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 Religions - The Benefits

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 08 Sep 2016, 09:47

Didn't know anything about Philippe IV and the Knights Templar - thank you for that, MM. Still mulling things over, like you do.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 08 Sep 2016, 12:55

Philippe IV’s problem in trying to destroy the Templars was much like Cromwell’s in suppressing the monasteries ... the intended victims were generally seen by many people as being the good guys. 

The Templars were a religious military order formed specifically to protect Christians making pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As such they established military bases from which they fought the Saracens (the bad guys) and policed the roads, and they operated hostels where christian pilgrims and other travellers could get safe accommodation, food and medical treatment. The Templar Order became very powerful and rich but they were also widely known as being religious, trust-worthy, crusading, charitable, and supportive of the poor, ... and so not obviously the corrupt, venal, criminals and deviants that King Philippe so assiduously tried to portray them as being. And bear in mind also that Philippe was massively in debt to the Templar bank, and that after several defaulted re-payments they were understandably starting to get a bit twitchy about the ability of the French King, and indeed France as a whole, to pay up.

As part of their mission to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land the Knights Templar had created an international banking network and a system (a bit like ‘Travellers’ Cheques’) by which travellers could withdraw money from any of their offices along the way, and so pilgrims and other travellers didn’t need to carry a lot of gold coin with them. This international banking side of the Order was also extensively used by merchants and for money transfers between states and princes, whether the payments were as gifts, bribes, loans, doweries, debts or whatever. The Templar bank thus became highly profitable. But unlike family-run banks, such as that of the Fuggers in Germany or the Medicis in Italy, the Templar bank's money-handling fees, which still might have laid them open to accusations of usuery, were not generally viewed as lining the pockets of a few individuals, but were seen almost as charitable donations which were going to further the Order’s good works.

As international bankers and financiers it was vital that the Templars maintain their good reputation for always being scrupulously honest and trust-worthy. For Philippe’s attack on the order to be successful, he had to tarnish their image and sow seeds of doubt. Hence the charges of corruption, financial dodgey-dealings, sexual deviancy, heresy and practicing satanic rites … nothing particularly concrete nor anything that could easily be shown to be outright lies, but all designed simply to blacken their reputation and undermine any popular support they had.

But in the end Philippe IV didn’t get to benefit much from the Order’s destruction as he died after a fall from his horse while hunting on 19 November 1314, less than a year after he’d sent the Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and numerous other Templar knights, to the stake.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 08 Sep 2016, 20:43

This is all fascinating stuff - perhaps it would be worth the effort of starting a new thread after all. If I do, maybe the Boss would be so kind as to transfer the above posts - his own, plus the two from you, MM - to the new topic. Get us all off this thread which has - sadly and ironically - caused so much huffiness and general mardiness. Who was it who said that religion poisons everything? Ah, that Chris Hitchens - what a person he was, that one. Witty devil, though, I give you that.

PS For those who don't remember, I quote MM, who quoted the Duke of Norfolk who, searching for the exact word exclaimed: "Cromwell, what a .. what a .. what a person you are."
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 09 Oct 2016, 13:50

One "benefit" of religion that seems to be still working is the Church's role in marking the rhythms of life and of the seasons. I suppose this is especially true in country areas in England.

I decorated our tiny church for the Harvest Festival yesterday, and I was a bit worried that there would only be me, the vicar and six pumpkins at the service. In the event the place was packed and we had a proper, old-fashioned celebration - "We Plough the Fields and Scatter" and all that.

It was really nice, especially as it is a golden October day here in Devon - all very mellow and fruitful.

I know such things are a tad pagan, but I don't care.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 09 Oct 2016, 15:16

Harvest Festival was the only one that I could properly relate to as being about something real and important to the community (and not centred around the life, death, rebirth, redeath etc of some 1st century religious bloke).

