"..a bardy view!"

An Easter Ramble……

Kulturkampf. Now there's a word not common in the lexicon. Unless you speak German. But it means "culture struggle", and the reason why I highlight it is because of the recent Burka ban in France. Now I'm not going down the dangerous route of religious argument – but this a bardy blog and I have some particular observations.

I don't know if anyone has thought about how the position of the earth influences faith and belief, but coming from northern climes, I recognise that the indigenous religions of this part of the globe were Pagan. The further south one lived and the hotter it was, other bigger religions found fruition.

Indeed, Christianity developed around the Middle East, and thanks to the power of the message, and the creation of the Holy Roman Empire, it spread around the world. Similarly, from the same region so did Islam. Hinduism and Sikhism are large religions, but again, they originated from the Asian sub-continent. Buddhism found its routes in South-East Asia. There is a distinct pattern here. At risk of being churlish, I blame the weather.

Christianity was exported with vigour throughout Europe and usurped the outrageous wood building burghers of Britain who had a tendency to worship silly things like the Sun and the Moon. They were shocked to discover from well meaning but interfering missionaries that these celestial lights were not responsible for their seasons and harvests, but were provided by the grace of a Christian God. These early pagans, who, admittedly were not worldly wise, lived their lives quietly and consciously, occasionally making sacrifices and arguing every now and again with their neighbours. Yes, they were truly uncivilised.

 Indeed, so uncivilised that today we have hijacked their Easter celebrations and wrapped them around the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The Venerable Bede, a canny Geordie 7th century monk from Jarrow and who wrote the Ecclesiastical History of the English People, asserted that Easter was named after Eostre – the Great Mother God of the Saxon people of Northern Europe. The name is also derived from the Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility. Hence our association with Easter as birth, or even re-birth with regards to the resurrection.

 I'm not denying the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, on the contrary, but merely questioning the convenient timing to coincide with an already significant pagan event long before the decision makers introduced the Gregorian Calendar (AD/BC and all that jazz).

Actually, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced to Britain by Benedict Biscop, who happened to be  the First Abbot of Bede. Strange coincidence. Biscop also brought the first glazed windows back to Britain, one of which is still in place at St Paul's Church in Jarrow. It's over 1300 years old along with the oldest dedication stone in the country. Saints preserve us!

 Anyway, I digress. Easter is a very special and meaningful celebration combining tragedy and joy in equal measure. So does it really matter if the dates are wrong? The problem occurs when the very people who could only read the Bible in Latin, prevented their flock from accessing it and failed to educate them. The ignorance of their flock allowed them to become all powerful and that legacy is very prevalent in many countries today. By the time the masses could learn to read and write, and by the time the King James Bible became available to them, the seeds had been planted and almost 400 years later we are still imprisoned and overawed by it.

 All of us, for good or ill, are victims of God’s earthbound ambassadors, but why do we need the middle men? After all, most ambassadors I know feather their nest, live luxuriously, are paid handsomely, benefit from abundant perks, and generally say much but do little, and fail miserably to protect their citizens in a crisis.

 So what has all this got to do with Kulturkampf. Well, there were more protests about the burka ban on the streets of London than in France. The French are rather good at protecting their culture, and that's what it's all about. It is not an attack on a particular religion. Maybe it stems from their history of storming the Bastille during the revolution of 1789. They don't have an identity crisis like the English.

 I'm not a Francophile particularly, and I'm reminded of a visitor to London recently who remarked how beautiful Paris was compared to London. Her English friend replied "That's because we didn't surrender in 1941!".

Well, Paris is possibly the most beautiful city in the world, and even Hitler thought so. He was delighted that he could just walk in without obliterating it. But he couldn’t walk into London so he bombed it instead. So to the many people who are free to protest on her streets, whatever your religion or cause, treat the old girl with respect.

She is the testament to freedom, safety and religious tolerance. She's had a few makeovers, and is not as pretty as her neighbour across the channel, but by God she's a tough old bitch.

 Happy Easter. Ramble over!


April 16, 2011 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, History, London, Religion, United Kingdom

1 Comment »

  1. Entertaining and delightful read as always combining a sense of History and Religion. All underlaid by a sense of fairness and humour. Happy Easter.


    Comment by Spook Moor | April 16, 2011 | Reply

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