An Easter homily

I’ve never been a Christian with a big C, but my mother tells me that I’m a christian with a small c. She means it as a compliment and I take it as such. She’s a Christian, a good Catholic, and she doesn’t wear her religion on her sleeve and cite it as proof that she’s a good person. She’s just a good person. She puts into practice what she believes in. She tries to be compassionate. She strives for understanding. She aims for empathy. Those are the things that her faith teaches her, and those are the lessons she tries to live throughout her life. For her, that’s what being a Christian, and a christian, means. I might not believe in God or gods, but that’s something worthy of respect.

It’s Easter weekend, the most holy time in the Christian calendar. I was brought up a Catholic but much to the distress of my parents the teachings of the church never penetrated. I decided at the age of 10 that God was just Santa Claus for grown ups, then spent the rest of my teenage years rebelling against Catholicism because in the 1970s that was a lot safer than rebelling against a western Scottish and working class expectation of heterosexuality. In Coatbridge in the mid 70s I’d make a point of eating a bridie on Good Friday, as I suffered from the naive delusion that a bridie contained meat. I told the priest at school that I was an atheist, mainly just to annoy him, truth be told. And then when he took me to one side and asked if I was having problems with my faith, I’d angrily reply that my faith was just fine, it was his faith that was causing me the grief. Then just shy of my 16th birthday there was the mother of all arguments when I told my parents that I wasn’t going to go to Mass anymore. It was an even bigger fight than the I’m gay fight some years later.

Along with my siblings I got dragged along to Mass every Sunday and to Confession whenever our mother realised that we hadn’t been for a while. Confession followed a familiar ritual. Bless me father for I have sinned, it’s been six weeks since my last Confession. I always said six weeks because it was invariably much longer, but figured that six weeks was long enough that the priest wouldn’t remember me, but not so long that I’d get hassle for not having been for ages. And then I repeated a wee list of generic childish sins. I fight with my brother and sisters. I’m disobedient. I swear. And then I’d end the recitation with “And I tell lies”, so I was covered for all of the above. The priest would then do whatever it was that he did, I was no longer paying attention by this point, he’d tell me what my penance was, then I’d go out and lie to my mother and say it was two Hail Marys and an Our Father, because I was buggered if I was going to sit there and recite ten decades of the rosary.

The last time I went to confession however, when I was fourteen years old, the priest didn’t follow the script. After my wee list of regular sins he said, “Tell me my son, do you play with yourself.” My jaw dropped. I was speechless. I knew exactly what he meant and was horrified he’d asked the question. It took all the effort I could summon to prevent myself from yelling out, “None of your damned business you dirty pervert.” So I played dumb. “Eh … I play by myself. Is that what you mean?” Clearly realising that he was dealing with a particularly obtuse child, the pervy priest tried again, “Tell me, do you have impure thoughts about women?” As loudly and as firmly as I dared, I replied in a tone which meant that this conversation was definitely over, “NO!” And that was the only time I ever told the truth in the confessional. Wild horses could not drag me back after that.

I’ve since learned that this particular priest was abusing the privilege of the confessional. Priests are taught not to go fishing for sins. Contrition is only meaningful if the penitent willingly offers up the knowledge of past misdeeds, that’s what confession means. But I didn’t know that when I was a kid. I never told anyone, not until many years later. The last thing a teenage boy wants to do is to talk about his masturbation habits with his parents or the adults in his life. So I never said anything, and now I’m left wondering how many other kids this priest perved on. Kids who weren’t strong enough to stand up and say no. Kids who told him what he wanted to hear so he could get his rocks off while he abused his power and abused the trust of a child. That priest was a Christian with a big C, but his actions were not those of a Christian with either a big C or a small one.

So I’ve always been suspicious of those who wear their religion on their sleeves, who cite it as proof of their goodness. If you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t need to tell people. Because if others see that your actions are christian in my mother’s sense of the word, that you’re a good human being who understands the importance of compassion, of humanity, of empathy, and the centrality of love, then the discovery that you are a believer means they will know that you are a good Christian. The proof of the Easter pudding is in the eating.

The most prominent self-declared Christian politicians today are Ruth Davidson and Theresa May, both of whom are characterised by a lack of christianity in their deeds. I may not be a Christian, but I know that Jesus didn’t teach us to take away the mobility cars of the disabled, to force people with degenerative conditions to prove repeatedly that they are still ill in order to continue to receive support, or to make women who’ve been raped prove that they’ve been raped before they’ll get the money that they need to feed their kids. Compassion means you put the needs of the weak and the vulnerable before the needs of the strong and the rich.

