Writing 101: Serially Lost.

I’m going to write about the loss that always barges to the front of my mind when I think about loss. This is still the case even though the loss in question happened over thirty years ago.

The being that I lost, and whose loss still leaves a hole in my heart is the dog that I grew up with. He was bought by my parents when I was four years old, and he was there at my side until I was fifteen.

In the wider world he wasn’t a special dog. He wasn’t a pedigree, but he was the dog who was there through my childhood. He was the dog who would greet me excitedly when I got home from school, the dog who would sit beside me when I was watching TV or doing homework. He was the dog who I would throw sticks for, but who would look at you as if to say ‘You threw it, you go get it.’.

And years later I realised how much I felt I owed him. I learned the strength of love, all encompassing, unconditional love, and how dogs are better at that sort of love than just about any other animal on the planet. I also learned how important it was to have someone that could listen to what you wanted to say, and they wouldn’t interrupt, and they definitely wouldn’t pass judgement on what you had to say.

When I got older Rex was getting older too. He didn’t run as far or as fast, but he still had a joy in life, in chasing cats and in finding new and interesting smells. He never got used to being left on his own in the house, and would complain vocally until one of the family was home. We suspected that it had never really occurred to him that he was a dog, and he expected human company.

Old age came suddenly upon him. He got old, and slow, and suddenly walking was obviously painful. He could hardly make it out of the door to go to the toilet. Pretty quickly we found out he had advanced cancer and my parents had the awful job of having him put down. I didn’t get to see him go. I’m never sure whether I would have wanted to, to be able to say goodbye, but I know that I will always have such strong memories of him.

Nowadays, we have another dog. It took a long time to make the decision to get a dog. A lot of thought, and one of the things that held me back for so long was the concern about leaving the dog at home during the day. Our dog gets a walk each lunchtime with our local dog walker who loves her almost as much as we do. And my daughter I can see gets as much out of her relationship with Smudge as I did with Rex.

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Fiddling While Rome Goes ‘Meh’!

Today the General Synod of the Church of England announced that it had decided that it would begin the move towards having women bishops.

This was, of course, a cause for celebration amongst those who felt the church had to move forward (the nose dive in attendance was being linked to issues such as women priests being a demonstration of the church being out of touch). The same news was greeted by more traditionalist members as a bad thing.

By the vast majority of people the whole thing was met with a supreme chorus of ‘Meh’… Essentially we don’t care because it doesn’t matter.

The traditionalists demonstrate one of the many things wrong with religion. The rules they feel they need to abide by are a minor comment in the Bible. 1 Timothy 2:12 states ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.’. This is pretty clear, and unambiguous. In terms of following what the Bible says the church should definitely not be considering changes.

But the realists in the church appear to have realised that this particular rule sticks in the craw of many congregations. Labelling women as never being able to take on the role of church leader feels unacceptable in a world where CEOs, Prime Ministers and Presidents can all be, and have all been women.

And this is one of the central problems with religions. The rules of religions are codified in some book, or collection of rules. But they brook no consideration. And given the age of most of these writings the rules that are listed are either weird or laughable. Some claim that the ten commandments are the basis for most western legal systems, but most of the commandments are about sucking up to god. No god before me, no worshipping false idols and keeping the sabbath day. Murder and adultery are forbidden in the commandments, but the owning, buying and selling of slaves is not forbidden, neither is rape. The rules are not fit for purpose, but there is no method available for updating them. This fact is especially the case in populations where the book in question considers the books as the word of god. Such beliefs are, of course, untenable when you consider the number of translations that each book goes through, and what known translation errors there are (Mary being a virgin? Please… the correct term would be young girl, but then that would undermine the Madonna worship central to Catholicism at a stroke).

Bill Hicks said it most eloquently.

“People ask me what I think about that woman priest thing. What, a woman priest? Women priests. Great, great. Now there’s priests of both sexes I don’t listen to.”

I don’t believe religions are on the verge of dying, but in a time of mass access to mass information, they must know they are looking into the abyss, and a period when they can only expect a stream of kickings.