Take me to Church…

You have probably all already seen this- but I had not.

This was what the singer said here;

Hozier himself describes it as “a bit of a losing your religion song”. Written in the wake of a breakup with his first girlfriend, it is a love song, certainly, but also a contemplation of the idea of sin, drawing influence from Christopher Hitchens and a Fulke Greville poem, Chorus Sacerdotum, that speaks of mankind being “created sick, commanded to be sound”.

He has been startled by the lack of controversy the song has stirred, particularly at home. “That it got on Irish radio, the fact of that was amazing,” he says. “But there is very little loyalty left for the organisation of the church at home. The damage done is obscene. And the lack of action to make reparations, and the lack of political will to make changes. It’s very, very frustrating.”

The core of Take Me to Church is “about how organisations like the Catholic Church undermine what it is to be human and loving somebody else”, and the “offensive, backward, barbaric” notion that every newborn child is born into sin and must be forgiven by God. He has, he says, “a lot of strong opinions about the church”. His parents were raised Catholic – his father educated at a Christian Brothers school, and his mother at a school run by nuns. “And I think they made a very conscious decision not to raise their kids the same way. And I don’t blame them.”

Thunder falls on Venice beach…

venice beach

 

Yesterday, on Venice Beach, a man was struck by lightning

Honed bronzed flesh was sparked to mere crackling

Many more were shocked.

 

I do not mean to be flippant at the death of fellow man

No matter how Biblical his ending

The rumble it raises in me is this question;

How did this become world news?

Who decided that one death among a million

Should be at the top of every news cast?

 

Meanwhile another dozen die in Gaza, nameless and barely noticed

A four year old AIDs orphan coughs his final cough in Mozambique

Fifteen people are killed in a crash outside Kandahar

Scores are killed on the streets of Benghazi as Libya slides into civil war

In Gineau 24 were crushed by rap music.

 

I should not be surprised -

We celebrate inequality in life

So why not also in death?

One soul does not weigh the same as another

White photogenic flesh is neon

Skin that is darker, dirtier

Is worn like camouflage

Even to the grave

Engine out at sea…

hebrides, snow storm

Sometimes when you stare at the sea

You hear a distant pulse of an engine

But see no ship

It is close

Like a fast heartbeat

 

And sometimes the hackle of the gulls

Masked as it is by the sigh of the sea

Can sound just like the cry

Of a child

In distress

 

The roll of a wake

Is a whales back

Which emigrants

Are riding

Back home

The Church, red in (male) tooth and claw…

I read this book recently;

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It tells the story of Helen Percy, a Church of Scotland Minister and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, who was raped by an elder of her Church, before being ripped apart by a combination of the patriarchal Church archaic infrastructure and the national press.

Helen Percy writes beautifully, but I was left feeling that she is a soul still caught in the harsh headlights of trauma and I long for her to come home, wherever that home might be. Sadly it is unlikely to be the Church.

Read it if you want to understand something more of the life long effects of abuse in childhood. Read it too if you want to see the male institution of Church through the eyes of a young woman who found no mercy, just hard inflexible self serving judgementalism masquerading as justice.

It will break your heart.

Flotsam…

OIl rigs, Cromarty firth

We are buying a new car at the moment- my current work pattern involves driving a lot of hard miles, and our current car is managing poor fuel economy, high emissions and the car itself is getting rather tired. The next car will do almost double the miles per gallon and be much ‘greener’.

Although these things are all relative.

How much longer will we be so dependent on burning oil?

How long before all these rusting engineering statements of desire and ascendancy be condemned to the scrapheap?

How long before the giant rigs will be just flotsam, bobbing in a slick of their own making?

Two generations perhaps? Three?

I hope that we learn our lessons- let the grand correction commence…

Fishing gear, oil rig, Cromarty

Church as museum…

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I love old church buildings, so what else would I do to fill my solitary evenings but to go and find one? I took a drive out over the Black Isle to Cromarty, a lovely old town overshadowed slightly by looming oil rigs being repaired out in the firth. There I discovered Cromarty East Church.

The East Church, the former Parish Church of Cromarty is a remarkable building of national importance, not only for its architecture but also for its representation of ecclesiastical and social change. The physical additions, alterations and remodellings carried out at the church bear witness to specific periods in the history of Cromarty and of Scotland with times of prosperity, rises in population, the influence of individuals and changes in liturgical practice.

It is principally the events of the 18th century that have given the East Church the outward appearance we see today. The survival of the interior in such an unaltered fashion has led to the East Church’s reputation as ‘unquestionably one of the finest 18th century parish churches in Scotland, the epitome of the development of Presbyterian worship during that century. There is something satisfying about its long, low form with its simple clear-glazed windows and its intimate interior, bringing preacher and congregation together in a very direct way.’ [John Hume, former Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings for Historic Scotland, describing the East Church in 1999.]

The origins of the church, however, are more ancient and complex than might at first be apparent and recent excavations have confirmed that it stands on the site of the medieval parish church. A large number of burials were uncovered beneath the floor of the church, together with a 15th century grave slab which had been re-used as a step or kerb within the pre-Reformation church to demarcate the approach to the altar. The post-Reformation church was significantly enlarged in 1739 when Alexander Mitchell and Donald Robson, masons, and David Sandieson and John Keith, wrights, added a north aisle to create a T-plan church. Further alterations followed in 1756 and 1798-9, the latter being carried out by Andrew Hossack who added porches to each of the three gable ends and the birdcage bellcote on the east gable.

The interior dates principally from the 18th century, with galleries or lofts added to the north (Poors Loft), west and east (Laird’s Loft) to accommodate the growing congregation. The most elaborate of these is the Laird’s Loft dating from1756 with its paired Ionic columns and Doric frieze. The loft also contains a fine funeral hatchment on the ceiling, painted with the arms of George Ross of Pitkerrie and Cromarty.

Also of note are a series of wooden panels, re-used and incorporated into a number of pews, most notably at the front of the north loft with a sunburst motif and Mackenzie coat of arms.

It is not a Church any more- it is redundant, but better preserved than many that are still in use as it has been restored by the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust. It stands as a museum to religious observance.

The early rituals of the mass, mixed in with the colour and patronage of the rich, which was then replaced by a focus on the pulpit. More pews and galleries were added in to accommodate the sinners now saved, before the numbers dwindled away again.

Along the way the walls took on monuments to men who died in distant colonial wars- Afghanistan, or at sea fighting the French. Their stone tablets sit at ease with those commemorating faithful long serving ministers of religion.

Faith is not contained by buildings, but they come to be like fossils of what once was. Beautiful fossils they are but new life takes on new shapes…

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