Ruth and Theresa put the need of the rich to receive even more of their wealth in tax breaks than they already do before the need of the poor to live a life that’s dignified. Don’t know about you, but that strikes me as pretty damned satanic.  They’re self-declared Christians with a big C, but there’s nothing about their political deeds that’s christian with a small one.

So this Easter let’s reflect on the gap between the words and the deeds of our political leaders who lay claim to Christian beliefs. The lesson to take is to beware those who feel the need to display their faith like an advertising hoarding. It’s actions, not words, which count, and their actions are the opposite of all the things that their faith claims to stand for and to have taught them. The real religion of Theresa May and Ruth Davidson is hypocrisy, greed, and a materialistic selfishness. They’re the Pharisees that their Jesus decried, and their actions of the past few weeks have exposed the truth. Ruth’s days of pretending to be the cheery caring face of a modern Conservatism are over.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-15th-april-2017

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66 comments on “An Easter homily

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug An Easter homily […]

  2. diabloandco says:

    Nice one Paul – I think I like your Mum , I remember you saying she taught you to think which is a great compliment .

  3. Neil Dorward says:

    You maybe didn’t write letters to various early Christian communities to preach Christ like St Paul but your message and call for a more compassionate, honesty, humble, forgiving and caring society is one the first century saint would have approved of

  4. I am a lifelong atheist, but if there is a hell I’m damn sure I know who is headed there… one can only hope.

    They make life hell for people who don’t need any more misery in their lives and preen themselves afterwards. I do hope that at some point there will be some self-realisation at what they’ve done, which will explain to them why many people despise them so much, and the truth will hit them between the eyes. I do hope.

    • ockletycockletywitch says:

      I think ‘karma’ is the best we can hope for in respect of these sub-humans. That they will have the opportunity to experience what they have inflicted upon others and thus to learn the error of their ways. Maybe not in this lifetime … but certainly in the next.

  5. TheStrach says:

    Well said.

    I watched a film about Martin Luther King Junior last night which concentrated on the march from Selma to Montgomery in support of the Negro’s right to vote. There was huge support from various church groups for this initiative including many white people who were appalled at the violence by the police against black people who were peacefully demonstrating for their constitutional rights to be safeguarded.

    It clearly showed that when authority figures overstep the bounds of acceptability more support is generated for progressive politics. Whilst the Rape Clause is despicable I hope that it will finally show people the Tories are just as nasty as they’ve always been and help increase support for independence as a way of removing Scotland from their malevolent policies.

  6. ockletycockletywitch says:

    I was not brought up Catholic – having one parent an Anglican (but with family ties to Judaism) and the other an agnostic – but I otherwise recognise your early “enlightenment”. In my young days, if you wanted to go to a Youth Group you invariably had to attend the church to which said Youth Group was affiliated. It was very soon borne in upon me that there were precious few christians among the pillars of the Christian community who ran these groups. At one of these esteemed institutions, I learned that one of the “Youth Leaders” was a paedophile and another was having an affair with my father! I remember vividly my Religious Education teacher at Grammar School telling me that I was arrogant when I pointed out that so few people in my own experience actually practised what they preached! I try to be a christian in my daily life, because, basically, the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are sound principles upon which to build a decent society. Wee Ruthie and Tessie May-hem would not recognise a christian principle if it leapt out o’ their soup!

    • Saor Alba says:

      Your RE teacher was the one who was arrogant and does not sound anything like a good teacher or facilitator to me. In fact, perhaps teaching was the wrong career choice. I sympathise. Your observation, when pointed out to your teacher, should have been utilised as a basis for further discussion and your teacher should have been pleased for this contribution and input. It probably underlies some feeling of insecurity on the teacher’s part, or if not that, it is just basicilly arrogant and condescending. However, it sounds to me as if you were able to rise above the mundane experience you had with this person. Had I been your teacher, I would have been horrified if I had left that poor experience with you.

      Good teachers are able to listen to and use the experiences of their students to stimulate further discussion and provide the environment for engagement in learning. The logical conclusion is obvious with regard to this particular teacher.
      Sadly, there will be others like that. I’m sure we all came across them, either as their pupils or as their colleagues.

