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Not the Sunday Sermon: Chapel Pegs and Desecration

Carter, being a healthy soul in mind and body, enjoys outdoor pursuits. So do I. Which is probably how come we ended up on a windswept hillside taking some of my favourite ever pictures. My t shirt was tight and white, my nipples were, as Carter accurately described, liked chapel pegs, and the sky was that clear blue which speaks of English springtime and awakenings.

Chapel pegs were a very apt description not just because the wind was having the expected effect on sensitive nipples. We were on a very unused path to an even more unused chapel, a left over from the days when what is now rural Northumberland was a far more industrial landscape. More pictures were taken on the gate, and I wondered if we would be using the grave yard, or the chapel itself. I did not have time to decide how I felt about that as we descended the hill, and if memory serves me right I caused several car seat damp patches.

Being me though I asked, I always ask, the aesthetics of the graveyard and chapel as a back drop were obvious. I was curious as to why the opportunity had been declined. Carters reply was simple and straight forward. I was a person of faith, he has people in his life he cares about who have religious beliefs. He may not share them, but out of respect for them he chose not to take sexual pictures in that place.

Why this amble down memory lane? It came to me when reading this story from Northern Ireland. It’s easy to mock those who are upset by the latest raunchy video designed to attract attention and column inches, too easy. Respecting difference isn’t just about respecting those whose difference we approve of. When I lived in Asia I removed my shoes before entering a house, it was customary and respectful. Many people would say that it was the right thing to do, but many of the same people would insist the parishioners in that story should “loosen up” or “not be such prudes”

As Carter understood respect for others is meaningless unless it also includes those who beliefs we do not share. I grew up a Catholic, the altar space is sacred, too sacred when I was a child for any mere girl to be allowed near. A huge part of the reformation was the removal of altar rails, that barrier between people and prelate. Altars themselves were replaced by lecterns as the focus was moved from communion to the word, and of course communion itself became a symbolic act rather than a literal absorption of the Body and Blood of Christ.

So what you may say, I am a skeptic, or atheist, or hate the Church because of this or that scandal. Or perhaps you agree with the atheist blogger who believed that leaving bacon on the handles of a mosque was just high jinks.  Simulating sex on an altar of a Catholic Church is pretty much the same as that bacon, it is an act designed to hurt and offend, done by people who believe that the faith of those who inhabit the building normally deserved to be attacked. Because of the power differences I do not believe it would be right to prosecute the DJ as the people in the mosque case were prosecuted. Whatever certain Christians say they are not a persecuted minority nor do Christians live in fear of being murdered for how they dress in the UK. The law must exist to protect the vulnerable. Whilst it was not long before my life time that Irish Catholics were counted lower than PoC or dogs, and tortured by the UK police, this does not fit the definition of a hate crime as far as I can see.

However a spirit of intolerance of the beliefs of others does inform both cases, that it is OK to offend the religious beliefs of some people because they are religious beliefs. How can we argue the church should be tolerant of same-sex marriage or LGBT clergy when intolerance and lack of respect towards people of faith is seen as OK? I am reminded of a quote from a person of another religion; An eye for an eye simply leaves the whole world blind.



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This entry was posted on June 24, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , .

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