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10 Oct

Another additional chapter by Peter Rogerson
” Bernard’s first day at school, and it doesn’t start well… “

“There will be nasty, nasty girls at school, dirty little girls in skirts and frocks and with sweaty panties they might want to show you, might want to make you look at…” his mother said suddenly as she dragged him along by one hand on his first day at school. She often said things like that and he often found himself not listening because he knew it already.

Bernard, the dead and naked Bernard, stared in horror as this new scene unfurled on the looking glass. It wasn’t exactly that any memory of that distant day returned to him because it didn’t, but the very likelihood that it might have occurred, knowing what he knew of that woman and the way she had been, gave it a stark reality that he was beginning to hate.

“Why are girls like that?” he asked of that domineering woman, and she pulled up sharply to a standstill, released the arm she was holding and swiped him across the head with an iron hand.

“You dared ask me that?” she shouted, and several other people paused on their way towards the school with their own children, and stared at her. Those eyes, boring into her, didn’t trouble her but they did bother Bernard because even then, aged five, he knew that there was something unusual about the way his mother behaved.

“That hurt, mummy!” he wept.

“You dared question me when I tell you about the evil of women and the sin they have poured over humanity since Eve in the precious garden and the way she ruined everything for everyone, even us all these years later?” she squalled, and that suddenly brought into his mind the biggest question that ever was. It was huge. It filled his five-year old head with its enormity and he knew the answer to it would solve every problem known to man. He knew that he had to ask it.

“But mummy … aren’t you a lady like Eve was?” he asked, timorously.

She was. Of course she was. He could see that much.

But his mother couldn’t. She had spent so long denying her own place in the order of things that she saw herself as without gender of any sort. She had long chosen to forget her place in the conception and birth of her dreadful son, had no memory whatsoever of the passions that had erupted within her when the boy’s father had dared to do IT to her on a night filled with unusual passions, and she had let him. Yes she had. But she preferred to forget the sin, for sin is what it had been, and had blotted it out of her mind.

To herself she was a human being apart from the rest. Although equipped with those physical attributes shared by all women she had completely forgotten she had them. She was neutral, asexual, a saint to whom gender was meaningless, even offensive. So the question, that huge question posed by a child on his to his first day at school, was calamitous.

It cut her to the quick. It stirred odds and ends in the dustbin of her mind. It would trash all of her preconceptions should the answer be yes. It caused for swift action, and that swift action was a second fisted clout to little Bernard’s head.

Even the Bernard watching in horror from his place in Hell felt the sudden numbness as the child Bernard crumpled like a scrap of screwed-up paper and fell limply to the ground.

Two or three women rushed up to him and helped him back to his feet. He looked pale and groggy, and they looked angry. He shook his head in order to clear it, and started crying.

That was a signal for decency to rear its precious head, and decency did in the shape of a ferocious women in her forties who marched right up to Bernard’s mother and pushed her with a more than adequate hand on her shoulder.

“We saw that!” she barked in a voice bordering on the masculine, “we witnessed a terrible abuse of a poor child! Yes we did, all of us…” and her eyes swept round the increasingly sizeable crowd as if challenging them to disagree with her. A great number of female heads nodded and there was audible muttering as the eyes of other mothers focussed on the bully as if intent on leaping upon her and tearing her limb from limb for what she’d done to her own child. Most parents can’t abide cruelty, and these women most certainly couldn’t.

“Or course, most of us know something about you,” continued the ferocious woman, “most of us have seen you about before and know you as being a sandwich short of a picnic! We’ve seen you with that boy and the poor man of yours, his father, and we know you’ve got madness in your head and we also know it’s a crying shame you have the care of a child. He should be taken away! He should be put in care where you can’t punch him in the head! Women like you should be put away and, yes, the kids taken from you, all of the poor little mites! Women like you should be neutered!”

Bernard from his place in front of the looking glass could almost see what was going on in his mother’s mind as she stood up to the other woman.

“I’m just guiding my lad into a life free from sin, if you don’t mind!” she shouted, and she was shouting whilst her opponent was merely being fierce. “It’s what we parents do, and if we do it right and proper they’ll be thankful for it when their time comes to go to the Afterlife and find themselves in the arms of Our Lord!”