Our family parish church where I and several previous generations of my mum's family had all been christened, was a lovely ancient 10th century Saxon church ... but a few months before my birth mum and dad bought their first home: a semi-detached in a new development about a mile away from where they'd been living with Granny. The nearest church was the "new" red-brick Victorian chapel attached to what had been the district work-house, but since the 1930s had been the district general hospital (it's where I was born). St Giles' chapel was therefore where I and my sister reluctantly went to Sunday school; where we performed with more enthusiasm in Nativity plays; where we as a family always attended Christmas service before visiting Granny (now sadly a long-term resident in one of the hospital wards); and where every Autumn everyone went to harvest festival with baskets of fruit and veg' or bunches of flowers from their gardens and allotments; or a few jars of home-made jam or pickles; or even just a few old tins of baked beans from the cupboard-under-the-stairs ... all of which either went into the wards (fruit and flowers) or went to local charities.

But as I say since it was a community celebration of the harvest being safely brought in for the year (and we did then still have working farms around the town, and a lot of people had allotments or vegetable gardens), it did really mean something even to my cynical younger self. And a few years later, playing trumpet in the local brass band, well ... "We plough the fields and scattter" is always a good playable hymn.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 09 Oct 2016, 16:38

That's a lovely post, MM. We had just the same produce this morning - loads of fruit and vegetables (including a big basket of the dreaded curly kale, which actually looked very green and pretty), pots of jam, plus the more modern things like Heinz Curried Beanz  pale , Morrison's Macaroni Cheese, HobNobs, McVitie's Digestive Biscuits, Kellogg's Corn Flakes and various bags of granola-type cereals - all going to various charitable organisations.

It's funny you mentioned the word "safely" - I've just been thinking about that because we sang the good old hymn, "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come", this morning, and of course "safely" is a key word in verse one. I was actually going to post something about harvests - how a disastrous harvest in the past meant ordinary people faced actual starvation. I remember reading that the run of terrible harvests in 1554 - 1556 contributed enormously to social unrest and the progress of the English Reformation. I can't remember all the details now - I'd have to look it up - but harvests are such an important topic - plus the Corn Laws, too. Might be worth a thread...

Here's the verse one I mentioned:


Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in, *
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.


The sub-text is: "Thank God for that - we're not going to starve, well not this year at any rate."

PS


"All is Safely Gathered In" is the eighth episode of the fifth series of the British comedy series Dad's Army. It was originally transmitted on 24 November 1972. The episode is one of writer David Croft's favourite episodes, which he described in an interview with Graham McCann as "a joyous thing".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_is_Safely_Gathered_In




"I've got a real nice harvest spread for you; home-made pasties and potato wine."
The platoon gather around the Marshall threshing machine after completing the final day of the harvest. The episode, filmed in 1972, authentically recreated a wartime harvest.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Oct 2016, 08:30

I - in mellow, autumnal, uplifted mode - wrote:
 

That's a lovely post, MM.  


On sober reflection, however, I suspect it was perhaps not meant as such!   Smile  Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Oct 2016, 08:57

Now who's being cynical? Wink It was meant as a simple reflection about how the Anglican Harvest Festival, then and indeed now, has some real relevance to life other than being just another religious date. Perhaps I too was in a mellow autumnal, uplifted, mood, having been busy making apricot jam, baking game pies, and freezing down excess vegetables from the garden ... but I was being genuine and not the least cynical.

I'm not sure the French do Harvest Festival as such ... I think the equivalent, in our village at least, is St Martin's Day (11 Nov). St Martin's Feast Day is the traditional end of the harvest and the time to start the slaughter and preservation of excess animals ready for winter. The traditional meal then is St Martin's goose, now at it's plumpest having been fattening itself up for winter (or for the pot) on the stubble in the cornfields. It's also the first day when one can sample the new wines, and here is the day for the annual castagnade (a communal chestnut roast). It is of course also Armistice Day.

