When the Church is gone…


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“You’ll miss it when the church is gone” was the Yahoo headline that caught my eye this afternoon.  It referred to this article by Madeleine Davies who is the deputy news editor at the Church Times.

She references caustic and patronising remarks by Barbara Ellen in The Guardian in which she, along with many others, sneer at the anachronism that is Church life in the 21st century.

Except it isn’t anachronistic.

I know because I am a churchgoer, albeit not one of resolute faith and not one with an unblemished attendance record.

Like many, I am the product of a childhood of well-meaning indoctrination.  In my case into Roman Catholicism.

I often read, on social media channels with unhidden glee, the defamation of this particular doctrine and it saddens me.

Firstly it saddens me that the excesses and undefendable actions of a minority of our clergy has tarnished the faith as a whole.  I also, particularly on visits to Italy, squirm at the absolute lack of inhibition when building our altars of early centuries bling.

Ancient papacies (nay, possibly even recent ones) stink of hypocrisy and political pap.  But not, I think, the current one.  And not, as I gathered from my recent trip to Poland, that of John Paul II who is a giant of a man.

The conservative leanings of the Catholic hierarchy towards old rhetoric and the strict adherence to creationism in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary make me uncomfortable.

It doesn’t sit well with my education and lifetime of reading.

But, and it’s a big but, Madeliene Davis is absolutely right about the role of the church in today’s society (all churches, faiths, religions) because, even though they gradually reduce in number and become cheap boozers or flash penthouses, those that remain are at the heart and soul, yes soul, of their communities.

They tend the aged, they democratise the community and in some I know of they can be outstanding boozers, social clubs, restaurants, cafes.

They and their members (and clergy) provide irreplaceable social services and are hubs of charitable activity.

Madeliene Davis is right.

Even without the religious needs that churches satisfy they make an immense contribution to our society and I am proud to declare that although I am one of the worst drummers in musical history my community tolerate me, provide me with a regular gig and in some instances actually rather like that a drum, a mandolin, a violin and an organ can sometimes make sweet music.

Shalom brothers and sisters.

 

My Mum. The hero.


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My Mum is a quiet hero.

She won’t read this unless one of her more connected pals (or me) print it off for her.

But.  She is.  A hero.

I’m inclined to call her a heroine but I think that word may be becoming old school; like actress.  Most actresses prefer the moniker, actor, these days and I think that’s fitting for my mum to extend the convention.

So.  She’s a hero.

Some 30 years or so ago she started working at a homeless refuge called The Matt Talbot Association in Leith, in a building, an old church, that, I think, was called the Calton Centre, owing to its view of Calton Hill perhaps.

In any case, a homeless refuge, where men and women could drop in from the streets and share a cup of soup, some sandwiches and a little TLC.

It was unfunded.  So she took it upon herself to establish an annual wine and cheese party at Holy Cross Church Hall where the good people of the parish lavishly invested in the opportunity to win in an evening of booze fuelled raffles (entirely inappropriate given that many of the beneficiaries were alcoholics.)

Apart from the odd chocolates every single prize ever was bevvy.

We also had an indescribably indescribable Tombola where, if you were lucky, you might win a scented candle or a Big Slipper or a salt sellar or a moon bear purse or a ill-conceived picture frame containing a poorly worded aphorism.

One year my great friend, Mike Donoghue, came along at the end of the evening with a pal, a little refreshed, and proceeded to win a TV.

The star prize.

Two minutes through the door, ten pounds lighter of wallet, but a winner.

His embarrasement was tangible and he immediately put it back to re-raffle.

I’d have kept it.

You pays your money, you take your chances.

Anyway, the event  was an immediate hit and she and my dad persevered as we, gradually coming of age, as her children and in-law children, became her supporting cast.  My Dad: impresario in chief, and a born showman took centre stage and MC’ed the evenings to great effect.

Year after year the events raised between £1,000 and £3,000. but the day came, some 20 -25 years later, when the Talbot Association ran its course and that more or less coincided with my father also moving on to an observational, rather than participatory, role from the great parish of St Peters in the sky.

But this was meant, I think, because my Dad left this mortal coil at the venerable St Columba’s Hospice and, with the timing so appropriate, we shifted our new found energies to raising the evening’s funds for St Columba’s.

However, in March this year we decided the event, in round about its 30th year, had perhaps run its course.  My Mum had made, perhaps, £50,000 for The Talbot Association and had, in one fell swoop, funded its requirements year in, year out for the best part of a quarter of a century.

St Columba’s, being more organised, was able to confirm that in the seven latter years that they had become the beneficiary, had banked a few pounds short of £20,000.

My mum doesn’t go for bigging herself up, but, as she approaches her 80th birthday, and having finally taken a rest, I think she deserves a wee tip of the hat in acknowledgement of her determined achievements.

And I also think the generosity of the parish of Holy Cross should not go unacknowledged.

Of course, she has not achieved this alone.  Many people have been part of her team; Vic, Dougie, Gerry, Arthur, Annie, Robert, Chris, Angelo and more, many more.

Well done Mum.

 

Western Edinburgh hand Green a coalition. Not me.


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An interesting outcome.  SNP grow their vote but lose their overall majority.

The Scottish Labour Party has to change its name to The Scottish Labour Wake.  A total fucking shambles and embarrassment.

Edinburgh Western, where I voted SNP, loses its fucking utter mind and votes a total Lib Dem arsepiece in because a rogue SNP MP got found out and the people that live here switched back to Lib Dem because they didn’t work out that they weren’t voting for her and so SNP lose overall majority in parliament.
Well thought through people of Edinburgh Western.
You do know that the Westminster election and The Holyrooid election are different things and that fucking idiot isn’t standing for Holyrood.
You do yeah?
Do you?
The Greens hold balance of power.  The Greens FFS.  OK Patrick Harvey is a lovely man.
But FFS.
The Greens.
Come on guys.
Next we’ll be voting for fucking kittens.
In mittens.
And the assassin with a podgy wee smile gets what amounts to a virtual landslide.
Welcome back into the fold the Tory Party.
UKIP.  well, they can fuck off back to England and Wales ‘cos we hate you.
No we despise you here.  I’m glad to say.