“You’re a mad creature!” snapped the other, “as far as I can tell there’s no such thing as any afterlife, no such place as any heaven and no such place as any hell! They’re places in fairy stories so that mad women like you have got something to believe in when your nights get short and black! And if there was a copper anywhere near I’d be demanding that he arrested you, here and now, for cruelty, and arraign you before the beak. That’s what I would be doing, and no mistake!”

“I’m not standing here bandying words with the likes of you!” raged Bernard’s mother, “we’ve got things to do and a school to go to! Come on, lad, to school with you, and take no notice of any old fat women on the street who think they know everything but end up knowing nothing!”

Then she grabbed Bernard firmly by the hand and marched off with him in tow.

“The blasted know-all woman!” she moaned as she dragged him along, “thinks she knows how hard it is to bring up a kid in this world of sin! I’ll teach her if I see her again, that I will! I’ll make sure she knows all about it! It might have been her in the precious garden, her who picked the apple from the forbidden tree and her who tempted her man with it! That’s who it might have been! I can see it clear as clear, thanks be to the Lord!”

When they arrived at school there was a chaos of young children darting everywhere in the playground, boys and girls with their shrill voices, running to and fro and having the best of times.

“Look at them!” grated his mother, “thinking that life is something to laugh at when it ain’t! We know that much, don’t we, Barnard? We know all about sin, the two of us! Look at that snotty nosed girl over there, the one with dirty, filthy knickers, I’ll bet, and a mouth big enough to swallow the moon! You’ll have nothing to do with the likes of her, and if you do have and I find out I’ll learn you! That I will, Bernard-child! But not in the street like just now, where know-alls can see what’s going on, but back at home in the dark, dark cupboard where you go to purge your sins after I’ve caught you playing with your winkle!”

“Not there, mummy…” whispered the Bernard in Hell, but she couldn’t hear him. She was a lifetime away, and her nose was running.

