Lucy in the sky with….fairy lights.

So it’s that time of year again. Every year it seems to go by a little quicker. It does only seem like yesterday when my daughter was having her first Christmas in her little red dress. Turns out it was actually three years ago. This year, for the first time, I shall be attending midnight mass. I’m not religious, as I’m sure most of you know… Not even a little

fairy-lights

My wife revealed to me that she would like to attend, as it was always customary in her family. (Irish/Italian living in New York) I put up my usual defense of not wanting to go and stated clearly that I didn’t want to go…So naturally after 3 or 4 minutes of silence I agreed to go. I figure 45mins singing Christmas Carols and hearing the story of Jesus’ birth was a far better option than spending the rest of 2014 with the silent treatment. But there was another reason for agreeing to go…

I watched a TED video a few weeks ago which the premise was ‘Getting what you want’
If you have a free 21mins I would recommend watching the video.
One point was trying to get out of the rut you’re in, which we all get stuck in from time to time. Getting out of your comfort zone, doing something that’s new. Going to church on Christmas eve at midnight, for me, will be new. I’m usually found propping up a bar of some description. The only way we, I, will ever grow as a human/man/husband/father is to experience new things. Getting a perspective from the other side of the fence. Breaking out of a routine that makes days fall away like the old needles of a Christmas tree. So with that in mind the four of us will trot off to church. I’ll keep of copy of Christopher Hitchens in my coat pocket… Just for moral support.

So we have our tree up, the girls are little older, which brings back that Christmas sparkle that we had as children, that somehow gets lost in the haze of adolescence. We bought a bottle of mulled wine and the cakes, sweets & chocolates are starting to roll in. Whatever you plan on doing this season, be it going to church, learning about the winter solstice or learning about how other faiths/non faiths celebrate this time of year..I hope it’s a good one.

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And we’re back!

So after what seems like an age I finally have my laptop back. It’s been away getting a new lease of life. I can’t remember the last blog I wrote and it feels like a lifetime ago since I put fingers to keys.

I’m sat writing this in a very trendy bar in Rochester just a few hours before a gig. Hopefully I can finish what I want to say before the hoards of Saturday night revelers file in, stinking of lynx and hair gel and looking for a good time.

What do I want to say? The truth is there are so many topics I want to cover but I can’t untangle the mess and matter of my brain and get them out in a concise and articulate way.

I feel a huge weight on my heart. I feel that we as a people are pulling so hard in opposite directions that we’ll never get to rise to the capacity that we are so capable of attaining. There is one topic in particular that I must get off my chest.

I had a recent debate with a friend on the subject of abortion. Abortion is one of those subjects that both sides of the argument are equally valid and both sides require listening to. I’m of the opinion that abortion is a decision that should be made by the parties involved. I’m pro choice as our trans Atlantic cousins choose to pigeon hole. But it’s a grey area as I do not think abortion should be used as a form of contraception. A decision of this magnitude must not be taken lightly or idly. My friend, to protect is identity we’ll call him David, is pro life and a devout Catholic. After a few back and forths stating our positions I put a classic hypothetical to him:

If a child of 13 or 14 fell pregnant after non-consensual intercourse with her father and she wanted to abort the baby would that be ok?

His answer. No.

His reason. God, the father, is a creator. By aborting the baby you are stifling his creations.  He also said that it was his will that this child should fall pregnant.

After picking my jaw up off the floor I asked; should a child have to go through not only the pain and agony of child birth (Remembering that her body is not yet fully developed and would more than likely damage her internally) but being raped by her father? Would a god that loved us let a child go through all that suffering?

He said “Sometimes suffering is good for the soul”

Hear-No-Evil-See-No-Evil-Speak-No-Evil

In my 33 years of floating through space on this green and blue rock I have never ever heard anyone say anything as wicked and evil and further more actually believe that what he was saying was justifiable. His attitude towards the rape, torture and suffering of children was justified because it’s God’s will.

