Tuesday, October 20, 2015


ONCE UPON A TIME...


There was a lot of fuss over the weekend as a result of 84 Bishops having sent a letter to the Prime Minister as long ago as August demanding that the UK Government increases the number of migrants/refugees from Syria to 50,000.   The Government`s current stance is that the UK is committed to taking 20,000 from the refugee camps as well as continuing as the second most generous aid donor to help with the refugee crisis in that part of the world.

What is surprising is that the Government did not respond to the Bishops` plea until yesterday and that indeed is disappointing.   But perhaps what is even more surprising is that there are 84 Bishops to sign the letter in the first place.   Seems an extraordinary number of bishops for a relatively small country.   Something like three might be enough at, say, the Church of England`s HQ at Canterbury, another in branch offices at York and maybe Exeter, which would cover most of the country.

There was a time, many many years ago, when I suppose people accepted the role of the church as part of the way things were.  It was looked upon, almost unthinkingly, as an institution that commanded respect, one which was there to bring comfort and joy to the lives of countless believers, although even then in my bewildering childhood I wasn`t at all sure what I was supposed to believe in.

As the years have gone on, however, I have had a good think about all that and I have formed my own attitude towards pretty much all things religious.  I`m fairly sure that religion is responsible for most of humankind`s wars, repression and misery over the centuries and, as aficionados of these pages will know, whilst I have no quarrel or inkling as to the existence of an omnipotent being, I have many reservations about His or Her representatives down here on Earth.   Of course if, when the time comes, I find myself at the pearly gates then I`ll be the first to apologise for harbouring any doubts.  Seems fair enough.

But I think what really gets to me is all the pomp and circumstance, the rituals, the mystique, the smoke and mirrors and the attitudes of the established church and all its teachings churned out by these purveyors of fairy tales, these pedlars of myth, these illusionists.  I may, once upon a time, have believed in fairy tales, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and all that jazz, but once you set aside childish things you come to realise that all those hopes and dreams were themselves illusions, like so much of religious practices.   

So, whilst the Government`s delay in responding to the blatant entry into the political realm by a bunch of self-centred bishops might have been disappointing, perhaps they were right after all in not giving too much credence to the plea for another random, arbitrary refugee figure, which contributes little to the real humanitarian shambles we see today.

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