© Peter Rogerson 10.10.16



14 Jul

Anti-Semitism has plagued the Jewish Semites for much longer than any of us can remember and it’s irrational and largely unfair. Now, this opening paragraph has been written after I composed the rest and re-read it and wondered if I ought to share it with anyone. These days you’ve only got to criticise one tiny aspect of Jewish life to have accusatory fingers pointed at you and be called Anti-Semitic by those baying for your blood. But read on. After all, I mean no offence to anyone save, perhaps, the Pope.
One of the joys of religion has been the knowledge of church leaders that they only have to mould the mind of a young child and they’ve got that person for life. It doesn’t always work that way, of course, some of us shake off the shackles of pre-school mind-shaping and actually learn to work things out for ourselves. But the only reason, in my opinion, that any religion has survived over the millennia is because of the “give me a child until he’s five and I’ll show you the man” reality. It doesn’t have to be everyone, but just enough to be persuasive.
This much has been known for ages. It formed the minds of masses over centuries, and in times when religion, say Christianity but it could be any religion, was much more dominant in daily life the spread of irrational belief down the centuries was almost complete. Such was the power a few centuries ago that men and women were burned alive because they espoused one flavour of God opposed to a slightly different one. And the draconian treatment of lesser mortals by the monarch was justified because he or she was God’s representative in the land. Monarchs weren’t ordinary mortals and even they believed it.
But it’s not just belief in gods and fairies.
I got to thinking this way because I was thinking of anti-Semitism this morning as I lay in bed quietly waiting for Dorothy to emerge from slumber. It’s horrible. It’s a dislike and even hatred for a people because of the accident of their birth, and it’s irrational like gods are irrational. And as I thought about things I think I hit on the answer… or if not answer, the reason.
When I was knee-high to a grasshopper in school I was taught a lot of scripture. I guess it was getting towards the tail-end of the real dominance of religion within education, when the word secular made bishops shake with fear. And one of the phrases I learned to parrot was the fact that there were Jews and Gentiles, the Jews being the good guys and the Gentiles being the rest. The Jews were God’s chosen people and the Gentiles weren’t, and I, for my sins, was a Gentile.
I’m not sure who foisted the gobbledygook that is Christianity, a bastard branch of Judaism, on to the rest of the world but I guess it was the Romans in the fourth century AD. So I’ve no intention of blaming that horror on the Jewish people. Nor am I going to blame them for imagining a deity into existence a long time ago and using a perfectly natural human foible as described above, continuing to believe in it. As a race or tribe or people they are entitled to clothe themselves in whatever traditions please them. It’s when it spreads to the rest of the world through no fault of their own that trouble begins, and because their religious texts became part of the Christian sect’s sacred writing (a minor group if ever there was one, but enough people adhered to it for it to work its way to Rome) and because those texts still included the certainty that Jews were the chosen people of the religion being espoused by them, the rest of us got to accept our Gentile status – or else.
And in the vital way that religions work, that made us inferior.
And if a people start to believe that they’re inferior they start to feel irritated because despite what it says in the good book, they don’t feel inferior. And as an adjunct it’s just possible that if people read that they are superior it might in some way colour their relationships with others because a corner of their mind believes it.
I could be misrepresented here as someone blaming the Jewish people for their own problems, but I think I’ve made it clear I’m actually blaming a colonial power that has long ceased to exist outside the Vatican. It was fourth century Rome that stole a minor Jewish sect and made it its own, pinched texts, even sorted out which texts to keep and which to consign to obscurity and thus mould a religion that was already becoming different from its origin. But they kept the Jew/Gentile distinction, in black and white and reprinted in every language under the sun, and that has been the downfall of a people largely blameless for the inevitable and nasty and very ancient Anti-Semitic outpourings that have marred humanity for much too long.
Maybe people living in that corner of the world would be much happier and at ease with each other if some ancestor many centuries BC hadn’t hit on the nonsense of a god, complete with its absurd garden of Eden with a talking serpent, the certainty that women are so inferior to men as to be virtually a separate species, non-human and thus not eligible for Heaven, and the nonchalant accepting of slavery, and then wrapped the whole kit and caboodle up as a religious-cum-political catch-all philosophy that eventually and I suppose inevitably leaked beyond their borders. But their god has now gone everywhere and has spread from being a small nuisance in the Middle East to a world-wide threat to peace and even the future. If the concept of a deity and a son of that deity could be squeezed back into its bottle and revert to becoming no more than a hippie cult on the fringes of Jewish society it would be all right by me. But that Jewish homeland is the one place you don’t find too much Christianity, and I find that bloody annoying!
And finally, there’s got to be some innate weakness in our evolved and evolving mentalities to require any kind of god at all. Maybe it’s the uncertainties of being or perhaps knowledge of our very mortality that sends us seeking for a second chance at living, but there are still churches and cathedrals where voices are raised in melodic song in praise of a whisper in the ancient desert airs of long, long ago.


12 Jul


terrorist photo: Terrorist Terrorist.jpg

If I knew everything I would be a god.

And that god could range anywhere between being a hoary old man with a dubious beard to a nano-particle that nobody properly understands though scientists reckon they might get close enough to see one some time soon.

But I don’t know everything, which is why I’m writing this now. I’m not a god, you see, but an elderly old bloke in England who likes to do a bit of writing that hardly anyone will ever read.

And what I do know is that absolutely nobody knows everything. In fact, I’d be prepared to bet there are huge gaps in even the most comprehensive knowledge. But what troubles me is that there aren’t enough people aware of this.

And another thing I do know is that mankind has progressed in knowledge if not in wisdom since he evolved and knows a darned sight more now than he did know in an earlier age. And he still doesn’t know anywhere near everything.

Back in the bad old days there was absolutely no knowledge about the cause of disease, so there was no sensible way of combating it. The closest they got was distrusting miasma, or smelly air, and they cured the sick (or tried to) with sweet fragrances from nature. They were ignorant as to the elements that constitute all of matter, though they did believe there were four – air, earth, fire and water, though how they combined to make, say, glass, they were at a loss to explain. Knowledge takes time to be discovered and there’s a great deal of trial and error before real know-how is confirmed.

Before the notion of germs, of bacteria, of viruses, of the periodic table of elements there were men (and maybe a few women, if they were permitted) struggling to make sense of their world and they hit upon what, to them, was a sensible explanation: in the beginning some guy designed and made it. Different groups of people had a variety of similar explanations, and the one that time made dominate the rest came under the heading of gods.

In the end what they call monotheism dominated, monotheism meaning the whole kit and caboodle that we call the Universe was made by a bearded bloke who is a combination of control freak, cruel megalomaniac and loving father. And that fearful figurehead survives into the modern age.

