Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Valletta basement was burial ground

"Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar this evening produced pictures of human bones found beneath Valletta's Casa Lanfreducci, backing its claim that this had been a burial ground and should not be converted into changing rooms for the new open theatre on the Opera House site". 

Follow this link for the full story from "The Times of Malta"

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Grab für Deutschen Soldaten

Photo : James Allan

Es gibt viele Gräber in Norfolk für Soldaten, die im zweiten Weltkrieg starben.  Jedoch, gibt es Gräber für deutsche Soldaten und einige Gräber sind im Dorf von Scottow. Dieses ist ein kleines Dorf auf der Hauptstraße von Norwich zum Norden.
Ich habe Informationen auf Denkmälern innerhalb der Kirchen für Englische Soldaten auf anderen Seiten zur Verfügung gestellt

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Equality and the Church of England

"The truth will set you free"
 John 8:32
The Church of England is the state Church in England and has enormous privilege in society and associated wealth. For many people, the Church has been the centre of social gatherings and the centre of faith. Many people (although not everyone) have been baptised in the Church and lived their lives in the sacraments of the Church. The Church contains many 'closeted' gay and lesbian clergy and despite that constituency the Church has often been seen as indifferent to the needs of gay and lesbian worshippers. More recently, the Church has moved away from being vaguely 'indiffferent' and has actively attacked gay and lesbian people in the area of civil marriage. It seems that in response the English people  must now decide what to do about the traditional privilege of an organisation that has failed gay and lesbian people as well as simultaneously intruding into equality issues.

The  idea of the cemetery is, for me, bound up with the concept of ‘wholeness’ where we are all equal under the soil. The eternal certainty of death means that we are collectively brought together again in a sort of community.  Even people with few links are re-united by their burial in the same earth and all this process has been traditionally managed by the Established Church. The influence of the Church had been diminished over time by the provision of secular cemeteries, Dissenter burials and more recently by the appalling behaviour of the Established Church.

Instead of being the traditional centre of the community, the Church of England has begun to see itself not as a national organisation but as the representative of a small faction in society. You may ask what I am talking about. Well, the answer is ‘equal marriage’. In this matter, The Established Church through the actions of former Archbishop Carey has misjudged the British people and chosen to speak out against Civil Marriage equality. In this process, the Church has displayed poor assessment skills and a lack of national judgement and it has strayed from speaking on religious matters and chosen to speak negatively about civil matters.

In choosing to speak out so forcefully against equality, the Established Church and some senior clergy have confirmed one or two previously unproven facts. It was always suspected that the Church hierarchy in England was homophobic and that assertion now seems proven beyond all reasonable doubt. In effect, Christians really do hate gay and lesbian people and have finally chosen to 'come out' in their homophobia. There is now clear and unassailable evidence of an Anglican attempt to de-rail equality. The Church of England has finally nailed its homophobic colours to the mast and that may be the best that can be said for their judgement and bigotry. In the past, we had to imagine what was in the mind of the hierarchy and yet the intention of the Church is now as  clear as crystal. The Established Church really hates gays and lesbians and they especially hate the idea of the people having the opportunity to engage in permanent and lifelong commitments. To this end, the Church of England has associated itself with fringe Evangelicals and others who fight against equality. The Anglicans have even associated themselves with the Roman Catholic hierarchy often seen as a major critic of Anglican holy orders. The wish to deal the death blow to equal civil marriage has created strange bedfellows indeed. The Churches have elected to segregate themselves from the great body of their people and this is sad if not entirely unpredictable.

It seems then that the people must finally re-consider the 500 year old compact between the Church of England and the English people. The Church created through the efforts of Henry Tudor to betray his wife has, in effect, finally turned against  the English people who supported  this transitory organisation. What then to think about a national Church that pours forth venom on individuals who seek equality ? Well, it seems that we must start the process of asking why a Church is ‘Established’ in the first place? Why should we have a Church that uses its privilege against equality in such a poorly judged manner?

The position of the Church of England, as the Established Church has become untenable. It is inconceivable that unity can be encouraged by this diminishing and increasingly factional organisation. The unity so often espoused in the past is now out of the reach of the Church and the Church has become increasingly offensive to many English people.