      The teachers we emulated, listened to, remembered in later life and who gained our respect were those who could listen to pupils when they expressed their own ideas and experiences. The able teacher would then utilise this to help inform and engage the pupils in learning. You probably have looked back and remembered these good souls and the experiences and memories they gave look.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. jake says:

    God’s heart in in the right place, but sometimes the company she keeps makes me despair.

  8. Sermon on the Mount: Jesus was a carpenter, a common bloke. He’d probably have voted Old Labour.
    Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
    Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)
    Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. (5:5)
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (5:6)
    Blessed are the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. (5:7)
    Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God. (5:8)
    Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God. (5:9)
    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:10)
    Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. .5:11-12
    Davidson May and the Red and Blue Tories fail on all of the above.
    Tremendous piece, Paul.
    We were all brainwashed as children, to keep us firmly in our place. No more.

  9. Macart says:

    Pretty much nails it all for me Paul.

    Well said.

  10. jake says:

    Jack,
    you said,
    “Davidson May and the Red and Blue Tories fail on all of the above.”
    I agree.
    Do you think it’s only Matthew 25:29 that inspires them?

    • Jake, it bears repeating here.
      “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath.”
      The parable of the talents always bugged me as a lad.
      Money goes to money. It’s the rich that get the pleasure, it’s the poor that get the blame.
      ‘deserving and undeserving poor.’ ‘The poor will always be with us.’ and so on.
      Happy Easter to everyone, no matter your belief system.
      Like Lee Harvey Oswald, I believe that Judas was a Patsy.

  11. Graeme Timoney says:

    When I was about 14 or so our class of boys was visited by a priest who advised us that whenever we were tempted to masturbate we should wrap rosary beads round our hand. We weren’t sure if this was to act as a deterrent or an enhancement.

  12. […] Source: An Easter homily […]

  13. Ron Preed says:

    I was brought up in the Church of Scotland, then was an atheist till about 40 (perhaps as a consequence). Now I just try to be a good christian (upper or lower case). Your mother seems to be a good example.

    Definitely hate the Holy Wullies and self-proclaimed ‘Christians’, whose actions show them to be anything but…

  14. Dave Thomson says:

    Spot on Paul, Problem with pseudo Christians is they give ordinary Christians a bad name. I try to follow the word of Christ, and also the church as long as it follows these principles. They don’t always line up.

  15. Iona says:

    Quite excellent!

  16. Shinty says:

    For me, the 3 biggest cons in life are: religion, the royals and modern art. (love art, just not when it’s a toaster sitting on a dresser)

  17. Gordon says:

    Well said sir,as usual. Your Christian experience is very similar to mine except I did not encounter any sexually deviant priests but I did encounter several cruel and ‘unchristian’ ones.

  18. Jan Cowan says:

    Enjoyed reading your lesson, Paul. I’ve always felt that people with your outlook on life are more Christian than many Christians. Your mother has solved that one for me.

  19. Andy Anderson says:

    I like what your message Paul. Agree with the reference to the terrible twins Rithie and St.Therasa.

    Like many I went to Sunday school and the Kirk now and then. Then I studied all the main religions and decided they are all myth. If they help individuals fair enough but do not preach to me.

    My religion is to get an independant Scotland.

  20. Bill McLean says:

    Like you Paul, I well remember going to confession as a wee boy In Cowdenbeath and telling the priest some wee lies so he wouldn’t think I was a goody goody. Where does religion get the idea that wee kids can be sinners? It didn’t take long for the penny to drop that the Catholic church used confession and “remission” of sins as a form of control! I have no problem with people being religious as long as they keep it to themselves. However I have never been able to excuse bigotry of any kind from any quarter. I really feel that there is an analogy here for the “i’m proud to be Scottish but” types who have been told, along with the rest of us, that we are not quite as good as other peoples – and these clowns still believe it and still punish theselves by their obeisance to the foulness of rule from London and the horrors they have perpetrated all around the world!

  21. Andy Anderson says:

    I also meant to say I appreciate your openness Paul. Unusual.

  22. donald6 says:

    I became an atheist at the age of 8 when I discovered God was English.

  23. bigirishman says:

    The big argument I would have with what you say is that you are falling into the trap of “Christian Imperialism” christians you say are decent honest people. I am very uncomfortable with that one (and I’m Professionally Religious).

