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Category Archives: religion

This will not be much. Thing is I have not really reacted to it up until now, as my mental “wiring” makes it rather difficult for me to form any kind of emotional response to events that aren’t happening right in front of me, and at the same time make it seem dishonest to try and feign one. Of course, I would like to hope that anyone I know in or around that area is safe. I offer my condolences to those who have suffered losing someone close to them in this attack. I can but imagine what it must be like to go out hoping for an enjoyable evening you were looking forward to for some time, only to have to be caught up in such a horrific incident. I might like to point out that, on the plus side from what I have heard, there have been some great positive examples of humanity being shown in people willing to go out of their way to help others. Including, lest anyone be prejudiced, from Muslims. This is certainly heartening

My main concern, as with any such attack, is the fall-out from all this. From the usual responses of hate or fear-mongering from the far right and professional shit-spewers like Katie Hopkins and the “final solution” tweet, and the anti-Muslim backlash that might result (it seems only hours after someone attempted to set fire to a mosque in Oldham, though of course whether it was connected, I dare not speculate). Or of the necessity of having the army drawn in to accompany armed police officers in patrolling key sites (perhaps slippery slope thinking this is one more step down the road to martial law). Or whether, with campaigning for the General Election rightly temporarily suspended, the Tories might try and gain capital from this the way the Thatcher government gained from the Falklands, in being seen to deal with this issue? (Never mind the possibility that cuts to police and security services in the regular sense upped the risk of this in the first place, and thus likely quelling any thoughts of the slippery slope nature). Is my saying this trying to make political capital out of the deaths of people? Perhaps, however at the same time do we pretend the aims of the bombers themselves are not political? That the inevitable fascist and far-right backlash is not political? That there are bound to be some people bringing up past associations with groups branded terrorist (rightly or wrongly is beyond the scope of this article and I dare offer no argument either way besides) to attack Corbyn and McDonnell with? That the nature of the government response is not in some way a political matter, subject to political scrutiny? Yes, there needs to be time to mourn, and time taken for the government to put in place some kind of emergency response, but as some people have said, it is almost like we are letting the terrorists get away with disrupting our democratic processes.¬†

In conclusion, yes, it is right to mourn. Fear and anger, moreover, are perfectly natural, understandable responses for those affected. But there is no reason to let go of what our true values are supposed to be, let the powers that be trample on our civil rights, or give in to misdirected hate or blame. And it is no reason for the rest of us to live in the abject fear some might suppose we should.

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Well, it is technically Christmas, surely? Are there not traditionally 12 days of Christmas, ending on 6th January (Epiphany)? Of course it doesn’t mean we all need a partridge in a pear tree, but even so!

(And yes, I know I’m cutting it fine leaving it until now, but better late than never…)

I thought the second part of this post- which would have been the first part but for the fact I was a. basically too lazy and b. well, Christmas day isn’t exactly the ideal time for updating one’s blog- should be dedicated to decidedly Christmas-related musings. After all, there’s plenty of the utter madness this blog is partly meant to be about, in the practice of Christmas, and plenty of other stuff worth thinking about.

Of course, this time of year is so often derided for ending up being about exactly the opposite of what it’s supposed to be. If you’re Christian, you might well bemoan the fact that modern society has secularised things, and forgotten the bit where it’s basically supposed to be about, you know, the birth of Jesus, not about jolly bearded chaps and their red-nosed reindeer, and certainly not about the basic worship of Mammon, whereby people must spend inordinate amounts on presents, extravagant and gaudy decorations, food drink and so on, the shops beginning perhaps as early as September or October, and if you don’t, the gods of the economy will punish you with low growth, business failure and job losses. And if you so much as mention the Jesus bit, the PC crowd will jump down your throat because it might upset¬† Muslims or atheists, who probably don’t even mind. Whether or not you are a Christian, there are other concerns, too- the materialism also, the bit where it’s supposed to be about peace, goodwill and having a good time when often it is anything but- all the stress of buying presents, preparing Christmas dinner (I am sure my mother will have words with me on that score) and falling out with the family who come round to share it (so some claim).

Now it might be worth pointing out, that maybe Christmas is based upon pagan festivals after all- like, say, the Roman Saturnalia or perhaps the birth of the sun, the Norse Yule, and various other things connected with the winter solstice. Maybe when the church became established after Roman Emperor Constantine co-opted it (creating the Catholic Church and its Eastern equivalents in their present form) these things were simply Christianised, and it’s fair to say that we don’t know if Jesus was actually born anywhere near December- some suggest mid-September, say. My Presbyterian friends don’t bother too much with it, and don’t seem lacking in their Christian faith or witness for it one bit. Another guy- evangelical Christian from America, naturally (not to do down the nation, but it seemsthey’re always from America, this sort) appeared on TV, as part of a programme on theories of what the star the wise men saw was, trying to point to an astronomical phenomenon which did appear on December 25th- so maybe it was the date after all. Either way, traditionally it has become the date which celebrates Christ’s birth, and it is a time when some folks are still inclined to go to church and do the Jesus thing more so than at most other times of the year, so it can be a worthwhile witness.

There are secular observations I can add too. Firstly, the time we bother with Christmas. As I pointed out, it is well overdone in the commercial sector, often with Christmas relate goods being sold months ion advance. Then, over the tannoys, in the media, Christmas music, TV programming &c. comes out at least by late November or the beginning of December. Works Christmas parties are several weeks before Christmas day. And then, by the time the day is done, along rolls Boxing Day… and the sales start, and as if the mad shopping frenzy which preceded Christmas (right up to the Eve) didn’t leave folks with retail fatigue, back they all go again as if nothing happened. They can’t get through the doors fast enough. And then it’s back to work, and it’s as if Christmas is already over, all we have to look forward to is the New Year, and it’s not like Christmas doesn’t last for days to come. Yet, if I recall right, our mediaeval forebears continued the festivities for days after, all the way up to Twelfth Night, and didn’t go back to work ’til the following Monday (‘Plough Monday’)*. After all, in the dark, cold, miserable time of year, we need something to cheer us up. And is this the best time to still be working? The thing it, we have it all the wrong way round. If we started Christmas on December 24th (Christmas Eve), didn’t concentrate it into one mad day of meal preparation, gluttony, drinking, falling out and Morecambe and Wise repeats, and kept going after that, into January, we wouldn’t be quite so miserable come later on, when it’s still the dead of winter and there’s nothing to look forward to. There’d be no concept of ‘Blue Monday’.

Yet sometimes it seems, perhaps Christmas is a waste of time, if it’s all about materialism and isn’t even that Christian. But, nevertheless, I’m not giving up just yet.

*Then, it was perhaps one of the few times in the year, if at all, they actually got any time off.