COVID19

I haven’t thought about this blog for months. I only really write stuff when I feel like it or … well that’s it I couldn’t think of another reason. I don’t like to write because I have to, it’s not a job but a hobby I pick up and put down whenever I want then it becomes a pleasure and not a chore.

What can I say? We are already hurtling towards the end of April in the year 2020 and what a year it’s been so far. I am sitting here thinking shout the world and the situation we all find ourselves in now. It’s supposed to be that weekend of the year where we all emerge from the winter a bit bleary-eyed and bloated from the hibernation of the winter months. Fat chance.

Life is on hold while the Government scrambles desperately to find a vaccination to COVID19. I am trying to not watch too much news. I get despondent when hearing the grim daily death toll being announced seeing the numbers creep higher with each passing day.

It is usually when you have heard someone you know who has lost a relative to the virus does it become real. I said at the beginning of this pandemic that people will only take seriously when it starts to directly affect them or they know someone who has been affected. 

It is at this time when I looked to countries who have the ways and means to cope with the pandemic and take privilege, arrogance, selfishness, and superiority to a whole new level. Parts of the US have seen protests down to being ‘told what to do’. I can understand the need and want to work and provide for your family but when it comes to the expense of a nation’s health it is downright reckless and stupid. 

Even when you complain that the measures taken are too draconian and you end up losing your own life do some still believe it is some political ploy to remove ‘civil liberties’. 

My question would be to these protesters is if they could see the enemy and know it’s dangerous to leave their homes due to being taken out by a sniper or bomb and the government told them to stay indoors would they still complain about diminishing civil liberties?

The UK response to COVID-19 has been extraordinary where people have been organizing social events and looking out for each other in ways we haven’t seen for decades. The tremendous outpouring of heart-felt thanks for NHS has been amazing to hear. We are a nation who should be proud that we can rely on a service where at the end of the treatment we don’t have to worry about how we are able to pay for such life-saving remedies. 

 

 

 

Holy Week – Good Friday

Also known as Great Friday, Black Friday and Holy Friday. We have reached the most crucial part of the week.

We look at the accounts in the gospels and they speak of Jesus being arrested. Judas has carried out his final act and has told the Romans and the priests where to find Jesus. He has been paid. Later in the book of Matthew, we learn that Judas returns the money to the priests and then hangs himself.

Judas must have known as Jesus was taken away what would happen to Jesus his overwhelming guilt and betrayal cause him to commit what some Christian’s say is a sinful act.

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There is no doubt that in the lead up to Jesus crucifixion that there was terrible suffering. Jesus had prayed to his father that if he could be spared this sacrifice let it be done but this was not too happen and Jesus would die.

Jesus was brought before the priests and he was found guilty of blasphemy by claiming to be the son of god. He was sentenced to be crucified. The Romans were a pretty ruthless bunch of people and believed that by publically flogging someone and nailing them to wood it would deter would-be thieves and murderers from committing any crimes.

Jesus death Christian’s believe is a sacrifice for all bad things people have done. Taking on the sins of the world people can have a relationship with their creator.

Holy Week – Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is now here and it reminds Christians of a time when Jesus gives his ultimate commandment.

Most Theologians and believers point to the fact that the word ‘Maundy’ comes from the middle English and old French mandé – from the Latin mandate which we get the word ‘mandate’. It’s definition is an official order or a commision to do something.

“A new command I give unto you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV)

When someone faces death they want to know that people who are left behind are safe and happy. Jesus knew his fate and that those disciples would now go out and give the message of the gospel to the rest of the world.

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It seems now that more than ever that commandment is relevant to a world that often seems lacking in love and compassion.

Christians are reminded of the Last Supper. The time that Jesus spends with his disciples eating and drinking in his presence. He reminds them that each time that they do eat and drink they remember him. They should give thanks for his life and the sacrifice that he is about to make.

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My thoughts turn to the music of Tomás Luis de Victoria his work is seen as one of those most prominent in the counter-reformation. An accomplished organist and Catholic priest his music for my bring an auditory musical side to Easter we are often denied when swamped with adverts for boxed chocolate eggs and synthetic families smiling and laughing over the Easter Sunday meal table.

 

Have a listen. Take time. Reflect. Even if you aren’t a Christian or have no religion. Just taking time out of your day over the next few days.

Holy week – Palm Sunday

A week before Easter commemorates the time Jesus entered into Jerusalem to take part in the Passover festival – but there was a different plan to take place. 

Today is the beginning of Holy Week a time when Christians will remember the week before Jesus would be put to death and rise again on Easter Sunday. It’s hard to imagine what anyone would feel like to be facing such a fate and know that it would be Jesus’ faith in his father’s plan that things should be done for the whole of humanity.

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Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey despite the crowds shouting accolades shows his humility as a human being. They were cheering him as he enters the city with applause and shouts of  ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord‘ (Mark 11:9).

The people truly believe that he was a messiah someone who would come to liberate the people from their slavery and the rule of the Romans. They welcomed him with open arms and laid their coats in front of Jesus. This is was a sign of pure devotion and obedience. Jesus predicted that he would be put to death. There was a lot more to come and the people would turn against him.