    The people whom you describe as being christians are actually living as authentic human beings.
    I suppose that there are two reasons why I suffer this discomfort. By using the term ‘christian” with to describe the descent and honest people you run into difficulties when you are describing the decent honest – in the context I could almost say God fearing Atheist or Muslim, or Jew or whatever in this blanket term you want to cover with the cultural claims of Christianity.
    The second one is that it is important that at times we recognise just how far Christians can be from the ethical demands of the faith. They have to stand or fall by themselves.
    It is so important that we celebrate our humanity and try to be properly human. Even Christians can join in on this exercise as Jesus told the people listening to him that he is there to give them life and that more abundantly. How different that is from those who in the name of Religion diminish people or what they do, or how they try to exercise their humanity.

    I agree with you that both Ruth the Ruthless and Theresa are extremely bad examples of Christianity, but perhaps the kind of Christianity which they claim to follow is a bad example of it, or perhaps they are merely posing.
    I hope that you have a good time over the weekend, and remember that it is important to be an authentic human being, perhaps buying into a faith system may enable people to be more authentic, but equally there are clearly those who use it to cover up their hypocrisy. It all depends on the person.

  24. arthur thomson says:

    I wonder what kind of mental gymnastics it takes for May, Davidson etc to reconcile their behaviour with their claimed beliefs? And how about Farron and son of the manse Brown?

    They are inveterate liars who are not even civilised never mind Christians.

    • Mary Heywood says:

      In what way are they liars, not civilised or unChristian? You shouldn’t put out a statement like that without some clarification as to how and why you have come to that conclusion.

  25. BrynnaBob says:

    Amen!

  26. James Cassidy says:

    Bravo Paul, lovely wee homily! Indeed I have always maintained that true Christians should not advertise piety. I think in Matthew’s Gospel is says something like (in my own vernacular):

    When you fast put oil on your heid so naebody knows. When you pray, dae it in your inner room. Don’t staun in street corners praying and being a holy Joe because that wee cheap thrill of feeling holy and important is a’ yer gonnie get — nae mair!

    Yer wee maw sounds like a great wummin! Happy Easter. イースター、おめでとう。

  27. Mike Annis says:

    When you’re more concerned with how others live their lives or what religion they follow then you’re not being a Christian. It took me to the ripe age of 65 to have had enough of the hypocrisy from the pulpit. Yes, I’m a Christian and I occasionally go to Mass now and rarely, very rarely have I heard a priest or minister worth listening to. There are some good ines out there but not enough.

  28. hettyforindy says:

    Great post Paul. Of course we all know that there many people out there who do no harm, and many that do, whether they follow a religion or non. It’s the holier than thou attitude, to which those such as Mayhem and Ruthie subscribe to, that just reeks of insincerity. Their pretence of Christendom, while actually making our most vulnerable suffer, in terrible circumstances, is truly sickening.

    ‘They’ll pay for it, in this life or the next’ as my mother would have said. I just hope it’s this one quite frankly, but you know, chances are, they will never know what real suffering is, at all. Makes you wonder doesn’t it. If there really is a god or gods, then why is those who inflict suffering on others, are most often, evading scrutiny, and in the process, living quite comfortably, if not very comfortably in fact.

    Hmm.

    Have a great weekend all, and give what you can to the next homeless person you see.

    Where does the good samaritan come in, when it comes to UKGov politics.

  29. Kangaroo says:

    Try reading ‘Who Built the Moon’ by Chrstopher Knight and Allan Butler. It will give you some food for thought

  30. Guga says:

    You may be interested in this quote from the Stornoway Gazette. Although it was made in 1987, the sentiment is still valid today.

    “It is a source of particular sadness that in a society in which you
    can sometimes barely hear yourself think above the sound of bibles being
    thumped, the most consistent cause of aggravation is letters from putative
    Christians seeking to condemn – often libellously, always with the total
    assurance of the truly demented – as unspeakable heretics all others of
    even a marginally different viewpoint. The qualities of charity, humility
    and a willingness to turn the other cheek are conspicuously absent from
    their effusions, and the offence is compounded when they arrive either
    falsely addressed or anonymously.”

    Editorial
    The Stornoway Gazette
    1 August 1987

  31. Like you I was around 9 or 10 when I also realised that I didn’t believe in a God, and also like you I had a mother who was simply a beautiful soul. A truly kind and considerate woman who worked hard all her life, bringing up 11 of a family on very little money.

