Advent: 19 December

Tracy Niven
Tuesday 19 December 2023

Good morning,

In today’s Ding dong merrily on haiku, we stay with the Magi and in particular their encounter with Herod.  He was fearful of losing his power, and tried to manipulate the Magi into serving his ends.  We don’t have to look far today to see powerful figures who treat their own and other populations badly, even cruelly, with their only aim the enhancement of their own power, wealth and likelihood of dying safely in old age in their own bed.

On one memorable trip, to Turkmenistan, we spent a couple of days in the surreal city of Ashgabat, modern, gleaming, beautiful even, but with a lingering sense that there was nothing happening inside the buildings, or indeed that they were simply shells, like a huge outdoor stage set.  In the heart of the city is a huge statue to President Niyazov, known as Turkmenbashi, who ruled Turkmenistan both in the Soviet and independent era.  He gave himself the name Turkmenbashi meaning Head of the Turkmen, and promoted a cult of personality around his life and thought.  A popular online encyclopaedia declares, “In his time, he was one of the world’s most totalitarian, despotic, and repressive dictators.”  He died, reportedly of a heart attack, in 2006.  Here is the statue:

Back to the Magi – but how different were things then from now?

Herod commanded:
Come! Where? When? Go, search, tell me,
Jerusalem’s King.


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