Mar. 8th, 2011 11:53 am
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My census form arrived this morning; as I'm on leave and avoiding many other things to do - of course I filled it in. There's a handy dandy website this time, meaning that the whole process took about 20 minutes instead of the interminable paper form ticking that I'm sure I did 10 years ago.

Or rather, it would have taken 20 minutes if it hadn't been for one question.

20. What is your religion? (This question is voluntary).

10 years ago, I ticked the Christian box without a thought and carried on. Today, my mouse hovered over the screen for a while, then I went to make a coffee, then I ticked Christian. And then, when it came time to submit the form, I went back and dithered a little while more and then changed my answer to 'No Religion'.

I still have a faith; that I'm certain of, even if I'm not sure what it's necessarily a faith in. And I refuse to tick a box saying 'other' and write in Jedi - I don't notice the great outpouring of charitable works in the name of the Church of the Padawan that the 390K people who affirmed that as their religion 10 years ago surely should be responsible for. Or did the Phantom Menace turn them all apostate?

I still have a cultural background - I'm Irish Catholic (and that's very different to English Catholic, or French Catholic etc. etc.). I can watch certain knee-jerk reactions that are buried deep within my psyche emerge to certain stimulae. On a good day, I can even interrupt them and overrule them.

But I'm really not certain I have a religion any more.
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Regular readers of this LJ will know my opinions of the guinnessfication of St. Patrick's Day; I'll not rant again.

I am scornfully amused, however, at Channel 4 News.

For those of you who don't have a deep and overwhelming interest in the Roman Catholic liturgy of saints, you may not have realised that this year, St. Patrick's Day is on Saturday March 15th.
The Catholic Church will move St Patrick's Day 2008 after discovering it clashes with a key day in the Church's calendar.
Bishops discovered the Irish patron saint's feast on March 17 clashes with the second day of Holy Week next year.
Church rules decree the saint's feast day does not rank as highly as the Monday before Easter and therefore has to be moved.


Now, maybe its just me, but the use of the word 'discovered' implies a certain implied surprise on the part of the un-named bishops. It's almost like they woke up a few weeks back (okay ... last July, given that's when the story was published, but lets not quibble) and suddenly realised that this was likely to be a problem. Other news stories talk of 'Weeks of debate'* over the matter.

The last time St Patrick's Day had to be moved was in 1940 when it coincided with Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. The next date it will have to be moved again is 2160.

You know - if Channel 4 News can predict these things 150 years in advance, I'm pretty certain that the Catholic Church can too.

*The actual debate was whether to move the feastday to 1st April, which is what Church policy was, or to keep it as close as possible to the 'civil celebration' without it being in Holy Week. The Church changed its policy.
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Tony Blair was absent from Parliament yesterday.

The Government lost the vote to overturn the Lords changes to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill yesterday.

By one vote.

Damn but it's difficult to be a republican (note the small 'r') in this country when the anti-egalitarian unelected second house continues to safeguard our civil liberties, keep the elected government in check and stops a frankly desperate bunch of politicians scrabbling after votes like kiddies picking up sweeties from an overturned jar from kneejerking us into the 12th Century.

<font face="annoyed">"Hurrah for the House of Lords!</font>
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but today I was travelling from one of our offices to another, and I happened to be on the Northern Line heading towards Euston Station as we approached Noon.

The train in Camden was quiet when the driver made the announcement. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the next station is Euston Station where the last set of doors in the last carriage will not open. Please be aware that the 2 minute silence for the victims of last Thursday's bombing will start in approximately one minute."

The doors swished shut and the train started up. A few seconds later, the driver said "Ladies and Gentlemen, the two minute silence is about to start."

And in the carriage I was in, everyone fell silent. People put down their papers, some closed their eyes, others looked around to see if they were the only ones not talking. Through the glass door at the end of the carriage I could see into the next one, where a child was talking and gesticulating and the child's mother was saying something quietly but firmly to the child. No one seemed willing to tell the child to be quiet - perhaps people realised that it doesn't matter if you're the only one - the important thing is your own silence.

I never know what to think in 'silences' - like meditation, I have a monkey mind which jumps from place to place, chittering at thoughts and getting distracted by butterflies. Prayer is easier, because it has a focus. But I tried to think about what happened, and how I would have been distraught if I'd known any of the people that are missing or who are confirmed dead. And I managed that for a while; a short while.

And then the real world intruded; my eye distracted by an advert, my head turning to see movement at the other end of the carriage. Monkey mind.

The train pulled in to Euston Station and as the doors opened the driver spoke again.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the London Underground staff I would like to thank you for observing the silence with us. This is Euston Station. Passengers should be aware that this train is not stopping at King's Cross."
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I was reading the 'Ask Jack' column in the Guardian yesterday, and someone asked him about setting up a blog for personal use, and keeping in touch with relatives. And Jack, bless him, didn't mention Livejournal at all. I'm not surprised, to be honest; regular readers of the Online section will know that Jack Schofield's prejudices get printed every week; for years Macs were never mentioned because Jack doesn't like them. So whether it's by ommission (he doesn't know about LJ) or commission (he doesn't consider it to be proper 'blogging'), we don't get a mention.

What's proper blogging? Sure, LJ can be full of psycho drama; badly written juvenile prose (or worse, poetry - I'm glad we don't get video journals because then some fool would express themselves in interpretive dance and I'd have to burn down the Internet.) It has the minutae of people's lives, and these things go uncommented, and unread.

And Blogger has all that too.

The best of blogging, for me, falls into one of two categories; it tells me something about a person that I didn't know before, or it changes the way I look at the world. Livejournal is just as valid a blogging tool as anything else, from that perspective.

[livejournal.com profile] westernind posted earlier today about Zach, a US teenager being forced into a re-education camp to 'cure' him of his homosexuality. Zach is 16.

"And whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it were better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."
Mark 9:42

Teach people to love, and they will love. Teach people to hate, and they will hate.

I'd like to add the following:

Fighting fire with fire: how to argue with a Conservative Christian

God Hates Stupid Homophobes - a scary post gathering together links to a world I wish didn't exist.

With thanks to [livejournal.com profile] westernind and [livejournal.com profile] cavalorn for the links.
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"Only a small proportion of the World's five billion people are engaged in acts of violence. The overwhelming majority are engaged in acts of loving, caring and sharing"

(Edit: I went searching: http://www.tibet.com/DL/vilnius.html - it's from a speech he gave to the Parliament of Lithuania in 1991 - and I changed the quotation to what he actually said.)

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