We as humans have so much tradition etched into our lives we end up believing we will in some way suffer for not upholding them. What nonsense, what rubbish! It is this very thing which keeps us under their influence. Why should not the groom see his bride to be on the day of their wedding before it has taken place? After all they have been seeing each other for days, weeks, months and years beforehand. Why suddenly is it considered ‘bad luck’ (whatever that is) to see each other on the day? Old wives’ tales, now tradition and totally pointless.
Never but never walk under a ladder for that too brings bad luck according to tradition. The only misfortune likely to befall anyone walking under a ladder is the possibility of someone up the ladder dropping something on them, or the ladder itself falling upon them, which is probably a one in a million chance. It is all fear and superstition of course but it is pressed into our upbringing by our parents and their parents before them. Harmless fun I hear many say but is it or is it just simply stupidity? Why do people believe such things? Have they not proven it is all myth for themselves by ignoring the warnings? They say they won’t tempt fortune so carry on in the same old way and go with the flow. I call them sheep for they act like them. One day people will realise that many of the traditions handed down to them are quite meaningless, harmless maybe but why continue with them at all? Here’s a good one, blue for a boy and pink for a girl. Just colours but we made a tradition that is kept but why? Originally the tradition had been the reverse, blue for a girl and pink for a boy but not many people know that. Does it matter? Of course not. My children were told at a very early age there was no such person as Santa Claus but if I had been more steadfast I wouldn’t have persisted in following the false tradition it is as soon as they had begun to learn about it. Had I not become a Christian I would have kept the tradition myself I suppose. Many of the traditions we hold are based on untruths and hearsay yet we still maintain the status quo.
My mother used to tell me and my siblings that we would have seven years of bad luck if we broke a mirror! For heaven’s sake it is only a piece of glass and how many of those got broken in my lifetime? Aha but it was always considered good luck when a black cat crossed our path or if we had a chimney sweep at our wedding! How did we ever manage before we had chimney sweeps?
Tomorrow, which will be Monday 21st as I write this on Sunday, will mark the 71st anniversary of my birth. For quite a few years now I haven’t celebrated the event because I personally see it as pointless. To me it is just another day. You may be wondering why I think that way so I will tell you, it is not scriptural. What? I mean the practice of celebrating a birthday is not recorded in Scripture, The Bible, and if I am to live by God’s Word I should not celebrate birthdays either. It is a personal choice however for I know Christians who don’t hold the same view. I really do see it as pointless irrespective of biblical teaching. Why do people celebrate their birthday, to be precise the anniversary of it? What are they celebrating if indeed they are celebrating anything? The anniversary belongs to their parents if the truth be known. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, or would be if those celebrating it had that in their hearts, most don’t. Jesus didn’t have ‘birthdays’ and neither did anyone else at that time. Christmas and ‘birthdays’ are an invention of man. So it was Sunday, the day before the day that marked the anniversary of my birth. I would be working the day after but Sunday itself was a day for relaxing, well relaxing as I do it. I was up quite early and after breakfast I wanted to go for a walk but it was a cold day. I waited a while until it was sunnier then went for the walk. It was indeed a cold day. I was wrapped up for it though but my outward journey was into a biting wind, not a strong wind but enough to make you feel it. I noticed hailstones trapped in the grass in places along the way yet it hadn’t been falling since the day before and everywhere else was dry. I thought that strange as there were unfrozen puddles of water everywhere. On my return journey the wind followed and it felt far less cold. Soon I was back home in the warmth but I didn’t stay indoors long. I went out into the garden to sweep up leaves once more. I knew there would be more to sweep up but now the trees are almost totally bare there shouldn’t be any more to sweep. Maybe. The last collection of green waste for the year will be on 28th of the month so I must make the most of cleaning up before then. When I had finished sweeping up leaves I went into the large greenhouse and placed the strawberry plants I had put into large pots last week onto upturned old pots to keep them off the floor and hopefully keep the woodlice at bay. I didn’t do much after lunch except a few household chores and watch some tv. I was looking forward to Monday, not because it was my birthday, because I would have work to do.