    I grew up not far from you in Viewpark, in Uddingston. I was however heterosexual and brought up in the Protestant faith. Though I did not know it as a child my ideas on life matched those who believe in Humanism. Who’s philosophical and ethical stance I adhere to and support, and I have since joined.

    I never had that conversation with my mother as regards my faith, but then again I never needed to. I think she already knew. As a supporter of Scottish independence I would just like to thank you for the excellent work, and the many times you have brought a smile to my face.

  32. Another excellent post Paul.

    I have long held that Burns pretty-well nailed Scottish Christianity with Holy Wullie’s Prayer; today, Ruth the Mooth and Mother Theresa are prime examples of the Unco Guid – a right pair of hypocrites.

  33. Arthur Martin says:

    What a brilliant piece of writing Paul. So much of what you have written rings true with me and my own childhood.
    The wee white lie of the six week period between confessions and the making up of sins to confess made me smile. Have you watched the film “Angela’s ashes” Paul? So much of what is written here is captured in that film & book.

    Movies such as “The Magdalene Sisters” and “Philomena” and the child sex scandals that plague the Catholic Church reinforced what I had already concluded from my own experiences.

    I have turned my back on Catholicism now after realising like so many, including the good folks commenting here, that it was all a sham and a sophisticated form of mind control. It took me a long time to walk away. I didn’t want to upset my very devout mother by stating that I didn’t believe anymore and causing her great distress. The lie goes on till this day.

    I live my life as a decent human being trying to help others when I can. My wee part in the fight for Scottish Independence is part of that. Only with Independence can we build a society that protects the weak and vulnerable unlike the society which the Tories want which is the polar opposite.

    It sickens me when I hear Tories quoting verses from the Bible to make a political point. It is the ultimate hypocrisy and if such a thing as true evil exists, then allowing them to carry on punishing the poor, weak, disabled and elderly of our society to line the pockets of the rich and privileged, is a truly evil act.

    I sense that change is coming but saddened that it may not be entirely down to a desire based on purely socialist values. Many people are now changing their minds based on what is best for their own selfish lives and not for the desire to help others. Maybe one of these days we will create a society where we all love each other as we love ourselves. Wouldn’t that be great.

  34. emilytom67 says:

    I am Catholic and proud of it,I find great succour in my faith when times are tough,it,s not for everyone to each his own,I do not trumpet my faith it is deeply personal but it is my and my friends and families rock,in a world where atheism/agnosticism are very much on the march there seems to be no room for prayer or spirituality but the day may well come when that is all we have.

    • Emily, I believe that this Paul’s point.
      No matter which belief system or philosophy guides our lives, we should be allowed to follow it, as long as we don’t inflict harm on others who walk a different, but equally peaceful path.
      A favourite quote of my dear much missed Dad was:
      ‘Let ye who is without sin, cast the first stone.’
      He was the greatest man I have ever known.
      It is appropriate on today of all days to contemplate the Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

      The last 3 stanzas of Dylan’s ‘With God on Our Side.’

      “But now we got weapons
      Of chemical dust
      If fire them, we’re forced to
      Then fire, them we must
      One push of the button
      And a shot the world wide
      And you never ask questions
      When God’s on your side

      Through many a dark hour
      I’ve been thinkin’ about this
      That Jesus Christ was
      Betrayed by a kiss
      But I can’t think for you
      You’ll have to decide
      Whether Judas Iscariot
      Had God on his side.

      So now as I’m leavin’
      I’m weary as Hell
      The confusion I’m feelin’
      Ain’t no tongue can tell
      The words fill my head
      And fall to the floor
      That if God’s on our side
      He’ll stop the next war.”

      Pray that we are brought back from the brink of extinction, and if you can findit in your heart, pray for me, God bless.

  35. Weechid says:

    Personally I’d never insult a good person by calling them a christian (or designate any faith to them). There are so many vile deeds in their bible and in other religious scriptures that no decent human would consider inflicting upon another. The horrors in the old testament were validated by their leader. My own belief is that all religion is a man made conceit designed to control the masses. Spot on with Santa Clause for grown ups.

