“Let the choir sing” – Like a prayer, Madonna
Hi there, girls and boys, I hope you’re well.
Religion and me have a love hate thing going on. On the one hand, I can’t stand its pious “You can’t do that” attitude to certain matters, such as the woman that told me I couldn’t kiss my girlfriend on the cheek in Rome’s St Peter’s basillica, the all-other-religions-are-wrong stuff, and that their god is the only true god. The latest murders in France in the name of religion show that some folk get really annoyed when an image of their deity is shown in a book, or projected onto a wall. Are they just upset, mentally unhinged, or both? On the other hand, a church, oh I love a church, synagogue or mosque. While in India I visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar, had some food, helped wash the dishes, all the stuff you do, and felt so great that I did it again the following day, so I can see that some people may get that rush from religion. 100,000 people a day visit the place, its a heaving mass of humanity and well worth a visit if you are ever in the region.
Being raised a Catholic was an experience. I knew I didn’t believe even at primary school, but kept this quiet. It wouldn’t have gone down well, even less so with the nuns at boarding school. There wasn’t the constant barrage of religious teaching that some may expect from a Catholic school, but there was enough for me. “If you don’t live a good life, you’ll be punished in Hell”, said one RE teacher. Much like stealing a biscuit and ending up in Sunderland. (Hi Sunderland). I’ve only ever stolen one thing and every day my (Catholic) conscience reminds me. The item is in my drawer over there, and I’ll return it soon. I’ve had ample opportunities to do so in the year I’ve had it in my possession. The item is nothing major, of no value, no work of art, no priceless artefact, nothing anybody needs to survive, in fact I know that the person from which I stole it has lots of similar items. I just need to keep it for a while longer. My preciousssss. And it isn’t like I don’t have anything similar myself!
If you’re not familiar with a Catholic school, then there’s a few things you should know. At aged about 7 or 8, you are confirmed. This is a process of confirming your baptism vows, which normally you can’t take yourself, as you’re only a baby when this happens. Then there is first holy communion. Boys are dressed in a wholly lesser way to the girls, we wearing the purest of white dresses, while they have a boring white shirt. I was the only pupil with two sets of parents at my communion, so photos abound of me in what is admittedly a lovely dress, white socks, white shoes, an angelic girl..see how my halo shines even now!
Now before your first communion, which is the act of devouring the body of Christ in wafer form, you have to have your first confession. This involves going into a cubicle, you on one side of a screen with the priest on the other. I’m not a fan of female clergy, and I don’t know why, apart from the fantastically funny Vicar of Dibley. Our priest was Father Dave. He was different compared to the other priests we saw, and as the church was attached to the school he was always about. The boys thought of him very well as he would take them for football and had been a professional player. He didn’t teach we girls the game, as we weren’t allowed, we had bloody netball. We still played football of course. This is the northeast after all, where football is a religion in itself.
Father Dave instructed us in the confession rules, penance, how many Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s you had to say to atone for your sins etc. How many sins can a 8 year old have? He was also nice to talk to, and took an interest in me as I was fostered. He was there all through school and there were a few tears when we had to leave..only to discover that he was to become the priest at the church beside my boarding school.
So it was him I approached when deciding to tell someone that I didn’t believe all of this rubbish they were teaching us. I went into confession as usual one day, and asked if we could talk about this. Cue a half hour whispered confession and discussion. I was 16 and about to leave school. Those of you that have read School, Confidence and Ellie, will know I had other things on my mind at this time. Father Dave was what I had been half hoping, half expecting, explaining that I didn’t have to believe in god, but He believed in me. All standard airy fairy stuff. I left school and had a few months of settling into student life, before happening to see him in the Durham cafe I frequent. He’s a very popular man, Irish, tall but looking his age of 70. He got up from his chair and hugged me, pulling me to his group, telling them, “This is Anna, who’s been trying to escape the church for a while, but I know we’ll pull her back in eventually”. We keep in touch and have a coffee with the same group every month without fail. Every time I see him he says the same thing, and every time gets the same answer. “When will you be taking holy orders?”, to which I reply, “Soon”. He says I would make a great nun, but I fear the confession needed would take so long they’d have to hear it in shifts.
If you’ve read any of my posts, you may be aware that I do not support anything right-wing. This isn’t to say I won’t have a discussion about it. I’m not going to mention “Number 45′ in this post as I know sometimes this can cause problems with people I don’t want to cause problems with. (Hi Em! Hugs).