Our village church - incidentally dedicated to St Martin - no longer has a resident priest, but I think an itinerant one is usually found to conduct a mass on the 11th Nov ... although whether that's in commemoration of St Martin, in rememberance of the Armistice, or as a sort of Harvest Festival ... or all three combined ... I'm not sure. Needless to say they don't sing, "We plough the fields and scatter", although in the morning, around the war memorial we will have been singing the Marseillaise with its lines about "showering the furrows of our fields with the impure blood of our enemies ...", but that's not quite the same thing is it?.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 10 Oct 2016, 09:10

MM wrote:
Now who's being cynical? It was meant as a simple reflection about how the Anglican Harvest Festival, then and indeed now, has some real relevance to life other than being just another religious date. Perhaps I too was in a mellow autumnal, uplifted, mood, having been busy making apricot jam, baking game pies, and freezing down excess vegetables from the garden ... but I was being genuine and not the least cynical.


Sorry, mon vieux haricot - really.

I actually did think it was a lovely, reflective post - nostalgia for younger, more simple (naïve?) times (and faith?) - something that I certainly yearn for.

It is sad that I seem think these days that everyone has got it infamy - sorry again.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 11 Oct 2016, 08:27

Before there was an Anglican harvest mass in England there was Lammas, and I assume before that there was a pre-Christian Saxon ritual, and before that a pre-Saxon ritual, and before that some other religious ritual in which a group of (I assume) men decided in a self-appointed fashion that they should convene a communal gathering in which a supposed deity should be voted thanks for all the hard work that had actually been done by all those summarily convened, and most likely not at all by the self-appointed men doing the convening.

Most supermarket chains in tandem with charitable organisations these days have a food donation scheme that (amazingly) goes on throughout the entire year, presumably because the latest research has revealed that poor people do not eat only in October. While I can well understand that warm fuzzy communal feelings might be termed a religious "benefit" there are very few such occasions that stand up to too much critical scrutiny using less fuzzy notions such as justice, fairness and actual human rights as yardsticks, and the Anglican harvest festival - I would suggest - falls into that category too.

EDIT: And I assume throughout all its previous manifestations one would have found curmudgeonly cynics like myself who saw through the fuzziness and wondered just why their labour was being so summarily misrepresented, misappropriated and downgraded by self-appointed "authorities" who then demanded I should be grateful.

Infamy, indeed. Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 11 Oct 2016, 16:24

Fuzzy Christians of all denominations about here have long donated food stuff to a local outfit -  some pentecostal wallahs who speak in tongues or something like that. They dish it out without question to any who comes to the door. Whether gratitude is shown or not, I know not but it may just go to a child in need because fags, booze and Sky cost so much these days. Yep, it's a fuzzy old world.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 07:59

nordmann wrote:
Before there was an Anglican harvest mass in England there was Lammas, and I assume before that there was a pre-Christian Saxon ritual, and before that a pre-Saxon ritual, and before that some other religious ritual in which a group of (I assume) men decided in a self-appointed fashion that they should convene a communal gathering in which a supposed deity should be voted thanks for all the hard work that had actually been done by all those summarily convened, and most likely not at all by the self-appointed men doing the convening.

Most supermarket chains in tandem with charitable organisations these days have a food donation scheme that (amazingly) goes on throughout the entire year, presumably because the latest research has revealed that poor people do not eat only in October. While I can well understand that warm fuzzy communal feelings might be termed a religious "benefit" there are very few such occasions that stand up to too much critical scrutiny using less fuzzy notions such as justice, fairness and actual human rights as yardsticks, and the Anglican harvest festival - I would suggest - falls into that category too.

EDIT: And I assume throughout all its previous manifestations one would have found curmudgeonly cynics like myself who saw through the fuzziness and wondered just why their labour was being so summarily misrepresented, misappropriated and downgraded by self-appointed "authorities" who then demanded I should be grateful.

Infamy, indeed. Cheers


Quote :
warm fuzzy communal feelings...


Ah, the joys of the fuzzy approach to life. We are all tempted by it and search for it in our different ways and places, do we not? But is it so very wrong to look for it in an ancient English country church, where generations have sat, many of whom were as baffled, needy and struggling - and occasionally thankful - as most of us are today? Even a miserable old git like Philip Larkin, who was possibly even more of a "curmudgeonly" cynic than the above quoted poster (see poem "Church Going"), acknowledged the strange and compelling allure of such old buildings. I admit that, like Larkin, I prefer to be solitary in such places - pumpkins are easier to cope with than people - but in a way that's the point: coping with people, I mean.