As a child I loved the ‘merry-go-round’ rides and any fairground rides to be honest. For me it was the thrill and excitement of being slightly out of control of my faculties for a short time, the dizziness and pressure on my body was quite exhilarating. Now you may think I’ve grown out of that at my age but in fact the opposite is true, I still enjoy such things or rather would do given the opportunity. I don’t go out of my way to visit fairgrounds though there is one a mere mile and a half from where I live. Many seaside towns have fairgrounds and Southport is no exception. In a way I am still riding the merry-go-round, we all are. Year after year the same old events take place, nothing really changes and most people follow them like sheep. Last night (Saturday) marked the annual celebration of the foiling of The Gunpowder Plot or rather the demise of the conspirators and specifically a man called Guy Fawkes. Why he should shoulder the blame or be remembered above the others I am not sure but the celebrations are named after him, Guy Fawkes night or Bonfire night. Bonfires are lit and fireworks set off throughout the night by way of a celebration that the plot to kill King James 1 by disgruntled Catholics who were prevented from blowing up The Houses of Parliament. The Catholic population at the time had been persecuted by Elizabeth 1 the Protestant queen and the Catholics had thought James’ rule would see an end to it but it hadn’t. All these events happened over four hundred years ago yet they are still celebrated. It is one of many that are celebrated each year, some are local celebrations and others are national. It seems people are not happy unless they are celebrating something. We are never satisfied because material things cannot keep us satisfied for long so we seek thrills and excitement from all sources. Each year it’s the same old thing, a merry-go-round from which we don’t wish to disembark.
As a point of interest I make every attempt not to get on the ride in the first place, not this sort of ride anyway.
The Israelites were noted for it. God had promised them so many things and all they had to do was follow His instruction but time after time they failed. From the beginning mankind has been rebellious because of a stubborn heart. So often we choose the easy way out or we choose to do things our way when in our hearts we know it is wrong. When I took my children to church they learned the right way in life but sadly now they have grown they seem not to continue with Christian instruction in some areas of their lives. They are still believers in Christ, it’s just they make compromises where perhaps they shouldn’t. Hey, listen, I am in no way perfect either though I strive to do the proper thing in my Christian walk. It is fortunate therefore that Jesus has done it all for me because at my best I fail to reach the standard. On Wednesday late in the afternoon I received a visit from my eldest son, his wife and their young daughter who had called to collect something of theirs we have in storage at our house. They didn’t stay long, they never do, there is always some other pressing engagement they have to attend upon. In conversation the subject of Halloween crept up with my little granddaughter getting excited at the prospect of her Halloween celebrations. Children do not understand and neither do many or even most adults! When at the church I used to attend the teaching was that Halloween is centred around pagan rituals and nothing about it was good. The parents were encouraged to bring their children to alternative Halloween celebrations at the church and were discouraged from promoting the secular version. Does God frown upon the secular version? Of course He does. The Israelites were not averse to consulting mediums and spiritualists, the very people He instructed them not to consult. God makes the rules for our benefit but we often ignore Him. My eldest son’s wife, a Christian herself has chosen not to follow instruction and openly encourages their daughter to enjoy Halloween whilst my son rather than making a stand against what he knows about the truth behind the celebration has chosen the easy way out just to keep the peace. I can say nothing of course, why argue with stubborn hearts? I understand that not everyone will agree with my beliefs because they are not believers in God or if they are they do not think it wrong to ignore Him. In the end it is a personal choice we all have to make.