  36. Rules (laws or doctrines) mainly benefit those in power. Your mother teaches us all (in your words) what it is to be human and part of something much greater than mankind. We must all ‘connect’ in someway but also be strong enough as an individual to walk our own path without pride or avarice. Thanks for sharing your story and views. ~A~

  37. I believe in something. Here’s an Easter ghost story from the high seas:

    In 1957 a young merchant navy engineer newly aboard his first ship at sea went on duty in the wee small hours. He was going down below, to the engine room. He saw another engineer coming up the same ladder he was going down. He stepped off the ladder onto a landing, to let the other man pass him. The man going up was a lot older than the young engineer. He stopped briefly to wipe his forehead, gave the younger man a brief nod and carried on up the ladder.

    The younger engineer climbed down to his shift in the engine room. Speaking to some other engineers, he asked who was the older man who had just passed him on the ladder. The other crew looked at him strangely and said, ‘No-one has left here all night.’

    The young engineer didn’t press the issue as he was new and young. But he kept looking for the older engineer over the next few days, without any luck. Eventually one of the crew showed the young engineer a big photograph of all the crew and asked him to pick out the older engineer who had passed him on the ladder. The young engineer found him immediately and said, ‘That’s him. That’s who I saw that night’. Sure enough, there was an older man dressed in the white engineer’s boiler suit.

    The crew mate turned a bit pale and said, ‘Son, that man disappeared one night overboard and we’ve never found his body, on our last sailing before you came on board.

    The young engineer finished his voyage and eventually when he returned home, he told his young wife about his strange encounter. the young engineer was known to be a gifted mathematician, not given to flights of fancy by all who knew him.

    The young engineer won his master’s ticket (chief engineer) and secured his first berth on a merchant vessel. But when he was about to leave, his young wife, who had just given birth to their second child, begged him not to go. He was heading down to Liverpool and they said their goodbyes in Glasgow Central.

    THree weeks later a rep from the shipping company called at the young wife’s house to tell her that her husband had been lost at sea, during a night shift. No-one knew how or why, he just disappeared, presumed drowned. His body was never found.

    The young engineer was my father. My mother never remarried.

  38. TSD says:

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a 50+ Female and commented:
    Christianity with a big C and a little c.

  39. gn2 says:

    [comment removed]

  40. Kerly says:

    Brought up Christian
    Took all the good bits and left behind all the selfish bits
    Then left the church to lead good live.alot us are the same.
    Christianity within our family taught us a lot evan though we later rejected it

  41. Les Bremner says:

    Thank you Paul, your homily resonated with me.

    From childhood I attended christian churches; Presbyterian (my father) and Episcopalian (my mother).

    I began to feel that there was something missing, and it took me until my late fifties to work out what it was.

    Jesus gave a very simple instruction — “Preach the gospel and heal the sick.” For many centuries, the large denominations have done only the first part. Small groups such as the Quakers, Christian Scientists and Spiritualists (there are groups called Christian Spiritualists) have healing as a core activity, the others approach it in a haphazard way.

    And so began a study of spiritual healing. In my own denomination I was met with a mixture of apathy and active resistance. To cut a long story short, I was asked to take on the role of Scottish chairman of an independent organisation, where we have people from very varied religious backgrounds. As chairman, I am able to meet many of the members across Scotland, and I am privileged to witness love, compassion and deep desire to help others which I firmly believe was the foundation of the early church.

  42. The G With The Criminal Behaviour says:

    I never for one minute bought into Ruth’s smiley-face rubbish. Always known there is something very off in that woman’s strange self-and-others-loathing psychology. The biggest crowing-about-it Christians are often the biggest damage cases (they’ve ruined America) who crow about their supposed morality, because they have none and are trying to cover this up, or just don’t understand life and people, period.

    • Mary Heywood says:

      The ‘Christians’ in America are Evangelicals with a very different agenda. They applaud wealth, which a true Christian would never do and they elected Trump, which a true Christian would never have done!

  43. Saor Alba. says:

    As has been mentioned earlier a few times, religion throughout the ages has generally been a form of control and tied up with the state, nothing more.

    Spirituality is something quite different and may be a large part of the lives of those members of religious faiths or denominations, or indeed buddhists, atheists, pagans or agnostics. Spirituality is not the preserve of religions. Indeed, it is sadly lacking in many of so called religious belief.
    The quote from the editor of the Stornoway gazette (see Guga above) gives credence to this and the Burns poem ‘Holy Willie’s Prayer’ covers this idea well.