 

Easter as a Humanist

My religious past is there for all to see. Majority of the friends I have were met at church and youth events related to the church. I have known some for over thirty years and count them as closer than my actual family. But when it comes to religious events during the year it’s a different thing.

During the 80s and some of the 90s, I used to take part in a walk of a witness on Good Friday which was a silent walk from the Catholic Church in the town to the bottom of the front street to the marketplace. I took part in music and drama during this time as a witness to my Christian beliefs.

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As a humanist, I see these religious events in a different light. I don’t think someone should be ridiculed for any religious belief that they hold but I myself have no belief in them. I still like to listen to music of The Sixteen as it has beautiful, calming, relaxing feel and much like reading a book provides escapism.

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I had the misfortune of reading an article in The Sun ‘newspaper’ the other day that claimed that Easter eggs had been banned. They hadn’t. It was just another atrocious attempt by the right wing gutter press to get a reaction from the idiots that actually believe what is written in this so-called newspaper.

Christians have been bouncing up and down like demented Easter bunny’s today. At every moment I have looked on social media they are ready to implore that a preacher that lived two thousand years ago defied all laws of biology and science and came back to life after being brutality killed in an act of crucifixion. A version of a  Frankenstein’s monster is somehow seen as a way of getting rid of the worlds problems by delivering us from own thoughts and actions.

In my ‘christian’ days I would have been proclaiming this. I would have stood proudly in the middle of my town acting out some play or singing some songs thinking that I would be able to change the world and imploring others to join me. It was all a futile process.

I believe that looking at the changes of the world around us we should be thankful that plants are begging to waken from their winter sleep and animals will produce young at a time when in the northern hemisphere marks Vernal Equinox.

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Ostara or Eostra is an Anglo-Saxon goddess who represents dawn. It is a new awakening. She oversees the fertility of the earth and watches over births. The egg is the perfect symbol of fertility and Christians and non-so believers will incorporate this into Easter celebrations without really realising it’s pagan origins.

I love the beginning of spring as you can see blossom on the trees and daffodils rising up from the cold ground to give us hope of the forthcoming of time when new life appears all around us.

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Holy Week reflection 

Despite being a humanist now I still take time to reflect on things during Holy Week. Habits that formed during my time as a member of the Church of England seem to die hard. It is something I have done for on and off for around 30 years.

What am I doing with my life? Are there anything things that need changing. These are questions I do ask myself but it always seems easier to criticise and point out other failings rather than my own.

It’s easy to look at others an judge. I don’t like the way you talk or what you are saying. I don’t like your lifestyle or the priorities you have in life and not worthy of any time.

Do the things that others do have any consequences that could affect your life? If someone steals or murders then it could. This could end in the person being convicted and having to spend time at our majesty’s pleasure and that costs money in an indirect way.

Are we giving to others that would make their life better? Do we give our time and money to help those who are less fortunate that ourselves? If you are making an excuse while you reading this you probably need to.

Reflecting in rather than on Holy Week is a good thing. It makes me think of spring time and new possibilities and chances that we have been given.

What will I try to do more off to better others lives and less of that makes me more of a selfish person. Surely that has to be a good thing.

Good Friday

I have had an interesting day. I decided that I would have a look down at the service in the market place. This is a christian service of witness which takes place each year on good friday. It is begins with a  walk through the main shopping street and ends in the market place. I used to take part in this which I was a church goer a number of years ago. My abiding memory is getting told off by someone for talking while we set off on the walk.

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The service end but I had something else planned for the afternoon. Most people know that my education is in religion and I have followed an organisation for a number of years called Hope not Hate. This was set up to counter the extremist groups such as the BNP and others and to educate those about their BNP racist agenda.

During my year in Oxford training to be a teacher I visited various places of worship including two of the main mosques in Birmingham. I have always be interested in religion and thought it was about time I spoke to some muslims about their views of various racist groups and their outlook on the continuing attacks on Islam.

I set up a meeting with someone from the Islamic Diversity Centre in Newcastle and spent time discuss my concerns and getting their perspective on life. It was certainly an interesting discussion. It was good to hear that their work is to break down the various misconceptions about Islam. They regularly speak to various groups in the north east and part of their outreach is to provide services for the homeless and elderly; something even I wasn’t familiar with.

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I was given a small gift which contained various literature about Islam. I hope that I will be able to learn more and get to know a few of the muslim population here in the north east. I attend to visit a mosque and hopefully gain more understanding of this religion.

Maundy Thursday

The kids have eaten too much chocolate. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on again. Stop running around. Did you buy mint sauce? What time does your mother arrive? When does she leave?

When I was growing up I remember once getting a mug with an easter egg in it. It was a Mr Men mug. That was it. Getting past the age of 8 seemed a land mark point that Easter eggs became obsolete.

Hopefully my weekend will be quiet. I might potter around the garden. I think. Don’t know really. I don’t have children that irritate me and I certainly won’t be watching family films we have all seen ten million times.