At almost 70 years of age I can remember with nostalgia many things which no longer exist. In the previous post I was hinting at the ways we are placed under pressure by commerce to get us to buy things and how the writers of software in phones and computers are pushing us to either go along with it all or get left behind. We are given choices but further down-line we will have to use what we are presented with. I was watching a programme on television called ‘Flog it’ a couple of days ago and in it we were shown what is called a living museum. For those who live outside of the UK ‘Flog it’ is a programme about antiques, their valuation with a view to those who have their treasures valued to auction them off. As often in these programmes they take side steps from the main content of the programme in order to present the viewer with things maybe of interest in the area in which they are holding a valuation day. In this particular programme we were taken around the streets of a local town rebuilt as they were fifty to a hundred years ago and all under cover. Old fashioned shops and hardware stores, old vehicles standing outside in the cobbled streets and goods on display were as authentic as I remembered them long ago. I remember the real thing and how it was in the high streets of every town and city. Slowly but surely things have changed and I can see in the not too distant future even more changes to come. Some will say for the better but I say not, at least in some things. In those days we couldn’t buy anything unless we had the cash in our hands. Along came hire purchase, loans from the banks or other sources, credit cards and now smart phones. We don’t necessarily have to have cash in our pockets to buy anything on the high street and for shopping online we can’t use cash anyway and that is what will change everything forever. One day I can see a system where we can only buy things electronically. It is very much early days yet but eventually I can see everyone having a chip implant for use in everything we do. That is a road I do not want to go down and probably won’t, this is for the generations to come. I digress. Life was far simpler when I was young and looking at that programme brought back some very nice memories of those days. If I had the choice and the power I would turn the clock back in certain areas of our lives. It isn’t going to happen unfortunately
Today marks the time of the Summer Solstice, the point in the Earth’s annual orbit around the Sun when we in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet experience the longest daylight hours in the day. Naturally those living in the Southern Hemisphere will be experiencing their shortest number of daylight hours in the day. After today we begin once again to drift back to Winter and for those in the south, Summer. We mark time using our calendars but did you ever wonder how we ended up with the calendar, the months, the seasons, how in fact we measure time and for what purpose? We mark time because we need uniformity in our lives and to be able to conduct business and social engagements with each other. In our day-to-day routines we don’t necessarily need to have absolute accuracy in our time keeping but just enough to make things work. Below is an extract from a website dedicated to Calendars. The link to the site is shown below this extract. It is filled with some very interesting facts about our calendar…….
‘Our units of temporal measurement, from seconds on up to months, are so complicated, asymmetrical and disjunctive so as to make coherent mental reckoning in time all but impossible. Indeed, had some tyrannical god contrived to enslave our minds to time, to make it all but impossible for us to escape subjection to sodden routines and unpleasant surprises, he could hardly have done better than handing down our present system. It is like a set of trapezoidal building blocks, with no vertical or horizontal surfaces, like a language in which the simplest thought demands ornate constructions, useless particles and lengthy circumlocutions. Unlike the more successful patterns of language and science, which enable us to face experience boldly or at least level-headedly, our system of temporal calculation silently and persistently encourages our terror of time.
“It is as though architects had to measure length in feet, width in meters and height in ells; as though basic instruction manuals demanded a knowledge of five different languages. It is no wonder then that we often look into our own immediate past or future, last Tuesday or a week from Sunday, with feelings of helpless confusion.’
E and I decided we would dine out on Monday afternoon and as usual we had no specific plans as to where that might be. We left home a little late, that is around 1.30 and E started to drive north. When we go in that direction we turn to the coast road to continue out-of-town but if we do so we have to pass by my local pub, I say my local because E only goes there if I am with her. I asked if that is where she had in mind but added that I’d rather go somewhere else instead so we sailed on past but took the southerly route down the coast road. I immediately knew we were going to dine at a carvery in nearby Formby and sure enough that is where we went. We seem to be popular there and the staff are always pleased to see us so it is a nice place to dine. When we arrived there were many people dressed in black and E asked one of the staff about that. It appears that they had just attended the funeral service for a local woman, Anne Williams, who had died recently. She had been instrumental in getting an inquest under way regarding The Hillsborough Disaster which occurred many years ago in 1989. For those living outside the UK this disaster happened at a football ground where Liverpool football club were playing Nottingham Forest. 96 people lost their lives in the crush of supporters gathered in one of the stands, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_disaster). The inquest was called for because the police had been accused of covering up their involvement which led to the unfortunate demise of innocent supporters, one of whom was Anne’s own son. It is sad to learn of anyone’s death and it was nice to see so many people honouring this woman who had battled for 24 years to overturn the previous inquest’s findings and in the last few months her own battle with the cancer which took her life.
