Saturday, 8 July 2017

Upheaval

It's shaping up to be a peerless beauty of a July day in the jewel of the north, sky of blue and sea of green (etc). Coffee is brewing, I've watered the tomato plants before the sun gets too hot and now must turn my attention to the Saturday blog.

Upheaval. What to make of this week's theme? You'll detect that I'm in 'stream of consciousness' mode this morning. My fellow bloggers have already covered house-moving (along with marriage, divorce and bereavement one of the most stressful of life events); they've also taken care of the geographical angle (tectonic plate-shift and vulcanism) so I'm rattling the brain-box quite hard. I could write about upheaval at the football club - but I gave that some exposure in last week's blog. Think, pour coffee, drink, savour, think some more...

Okay, we'll go with this thread. Technically I'm a heathen, i.e. I've not been baptised; maybe not that uncommon an occurrence nowadays, but unusual sixty years ago and particularly so given that I'm the son of a preacher man (some  of you knew that already). My father was a missionary in Africa (where I was born) and later a Methodist minister in various parishes in England. My parents' religious persuasion was non-conformist (I think my mother may have been a closet Quaker), in that fine free-thinking tradition stretching via Wesley, Knox and Zwingli right back to Martin Luther and the birth of religious upheaval which followed on the heels of the European renaissance. From the 15th century onwards, intellectual curiosity and a growing rationalism began to challenge the philosophical stranglehold that Catholicism had enjoyed for a millennium. Dissident thinkers saw in the established church a lazy moralising in tandem with unbridled corruption and they rose up against it.

Did they not like that!
To their credit, my parents' decision not to have me baptised was based on their deeply-held religious view that it was a decision the individual should make for him/her self, a matter of conscience and belief and not something to be imposed. They hoped that when I was old enough to understand, I would want to get baptised and confirmed. This I never did, and here's why.

Faith is a mysterious attribute. I could never understand why my father, a practical man with an aptitude for engineering (he designed aircraft engines upon graduating from university) would become a minister of religion. Being of a rational turn of mind in the 20th century I could never see the concept of God or organised religion as anything other than anthropomorphic convention. I could never 'believe' in the fundamental sense that he and millions did and do (be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Jew). Maybe his conversion had to do with proximity to the horrors of World War II. I don't know and we never discussed religion.

I recognise the positive attributes of many belief systems (community, compassion, dedication to high ideals) but I also see the negatives (corruption, fanaticism, intolerance, prejudice). At the leading edge as a species, we have evolved (if that is the right way to put it) in terms of our knowledge and capabilities beyond childhood's end, beyond that point where it is reasonable or necessary to believe in some religious code enshrined in a father or mother figure - but we haven't quite grown up enough to take the positive components of all the world's great faith systems and transmute them into an universal humanism that should be the next logical stage. It's a work in progress, a constant upheaval - and I hope we make it.

For a poem on theme, I've ransacked the archives and hoiked out something I wrote forty years ago. It couldn't quite stand as it was, I've had to make a few changes - but the main thrust and spirit of it has stood the test of time, I think. Some of it was even sadly prescient. See if you agree. (Dissent is allowed!) More coffee...

Glory Be!
One day,
not necessarily a Sunday,
when the critical mass
of dissenting voices
against your repressive rubric
becomes strong enough
for long enough,
then the whole fabric
of the 'one true church'
will simply explode,
blown to shreds by anger
at decades of hypocrisy.
Pope and cardinals,
bishops, vicars and priests
will be hurled into the dusty recesses
of outworn convention
along with the vestiges
of abuse and oppression.
All the supposed sins of the world
will get sucked at the speed of light
back into some black hole
where they belong;
and in the bright glare
of the post-confessional age
people will dance
freely,
knowing they've nothing to hide
and happiness will be all the rage.

Thanks for reading, S ;-)
Reactions:

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

The whole thing about faith is that it's not rational - and it doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

So you're not over-worried by the prospect of eternal fire and brimstone then? (LOL) Great blog once again.

Anonymous said...

Steve, this is a tremendous blog. Well said. Do I detect the influence of the Mersey poets in the poem?

Anonymous said...

Great poem.

Matt West said...

Buddy, you never told me you are a heathen! LOL.