My Mt. Everest

The Wallflower Wanderer

The tallest, fiercest beast of rock, ice and snow on the planet goes by many names. 

If you’re the average Nepali, you’ve grown up calling it Sagarmāthā, meaning “forehead in the sky.” If you’re a native speaker of the Tibetan languages, it is the “mother of the world” or, Chomolungma. But those of us who have not had the rare pleasure of casting our eyes from a young age upward toward the behemoth, which rises like a ghost from the Mahalangur mountain range — we know it as Mt. Everest.

Mt. Everest-1-2


It’s 5:45am and I’m making my way in darkness toward the nearest main road from my Airbnb in the Lainchaur neighborhood of Kathmandu.

The simple but sturdy four-story concrete home is buried deep in a pocket of squiggling half-paved, half-dirt streets that don’t appear to have names. Many are scarcely wide enough for a single car to pass people on foot.

Even at this early hour, when I reach the big…

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Dynamite and Prayers

HeideBlog

Dynamite and Prayers is the title of photographer Max Becherer’s stunning new book.

Dynamite and Prayers cover BLOG

Although the subject is the emerald miners of Afghanistan, Max’s storytelling transports us to a sweeping landscape few of us can even imagine — and unveils the true cost of war.

Max Becherer rainbow spread

I’ve had the privilege of working with many world-class photographers, but Max is one of only two I know personally who have chosen to focus on war. He’s captured some of the most famous images of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan — his C.V. is full of names like Baghdad and Fallujah — and in the process he’s repeatedly risked his life.

A war photographer’s work is obviously taxing: While everyone around you is trying to either kill or survive, your job is to watch and record. Over time, it can take a toll on your humanity.

But in Max’s case, exposure to war…

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Church as Family vs. Church as Healthclub

Life Teams Support

9780830837823Christ taught us to pray, “Our Father.” He wants us to be a family to each other. Not in our warped western sense of immediate family holed up in our houses in front of the tube but in the eastern sense of extended family sharing life day by day. In their excellent book, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, Richards and O’Brien demonstrate just how revolutionary the teaching of Christ and his apostles was to those in their own culture and remains today to ours. Please consider the following excerpts from that book and their implications for your own context:

Paul’s vision of church life in his letter to Titus includes every member encouraging and instructing the others to embody the gospel in their behavior. The older women are to teach the younger women “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home…

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Britain & ‘The House of Saud’

I am in no way a leftist. On the other hand I am in no way an Islamist and cannot stand the Saudis… who are the source of so much Islamism in the world.

PoliticalSift

On the 2nd January, two days into 2016, Saudi Arabia (Britain’s key ally in the middle east) executed 47 people for ‘terrorism’. 47 in one day. This included the prominent Shia clericSheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Many of the individuals executed on Saturday were involved in a series of attacks carried out by al-Qaida from 2003-06, according to the interior ministry. 45 of those executed were of Saudi nationality, alongside one Chadian and one Egyptian. The 47 executions were carried out inside prisons across 12 different provinces in Saudi Arabia.  This follows follows 158 executions in 2015 (a big increase from the 90 people killed in 2014).  Human Rights Watch (HRW) has described this as:

the largest mass execution in the country since 1980

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric, was sentenced to death in 2014 following a Saudi court convicting him on vague charges largely on his criticism of Saudi officials…

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A Year of Trolling

Eleanor Knott

Late last year, at an event organised by LSE’s Grimshaw International Relations Club, I shared my experiences of trolling as evidence of the implication of academics in an form of hybrid war and campaign of discreditation.

Well, this campaign became a bit more real (and surreal) when I stumbled across a Russian talk show discussing my research and more specifically my recent Monkey Cage piece, where I discuss the complexities of Russian identity, as I observed them in 2012 and 2013. Totally surreal, the talk show comes out of Zvezda, the Russian Ministry of Defence’s TV channel, and featured the well-known nationalist Konstantin Zatulin, who interesting and ironically, was banned from Ukraine during Yushchenko’s presidency for making claims on Crimea.



The name of the program…

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St Petersburg in winter: ‘Like stepping into a Russian novel’

I used to have a good friend who live din Saint Petersburg as a psychiatrist. His cards, letters, and photos of the place were superb.

Travel Associate

St Petersburg, the setting for key scenes in the BBC’s dramatisation of ‘War and Peace’, is at its best under a blanket of snow.

On the edge of a frozen lake, somewhere outside St Petersburg, I am stretched out on the wooden racks of a rickety banya, or sauna. Clouds of steam part to reveal several lobster-pink Russians on the racks below. Some maniac has just thrown a bucket of water on to the hot stones in the corner, and the temperature – already somewhere between gas mark 8 and Dante’s Inferno – rises dramatically. I feel my bone marrow is melting. Meanwhile, my new best friend, Seva, is whipping me with birch twigs – “For improving circulation,” he grunts.

St petersburg Neva River

Russian banya are the Baltic equivalent of ginseng; they cure everything: liver complaints, skin conditions, muscle ache, sexual dysfunction, broken hearts, spiritual unease. They are an integral part of the…

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RESPONDblogs: Books that Inspired Me in 2015

RESPOND

books

Hey – would you mind if I share with you the 3 books that made a big impact on me in 2015?

 

FIRST – Shaped for Significance

Why do we do what we don’t want to do? How can I stop spending so much time regretting the habits which are pulling me downward in life? Is there any hope for experiencing freedom from this?

James Burn and Rachel Bennett give a roadmap through these difficulty and thorny issues that so many (honest) people will admit to. And they point us forward and give hope that…one day I WILL be all that God’s intended me to be.

It’s a great workbook – practical, but meaty too.

This book is published by Kingfisher Resources. It isn’t available on amazon right now…but it certainly should be!

 

SECONDRelativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air

I’ve noticed that whenever the subject of morality comes…

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