Kouyanet Reader: Phil Arthur
Why do I read Eddie’s blog?
Firstly, I read Eddie’s blog because he is my brother and I care about him. I have known him for the whole of his life, though he can’t say the same about me! We grew up in two different Council Houses, the first on a large Estate on the Western Edge of the sprawling urban mass of Sunderland and later in a Victorian era terraced House near the town centre. Our father was a coal miner who spent the bulk of his working life at the Vane Tempest Colliery at Seaham Harbour, a small colliery town about four miles south of Sunderland where many of our relations lived. I suppose that means that Eddie and I are both fossils in the sense that only a dwindling band of people can now claim to be sons of Durham miners when that breed was once very numerous indeed. (Incidentally, if anybody who reads this has seen the movie “Billy Elliot”, our home was emphatically not like his.) Later on, Dad got a job as a sort of trouble-shooting engineer visiting many of the collieries in North Durham. Sadly, he was taken from us at the age of just 41 when a large tumour was discovered at the base of his spine. He was a remarkable man and his departure left a big vacuum. His passing marked all our lives, especially that of our mother. I was a young adult at University when it happened. Eddie was in his early years at High school. I am sixty three now. Dad would be well into his 80’s had he lived. It often gives me pause for reflection that I have been given so many more years than he was. I have little doubt that he would be inordinately proud of Eddie and his achievements.
Secondly, I read Eddie’s blog because it is the continuation of a literary relationship that goes back many years. In my study I have a cardboard box containing dozens of airmail letters from Eddie. They begin with letters written from a place called Granges les Valence in the Rhone Valley in France when he and Sue took David to spend a year acclimatising in a French-speaking environment. We were able to visit them there but soon after Eddie and Co moved to Cote d’Ivoire I had moved from a well paid teaching job in the North East to become the first pastor of a small Baptist Church in the North West. I have been there since 1988 and the letters kept coming, giving me a window on a very different world. We came to Lancaster, a small, mostly Georgian city with Roman origins just south of the English Lake district and have been here for almost three decades. We came with two sons and acquired a third soon after we got here. We named him Sam and were amazed to discover that Eddie and Sue’s second son, born in Cote d’Ivoire about a week later, was also called Sam. Our church has had its ups and downs during that time (and so have I) and in the meantime, typed letters with pictures of four hippos have given way to blog posts. As for me, I’m not behalf as technologically savvy as Eddie is. I don’t blog. (I can’t imagine I’d have anything worthwhile to say after a week or two.) I don’t tweet either and don’t have a clue how to access anyone else’s tweets either. For that matter, I’m not on face-book. I already know scores of ways of wasting time in my study and fear that these would just give me more up to date ways of wasting more, knowing my own heart. I do appreciate Eddie’s blog though: it keeps me in touch with his comings and goings and his doings and is in itself a stimulus to pray for him.
Thirdly, I read Eddie’s blog because we have interests in common. Test cricket, International Rugby, Military History, Crime Fiction: we are both voracious readers though his pet areas in theology don’t quite match with mine. Even so, it’s not remotely unusual for me to find him mentioning a book and thinking: “I really ought to read that”. Incidentally, I can only say this in a modest way, but we do have “Wycliffe” in common in that when Barbara and I first married we decided that we would make sure that part of our monthly giving went to “Wycliffe”. I felt quite proprietorial when he and Sue signed up as it were, and when he became effectively the CEO of the British branch, and the regular issues of Wycliffe News came through our letterbox, we got an accompanying letter signed by my brother! That doesn’t happen now, because Eddie has changed his job. He has manfully tried to explain what his new job with Global Connections entails but I’m not sure I’ve really grasped it. Must be in my dotage or something …
Fourthly, I read Eddie’s blog because it is a stimulus and a challenge to me. When I’m at my best, I like being made to think and to question assumptions. (I phrased it in that way because at my worst, I can be just as defensive and intellectually torpid as the next man.) I have had the privilege of travelling and preaching in locations a very long way indeed from County Durham, which is a constant source of amazement to me, but Eddie has a range of experience and contacts in the Christian world that goes far beyond anything that I have known. This means that he writes with insights and perspectives that would never have occurred to me and in addition, introduces me to other writers on the blogosphere that I never knew existed.
Fifthly, I read Eddie’s blog because it is a pleasure to read. He is very prolific isn’t he, what with a regular job to do and all that? However does he keep it up? Even so, he’s good with words. I wonder where he gets that from.
Eddie’s older brother (well, one of two).