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Sunday, 27 March 2016

A sense of the sacred

St Michael and All Angels Church Alsop en le Dale

While out walking we often come across old country churches. I’m no believer but whenever we come across one, I still like to push open the door and step into that cool, musing stillness one only seems to encounter in ancient country churches.

Even in these modern times and even as an atheist I still feel a sense of the sacred as I step inside. Something else too. A shiver of loss perhaps. Something allowed to drift away, something we should have kept hold of. The cool ghost of lapsed responsibilities brushes past, sending the faintest shiver down my spine. Yet once outside it all wafts away into the land of the lost.

At least part of the problem seems to be our modern obsession with function. Some things are sacred because they work morally. It's that simple. They make a positive moral contribution to the kind of society we actually want. Motherhood, do unto others, and education could still be sacred if we only take them as morally given and do our best to honour their importance to our society.

Yet we don’t. We pretend to analyse and dissect, pretend to be teasing out function instead of keeping things simple, instead of trying to fulfil sacred moral duties which is really all they are. So targets, tick boxes and costs take over. Function elbows out the sacred and we lose sight of where we ought to be headed, where guiding lights still glimmer fitfully in a gathering gloom.

6 comments:

Michael said...

But you got here, presumably thorough loving parents and family?

We're the same, having had religion thrust down our throats from an early age. But going to church to keep saying the things one's supposed to believe in, and has learnt from past experience? Noooo...

Never get there these days, except to see off old chums etc...

We still stick by the rules though, so it ain't all bad!

Roger said...

"A shiver of loss perhaps. Something allowed to drift away, something we should have kept hold of. The cool ghost of lapsed responsibilities brushes past, sending the faintest shiver down my spine. Yet once outside it all wafts away into the land of the lost". Brilliantly put.

The smell of woodworm fluid, beeswax and Brasso, brings back Sunday School and a remembrance of dozens of Biblical sayings - 'the quick and the dead', 'Job's comforter', Saint Peter's big book and so on. Part of the rituals of life - hatching, matching and dispatching. A moulding that no longer happens.

DCBain said...

Despite the fact that the church was largely a social control mechanism, its teachings ( or indoctrination or threat, please yourself ) made Western civilisation what it is. That's why it has been targeted and its influence dismantled as part of the destruction of society in the great plan.

Henry Kaye said...

I, too, have no religious beliefs but value highly the morality that was part of the religious teachings. And, yes, DCB, the religion/church IS being targeted, as you say, as part of the "great plan" currently being conducted by Cameron and so many other political leaders. Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't that all part of the aims of the Frankfurt School?

Demetrius said...

I like to think of the people of the longer pasts and the lives they may have lived. Almost unimaginable to us moderns.

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - we were never churchgoers but we encountered belief in the usual school assemblies plus those religious assumptions which were still fairly common. As you say, the rules of life stay with you.

Roger - I think the moulding is just as strong but has become more commercial and political. To me, people seem no less docile and just as constrained in their behaviour. Equally superstitious too, but in different ways and different contexts.

DCB and Henry - yes, the political left has no use for churches, their moral teachings or their charitable works.

Demetrius - I agree, their lives were too different for us to get inside their skins. We come with too much baggage and have adapted to different circumstances. We can't dump it all and see the world through their eyes.