At the moment there are random(ish) groups of terrorists using their concept of what they call god as an excuse for murdering and destroying. I’m not sure whether they’d be doing that if they didn’t have that concept of their god but guess some of them probably would find a different banner on which to attach their blood-stained colours because all they really want is the violence. Some of them, psychopaths to a man, merely want power, and in their eyes power resides solely in the control of others.

It’s got nothing to do with Higgs boson particles, or old men with dodgy beards or anything called god. It’s something that is antisocial and really ought to be exterminated, for the sake of the rest of us. There are, after all, billions of us humans and we all have our own views of reality and yet the vast majority don’t get all pig-headed and go about willingly murdering and destroying for the sake of views we may pretend to hold.

I, for instance, admit to being largely ignorant. Is there a God (either with a capital or lower-case g)? I don’t know, but rather suspect not, and my not knowing has more to do with my awareness of my own ignorance than because I think there’s a gap in Creation that an old bearded bloke would fit neatly into. Am I an atheist? Well I don’t go along with any of the currently revered army of deities so I suppose I am, despite my own ignorance.

You see, our long lost ancestors had their dreams and wrote them down and their words have lasted a great deal longer than the dreams ever should. And they are still being read today, and not just read but repetitiously hammered into willing heads until the old dreams gain an impossible new life. You can do that with the human brain: it’s called brain-washing, and you can even do it to yourself.

Yet most of us, when we read an ancient book, know it for what it is: a struggling attempt by men (and possibly women, though women weren’t always given a proper say in the affairs or our species) to determine the truth about their world, but with considerably insufficient data. There are few of us who would read, say, the Old Testament, and believe every sentence in it. If we did we’d have to wrap out morals round a barley-twist and probably end up talking and thinking out of our back passages. And the same is obviously true of the Qur’an. The words, the dreams, are from another age. They’re like Harry Potter meets the dinosaurs: fictitious magician greets the truly ignorant.

It’s only those who batter old myths into their own skulls that end up believing them, and some with no imagination get the idea that their knowledge is so special everyone should share it. Deluded maybe, idiots yes.

And very dangerous.

© Peter Rogerson 12.07.15


29 Jun


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When Charles Darwin noted that species change slowly according to the demands of their environment he might have added that the change was slow and steady.

So when his mockers, the disbelievers of the nineteenth century, cackled because they believed he suggested they had evolved from chimpanzees, they missed the point entirely. Darwin wasn’t suggesting that anyone in their immediate ancestry had been a chimpanzee but that somewhere in the dimmest of the dim past everyone had an ape-like creature in their lineage.

Indeed, you could go back to before the wheel was invented or fire discovered, to when men modified their environment as best they could with crude stone tools, and wonder why they didn’t look like chimps. In fact, you would find yourself wondering how come they look very much like us (though with different grooming habits and a penchant for very different fashions) and not at all like the apes from which we supposedly evolved. Why, you might exclaim, here’s proof that Darwin was wrong! And if you were to exclaim that then it would be clear as glass that you don’t have the foggiest notion about evolution.

Evolution, the imperceptibly slow reaction of a species to changes in its environment, doesn’t happen over night, but when it does occur it can make quite massive strides if they’re called for.

All this is my way of suggesting that over the past, oh, dozen or so generations, there’s been no change that you’d notice about human beings though sometimes, to look at the weird obsessions the young can have periodically, you might be tempted to think otherwise.

And a dozen or so generations ago they were burning witches for being in league with the devil. Not many more than a dozen generations ago they were lopping the heads off believers in the wrong version of Christianity. Back then, not all that many generations ago, they constructed tiny hidden rooms in their houses in which the priest could hide because he was outside the remit of current thinking. Priest holes, they called them. His wasn’t even a different faith serving a different God, just a marginally different version of theirs!

And that same number of generations ago men were the same as men today and women the same as women today. Evolution can’t do much in so few generations. Brain size was the same though life-expectancy for the majority was considerably less, but that’s been down to an improved understanding of what causes death and how to postpone it, not evolution.

Given the right push, the right impetus, and we could return to the jolly old days of trial by ordeal. Dump an old woman in the duck pond and it she survives and doesn’t drown then the devil’s saved her but if she does drown you’ve made a mistake, what a shame. This might sound a little absurd, but look at what’s happened quite recently when the right little push has been applied to perfectly rational and honest people. There was Hitler, for example, and the dreadful things he dreamed up for those he perceived to be his enemies and convinced the masses that he was right. And there have been others.