I got to thinking why is it that people feel the need to dress in black when attending a funeral. It is obviously tradition and I suppose people are afraid to ignore such tradition in case they are deemed not being respectful. What nonsense! There is no real reason for anyone to dress in black, it is only a colour. No, the real reason is the fear of what others might say. Why do we as human beings impose such ridiculous traditions upon one another because ‘it is right’? People do things because it is traditional and don’t question it and that is why these silly traditions continue. As for the lady they laid to rest, she departed long before the ceremony. I overheard one of the women say ‘she had a great send-off’. I can’t understand that. The day’s proceedings will have served as a reminder of the woman herself but the actual ceremony and the way it was conducted, the hymns that were sung and all the rest was solely for the benefit of those attending. In real terms they were paying homage to a corpse! I have said this before, the woman should have been honoured and respected whilst she was alive. We tend to ignore this sometimes but it is only when people are alive that they can appreciate what we do for them. Many will say that she was looking down on the proceedings, not knowing if indeed she was. Many do not believe in heaven or hell, Jesus Christ or God but somehow still believe her ‘spirit’ will be watching. I would like to think her spirit is resting with God but I don’t know that for sure.
This coming Sunday marks the annual day of remembrance for all the members of the armed forces who have lost their lives in conflict. The recognised symbol worn by those who support the event is the poppy as we all know. During the preceding weeks leading up to this special day poppies, or rather man-made versions of the flower are made available for those who wish to recognise the sacrifice of those who fought on our behalf. A monetary contribution is expected in receipt and of course is given freely by those who wear them. This is the tradition and it is expected that everyone will honour it. Not so! I for one do not recognise remembrance Sunday and neither do I buy and wear a poppy. Why? Well for one I do not think it is a good idea to support something I do not think we should be involved in. We are asked to support those who have been maimed because of their involvement in war when in fact those who join the armed forces are well aware of the risks involved before they enrol. Those who lose their lives in conflict have only themselves to blame, they know the risks involved so have no complaints if things go wrong. I didn’t ask anyone to go and fight a war I think we should not be involved in so why should I then be asked to support those who by their own actions return maimed and unable to support themselves? As a Christian of course I would support anybody who was in dire need but those who go to fight on behalf of our government should be supported by the government and not by me. The problem with society, with governments, with people, is they do not learn from their mistakes. We are called to remember the dead, those who died in conflict yet we continue to support war. Some wars come about because there is a need to defend ourselves but many wars are fought for purely political reasons or for financial or other material interests. Take the ongoing Afghan war. Why on earth are we there? What benefit is there in having our young men subject to such danger by keeping them in Afghanistan? They get killed for what? The only ones suffering are their families. What a complete waste of life! Mankind just will not learn from mistakes and what do we do? We mark the occasion with futile remembrance services and sell poppies! Heads are bowed and thoughts are directed toward the sacrifices of others but it is all a complete farce, nothing is going to change, the same mistakes will continue to be made and we will be no better off. I don’t do poppies. I do not support war. I do not support the idea of fighting for something that is a waste of time and something in which we should have no involvement in the first place. What I will support is prayer, I pray that we will one day cease fighting with one another and that there will be no need to think that we have to go to war ever again.
At the end of next month or perhaps the beginning of December I will curtail my visits to the pub, not returning again until after the first week in January, God permitting of course. I call this time the ‘silly season‘ when the world gets all wrapped up in the Christmas festivities and shallow well-wishing toward one another. It is the season for struggling in the shopping areas of town worrying about what presents to buy for those in our lives, a pointless ritual that people feel obliged to be a part of. That belief is rooted in a lack of self-confidence to make a stand against tradition, mostly because they enjoy the experience of it all. It matters not to the majority that what they do doesn’t honour God, if they had any belief in Him at all. What is more important to them is that they are enjoying it all. It is a time to get merry, to give and receive gifts, to eat too much food and to generally make pigs of themselves. The run-up to it all is probably more enjoyable than the holiday itself and when it is all over it is back to the normal routine again. What benefit is there in all of that I ask? Well once upon a time I indulged in the same way and then I became a Christian and the festivities had meaning but since those days I have realised that all I had been doing was based upon tradition and what I was getting out of it all. God doesn’t want us to fall into the trap of traditionalism, man-made festivities and seasonal hedonism. He would rather we lived our lives honouring Him and not just for a season but throughout our lives. Loving and pleasing God is a lifestyle, far better than any Christmas party or any of the trappings surrounding it. I no longer wish to be a part of it and for the last few years I have isolated myself from this tradition. I enjoy the company of people, that is why I go to the pub in the first place and I can do that all year round but something happens to people at Christmas and there is a sense of ignorance in their hearts regarding Christmas itself and why it was originally ordained. That subject I will not go into again for I have expounded upon it many times before. As they say these days ‘Google it’, or you could look into my archives at posts I have made around this time of year more recently. Key in the word ‘Christmas’ in the search box on the right. No, I shall not be going to the pub when they start their silly season in a few weeks time.