Quote :
...some other religious ritual in which a group of (I assume) men decided in a self-appointed fashion that they should convene a communal gathering in which a supposed deity should be voted thanks for all the hard work that had actually been done by all those summarily convened, and most likely not at all by the self-appointed men doing the convening.


Theology, like everything else, needs always to be evolving, even as we evolve. The above view of the "supposed deity" is, I agree, nonsense, as it was, I suspect, for the original Jesus of Nazareth and for the other great mystics and spiritual leaders. The "authority", the "deity", the elusive "God Particle" (for want of a better word/s - language is hopeless in trying to "discuss" such things), is not some authority figure out there -  to be worshipped at the command of a Devonian beadle or church warden or - Heaven help us still today - the worthies who sit on the PCC ( pale ), but something to be found within ourselves. And in acknowledging and searching for that great mystery in ourselves we acknowledge it within others - or at least we keep battling away trying to find it or see "it" in these unlikely places - a much harder way, and not at all fuzzy, I would suggest. I'm thanking others when I thank God. Oh dear, that does sound a bit fuzzy, I suppose, but what the heck. I still think the admission of a need to keep searching is a "benefit" worth working for.

Have you read any Marcus J. Borg, nordmann - a theologian of the same ilk as John Spong? We're not all fixed, stubborn and mindless bigots, you know. Many are leaving Alexandria - that's true - but are looking for a new Alexandria - or rather, trying to work out what that interesting place was really all about.

PS For anyone confused "Alexandria" is a metaphor. Please do not read me literally (although these days I'm grateful if anyone reads me at all).




Chris Hitchens used to love to cite this poem and read it in his wonderfully witty, clever, sneering fashion, thinking he was sharing Larkin's complete contempt for religion. It can be so read, of course, but I think he's missed something about Larkin - odd in a man like Hitchens who was so very intelligent. The last two verses are worth pondering on:

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation - marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these - for which was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.


PPS
Quote :
..less fuzzy notions such as justice, fairness and actual human rights...

Now there are some interesting concepts - never thought about them before.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 08:51

I've heard Hitchens recite Larkin's poem and did not at all get the impression he was sharing any such thing as "Larkin's complete contempt for religion". I thought at the time he was genuinely using Larkin's poem to speak for his own view of the fact that religion's fading significance was not without some sadness for the loss of the traditional roles it had once played as - and Hitchens was also fond of this expression - "the only show in town". If I recall on the same occasion he even remarked that Larkin might be further dismayed should he see all those churches now being converted at an increasing rate into estate agents offices, hipster apartments and night clubs etc. No sense of triumphalism there at all, simply a nod in the direction of justified regret when babies get thrown out with the bathwater, however soiled that bathwater might have been (or even how necessary some of the babies were to be so chucked out).

My remarks above however were in sole connection with the harvest festival - it has been my assertion from the beginning of this thread that religion, by its nature, is an animal of appropriation. It cannot help but subsume elements - especially social elements - and then present them back to society as its own thing, and further that the genuine relief in this case that a community must have felt when the harvest had been successfully concluded be converted into gratitude to the deity or deities it chooses to promote.

I actually imagine in this case that most people engaged in the process of harvesting, at least in rural England, were actually not at all averse to this little transmutation of their sentiments and even went along with it with some gusto - genuine relief at not facing potential starvation must have acted as a powerful rhapsodic balm clouding their feelings and overriding any niggly rationale which might have tempered their genuine joy. It is not therefore in any way the most insidious example of such appropriation, but it is one which historically must still have been questioned by certain participants over the years. The recognition of labour as a valuable commodity at certain times in history, as well as the feudal lack of freehold that predominated in large parts of Britain at the time the Anglican festival as you know it took shape, must have meant that whole swathes of the population (especially for example amongst its Irish subjects) saw very little to be grateful to a deity for at all, even when a bumper harvest was succesfully completed (from which those who toiled least benefited most financially as they "owned" the produce). To them this ritual would surely have indicated a deity at least partly in cahoots with greedy and exploitative landlords. And there's nothing fuzzy or warm about that in the least.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 09:36