The easiest way to stir a people to obscene action when normally they’d be quite loving and ordinary is via their belief system. We, as a species and long ago, seem to have evolved to need something to believe in. Maybe, and for thousands of years of pre-history, there was the need to consult the local witch-doctor over matters concerning health and fitness, and that evolved painfully slowly into a need to believe what the witch-doctor said was true and he needed a reward or something nasty might happen to you… something like that, I wasn’t there and absolutely no records were made by societies that totally lacked any degree of literacy. But it’s there. That’s why the Tudors lopped heads off. It’s why old ladies with warts were burned at the stake and their animal familiars disembowelled. It’s why, centuries before then, the Crusades were fought. It’s why the Romans, for the first time in centuries observing their Empire as it grew weak, looked to the East for another religion (there old ones didn’t seem to be working) and promoted the hippie Jesus. It’s why, in short, there always seem to have been religions to hinder man’s progress!

And it’s emerging again. This time it’s the Islamists who are seeking guidance in their ancient texts, and the only real difference is a single man can kill dozens before he finds himself being shot because he’s got what his fellows in the past didn’t have: really powerful weapons. And that single man might seem more dangerous than whole armies once did, but he’s no different, really, from the terrorists of history. He’s responding to something inside him, something that has been brought to the surface and egged-on by this or that old man who seems to have wisdom beyond that of mortal man, and certainly has access to fine words. They’re the Guy Fawkes of a more technological generation but with more power at their finger tips than Guy Fawkes would have dreamed possible in his wildest fantasies.

The danger is to assume that the terrorist is a brutish, unintelligent throw-back, a crass individual who has somehow escaped the miracles of evolution and ought to be living awkwardly in his stone-age cave and chewing on old bones for supper. He’s not. He’s modern man but he’s responding dreadfully to whispered encouragement and the twisted words of an ancient book.

And I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do about him.

© Peter Rogerson 29.06.15


27 Jun


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I’ve just returned from a short holiday in the company of some fine people, and, you know, there wasn’t one religious zealot amongst them. There might have been some Christians I suppose, though they never mentioned it and certainly didn’t push their beliefs down my throat. And even though the coach we travelled in had only white English passengers (any other colour or ethnicity could have paid their fare and joined us but chose not to even though they would have been made welcome), there didn’t seem to be any believers in other religions either.

The news from other parts of the world was less harmonious, though. That dreadful affair in Tunisia, murder by any other name is still murder and that was mass murder. And in France, too, with a medieval-style beheading. That was murder too, no matter what they called it.

It’s pretty clear to me that those who revel in murder and bloodshed and use this or that religion to justify it are cowards, incapable of stating the real reason for their activities, which is a deep-rooted personal defect that can be roused to violence by a few nasty words and fanatic phrases by usually older and considerably more bearded men who like to think they’re clerics. But whatever the motivation, murder is murder is murder.

Christians used to do it. They’d murder Muslims and each other. Even monarchs were soiled by the desire to see rivers of blood. Protestant monarchs slaughtered Catholics and Catholic monarchs slaughtered protestants. And all, of course, in the name of God.

If we really want to see an end to the excuses and shadows behind which the thugs hide then it’s up to us to do something about it. While the monstrous criminals can give themselves an excuse, they will, so let’s take the excuse away from them.

Politicians are very often keen on being seen attending church services, thus advertising the possibility they may believe in the faith espoused by that church. Even monarchs (the present queen being an example) make a public exhibition of going to church. What they’re saying is this is a Christian country and as leaders they’re setting the right tone for the rest of us to follow.

But I would dispute that it’s a Christian country. Forgetting for a moment the number of believers in other faiths (mostly Islam) the rest of us might, if asked which religion we serve reply “Christian” and that’s actually a lie, and good souls like us shouldn’t be liars. Most of us don’t believe there’s a big bearded bloke somewhere among the clouds, in the skies, orchestrating life on Earth, listening to prayers (and demonstrably not answering them). Most of us give no credence to the wisdom of the Holy Bible, which is a text-book of cruelty and hatred, particularly of women, and contains virtually nothing I would call wise. Most of us, in short, though we might say “Christian” in response to the big question, are nothing of the sort. Most of us know a fairy story when we read it and snigger and try to forget it.

