Feeling My Age

Getting older has its drawbacks – but it's a lot better than the alternative.

Posts Tagged ‘ Religion ’

Oliver Cromwell: A Ladybird 'Adventure from History' Book

From: A History of the English Speaking Peoples: The Age of Revolution
by Winston S. Churchill, 1957

“We have seen the many ties which at one time or another have joined the inhabitants of the Western islands, and – even in Ireland itself – offered a tolerable way of life to Protestants and Catholics alike.”

“Upon all of these Cromwell’s record was a lasting bane. By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds.”

“Hell or Connaught” were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred “The Curse of Cromwell on you.”

The consequences of Cromwell’s rule in Ireland have distressed and at times distracted English politics down even to the present day. To heal them (has) baffled the skill and loyalties of successive generations. They became for a time a potent obstacle to the harmony of the English-speaking people throughout the world.

Upon all of us there still lies ‘The Curse of Cromwell’.

Stir-up Sunday

December 18, 2011 Feeling My Age Comments

In the Church Of England, Stir-up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent.

The term comes from the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The day is also associated with the preparation of Christmas puddings, since most recipes call for the mixture to stand for several weeks before cooking.

Although Wife and I haven’t given our children any kind of religious upbringing, all four of us retain a family fondness for the rituals of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany as a way to mark the passing of each year.

But maybe it’d be less hypocritical to seek out some Pagan carols to sing while we bring in the greenery on Midwinter’s Day.


Advent In Chichester

December 8, 2011 Feeling My Age Comments

A Saturday afternoon before Christmas in the small cathedral city of Chichester on the south coast of England.

No obvious signs of recession on its prosperous looking high street as a lay preacher delivers the Advent message outside a Christian Bookshop in the oldest building in Chichester, dating from  around 1050.

That makes the Saxon Church of St Olave some 961 years old – and still in use for its original purpose: not bad going.

A Confession

November 25, 2011 Feeling My Age Comments

Clergy and members of the catholic church inside a confession tent, before Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a Mass in Washington, DC. Photo copyright: BrooksKraft.com

I have to admit that as a gay, guilt-ridden, C of E teenager I rather envied my Catholic mates. Being able to confess your manifold sins in person to another human being and then get absolution must be marvellous.  Although (above) it does look as if the process is more fun for the Priest than for the Penitant.

But for anyone on the fast track to damnation who – like me – is lucky enough to own an iPhone, there’s no longer any need to miss out. Because… there’s an app for that.

For just £1.49 I’ve just downloaded Confession: A Catholic App and am undergoing my own custom examination of conscience. One tick box it just offered me was, puzzlingly: “Do I try not to bring peace into my home life?”

Under the 5th Commandment it wanted to know “Have I mutilated myself through any form of sterilazation?” Washing your hands with antibacterial gel in the bathroom can have more serious consequences than you might think.

Confession: A Catholic App
But at least Roman Catholic confession is both swifter and much cheaper than a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Though, you won’t be astonished to learn, there’s an app for that as well.


Mormon Jesus

October 30, 2011 Feeling My Age Comments

Child A dragged me away from cleaning my teeth this morning and forced me to watch this on YouTube. He’s a 21 year old Londoner with no particular views on Christianity in general or Mormons in particular – he just thought it was funny. And it sort of is, in a bizarre sort of way, though the original goes way too long – so here’s a shortened version…

Jay Spears Sings Out

September 19, 2011 Feeling My Age Comments

The Californian songwriter Jay Spears got himself into hot water with this video lampooning the U.S. Religious Right – but then they’d have hated him even before he wrote the song, simply for being an out gay man. By the same token Jay has also made himself some friends in high places. Richard Dawkins liked it so much he enthusastically – if ineptly – embedded the video on his website.

Having grown up as a lonely closeted pop fan in the sixties – when every romantic song we ever heard harped on about boy-meets-girl – Jay’s upbeat tunes and lyrics such as the cheerfully queer “I Like Mike” have cheered me up no end in my middle years. You can find more of his work at jayspears.com

Logo for Quakers: The Religious Society Of Friends (click for full size)

The Society Of Friends (Quakers) is an international Christian denomination whose members worship in contemplative silence – without clergy, creed, spoken prayers, hymns, psalms or bible readings. The silence is occasionally broken if a member of the congregation feels ‘moved by the spirit’ to stand up and speak but otherwise lasts for a full 60 minutes.

When I first attended one of their meetings, the contrast with the high Anglican pomp of my choirboy days couldn’t have been greater. In the plain white-walled room there were no external stimuli at all beyond the ticking of the clock and sounds of traffic outside – the entire focus of the meeting was on ‘the spirit’.

There’s much to admire about The Society Of Friends: their traditions of non-violence, social action and active engagement with the developing world. In the UK and Australia they’ve taken an open and supportive line for decades regarding same-sex partnerships. But most appealingly of all, as the leaflet below makes clear, they’re the only major Christian denomination where belief in God is optional.

Your First Time In A Quaker Meeting?
A Quaker meeting is based on silence, but it is a silence of waiting in expectancy. For many minutes, perhaps for half an hour, there may be silence. But that does not mean that nothing is happening. All of us are trying to come nearer to each other and to God as we are caught up in the still spirit of the meeting.

We come to meeting because we want to, and because we find it worth while. We do not recite creeds, sing hymns or repeat set prayers. We want to worship simply. There is no ceremony, no priest, no prearranged service at all.

Go in as soon as you are ready. It is a good thing if a meeting can settle down a few minutes before the appointed time. Sit anywhere you like, but it is helpful to leave seats near the back and at the end of rows for latecomers.

You may find it easy to relax in the silence and thus to enter into the life of the meeting, or you may be disturbed by the strangeness of the silence, by distractions outside or by your own roving thoughts. Do not worry about this but return again and again to the still centre of your being where you can know the presence of God. Try, if only for an instant, to be quiet in body, mind and spirit

Nearly everyone at some time in their lives seems to want to find God for themselves – even those who find it difficult impossible to believe that God exists. This may be because of some moving experience or because of some particular problem. No matter what is on your mind at the moment, bring it with you into the silent room. [More]