nordmann wrote:
The recognition of labour as a valuable commodity at certain times in history, as well as the feudal lack of freehold that predominated in large parts of Britain at the time the Anglican festival as you know it took shape, must have meant that whole swathes of the population (especially for example amongst its Irish subjects) saw very little to be grateful to a deity for at all, even when a bumper harvest was succesfully completed (from which those who toiled least benefited most financially as they "owned" the produce). To them this ritual would surely have indicated a deity at least partly in cahoots with greedy and exploitative landlords. And there's nothing fuzzy or warm about that in the least.


Fair comment - from the solely historical point of view, which is what, of course, this site is all about.

But then, I always argued that Jesus of Nazareth was a bit of a social revolutionary - not quite a proto-Marxist, but you know what I mean. That's why the Romans - and the rich Temple élite - wanted shut of him. Nothing changes. I refer, of course, to the Jesus of history, not the myth, although the myth does have its good points.

But I don't expect you to agree - you never do.

PS Perhaps I've been unfair to old Hitch. Sorry, Hitch.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 12 Oct 2016, 10:07

Temp wrote:
But then, I always argued that Jesus of Nazareth was a bit of a social revolutionary - not quite a proto-Marxist, but you know what I mean.

The character's depiction in the traditional tale is too vaguely described politically to be comfortably ascribed any overtly revolutionary tendencies, though I well understand the view you share and have heard it many times (it seems actually to have become standard Anglican rhetoric now, though this was not always the case either). Some elements of his speeches and behaviour support an apparently revolutionary outlook, but some are simply subversive, and others downright reactionary and conservative. This combination of diverse attitudes and stances rolled up within one politically active individual of course fits as neatly into the definition of a typical demagogue as it does into a demigod, though in truth what it probably most accurately depicts is a character assembled through biased pastiche in its early formation as a mainstay of a particular myth and therefore not strictly speaking historical at all.

But we've been there before .... Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Oct 2016, 14:42

nordmann wrote:


But we've been there before .... Smile


Have we really? Ah, so we have. I suppose these religious threads are like those devoted to Richard III and the Princes - we all go round and round in circles. But it is good fun (most of the time). Perhaps it's time for a Religion - the Benefits Round Two

In an effort to impress - or even to curry favour with - both nordmann and MM (possible curry Dish of the Day there?), I have found a link to a SCIENCE site which lists some rather dubious health benefits of religion. The claims have apparently been subject to rigorous scientific scrutiny, but it all seems a bit iffy to me.


http://www.livescience.com/18421-religion-impacts-health.htm


Giving people religious reminders makes them feel like they have less control over their lives — but it also gives them extra abilities to resist the temptation of junk food. In a study published in January 2012 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers exposed students to references of God in tests and games. Compared with students who saw references of pleasant but non-religious objects, the religiously cued participants felt they had less control of their future careers, but were also better prepared to resist the temptation of unhealthy treats. In other words, the researchers wrote, thinking of God could be either a burden or boon for self-control, depending on what part of your life you're trying to master.


I have just tested this theory with a large slice of Marks and Spencer Lemon Drizzle Cake. Thinking of God when confronted with this sugary treat was of no earthly use whatsoever. In fact I ate two slices of the stuff.


Godly thoughts are not effective against this temptation.



People who attend church often have lower blood pressure than those who don't go at all, according to a 2011 study out of Norway. Those results are particularly impressive given that church-going is relatively rare in Norway, and researchers thought that cultural differences might prevent religious Norwegians from getting the kind of blood pressure benefits often seen in American churchgoers. In fact, participants who went to church at least three times a month had blood pressures one to two points lower than non-attendees, results similar to those seen in the United States.

The benefits seem pegged to how faithful believers are in their church routines. People who went once a month or less had a half-point blood pressure benefit over non-attendees, and people who went between one and three times a month had a one-point reduction in blood pressure. The faithful may get lessons in coping with stress and anxiety from the pulpit, according to the researchers, or they might get a relaxation boost by singing, praying and performing rituals with others.



