Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Today I enjoyed a bit of golfing, without a club in sight! It was my soon-to-be parents-in-law's last day off, and they wanted to do something a bit different, so we went on a trip to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra. The added bonus was that I got to drive their Volkswagen Golf TDI!

Wow! Their car has so much more power, and was very enjoyable to drive! They also seemed to enjoy the chauffeur service, so no one was complaining. But anyways, enough about the car.

Even though I've been many times before, the museum was still interesting, with some new exhibits since my last visit. Among the new highlights are the Presbyterian Meeting House from Omagh, with a great display in the back corner of items associated with Presbyterian worship, and some pre-recorded samples of Psalm singing. As far as I can remember, this was the first time I have been in a Presbyterian pulpit, but hopefully not the last!

The Gilford Picture House was also new to me - showing a Charlie Chaplin film; and the next door Photographer's Studio where an 80-year old camera was being demonstrated. Some extra shops have also been added to the town section, but the best moment was going into the sweetie shop for a quarter of sweets!

The transport section seemed to be mostly the same as the last time I was there, but the huge trains were still impressive!

Reflecting on the day, it has struck me that in some ways, Ulster has moved on so much in the last hundred years. While most of the houses were small and poky (including the houses from Meeting Street in Dromore, where my great aunt lived, as far as I know) with only an open fire and no running water or inside toilet; nowadays we live in comparative luxury. We would think we were inconvenienced if one room in our houses now was the size of the entire floor plan of one of those terraced houses. The abundance of possessions knows no end, as our houses fill up with stuff.

Yet in the acquiring of all this, we have lost something as well. In virtually every house we visited in the Museum, we noticed a framed picture of some sort. And on the picture, there was a Bible text. Perhaps 'cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you' or 'God so loved the world...' Or in some houses, the simple phrase 'bear the cross to wear the crown'.

Money has become the idol, the false god, of our society. I can remember a poem from GCSE English Lit. It goes something like this - 'The world is too much with us, getting and spending we lay waste our powers.' (A google search reminds me it is by Wordsworth).

Oh that we would rekindle and rediscover the faith of our fathers - not in its excesses and errors, for there were some of those too - the simple faith of the apostles, declaring that 'Jesus is Lord' - Lord, King, Ruler over all that we are, and all that we have.

In the simplicity of the hovels of the past, the age-old good news is still proclaimed, for those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear.

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