    Today we witnessed a shameful banner unfurled at Ibrox which would have shocked the family of Sam English. I do not wish to say any more about such hypocritical people who are capable of such an horrendous action. They pose in the name of a religion that they know nothing about and all they spout is hatred. Utterly shameful.

  44. chicmac says:

    Pretty much agree with you there Paul.

    While there are still many practicing Christians, good people, who do follow the original teachings of Christ, perhaps a majority now of that much reduced congregation are there, IMO, primarily for the salving of their own guilt.

    Analogous, in fact, to those who are big on manners simply because they lack an innate consideration for others and need prescribed ‘guidelines’ to follow.

    Most of the least Christian acts I have encountered have been perpetrated by self avowed Christians.

    I say this as one who also does not believe in a God or Gods as depicted, but as a physicist I fall short, in the face of the inexplicability of the most fundamental characteristics of modern physics, of entirely ruling out some sentient or purpose based paradigm for the Universe.

  45. cyril mitchell says:

    What about Gordon Brown and his being “a son of the manse”? As if to vindicate his draconian policies like ATOS etc

  46. emilytom67 says:

    This world lacks true Christianity true Christian beliefs,nobody that follows the Christian ethos would visit the horrors that are now in play throughout the world,people like Bush/Blair did not have one iota of Christianity about them,so do not damn Christianity because of it,s so called adherents or those tasked with the ministry,it is the core beliefs that shine through,compassion/generosity/respect/love for others that will win through,in this atheistic world we have lost all of these.

  47. JGedd says:

    As an atheist, I have always had some sympathy for the Albigensians or Cathars and tend to see in their demise and cruel extirpation the very essence of what is so terrifying about human nature. Religion always seems to be so obviously a creation of the human mind that I fail to see belief in this or that deity is necessary to the argument.

    What happened to the Cathars exempified for them the very core of their belief, that of dualism in which the material world is presided over by its creator, rex mundi, the evil god, while the aim of the pure in spirit was to leave this world to join the more remote good God. (There seems to be more of a poetic truth in that concept of the seductiveness of the material world with its often manifest malevolence than the modern, muddled concept of the Christian god dealing with the unintended, or intended, consequences of his creation and its many evils).

    I sometimes imagine the Cathars, the people of the Yellow Cross, looking down from the aery heights of their last redoubt on the crusaders beneath them, called up by the Church to absolutely annihilate their them and their beliefs and seeing in them a vindication of their beliefs. The triumph of the crusaders would be for them the triumph of Rex Mundi. For us, it was a sinister portent of the horrors humans would perpetrate against other human beings based on intolerance, culminating in Europe in the terrible events of the Holocaust.

    Sorry for the long post, but I was riding one of my hobby horses. Feel free to ignore. I could have gone on for pages. Think yourselves lucky!

    • Macart says:

      You have to wonder sometimes if humankind is ready for complex philosophical concepts. Religion, political ideologies and such. Too often our own basic natures tend to want to bend them to our perceived needs and wants. Taking something conceived with the very best of intentions and rotting it from the inside out by using it to underwrite our cruelties or our greed.

      Now that’s a concept we’re not unfamiliar with in Scotland these days.

      We’re a contrary creature to be sure and as changeable as the weather. All too often humanity’s actions would make you weep with despair and sometimes, just sometimes you see a brief glimmer of hope that would make you cheer and fill your heart to bursting.

      I’m hoping that about now, the latter is due an appearance.

    • ockletycockletywitch says:

      Don’t apologise for the “long post”, I found it fascinating as I have always been interested in the Cathars myself. I also think that your conclusions make a great deal of sense. Thank you.

  48. Shinty says:

    emilytom – tell that to the Native Americans, the Aboriginals, the many Amazon tribes or countless others around the globe.
    As Desmond Tutu once said – they took our land, and gave us a bible.

    I have no problem with people who have their beliefs in whatever god they choose, just don’t preach to those that don’t

    PS. I’ve read the bible from cover to cover in 2 languages.

  49. Chris says:

    Dear Paul
    I felt I should let you know that Jesus is already inside you and every person and if you look inside your self and your deepest pain he, his father and the holyspirit are there and they Loves you and are especially fond of you as you are. Religion has caused huge amounts of pain and suffering in the world but religion wasn’t God’s idea it was our (humanities) ideas which is why like all our institutions has caused so much pain and suffering.

    God bless you in all that you put your hand to.

    P.S this is a really enjoyable story

    http://wmpaulyoung.com/the-shack/

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