Well, hello again. It’s been so long since I wrote something that anyone who visits my blog probably thought I was dead. Ahem. Well, you’re not far from wrong. I am obviously still alive, but the reason why I’ve been absent from blogging recently is something I’d like to save for another time.
*takes a deep breath*
You know those niggling, annoying things which send you straight up the wall of apoplectic rage as soon as they’re mentioned? Well, smush all of them together in a big angry mess and you’ve got a taste of how I feel about certain “Christians” and their horribly well thought-through attitudes regarding the LGBT plus community. I could name names. I’m sure you could too. Michele Bachmann for one, who is portrayed most wonderfully in this caricature by Cole Dixon of Chronicles of the Nerds fame.
However, I don’t want to talk about my anger or indignation. I’ve done it before and I’m sure anyone who has read this far without closing the window will already know what I would say about the above. I want to write about the things that I’ve done that I’m ashamed of.
I never thought I’d be writing another post referencing Christianity so soon after my last one. I practically emptied myself of my thoughts regarding my mother faith! However, apparently in this twisted world I may never be finished commenting on the worst excesses of it.
In my e-mail this morning I received an invitation to sign a petition, directed at several members of parliament who have received material support from a Christian charity, CARE (Christian Action Research and Education). The petition was started by Phillip Dawson from Enfield, who discovered that CARE co-sponsored a conference in 2009 which included the topics of “therapeutic approaches to same-sex attraction” and “mentoring the sexually broken”. His discovery turned into horror when he realised that the very same charity has since funded interns for 18 members of parliament, including his own (who has since severed ties with the organisation).
This blog post has been a long time coming. I have an admission, a declaration to make, which has changed my life forever.
I am no longer a Christian.
Just typing those words stirs up a maelstrom of emotions. It is so difficult for me to write this. But I need to sort this out in my own mind, if not for the friends who care about me. For those of you who may be reading this in shock and disbelief, I’m sorry. I hope I will be able to justify my decision. Please don’t judge me for it, or try to talk me out of it, no matter how much you feel you need to. I’ve already made it.
For those of you who may be reading this with a ‘told you so’ smirk, don’t assume that I’ve turned into a Christian-bashing atheist overnight. Not to say that all atheists bash Christians. But a lot of them do. I am not that either.
Yum. Today is the day when the pancake is traditionally eaten in most Christian countries. If you’re American, you would call today Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Here in the UK we refer to it as Shrove Tuesday, or secularly, Pancake Day.
Shrovetide is a period in the Christian calendar which covers the two days before Ash Wednesday; the beginning of Lent. Lent is an important time of year for Christians; it marks (roughly) the 40 days before Easter and is thought to refer to the 40 days which Jesus spent in the desert, suffering from temptation. Similarly, Lent has become a time for reflection on holier things and the surrendering of luxuries. Nowadays, those keeping this custom will ‘give up’ something for Lent – a popular choice is chocolate – however traditionally Lent was a time in which people fasted and refrained from frivilous activities. Shrovetide was a time for preparing spiritually for the period of Lent; indeed, the word shrove comes from an old English word, shrive, which means ‘to confess’.
In a physical way, however, the fasting during Lent meant that it became necessary to use up all the excess fatty foods, such as butter and eggs. This is where the beloved tradition of making pancakes today comes from.
Posting this a day late due to ‘net problems last night.
Today is a pretty important day for the north-east of England; today, our bid for UNESCO World Heritage Status was finalised and sent to London.
The bid covers the twin monasteries of St. Peter’s in Monkwearmouth and St. Paul’s in Jarrow, both founded in the 7th century. If the bid is eventually successful then the twin sites will be on a par with such places of historical importance as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Forbidden City in China and Egypt’s pyramids.
Today is the twelfth and final day of Christmas – the Epiphany; the traditional date on which the three Magi from the orient visited the newborn Christ child. This story is well known to us in the West; however there is another, more curious telling which finds its origins in ancient Iran.
This is the story as related by the great traveller Marco Polo.
“In the city of Saveh in Persia there are three magnificently housed sepulchres, each one beside the other. The people of this town no longer remember who lies entombed here, only that they were great kings of old. It is said of Saveh that the noble Magi who rest here are Beltasar, Gaspar and Melchior, and that they were indeed the three who travelled to Bethlehem to worship the Christ child.
Picture the scene. It’s the week before Christmas and today is bitterly cold. Even though it’s not yet evening, darkness has well and truly fallen. If you braved the wintry weather tonight, you would soon see the stone walls of a church by the sea. Warm lights shine out invitingly from the windows and make patterns of the churchyard trees on the new-fallen snow.
Then, suddenly, the lights go out. If you went inside right now, you would see people of all ages lining the walls of the church, each holding an orange with a lit candle. The tiny lights show little else but the face of each bearer. And they all begin to sing.
Hands up – coming clean – I am a Christian. The chances are, you wouldn’t know this about me unless you really know me. I have never been the type to stand on a soapbox to proclaim my beliefs for all to see. I don’t even share them with other Christians (unless asked) because in my 26 years of being a follower of Christ I have encountered more hate, rejection and derision inside a church than out of it.
That being said, I am still a Christian. I call myself an unconventional one, and this is why.