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Faith Taken at Faith Value

Faith Taken at Faith Value
May 12
08:24 2018

MICHAEL J BLAIR
Perthshire, Scotland

I was brought up in a small village in Perthshire, Scotland.

From the time I went to Primary school, I was taken to church and halfway through the service, we, the children, would be taken from the church and led to the Session House, an annex of the church, where the church Elders would meet to discuss church activities and finance.

We varied in number, but I suppose the usual head count would be around ten.

This was because a lot of the school children lived outside the village, on farms or estates, and personal transport was as prevalent as it is today.

This was the Church of Scotland, which was much less strict than the Free Church of Scotland. It had had a church in the village, but it had closed due to people wanting to live like humans and not like religious robots.

The Free Church was a breakaway from the Church of Scotland. The “Wee Frees” didn’t like anything going on on a Sunday except going to church. They didn’t even want music during the service, because it was the work of the devil, or some such antiquated bollocks.

I’m fairly sure the congregation would have had to wear Harris tweed underwear, just to remind them that the Lord was keeping them from thinking any thoughts other than religious ones.

Back at the Sunday school, we learned parts of the Bible, which I can still remember today.

Daniel in the lions’ den, Androclese, who took a thorn out of the lion’s paw, and other tales of interest to small children. Crossing the Red Sea was a popular story, as was Moses in the bullrushes. Moses became something of a heroic figure to me at the time.

He was given the ten commandments, so he must have been important.

I still have books which were given out for perfect attendance. On an inscribed plate, there is the date it was given and the reason why. These were kept on show in the house for visitors to look at and marvel at the angelic figure to which they had been given.

After my mother died last year, I found the books where she had safely kept them for all these years. Still proud of her wee laddie’s boyhood achievements.

I bring this subject of childhood religious memories up because at that time, 1960’s, going to church and Sunday school, was the norm for many children and adults.

We were turned out in our “Sunday best”, faces shining and hair slicked down with a dollop of Brylcreem, a potion which was used by all male humans at the time.

We didn’t think it was strange at all, but as we got a wee bit older we wanted to play football or ride bikes, instead of sitting for an hour in a stuffy room.

At that time, families had their own pews. Ours was up in the balcony and not down in the body of the Kirk. This was because my great grandfather was an Elder of long standing and an important man.

He was the village tailor. Everything hand sewn and made to measure. He would sit cross legged on his sewing bench and stitch away all day. Even today, I marvel at the skill and patience this kind of work would have taken.

But I’m digressing. The rest of my childhood will have to wait until another day.

Back to our lives now, and churches are closing at the fastest pace ever. No one has the time to take an hour from their Sunday’s to sit and be lectured on what someone wrote 2000 years ago. They want to get on the golf course or whatever they enjoy doing. There are so many things more important to people than church.

Of course there are still many church goers across the country, but I fear as the congregations die away, then so will the local church.

I’m as much to blame as anyone I suppose. The older one becomes, the less inclined one is to believe in the content of the Bible and the version of which we were taught.

On the whole, I think the Church is not a bad institution, and should still have a role in the lives of the people who want to be part of the congregation. I don’t believe it should be changed to fit in with modern life.

I detest the horrible “happy clappy” earnest guitar playing type of ministers and churches. They have no place in any proper religion. They should be banished to the further regions of the southern hemisphere.

If we in the UK are to have proper religions, they should be traditional. No, not traditional as in the priest and choir boy type.

The polished wood and horse hair pew cushions type.

The kind which is wonderfully cool to enter on a hot summer’s afternoon. The kind where a tall grey haired minister assures the congregation that the weather will be beautiful for the village fête.

Yes, I do live in the past at times, but there was always something very stable about a minister like the late David Tosh. The last proper minister the village had, before the “modern type” began to emerge.

He was full of life and kindness. Loved to be an active member of the community and refereed many football matches in the village. A big man who had a big heart.

I lost a dear friend to suicide, and the minister said at the service, “Robert would be judged by God for his actions”.

That has stuck with me for over 30 years. A more inappropriate and callous thing to say, I have never heard.

I like the idea of religion but not the participation.

Do I believe in “life after death?” That’s a very good question. And one to which there is no real answer or evidence. Or is there?

I have only talked about my experiences with religion. Everyone has their own opinion or version.

Whatever it is, let it be peaceful.

Michael J Blair contributes political analysis to DDA, and he can be reached at: michaelblair43@googlemail.com. His Twitter handle is: @mmjblair

[Header image courtesy of Kim Traynor; Wikimedia Commons]

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