Tag Archives: North Korea

The Jericho Road

The 2004 film Hotel Rwanda chronicles the genocide that took place in Rwanda, Africa, in 1994. Three months of bloodshed in Rwanda resulted in over one million deaths in the very small country, , but the rest of the world hardly took notice.

Part of the problem was that the international community was very careful not to use the word genocide when talking about what was going on in Rwanda. Genocide is murder of a whole population of people based on religion or race or ethnicity. And if genocide is occurring, the international community through international law has a legal responsibility to get involved.

But why didn’t people want to intervene in Rwanda? How could the world sit silently by as one million were killed? That’s a hard question to answer.

But world leaders definitely did not see Rwanda as their problem. They didn’t want to get involved. And they sought ways to free them from their legal obligation to intervene, even if they could not avoid their moral and ethical obligation to act.

When are we obligated to act? When must we get involved? That seems to be the true question that comes up in the gospel lesson of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, posed by the lawyer. When must we get involved?

The road to Jericho from Jerusalem was a dangerous road to travel.. It was a road where many people experienced violence and crime – being robbed on the road to Jericho wouldn’t have been uncommon.

 The road to Jericho wasn’t unlike places today – places where you’re wise enough not to go alone, at night, or probably even with other people if you can avoid it.

 And we know places across the world that are Jericho Roads – in fact, today, most of us would not dare to travel to some African countries, Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or North Korea. The Jericho Road is Syria, Zimbabwi. It is Rwanda in 1994. We know what the Jericho Road is, without ever having been there.

The Jericho Road is any place where there is violence; it is any place where there is oppression; it is any place where people are robbed of the dignity and robbed of their love and robbed of their food and robbed of their freedom. 

The Jericho Road is always with us.

Jesus’ parable tells us that what lies between God and us is the Jericho Road. If we want to be in a relationship with God, if we want to be disciples, if we want to inherit eternal life, we need to work out what and who is between us and God.

We need to love our neighbours. And we need to understand that between God and us we will find every other human being. Between God and us is every other person in this community. Between God and us is every person in every part of this town, It is every person in Iraq, North Korea, and Rwanda, each one created in God’s image. Between God and us is the road to Jericho, lined with the ones Christ calls our neighbours, lined with the ones God calls us to love.      

Who is my neighbour? Who are we called to risk for? Jesus asked, “which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The lawyer said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

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Jock Tamson’s Bairns

The Real North Korea


A child of around 10 sits dying of starvation by the side of the road while just yards away soldiers load enough rice on to trucks to feed families for weeks.

As the young boy slumps on the grimy kerb in his filthy, oversized army jacket, locals stroll past zombie-style without even glancing in his direction or displaying an ounce of pity for his wretched plight.

Nearby his friends scavenge in disease-ridden rubbish tips for scraps of what might pass for food in a land where people are so poor they are forced to eat tree bark or even corpses, according to those on the inside.

And not far away, prisoners are herded from their harsh labour camps to ­frantically dig out crops from frozen ground while trigger-happy troops hover over them waiting for the one wrong move that could end with death.


And how true that is of so many – far too many  – other people.  From childhood, they are told that they’re useless, hopeless, stupid, whatever.

In teenage years, they’re branded “wasters” or worse.

In their mature years, they’re “feckless” or a “waste of space”

People need to be valued, cherished, and felt that they do have a contribution to make, even if they cannot recognise it.

We are all of worth in the eyes of God.  None of us is worthless.

There was a 17-century French scholar, a Protestant exile from Toulouse, by the name of Muretus.   Muretus became seriously ill in Lombardy and was taken to the paupers’ hospital.

As he lay on his sick bed, the physicians (thinking that he would not be able to understand the language of the learned) said, in Latin:

“Let us try an experiment with this worthless creature”

Muretus, from his bed, in barely a whisper, interrupted them, by replying (also in Latin):

“Call not ‘worthless’, one for whom Christ did not disdain to die”

You’re a good man.  You’re a good woman.  Or if you don’t feel it, then consider the potential you have to become that.

You’re a good person – why after all, the best of all men, was prepared to die for you.


Muretus  Latinized name of Marc Antoine Muret (12 April 1526 – 4 June 1585), a French Humanist who was among the revivers of a Ciceronian Latin style and is among the usual candidates for the best Latin prose stylist of the Renaissance  


“We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns” is Lowland Scots and Northumbrian English for we’re all John Thomson’s children. Nowadays, the phrase is often used to mean “we’re all the same under the skin”.

It has been suggested as a euphemism for God, so the saying could mean “we are all God’s children”. The expression “We’re a’ the bairns o’ Adam”, conveys exactly the same meaning. 

One explanation of this phrase (as recorded in the History of Duddingston Kirk) is that the Reverend John Thomson (Jock Tamson, Thamson), minister of Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh, from 1805 to 1840, called the members of his congregation “ma bairns” (my children) and this resulted in folk saying “we’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns” which gave a sense of belonging to a select group.

One version attributing the origin of the adage to Thomson is that his first wife died after they had five children, he then married a widow who already had five children, and this second marriage produced another four children. When his wife then made introductions to visitors and tried to explain which family the various children belonged to, Thomson would interrupt her with the statement that “They’re a’ Jock Thomson’s bairns”

English: Portrait of The Reverend John Thomson...

English: Portrait of The Reverend John Thomson (1778-1840) of Duddingston, pastor and painter, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Jock Tamson” (John Thomson) would have also been a very common Scottish name, and would have been equivalent to such phrases as “John Doe”, “John Smith”, “Joe Bloggs” etc.

Fife’s Fishing History suggests the small fishing town of Buckhaven may have been one source for this saying. Of 160 families living in the village in 1833, over 70 were Thomsons

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