The weather turned really fine on Wednesday and hopefully by the time you read this it will have remained so. It was forecast to be nice through to the weekend anyhow. I had no work scheduled for Wednesday so I arose a little later than usual but still before 8 o’clock. After a toilet visit, a quick wash and my prayer session I got dressed in my new running kit and went downstairs. Before I did anything else I had to put out the bins for emptying and recycling then I went into the cellar for some time on the treadmill. I suppose I could have pounded the streets but I tend not to do that these days. Anyhow I spent around 30 minutes building up a sweat and losing lots of calories in the process and afterward cooling off in the rear garden, then it was back indoors to have a bath and wash some clothes. I wasn’t hungry but I had it in mind to have a fast day anyway so I turned my thoughts to something other than food. I eventually came back downstairs dressed in some of my nice summer clothes, the sort you don’t want to be wearing in the job I do! I had no intentions of working that day in any case. I spent some time on the computer before heading off out with no particular place in mind to go. That was around 12.15. I still wasn’t hungry. I headed down to the seafront and walked at a fair pace for about two miles and then started back home via the towns promenade which isn’t as you might think on the seafront, it is on the town side of the small lakes which separate it from the seafront. As I got toward the busy part of the seafront there were many people on the beach, with their cars, dogs and children if they had any, all doing what people do on a lovely sunny day at the beach. Many were sitting on the sea wall which runs alongside the beach separating it from the coastal road. there were people on bicycles and skateboards and a few, like me, just walking. As I got further along the front and away from the busiest part there were few people about. Coming back along the Promenade I began to see much more people about and although I didn’t walk into the main shopping area along Lord Street I knew it must have been full of people enjoying their day. Even on ‘bad’ days Lord Street has many visitors. I carried along the Prom watching the children playing on the lawns, their parents quietly sitting in the sunshine eating fish and chips or sandwiches, some licking on a soft ice-cream. A typical day at the seaside which I have seen so many times in my life. By the time I had reached the far end of the Prom there were fewer people to be seen. I walked back toward home along Rotten Row, alongside of which is Victoria Park where each year they hold the Southport Flower Show and I could see much activity in there. Temporary gardens were under construction ready for viewing later in the month. Rotten Row has been a popular road for floral displays all year round since Victorian days with each side of its half-mile length filled with flowers and shrubs of all kinds. Over the last few years however only one side maintains a floral display. I suppose that is due to the financial cut-backs. A notice announcing the forthcoming Air Show on the 8th and 9th of September reminded me that soon it will start to become cooler, although this summer hasn’t been what you might call ‘blazingly hot’. Time marches on regardless. Whenever I go out walking I see the signs of annual repetition on display everywhere. Nothing ever seems to change, a bit like the old song in ‘Fiddler on the Roof‘, sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the years, one season following the other……and so on. I get bored with that sort of thing, everything run by the calendar, nothing ever spontaneous or just done for the sheer fun of it. Many people don’t look at life that way but if they just stood back and took stock they would see how very much regimented their lives are. I think that as we get older we begin to either simply go with the flow, one thing then the next, all predictable, or we rebel and just go off at a tangent and do things on a whim. One of the reasons I don’t visit my local pub for weeks on end is the monotony of it all, same people doing the same things every time they go there, regularly! So on Wednesday everything changed for me, nothing was routine. I exercised on the treadmill for a couple of miles, I went for a five-mile walk in the fresh air and ate nothing all day. When I returned home I took a couple of photographs of the plants growing behind the wall in the front garden. Click on the images to enlarge them.