Letters - 30 November 2018

From Collateral damage to artists and sustainability

Collateral damage

I was delighted to see part of the Collateral Damage art installation at Friends House in London featured on the cover of the Friend (9 November) and to read the article about it.

It was also good that many individuals and organisations – not all of them Friends – had contributed and wanted to remember and ‘honour victims of wars in the last century’.

The poppies are unique and beautiful in their own way – just as the victims whom they remember are (some are still alive and living with the effects of war) and were.

What a pity, then, to see that when I visited more than half the display was stuck behind display boards – put out for organisations that had hired and were using meeting rooms that day.

I understand the need to make money from hiring out rooms. However, I feel that covering part up of the exhibition honours neither the victims, nor those who made the poppies, nor those who made a special journey to view the artwork. Imagine if display boards had been put around the Cenotaph or a memorial so that no one could see wreaths that had been laid on Armistice Day!

The artwork has huge potential to help people reflect on the true horrors of war and, if combined with displays about our peace work, to help people understand and reflect on that.

Thank you to Linda Murgatroyd for curating the exhibition. I hope it gets a permanent home, or can be part of a travelling installation for use by Meetings across the country.

Helen Carter-Shaw

Complexity and simplicity

Harvey Gillman (16 November) appreciated Derrick Whitehouse’s article on literal and metaphorical perspectives (9 November), and suggested it should be more widely shared in order to help us explain ‘the diversity of the Quaker way to the world at large’.

I, too, welcome discussion of these important issues in the spirit of bringing people of differing viewpoints together, rather than dividing us. I, too, resonated with parts of the article. I say ‘parts’ because, sadly, I found several paragraphs virtually impenetrable. The extremely long sentences, many unfamiliar abstractions and a high density of multisyllabic words eventually defeated me.

Were other Friends better able to understand this than I was? I have no theology degree (though decent literacy and a Master’s in Psychology) and I really struggled. I would hate for a complex argument to be ‘dumbed down’, to be sure, but on the other hand it would be good for more of us to be able to engage with these discussions and, as Harvey suggested, be helped in our efforts to explain Quaker diversity.

Helen Gamsa

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