The far-right in the UK are a ragtag bunch of knuckledraggers. We’ve an organisation called the EDL, the English Defence League, who rail against what they see as the wholesale rape of our towns and cities by foreign religions. All this from people that wouldn’t know a church from a bingo hall. This is the average intelligence of the average EDL supporter…
They had a march in Newcastle a couple of years ago, attended by a couple of hundred. At the same time there was an opposing “antifa” march, attended by thousands. On one side there were drunken yobs, nazi flags and Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon/Stephen McMaster/Paul Harris/Wayne King. A man so confused by his hate, he doesn’t know which name he should have. here’s one you can have for free. Cunt. On the other side, free food, dancing, facepainting and Sting. ( I can take or leave Sting mind). I had my face painted as an owl, as I didn’t give a hoot about the nazis. In general, they and the likes of Britain First, another banned outfit, tell us that the country is under attack from Islam. One Youtuber, who lives just up the coast from me, is, and I quote, “At War with Islam”. He needs to get a life, or a shag. If you want a look at little Seany’s bile, it’s here.
I’ve had, or attempted to have, discussions with folk like Sean over the years. The lad is not yet 18 but apparently set in his ways, and sees it as a badge of honour that the police and other agencies are interested in him. And yes Sean, it was me that reported you to the police last month.
Back in the day when I owned a tv, I consumed a lot of news output. BBC and SKY here in the UK, as well as RT, France24, Al Jazeera, TRT, China’s CGTN, NHK World, CNN, FOX, Arise, and the loud and in your face Indian NDTV. I’ve moved online for all of these now, and often spend a day seeing what’s happening around the world. However, I was in my American non-Trump supporting neighbours apartment and I asked him if he was liking the way how FOX was portraying the US election. He replied that he would have to go online to see it, as it was banned in the EU. I was astonished. Apparently it’s not technically banned, but was taken off SKY, the satellite provider here in the UK, as it had extremely poor ratings of about 2000 viewers a day. The EU also has issues with it, calling it unbalanced in its output.
However, I feel I must defend FOX. ( I know, me!) Any news channel has it’s worth, for somebody. OK I don’t want “insert-your-own-extremist-ideology-here News”, telling folk to murder/maim/rape in the name of their deity, but FOX? Are people so dense as to see that while it may not be the most highbrow channel, (as if I watch them), and it’s presenters may have all the charisma of something you’ve step in in while passing the pigsty, it isn’t offensive? Yes, Tucker Carlson and the odious Sean Hannity may well be utter arseholes, but that doesn’t mean they should be banned. There are far more abusive people out there. You only have to attend an EDL rally to see that.
There are those that tell me that “antifa” are an organised terrorist organisation, funded by George Soros. If so, I’m awaiting my bag of cash from him. I suspect that the the types of people that tell me this just can’t spell anti-fascist. We MUST keep freedom of speech. I don’t mean in the dont-step-on-me constitution shaggers way, but in general. On Twitter, a hotbed of UK-flag-shaggers, you’ll see these morons proudly telling folk they must defend the statue of Churchill, while giving a nazi salute.
Waving a gun about just because you can isn’t freedom. Your idea of freedom to do that is another persons absolute terror. Recent images of armed men in US streets, dressed like they’re about to go to war, when in reality they are taking time out from masturbating while playing Call of Duty in their mom’s basement, does nothing to calm things down.
I do not agree with the words that Sean chooses, but I’ll defend his right to say them. Just not with a gun, I’m more likely to hug you to death.
I often have a dip into reddit. I don’t post there, but see the reactions of many a person taking the written word the wrong way. This is the thing with texts, messages etc, they have no audio, you can’t hear the inflection of the persons voice, so what seems perfectly fine to one may to another be virtual incitement to violence.
An example. I’m looking at buying a 3d printer. They look like something I could get into, and so have been monitoring the forum dedicated to that. At this point the sewing machine once again whinges from the corner.. “Oh, a printer, and what are you going to do with THAT???” There seem to be a few popular models and makes, but whenever someone such as me will ask about the one to purchase, the backlash directed at posters for suggesting anything but the most popular or the one most aspired to is off the charts. “You need to get an Ender 3″.”No, get a Prusa, Enders are for losers”. Neither of course is what the poster requires, he or she needs a handholding exercise in the merits of both.
And dare anyone post a touch of sarcasm. It goes down well on the UK forum, but outside that, don’t even try. It has been said that Americans don’t get sarcasm, well if that’s true then you can add the rest of the world. Thin skins are no good if you want to venture online. I’ve mentioned bullying in this blog. While the trolls enjoy this, people also take offence really easily, to the point where I just know my type of humour would cause an argument. There will always be a disconnect between the written word and the voice.
However, reddit has at least one good thing, in asking and answering questions that you didn’t know…”Did you know that tins of Heinz Beans are made not to stack, in order that they occupy more shelf space?’ Turns out the first part is true, the second untrue, and that most people including me, prefer Branston brand anyway!
As ever, thanks for reading