Saturday, March 06, 2010

Losing our religion

A quiet Saturday was just what I needed after such a taxing week. After a late breakfast we went over to our house in Meadow Street, to inspect kitchen installation progress, now that that job is nearning completion. We then went out and bought ourselves a ceiling light fitting, ready for next week's electrician visit, and travelled on to Penarth to have lunch in a small eatery we like, with quirky sixties 'continental' d├ęcor.

While we were at table a lively mixed group of young adolescents came in for a cuppa and a chat. I wasn't following their conversation, but at a certain point one of them started rehearsing the Lord's Prayer, as if trying to remember it for some reason. Quickly the whole group joined in saying it together, demonstrating I guess who could and couldn't remember the text - not with a feeling for it as prayer, but much in the same way that a memorised poem or pop lyric might be said, as if they were challenging one another to remember. A curious phenomenon. What does it signify, I wonder?

After our return home, I walked into town to get some wild bird seed and fish pie mix (to cook paella for supper) from the Market. On the way, I passed another group of slightly older adolescents. One of them was tearing up a booklet and scattering its leaves - opposite the Police Station and Law Courts. Some of the group were laughing and others reproaching him with a concealed admiration at his daring. I spotted the discarded cover. The booklet was the text of Saint John's Gospel, probably acquired from one of the evangelists who operate on the streets of the city centre from time to time.

Deliberate blashphemy? Sure. An offence to literature and literacy lovers, as well as religious folk. This age of cheap print publication and disposable literature has made some Christians keen to distribute scripture in the most profligate way, taking the chance that people will read rather than hoard or discard the gift. It's true that in deprived and impoverished countries, the gift of scripture and literacy are cherished highly. But here, where we have excess of everything, too many words, too much rubbish in print, it's a different matter. Not to be able to value a book, not to be able to respect holy scripture is a profound handicap for a young person - a recipe to nourish fascism.

How do we teach upcoming generations respect and value for that which is to be treasured most?

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