Poppies, football and perspectives: why I agree with FIFA

November 3, 2016 in Mark, Culture, Random, Sport

Next Friday the England football team will take on Scotland in an important World Cup qualifying game, and since the game happens on November 11th, Remembrance Day in the UK, both teams have proposed that they wear poppies (the traditional British symbol of war remembrance) to commemorate those who lost their lives in past wars.

PoppyIn the past 24 hours it has been revealed that FIFA, the governing body for world football, has denied the request of England and Scotland to wear poppies, as it violates their principle of not allowing political, religious or commercial messages on team shirts. Many in the UK have reacted strongly to this decision, with the Prime Minister Theresa May saying it is “outrageous”, claiming that the poppy is a neutral, non-political symbol to remember those who have died.

While it is undoubtedly true that many who wear a poppy do so purely to remember loved ones who have passed away in wars, I think it is naive to think that the poppy would be universally seen to be non-political. Read the rest of this entry →

The histories we tell

March 17, 2014 in Mark, Africa, Culture, Tanzania

Growing up in England and going through the English school system, I enjoyed (and endured) many hours of learning about history. In secondary school I remember learning that some historical sources were biased, and so had to be treated with care, while others were unbiased, and so were supposed to be more reliable. Since then I have come to realise that all history is necessarily told from a particular perspective, and there is no such thing as a neutral / unbiased / objective historical account.

Topics that I remember learning about in school include World Wars 1 and 2, the Roman occupation of Britain 2,000 years ago and the English civil war in the 17th century. There are other parts of British history that I never remember even being mentioned (although I cannot claim to have paid attention to every word that my teachers said…), for example British colonial occupations around the world, the American war of independence, and the complex history of Ireland. To this day the only understanding I have of past Scottish struggles for local autonomy from England is what I gained from watching Braveheart a few years ago. These topics do not seem to make it on to the history syllabus during the first 11 years of English school education. Read the rest of this entry →

Adventures in California

November 20, 2013 in Life, Wycliffe, Mark, Church, Culture, Front

Although we are currently living in Oregon in the US, Laura is originally from California and still considers that to be her home in many ways. Recently we were excited to be able to spend a couple of weeks in California visiting friends, supporters and our supporting church in Petaluma.

We had an amazing time, and loved being able to catch up with friends who we hadn’t seen for a couple of years. Our time in Petaluma was also really encouraging, particularly as we spent an evening with the church home group that has committed to supporting us in prayer and practically in whatever ways they can. We were really glad to have the opportunity to spend time getting to know the group better, and felt humbled by their enthusiasm to support us and our work in whatever ways they can. Read the rest of this entry →

Ten things I love about being in America

June 27, 2013 in Life, Mark, Culture, Front

Recently we transitioned from life in Mpanda, Tanzania, to Oregon in the USA where we’ll be for the next few months. Below are ten things that I’m really enjoying about life in America. Once you’ve browsed through these, you might like to take a look at the ten things that I’m missing about our life in Tanzania

Read the rest of this entry →

Ten things I miss about Tanzania

June 27, 2013 in Life, Mark, Culture, Front

Recently we transitioned from life in Mpanda, Tanzania, to Oregon in the USA where we’ll be for the next few months. Below are ten things that I’m already missing about Tanzania. Once you’ve browsed through these, you might like to take a look at the ten things that I’m enjoying about AmericaRead the rest of this entry →