Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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29/12/13: 'frosty wind made moan'

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

OK, a few things here.  I wouldn't hold myself up as a poetry critic, but this isn't the finest example of the craft, is it?  'Snow had fallen' - sorry, folks, I'm not sure that you got that, so let me say it again, 'Snow on snow'.  No, you look like a dim bunch, think you need to hear it again, 'Snow on snow'.  So, got it now?

But this is a pretty cold-northern-hemisphere-centric view of the world, isn't it?  'Frosty wind' doesn't 'make moan' in Tanzania, at Christmas or any other time of year.  There are, of course, more extreme examples of the type. Whether or not Miriam A Ferguson, first female governor of Texas, really did say, 'If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us', it typifies a view of Jesus as a westerner, living through harsh winters and with a white skin, probably also blond hair and blue eyes - and, of course, speaking English, probably with an old style BBC accent.

So, I rather like this picture from Burundi:

where Jesus and Mary are black.  And in many respects it seems to me entirely healthy that we should think of Jesus, our saviour, as somebody similar to us.  The problem is when power relations in other spheres are then legitimised in faith circles, when Jesus came for everybody, rich and poor, black and white, male and female, young and old - everybody.

All of this to say - frosty wind is making moan at the moment, classic winter high pressure makes for beautiful clear days but very cold mornings.  I hope you can see the frost at the war memorial of North Leigh Church near Witney, Oxfordshire, here's another attempt to capture just how cold - and bright - it was this morning:

Anyway, just one more week now before exchanging heating for air conditioning - and having a major hair cut of course.  I trust you've had a wonderful Christmas with a wonderful year ahead, I'll be back in touch next week, if all goes to plan with pictures of the haircut, all contributions to the Joshua Appeal gratefully received!  Many thanks to all who have already contributed - and for reading this year, your support has been fantastic.

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