Moffatt, Virginia

Virginia Moffatt
6 July 2021Review

The New Press, 2020; 298pp; £19.99

‘Does it not appear that the cause of all wars was and is: That the whites have always been the aggressors, and the wars, cruelties and bloodshed is a job of their own making and not the Indians?’ This statement by activist William Apess in 1836 could describe the US military at any time since its inception during the War of Independence, and is often at the heart of the dissent that Chris Lombardi documents in this book.

Beginning with the battlefield conversion of Lutheran Jacob…

1 February 2019Feature

Responses from peace activists to the BBC's 2018 Reith Lectures on war

Noted historian Margaret MacMillan took war as her theme in five Reith Lectures she delivered for the BBC in mid-2018.

The overall title of the lecture series was ‘The Mark of Cain’, referring to the story in the Hebrew Bible of the first murderer. Cain, the oldest child of Adam and Eve, murdered his brother Abel, then denied his crime. According to scripture, God cursed Cain and put a mark on him – the Hebrew is not clear whether this was a physical mark on his body or some kind…

1 April 2016Feature

New novel poses question: 'is conflict always inevitable?'

In 2003, my husband Chris and I moved to the Eirene Centre, a retreat centre in Northamptonshire run by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. It was a huge change in lifestyle. After 15 years in paid work, I swapped a busy office for full-time motherhood. We moved from a terraced house in a large town to a detached building surrounded by fields about a mile away from the US airbase at Molesworth. As the leftie Christian pacifist incomers, living in the last but one property in the village, we…

1 April 2016Review

Orenda Books, 2016; 350pp; £8.99

Every now and then, I come across a new author whose writing blows me away. Yusuf Toropov’s debut novel , Jihadi: A Love Story is one such book.

The novel is presented as the memoirs of a former CIA agent (Liddell), annotated by the psychiatrist who interrogated him. With both writers interpreting events according to their own world view, what unfolds is a narrative where the reader is uncertain of the reliability of either version of events. This is a brilliant way to…

1 December 2015Comment

Hope, despair and reading

This is my final diary for Peace News, and looking back, I can see the prevailing theme of my columns has been the struggle to remain hopeful at a time when there is so much to make me despair.

Following a discussion on Facebook last night, I’ve been thinking about the power of literature to help us make sense of it all. I’ve been particularly reflecting on the poetry of WH Auden, who featured in my first column. I fell in love with his poetry when I was 17. Back then, I…

1 December 2015Review

Allen Lane, 2015; 368pp; £16.99

In a sense this book picks up from where my last review left off. But whereas Kerry Ann Mendoza’s Austerity (PN 2586–2587) explores the history, politics and impact of the current cuts programme, Mason is interested mainly in the economy.

Section one outlines the failures of neo-liberalism, providing an excellent introduction to basic economics…

1 October 2015Review

New Internationalist, 2015; 192pp; £9.99

Every now and then, Peace News sends me a book which I absolutely love from start to finish. Despite the clunky title, this is one of those books. It’s a terrific read that tells you everything you need to know about why austerity is prevalent, what it does and some pointers on how to resist it.

The book is in two parts: the first, ‘Demolition’, deals with the causes of austerity and its impact on all areas of society. The second, ‘Austerity and Democracy’, charts its…

1 October 2015Comment

'Who would have thought three months ago that an anti-war MP might become leader of the Labour party?'

Autumn is upon us, a time of year I associate it with change and loss. The holidays are over, the days are cooling, the leaves will soon fall. I love the warmth and joy of the summer and I often find myself a little mournful when the kids go back to school.

In the past week, l’ve been feeling a little more mournful than usual. In part, that’s due to having helped pack up my mother’s house before it passed on to its new owners. After 26 years, my very happy home-from-home is no more;…

1 August 2015Comment

'I'm sick of protesting this shit'  

I’m suffering from end-of-termitis. Which is normal for July. Everyone in the family is tired and grumpy; everything feels a little too much. I thought I’d escaped it at the beginning of May when I still had my post-marathon bounce, but as the weeks have progressed exhaustion has been creeping up on me.

This year, it’s not just the usual juggle of work and family that’s tiring me. Part of my weariness stems from feeling a bit overwhelmed by the state of the world, thanks to May’s…

1 June 2015Comment

Why anniversaries matter

The last few weeks have all been about significant anniversaries. Several have been personal: Chris and I have been remembering our wedding (18 years), our fathers (25 years since his Dad died, 20 years since mine) and my mother (who died a year ago). Two have been political: 100 years since the beginning of the Armenian genocide, 70 since VE Day. All of which has got me thinking about such occasions, why they matter, and how they are best marked.

Anniversaries matter because they…

1 June 2015Review

Haymarket Books, 2014; 230pp; £12.99

I was looking forward to this book – an account of Rory Fanning’s walk across America in memory of his friend, Pat Tillman.

I am usually drawn to stories of individuals undertaking major endurance events, and this had the added bonus of being carried out by someone working for peace.

The comments on the back were all overwhelmingly positive so I was a bit disappointed that Worth Fighting For didn’t quite match my expectations.

It starts well enough,…

31 March 2015Comment

Virginia Moffatt looks to her running heroes for inspiration

This morning I woke to the news that Benjamin Netanyahu has won Israel’s general election. My heart sank, because, with such a military hawk in power, prospects for peace in Israel-Palestine look further away then ever. It is easy when faced with such news to fall into despair. To believe the vision of a just society for both Palestinians and Israeli citizens is impossible. Sometimes, it is feels easier to admit defeat.

When I’m feeling in this frame of mind, I’m always grateful for…

31 March 2015Review

Lutterworth Press, 2014; 312pp; £20

An Anglican priest, former chair of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and chair of the Peace Museum in Bradford, Clive Barrett is ideally placed to document Anglican resistance to the First World War.

I was hooked from the opening chapter which shows how militarism was embedded in the 39 ‘articles of religion’ to which all Anglican clergy must assent. Article 37 – ‘It is lawful for Christian Men, at the command of the magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in wars’ – clarified…

1 February 2015Comment

Our new diarist approaches a significant milestone

I’m going to be 50 this year. What once seemed an impossibility will become a reality in July. In the next 10 years, I will experience the menopause, watch our children leave home, begin to feel the impact of ageing on my body. This is the decade which will force me to admit I am no longer young. Such life events always put me in a ruminating mood, and this week I’ve been thinking a lot about what turning 50 means for my activism.

In some ways things have changed very little since…

28 September 2014Feature

Peace News considers peace paintings by Anne Gregson

For the last few years we have been holidaying at Little Wedlock, owned by Quakers Anne and Malcolm Gregson. Anne is a fine artist who runs a gallery with her daughter. In August, we were treated to her latest collection ‘The Dance of Life and the Dance of Death’, created especially for an exhibition about peace.

‘The Dance of Life’ is a set of four paintings on silk hangings. ‘Forest Green’ has been sold, but the remaining hangings are still part of the exhibition. ‘Life Giving…