This kind of attitude towards child suffering should be reserved only for the psychotic and the insane. Not the educated, honest and rational thinking members of society. And it certainly shouldn’t be coming from the mouths of people who claim to have a moral superior high ground, something that is apparently denied to me.

I had this debate about 2 months ago and it’s still burning up inside me. I still cannot believe that anyone would put the welfare of a child second to the will of a God that may or may not exist. I can only assume that the message of Jesus has somewhat been lost on David and he’s now more concerned with the teachings of the church, two teachings which I believe massively contradict each other.

I don’t have a religious bone in my body. I don’t think God exists and I don’t think Jesus did either, at least not in the form that Christians do. Religion seems to give people the excuse to behave poorly. Who, but the religious would picket the funerals of dead soldiers? Who, but the religious would mutilate the genitals of new born baby? Who, but the religious would fly planes into buildings and who, but the religious would promote the idea amongst Africans that condoms increase the risk contracting aids?

Now I would never assert that all religious people support any of the ideas that I have just stated. My point is that people will commit the most atrocious acts if they believe they have God on their side. The physicist Steven Weinberg summed it up better than me in just a few words, if not a little crude.

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion

 

Air gun or egg hunt?

So last weekend saw the arrival of Easter. To me Easter has never been a big deal, even when I was a kid. To me it was two weeks off school and a shitload of chocolate. I’m not a believer in God or Jesus and I believe the bible to be nothing more than a collection of stories that in the course of 2000 years have succumbed to Chinese whispers.

However, the origins of the Easter celebrations don’t lie in Christianity. Originally Easter was the pagan celebration of spring, new life and the dawn of the harvest. Which is why eggs are the flagship symbol of easter. Eggs representing new life. It wasn’t until the third century AD that the Roman emperor Constantine set a date to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus bringing it inline with the pagan celebrations.

So, on Easter Sunday I let it be known on Facebook, where else, of this historical fact. Needless to say it ruffled a few feathers, prompted some people to remove me and generally it caused a bit of a stink. Seven days later I am still asking myself ‘why?’

Why would anyone be that upset by an historical event? Why would anyone care what I think about their festivals? Did hurt their feelings? Maybe. Did they cry? probably not. So what’s the big fucking deal? The above isn’t my opinion, it’s not something I’m musing over, it’s a fact. It happened. But of course whenever someone brings fact to a fiction fight they are often told to stop being so disrespectful and I shouldn’t cause such offence. Well to the people I upset that Sunday, I apologise. It was never my intention to upset you. But if you are upset by historical facts, if they do cause you great offence then I have to say that’s not my problem…it’s yours.

But the truth be told. I enjoy it. I enjoy ruffling the feathers of Christians. I enjoy debating over the origins of life, evolution or morality. I get a small kick out of it and that is my problem.

Easter

Shortly after the chocolate eggs were dispensed with we were treated to another magical day…St George’s day. Again I’ve not been one to stand on high with my hand over my heart signing our national anthem with a union jack waving majestically in the background with a great sense of pride. Why? Truthfully I think when it all boils down to it, it’s nothing more than a pile horse shit that someone made up. A day reserved to celebrate something that happened to me, by accident, at birth isn’t something that needs celebrating. It certainly doesn’t require me to feel proud about it and I don’t get all emotional at the sound of our national anthem. Not to mention that St George himself wasn’t even English. Not even British. He was Greek born to a Palestinian and lived in what is now Israel.

I’m proud that I’m a father. I’m proud that I’m a husband. I’m proud that I played guitar in front of 50,000 people at London’s Hyde Park and I’m especially proud that I fitted the skirting boards in my living room with no carpentry experience whatsoever. They were all good days and at the end of each one of them I stood back and admired my handy work.

I’m not proud to be English just like I’m not proud to be 5′ 11″ or have brown eyes. Pride should be for things that you did on your own, maybe with a little help from Youtube. I can’t do much these days without checking a Youtube video or two. I am happy to be English  and that’s the way it should be. Happy to be English. Happy to have brown eyes. There is too much unnecessary pride these days.

“Pride goeth before a fall”