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I have just finished reading the Sara Douglass trilogy ‘The Crucible’.

I bought these at a second hand book store in Kilmore. P. and I were in Kilmore as a bit of a field trip, visiting a client.

We were both interested to visit Kilmore, as we were under the impression it was a bit of a foodie mecca; lots of new and exciting cafes and restaurants that had rated really well in the latest Age Good Food Guide. Well, we were a little disappointed; there was not much to see in Kilmore. And then we realised we had mixed up Kilmore and Kyneton. Oh well. There was a very good second hand book store.

So I got these books and when I started reading, they seemed familiar. Yes, I had already read them. Then forgotten them. And now re-read them.

Well. I do that a bit. I tend to read too fast, gobbling up books like lollies and not really retaining them. It’s good for me to slow down and try to digest properly.

Since I first read them, I’ve read Phillip Pullmans ‘Dark Materials’ trilogy, which these books brought to mind. The common element was very striking- man’s misconception of angels and God and the depiction of the Church as a fraudulent mechanism to wield power. Strangely, these themes are echoed in the American TV series ‘Supernatural’, which the boys and I watched, but apparently no-one else in Australia did and now Channel 10 has dumped the series entirely.

In all three story lines, angels are depicted as, at best conflicted, at worst evil; and God is entirely absent. What to make of this modern take on Western religion?

When the boys were little, I had a picture of an angel over their beds as a sort of talisman. It seemed a harmless thing to do, but actually I was appropriating a religious symbol that had really not meant much to me before. Perhaps I shouldn’t have. I certainly would not have hung a crucifix above their beds, nor even a cross. The sight of disembodied Buddha heads scattered around every shop and restaurant you walk into also disturbs me, but I have a statue of Buddha too. It’s hard to know what is the right thing to do- sometimes these symbols seem to speak to you, even if they aren’t part of your culture.

I grew up with no religion, so I have no issue with anyone’s religious beliefs. Believe what you want, it’s your actions in the world that speak to me. P. grew up with Catholicism rammed down his throat and was exposed to some pretty nasty hypocrisy in the process, the result being that he is suspicious of religion.

And perhaps that is where these stories are coming from, the perspective of the insider. Perhaps you need to be part of a religion and feel betrayed by it before you can turn on it in such a way.

Religious issues can leave me feeling a bit like a confused onlooker at the scene of a brawl: “What just happened here?” “Well, I’m not sure, I was just standing here and suddenly there were fists flying everywhere….”

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