Yet the big wigs in our society publicise, actively, our very Christianity and by doing so provide a sort of twisted reason for morons urged on by the clerics of other faiths to have a go at us. They misrepresent us. And by doing make us into unwilling targets.

True, there may be a few men and women so indoctrinated whilst they were young that they still cling on to the notion that they’re Christian, but they’re not unless they interpret the word Christian to mean a desire to live a good and harmless life. By that definition I try to live a Christian life, but I don’t believe with even a corner of my mind in the trinity, the three in one, the Father in the skies nonsense, the son who made gullible revellers believe that water was wine and even more gullible followers feel well-fed in their hundreds from a repast of a tiny quantity of fish and bread. And the holy ghost – what in the name of goodness is that? I’ve never seen it, and neither have you, any of you.

Yet the big wigs who proclaim a belief they can’t possibly have are providing a reason for the insane criminal classes of another faith to have a go at us, and it’s so unfair! It does make you wonder, though, why a bronze-age book, copied and recopied and translated and re-translated and morphed from one thing, by degrees, into something else, keeps so many people in thrall!

I guess it is an irrational belief in the wisdom of the ancients, which is odd seeing as the latest set of Middle Eastern bully-boys are so intent on destroying ancient artefacts left by those same ancients. But then, there’s precious little sense in any of their thoughts.

So in conclusion, let’s proclaim what we really are: a secular people in no way enslaved by any religion, a community of humanists with no agenda save but to live in peace with each other and our neighbours at large, and hope that’s enough to make the thugs forget us.

©Peter Rogerson 27.06.15


6 Jun


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Love it or hate it, all of our futures are in some way bound up in the creaking minds of those who believe intrinsically in this or that god. Now, this isn’t going to be a rant against Christians or Muslims or Jews or any believers in deities – I’ve seen too many of those and they don’t work. No, this is meant to be an attempt at seeing where, in this foggy thing called life, we might be going.

Preachers, clerics, priests, popes and curates have power. Over centuries their ancestors have moulded particular societies into enraptured followers of this or that Word, be the Word true or, eventually, false. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just that it is. It doesn’t matter whether it’s provable and honest, just that it’s preached. The belief resides in the indoctrination from the past rather than the efficacy of today. Societies have been moulded to believe, so the preacher preaches and he is believed. He must be. It’s the way it works.

If you have been moulded, of course, you won’t believe a word of what I’m writing. Of course you won’t – you will have been warned against evil deniers of the truth and you see me as one of those. I’m blinded, you think, by bigotry, have had scales placed over my inner eyes by this or that devil. What I write is straight from the cerebellum of Satan.

And therein lies the wonder and the danger of it all. That’s the fog that has been spread a dozen different ways over life.

And there are fairly recent examples of that fog. Yellow in the air, like a London “particular” from the days of belching chimneys.

A cleric says that women shouldn’t drive cars or her babies will be malformed. Believe it because it’s your own cleric who said it. Laugh at it because it’s someone else’s cleric expounding his truth.

A preacher informs us that immodestly dressed young ladies lead men astray thus causing chaos and earthquakes and although the believer can’t quite see the connection between seismic activity and masturbation he believes every word of it. Not believing would be unthinkable, so he doesn’t think it.

Another bearded scholar suggests that DNA evidence should not be used in rape cases because the real blame lies with the victim rather than the rapist … how dared she let a man have sexual content with her? You say because he’s stronger …? But the deity is stronger than both…. To the believer this is the truth, to a stranger it is nonsense….

Where does history end and common sense begin? There were claims like those above made many times in history and because it’s been allowed, because permission has been granted by the grimy words of old texts, that history has ventured into common sense and resides with us today. How dared a woman incite a young man to abuse himself? Does she really want the world to collapse in on itself? After all, he might enjoy it more than he enjoys his god….

It’s out there that they believe such things today but here, where we are, history has become common sense and we see nonsense for what it is. But it wasn’t always so. Once they were convinced, in the land called History, of very similar, maybe even identical, things.

And “convinced” means to be absolutely certain, beyond all possible doubt.

History morphs, slowly into common sense. Belief in the oddball becomes a joke from that history.

