Bitch on the Blog

August 18, 2016

That which binds us together doesn’t divide us

Filed under: Culture,Family,Friends,Human condition — bitchontheblog @ 18:01

One more thought and then I’ll shut up on the subject of religion that’s occupied my thoughts the last few days:

One may ponder – and I have done so – why even those of us who wouldn’t describe themselves as religious do get married in church and, later on, have their children christened. And we, the collective we, do so, merrily, in our droves. Does that make us hypocrites? I don’t know.

Being of a practical bend I see those ceremonies as that what binds a family, a community, together, officially, through celebration. In the case of a christening – the welcoming of a child and introduction into wider family, “god” parents vowing in public to look after a child in parental absentia should the worst come to the worst.

What an exhausting subject religion proves to be – again and again and then some more …




  1. Andy and I got married by a Justice of the Peace with our close parents there. We had a party afterwards. Kaitlin and Torben had a fancy wedding at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I can’t remember the details about the fellow who performed the ceremony, but he wasn’t a religious person. I could easily become a minister authorized to perform weddings if I were so inclined.

    Comment by cheerfulmonk — August 18, 2016 @ 18:25 | Reply

    • Jean, you reminded me that, of course, it’s different in The States. You do ad lib.

      In the motherland you need to be of a denomination, provide the bride’s and grooms’ baptism certificates, make a case to the vicar why he should marry you at all, before you stand in front of the altar. Same if you want your child christened – dear dog in heaven, I was put under scrutiny even when entered by parents as godmother to their children. This is going to lead to an anecdote … another stain in my scrapbook of shame. Which is why I’ll leave it for another day.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — August 21, 2016 @ 13:04 | Reply

  2. well, having agreed with Herself that we would be married in a registry office my mother stuck her oar in and declared that Herself must want to get married in church and that was that….. a triumvirate was formed and we married in a church. I made my promises to Herself in front of witnesses and that was okay…… the bell ringer rang the three bells by himself (two hands and a foot|) and mother in law threatened to donate a fourth bell…. “Just to see how he’d manage that.”
    Both boys were christened because family politics exerted pressure……. and yours truly has been known to take the path of least resistance:
    Both sons married in Church, eldest because his future Bride had been educated and cared for by The Poor Handmaids ( who to a man… errr person… were lovely calm, gentle and often very funny people….. the celebrant wasn’t a Catholic… Youngest was married in Church because his bride wanted to get married in church and she did not want to offend her family(family politics again). They had a choice of churches with family connections all over the country and chose the one where my parents had married in 1945. On the morning before the wedding youngest and best man went to the church to check things out and met the son of the priest who was incumbent when my parents were married(he was just visiting his fathers old church)… serendipity… or sheer coincidence….

    None of the participants in theses three celebrations of matrimony are believers…. yes it’s hypocrisy of a kind and I often question my weakness… but hey… I’d have made those promises anywhere and as a priest once told me (during my evangelical and believing period, before Grannie died so horribly) when I asked him how he felt about having an atheist in his church at early morning Communion, ” We welcome everyone. Who knows, they may receive the Holy Spirit.” and added to that it’s always a nice litle earner for the church… and that seems to be what so many churches are about these days….. and yes I made a donation to the upkeep of youngest’s church and it’s lovely organ… the organist(from Bath Abbey) really enjoyed himself and played some Fats Waller(no mean organist himslef) after the service…

    Church, registry office, Sir Richard Rich’s old home, some out of the way hotel …. does it matter? Marriage is not the sole realm of religion…. after all I understand that all it took in Scotland in the old days was a “romp in the hay”….

    Comment by magpie11 — August 18, 2016 @ 20:16 | Reply

    • My dear David, preparing for a wedding will test your mettle. Particularly when you are the bride and your father, forty eight hours before the big day, cancels the whole thing. No bull. It happened to yours truly. Delivered by telegram. To be honest, I sometimes think my father staged it to test his soon to be son-in-law’s determination. Cost me dear – in many ways. But that’s another story.

      Anyway, my main question was, of course, whether ethically it’s correct for bonds of whatever kind to be tied in the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost when – in your heart of hearts – you are not a “true” believer. I myself had/have no problems with it. Largely because I am rather fond of rituals as the church provides and because, in the end, we are all part of one gang – namely humanity. And, let’s not forget, we (the collective Western European We) are CULTURALLY Christians. So, naturally, we do make use of the churches’ often comforting “facilities”.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — August 21, 2016 @ 13:22 | Reply

      • Culturally Christian? WhatI rather enjoy is the fact that Christianity has really not managed to suppress preceding “pagan” cultures….. tree worship? Easter Eggs? Bonfires? (at various times) and so forth….. maybe the ruling classes like to think that they are Christian in foundation (rather like the local councillor who tried to tell me that English Musical heritage is based on Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner) But I ams ure that the ordinaty peole, in spite of their protests to the contrary, have their culture fimly rooted in pre christian traditons. After all, did not Soccer originate in the kicking of one’s enemies heads around?