A declining Christian denomination with few adherents (although with great wealth and resources) seeks to mock the aspirations of hard working people and this is in a country where the people are not particularly religious. The English increasingly seek diversity and equality in all things and it seems inappropriate to have an Established Church in the first place. It is arguably time for a change and  poorly judged Anglican views on equal marriage indicate that it is the correct time for the majority to think about the role of the Church.

I would say that through the homophobic comments of former Archbishop Carey  the Church of England has finally been found out. Let the Church confess its manifest sins against its own people, let them acknowledge how many Bishops and clergy are really Gay or lesbian and then let this relic of a former conflict slip away into history.

The motto of the Church of England is taken from John 8:32 and reads "The truth will set you free" It is time for the British (as a whole) to be at peace with each other in life as well as in death  and be set free from the shackels of all the Churches. Let this process begin with the dis-establishment of the Church of England.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Edwin Chadwick - "Practice of Interment in towns"

Ashill Parish Church
© Godric Godricson
Edwin Chadwick's report on burials is a seminal work that influenced a generation of people in the area of burials.  He reported on a variety of issues relating to burials and some areas are a little 'icky' by the standards of the early 21st Century. For the next few weeks I want to add some snippet's from Chadwick's work which are illuminating and show how far removed our own views on death are compared to the 19th Century. Here is the first snippet.......

“Some years since a vault was opened in the church-yard (Stepney), and shortly after one of the coffins contained therein burst with so loud a report that hundreds flocked to the place to ascertain the cause. So intense was the poisonous nature of the effluvia arising there from, that a great number were attacked with sudden sickness and  fainting, many of whom were a considerable period before they recovered their health.”


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Isaiah 26:19

The cemetery
A.K.A "The Parish Church"
© Godric Godricson
 "But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead" Isaiah 26:19

There is something that strikes me when I visit an English Church and that is the proximity of the living and the dead. This proximity brings us back to the idea of Christianity being nothing more than a cult of the dead. In prayer, we cast our eyes upwards and we notice the plaques on the wall extolling the virtues of the departed. We notice the arms and titles of the great landowners and we are reminded that this building is often little more than a charnel house for the  rich and famous.

Indeed, if churchgoers  could develop x-ray vision or a personalised ground penetrating radar we would find the floor of any parish Church as a honeycomb of vaults and tombs fashioned from the 14th Century onwards. The vaults, full of humanity, would stretch as far as the eye can see. In this way we sense both the desire for salvation of past generations alongside their fear that God will seek revenge upon them. Regrettably, this mindset of fear and anxiety is not a modern way to design a building or lay out a cemetery.

The parish Church is a very real series of contradictions. On the surface,  the Church is an apparent place of  serenity and prayer and yet, underneath, there is nothing but death and decay. The line quoted above, drawn from Isaiah, is by 21st century standards a truly creepy statement. The quotation is saying something about the Church as being a 'parking lot' for the dead. The parish Church becomes a place where we are laid down like a fine wine awaiting the time when we rise again and 'pop' like a champagne bottle. The parish Church, rather than being a place of serenity, becomes the loci of a death cult where the living focus on nothing but death and dying. Oh dear, this theology of death seems far removed from the account of the Resurrection containing hope and joy. The cult of death is writ large in our society and the parish Church is the heart of the cult situated in most villages.

I am not convinced that the Church has anything very much to offer to a modernising society and the photograph above is a little charitable to the Church. When I visited the parish the Church had children's toys and games in the main areas. The altar had been moved into the main body of the Church from the east end. The children's toys was a sign that this ancient cult of the dead was striving for a sort of modernity and 'applicability'. However, the Church Authorities had missed the point. Rather than being open, inclusive and modern, the parish Church holds onto the  older ties to death whilst trying to support past errors by appearing 'modern'. The parish Church becomes a whited sepulchre rather than a focus for the community.

I understand the English and their sensibilities. The English easily fall down at the feet of 'tradition' and 'power' before they gently and quietly melt away  away to 'do their own thing'. That the Church has lasted so long in English culture is a testimony to the holding power of this cult of the dead. My greatest hope is that the 'cult of the dead' that passes for a state religion is left behind. Let the parish Church become a creche for the one or two children of the village if that is what the community really wants  although think about this......who would have a Creche in a cemetery?