Monday, 10 December 2012

Divided Household

Holy Trinity before the Carol Concert, excuse the quality, taken on my mobile
My very good friend Linda and I went to our annual Christmas church visit on Sunday night, 9th December. This year we went to see the EYMS brass band, one of the best brass bands in the UK, and the Hull Freedom Choir at the magnificent Holy Trinity Church in Hull. There was a formal carol concert with the packed congregation singing along to the amazing accompaniment of the band interspersed with readings.

After an interval, there was an informal concert with the band playing popular Christmas tunes and the choir singing some unusual Christmas songs. It was a wonderful concert and at times, strangely, very emotional. 

This is a funny time of year for me. The children and I celebrate Christmas, my wife does not - she's a Jehovah's Witness. So the jobs of Christmas are mine; cards get sent out without her name on them for example. The first year I sent them out without her name on, probably twenty years or so ago, I had to write an explanation on them which was awkward and embarrassing, but no-one bothered or commented for which I am very grateful, and I get cards back to this day from the same friends, but without her name on. 

She still eats with us on Christmas day, she has to eat all the same, but she won't put a paper hat on, or pull crackers etc., etc., but life goes on, after all these years I'm quite used to it. She doesn't recognise birthdays either so it saves me a few bob, but there is a gap in our lives at what are special times for the rest of us.

Whilst I read of some communities who revel in differences and feel stronger for it, there is a wedge that religion has driven between us and so the differences between my beliefs and hers are a world apart. There is no meaningful commonality even though we believe in the same God; the theory of what its all about and the interpretation of what the Bible says and how we worship is so different.

Mine is a relaxed and joyful experience in the modern world, hers is brought about by indoctrination and a love of God above everything else taking lessons for life from a time long gone by, written for people also long gone. No doubt she enjoys her religion, I don't really know, it's not shared.

I fully support the freedom to choose and live your life as you see fit within the bounds of the law and therefore I can't criticise her right to choose and follow her path as I have done in my belief. I just dislike the dogma and inflexibility and in some ways the hypocrisy of how JW's conduct their selves within their religion enjoying the worldly advantages of modern life.

They will say the same about me no doubt, the Bible tells them that Spiritualists (me) are receiving messages from Satan to give false hope and deception. Wasn't Jesus one of the greatest of all in His Spiritualism and His love of God. Didn't He bring together Moses and Elijah who had been dead hundreds if not thousands of years on the Mount of Transfiguration and He even spoke to them? 

Angels are littered through the Bible in a whole host of stories - superhuman beings, messengers of God. Is there no greater spiritual being than an Angel or Arch-Angel? Yet these ethereal beings are accepted without question. I believe in Angels - I wonder if that makes my wife uncomfortable?

One thing I have learned in my life living with a JW is that you never argue about the content, meaning and interpretation of the Bible. They know it backwards, forwards and upside down and interpret it in a unique and very literal way. 'The Truth' as they call it.

What is the truth, how do we reconcile out faith and belief with the truth of stories, written in a few cases and handed down by word of mouth for thousands of years and collected together and debated by mortal people centuries after the death of Christ before being put together in an agreed version in a book? 

For me that's the crux of it all: Why is my belief and worse or better than anyone elses? Why does one religion find themselves superior and better knowing than the rest? What do the hundreds of thousands of scrolls written centuries ago which have been ignored say, and how do they lend to the debate?

I am just comfortable with myself and what I believe in. I am what I am. I do what I do. 

I hope you are comfortable about yourself too - you deserve to be without being criticised and lambasted because you have given yourself a label even if that label is 'no religion recognised here.'

I don't think this is a rant and it is not meant to be, this is just a personal observation that relates to how I think as an individual and how religion affects me personally. I know fellow bloggers are interested about people and their lives - well here is mine - laid bare.

If you are angry with what I have written I am sorry; if you agree with it, that is up to you and either way I respect your point of view, but please don't leave a rant or embarrass yourself, be constructive if you make a comment and let me understand how you feel.

Have a great week

Chat soon



  1. interesting post, how have your children felt about their Mum not sharing celebrations over the years?

    Josie x

  2. Hi Josie
    Hope you are well? Kids are quite good aren't they in that they take it all in and it doesn't phase them really, they asked the odd question and it was difficult for them to understand but they went with it. As older, young men now, they occasionally show irritation at some of the things that their mother won't do because of her religious beliefs, but it goes over their head by and large. They are far more patient than I expected them to be to be honest and it hasn't affected them too much, I have tried to keep that side of it from worrying or affecting them best I can.

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  4. Hello RLS. I found your post quite sad. Your wife must miss out on a lot by feeling that she can't join in with the family Christmas celebrations. It is also quite sad that your sons and yourself cannot buy her presents, chosen and given with love.

    I also don't believe in being controlled by religious dogma, no matter what religion. I don't 'do' religion either now.

    I enjoy your regular blogs and would like to wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year.

  5. And yet you are together. That demonstrates a mutual inclusiveness somewhere. Interesting.

    I mean that in the context that my experience of faith - or belief if you like - is that it isn't 'rules to live by' or what you do, but choices that eventually become integral to who you are.

    I guess it's that, that enables interfaith tolerance. That despite the differences in the expression of belief, it's people being who they become as a result of their faith.

    I think Paul of Tarsus got it right. "Faith is hope in things yet unseen" And we don't need to be religious for that.

    Hope that makes some kind of sense. Hope so. It took me over half a century to get that far! (Tsk. 'Hope so'. I should have just said 'Hope So' in the first place....? :) )

  6. Hi Molly
    as always delighted to hear from you
    All my very best wishes

    Hi Wheelie
    It does make some sense I think, it's complex, more so than I imagined or hoped it would be. You take care young man