Before learning to laugh at the joke, English monarchs struck the heads from some of their subjects because of it. They had to, because weren’t they their god’s mouthpiece on Earth and weren’t they always right?

Especially when they were wrong.

Remember, religious conviction is exactly that: conviction.

© Peter Rogerson 06.06.15


24 Mar


dog photo: Silly puppy :) 465243_4616056329092_127507355_o.jpgHierarchy’s a wonderful thing.
Look at it like this. Since time immemorial whenever there’s been a Sunday (or Monday, Tuesday etc) roast dinner there’s been a hierarchy. The man sat at the top end of the table or stone slab or whatever it was, and the rest of the family, subordinate to him, sat on lower seats in a position that would be indistinguishable from grovelling to a passing alien.

The man took pride of place and his woman (who’d prepared, cooked, lovingly tended) the roast whatever it was sat gratefully below him. He’d done very little, of course, unless it had been he that had hunted the dinner in the first place, dragged it back home and slept the effort off on his comfy bed/lounger/smelly skins.

And this hierarchy was based on the big one.

I’m referencing medieval Europe here, but I might be referencing most pre-modern societies based on religious devotion.

At the top of the tree there’s God. He’s at the head of the table, if you like. Everyone’s subservient to him: absolutely, irrefutably everyone. He’s the important dude because he made everything in the first place. But it’s no good being at the top of the table if there’s nobody looking up at you. So you have a hierarchy.

There’s the King of whatever country you’re thinking about. Or the queen, though queens have been almost as rare as hen’s teeth because us males like to believe the fiction that we’re superior. Appointed by God, the king can do little wrong and is entitled to whatever wealth and women he fancies – and if he can’t get them he sacks his deity’s special envoy (the Pope) and sets up in opposition himself.

And because he’s special, appointed by God, he can make decisions about others, like who’s to be wealthy, who’s to say special prayers on his behalf – and consequently who’s got less manual work to do. The King needed playmates whilst he was hunting or playing with his weaponry in make-believe battles, and he gave his favourites the job – and they were his favourites on account of their wealth and the possibility they might challenge his authority and usurp him. Usurping wasn’t unknown.

His main job was to sire an heir. A male one, of course, because God preferred his representatives to have willies. Throughout biblical writings women are very much secondary to men, who have the right to punish/execute them if their breathing displeases them. Anyway, he chooses a wife, showers trinkets on her and when he isn’t cuddling up to one of a tribe of mistresses he tries to impregnate her. If she conceives and has a son she’s done the right thing and isn’t he a clever so-and-so, but if she only manages daughters there’s something wrong with her. She’s most likely displeased God and perhaps has lived a secret, wayward life. It wasn’t unknown for her head to be lopped off as a consequence of her sin, be it real or imagined.

He never questioned the might of his own royal seed, however.

In the times in which kings behaved as though they were really special most of the people lived and toiled on the land, their homesteads being centred in relatively small communities, and there was always a big house with a big man in it – the Lord of the Manor.

Although a great deal lower down in the scheme of things he was still monumental in his own eyes, and had the power of life or death over those who tilled his land, the peasantry. His judicial decisions, sometimes disgracefully unfair, were law and had to be obeyed – or else.

Parallel to this descending hierarchy was the church, and mighty important it was too. At the top of its divine tree was the Pope and at the bottom were nuns, and all of them in their nunneries, and the church had a special hierarchy of its own. The man at the top (he might even be a criminal – there were some popes who were involved in the seamier side of life) was the Pope. Then around and below him were the rest and below them ordinary folk, the peasantry who donated to his coffers, often being pressed to giving what they couldn’t really afford to give.

And if any convincing was called for, religious buildings were created on a grand scale. The size of a medieval cathedral was enough to convince most people that there was something mighty behind it. And those monuments to religious vanity still stand whilst the humble stick and mud homes of their builders have long been swept away by the tide of time.

And for a great part of human history this hierarchical unfairness wrecked the lives and dreams of thinkers, those who by a unique intellectual contribution might have moved societies forwards, to the betterment of those less blessed with true intelligence. But when you’ve got it made, when you’re at the top end of a hierarchy, then you don’t bark yourself but make it quite clear that wrong-doing and non-believing will be punished by a barking dog named God, and that punishment by him will be eternal…

© Peter Rogerson. 24.03.15