a higher aim and a greater purpose under God, which is that his love for all he has made should be proclaimed and lived.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


Today has been another lovely late summer day - sadly I think the last for a while.  One delight it served up for me was the sight of two speckled wood butterflies engaging in combat.  These are very territorial insects, or the males are at least - they will fiercely defend a patch of sunlit space within, or on the edge of, a wood or overgrown hedgerow.  Such a warm spot will provide the best chance of mating.

When an interloper arrives, a fight ensues, and that's what I witnessed today.  The two butterflies circle rapidly around each other;  and, looking closely, I could see that every so often one would dart towards the other and be repulsed.  I supposed the duel I witnessed went on for ten or fifteen minutes, though I'm told that they have been known to last for an hour or more.  The two butterflies covered a fair amount of ground even in that time, though!  In the end one flew disconsolately away.

One tends not to think of insects as territorial but in fact quite a number of butterflies seem to be.  Where we used to live we tended to find our drive claimed each year by a red admiral butterfly - obviously a different one each year, though as the behaviour was identical you might easily imagine it to be the same individual as last year.  Any invasion of the space, for example by me parking my car, would result in a sort of dive bombing enterprise by the butterfly.  Possibly it was responding to its own reflection in the windows or mirror, rather as some birds will.

Related butterflies, such as peacocks and small tortoiseshells, also behave in this way.  A male will select a perch and simply sit there and bask a bit;  but they are very watchful, and will quickly act to chase away any (male) intruders, their strategy being to sit in a good and obvious place and wait for the female to find them.