        Comment by magpie11 — August 24, 2016 @ 20:01 | Reply

  3. Humanity likes and even needs ritual and we have very little of it in our lives so I think we do these things for the ritual and tradition. After all, a re-invented ceremony seems to carry less weight

    Comment by kylie — August 19, 2016 @ 00:44 | Reply

    • Indeed, I agree with you, “humanity likes and needs ritual”. Your sentiment boils down to something as simple as visiting your parents and you want everything just as you remember it. It’s the significance and comfort of “homecoming”, of feeling safe. That which we pass on even if, and most certainly, occasionally tweaking those traditions round the edges when starting our own family. Insert mischievous smile.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — August 19, 2016 @ 11:07 | Reply

  4. Some – if not all – of our most memorable ceremonies, such as baptism, weddings, graduations, house warming and funerals, were celebrated with feeling, compassion, love and lots of laughter and tears but entirely without religion, not the slightest church ritual and all involved are decent and happy people to this day, and I would include the deceased.

    Comment by Sabine — August 19, 2016 @ 09:03 | Reply

    • Of course, Sabine, and I couldn’t agree more with you – but then, as Kylie above points out, it’s oddly often the pomp, glory and ceremony of a long established custom and tradition associated with church rituals which give so many, even the non religious, a framework.

      Personally, and this is not as facetious as it sounds, I blame the grandeur of church buildings, their cool interior, their hushed mystery, the vicar in his cloak radiating benevolence which adds meaning to the most momentous moments in our lives. Says she who has stipulated that she doesn’t wish a “traditional” burial – under any account. Those who will want to “celebrate” my demise will have to do so under their own steam and imagination. However, I would like someone to say the – to me tear inducing – “ashes to ashes, dust to dust, man born of woman has but a short time to live …” before they shovel the earth and plant a tree on top of me. But then, I suppose, that has nothing to do with religious believes … just stating facts.

      Good to hear from you,

      Comment by bitchontheblog — August 19, 2016 @ 10:49 | Reply

  5. Prayer can be a copout IMO. Example: an acquaintance posted on FB her husband is now dying and at least 40 jumped on board with the prayer scam. I, on the other hand, offered help where she needed it, driving her to the hospital, a meal dropped off, etc. I’m not a better person just practical. Prayer means you do nothing but feel sanctimonious.

    Comment by wisewebwoman — August 19, 2016 @ 10:02 | Reply

    • I agree with you, WWW. A prayer can be a cop out. Being a doer myself and practical with it, topped with liking to be needed and of help, I too will jump into a breach to the best of my ability. Neither counting cost or time. As, in all fairness, and on the whole, I have been at the receiving end of enourmous kindness too.

      “Sanctimonious”? My dear WWW, who hasn’t come across the self righteous? But to be sanctimonious you most certainly don’t have to be religious and given to prayer. It suffices to be a mega arsehole devoid of all compassion and empathy. A member of the “I am alright, Jack” brigade. A few times in recent years I have been given a dressing down so vile, the giver so smug, me thinking them being so beyond contempt I didn’t even bother to answer, just shrugged my shoulders, gave them a look of heartfelt pity and walked away. I also, and please do smile if you will, called myself to order as not to wish them Karma dishing them a spoonful of their own medicine some time in the near future.

      Just read your post on contentment (and age). So glad that you are well on the way of the former, and at peace with the latter.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — August 19, 2016 @ 10:34 | Reply

  6. the comments have mostly got it in a nutshell – it’s tradition, & ritual – something that may not mean much now – seeing that so many people can become celebrants – not just for marriage but for funerals. Naming ceremonies instead of “wetting the baby’s head” – I have been to a couple of “in the garden weddings”….

    When I was a teenager at boarding school – on Sunday you went to church, didn’t matter which one – but you went… some of the bigger attendents went in a bus, whilst others a taxi or picked up by an elder. So as you progressed through the years, you had to take up this or that -communion,baptism,etc.

    Yesterday I went to a laidback funeral – where at one of the chapels at the cemetery with a celebrant as the ??? (term failure) – then we adjoined to a club rooms that the departed had been part of for many years in the 1990s. for tea/cake.

    I remember going to a Catholic service (funeral) about 2 years ago, a bit of pomp/ceremony – “but” like yesterday a powerpoint of the departed life/photos and all kinds of memories shared by family members…

    So many of the traditional celebrations have maybe stayed the same, but the after function has certainly changed for many…and then there is now the monetary side of things. I would imagine churches, have a lot of upkeep and the ceremony although traditional/etc – means money/hireage and so on.

    Comment by cedar51 — August 20, 2016 @ 02:59 | Reply

  7. When I lived in Japan 20 years ago Western style weddings were becoming popular as an alternate tradition for a tradition crazed culture. Then I encountered a missionary from Kazakhstan who said that the practice there was for the young men to go out and kidnap a girl, bring her home, and that was that. They were married. It did save a lot of courtship awkwardness, didn’t cost much money, and was free of government entanglement.

    We should probably not mention where the ideals of multi-culturism originate, lest we find some more traditions lurking about where we don’t want to find them.

    Comment by Looney — August 21, 2016 @ 21:42 | Reply

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