This too is nonsense. If I go to anything where there are likely to be Pentecostal Evangelicals, I always take 100mg instead of 50mg of my usual blood pressure medication as a health precaution. Discussing anything - using the word discussing loosely - with such fervent souls also drives me to drink.

I note the study was done in Norway. Dare I ask what nordmann's blood pressure is? No doubt a horribly healthy atheistic 120/80 - at all times. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Oct 2016, 21:40

Dear Sweet Sister Temperance,

"No doubt a horribly healthy atheistic 120/80 - at all times" Wink
I couldn't resist Embarassed ...

Your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Oct 2016, 21:48

Temp's source wrote:
... according to a 2011 study out of Norway...

Yes, or more correctly according to Torgeir Sørensen, a PhD candidate from the School of Theology and Religious Psychology Centre at Sykehuset Innlandet who relayed portions of the HUNT survey from 2010 to various Christian websites in 2011 (he works in a district hospital which participated). The meme he knowingly generated has since been repeated around the net, verbatim in most cases, mostly by religious sites but also by other sites (like livescience.com) which don't let trivial little things like actual sources distract readers from enjoying the cut'n'pasted content they provide in bucketloads.

HUNT 2 (Helse Undersøkelse i Nord-Trøndelag) in 2010 was conducted in one local health district in one Norwegian commune and basically quizzed hospital users about their lifestyles. Smokers were found to have higher blood pressure than average (surprise), however smokers who drank regularly had significantly lower than average. Church goers were in between. It caused much mirth at the time here - the findings are rather obvious I would have thought. Torgeir, for reasons best known to theologians apparently, left out the important bit.

HUNT 4 is underway at the moment. It is way more comprehensive and is causing some disquiet as it will allow researchers access to sensitive medical records (previous HUNTs concentrated on blood samples). This however is probably the one that will best indicate a link between religion and mental health, though maybe not in a way Torgeir will be too quick to launch internet memes about this time.

My pressure is fine, thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Oct 2016, 22:12

Whilst there have certainly been "harvest" or "solstice" festivals in Britian as far back as pre-Roman times (Samhain etc), the current form is more recent. Hearken to wikimisleadia :- "The modern British tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall."
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Oct 2016, 22:16

Two years before a million people died of famine in the same country as the Reverend Hawker. That one worked well ...
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 13 Oct 2016, 22:28

Others, including some of my ancestors, escaped. I suppose they would be viewed as "economic migrants" in Ms May's Britain today, and therefore unwelcome. Certainly one of them became a successful jockey, and the funds he sent home were instrumental in helping the rest of his family survive (or so family legend goes).
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Oct 2016, 00:13

PaulRyckier wrote:
Dear Sweet Sister Temperance,

"No doubt a horribly healthy atheistic 120/80 - at all times" Wink
I couldn't resist Embarassed ...

Your friend Paul.


I am actually rather embarrassed, Paul, that my remark and the foolish smiley - both actually entirely innocent -  could possibly have been misinterpreted. Really - I'm not joking.

It just struck me as ironic that I, who make every effort to do the right things in terms of food, exercise, weight, not smoking and indulging in regular religious rituals (the latter obviously a complete waste of time) etc. etc. have to take blood pressure medication, whereas others (not anyone here) do not. That's all. But my post this afternoon was inappropriate and I regret it.

Rev. Hawker is mainly remembered for his crazy chimney pots. He was a famous eccentric. His "hut" overlooking the Atlantic is the smallest property owned by the National Trust.

Eccentric vicars were a product of the Victorian age; but I'm not so sure they were a benefit to anyone. Perhaps one or two were, but I'm too weary to suggest any.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Oct 2016, 07:44

I think Paul was just joining in the humour, Temp.

But your last point is actually a valid one in the context of religion and "benefit". It was as true in England and the C of E as it was in Ireland and the Catholic church, and though I have no research to hand regarding Islam, Buddhism or the rest of them I cannot see how it could never have been true there either. The church, or more properly said a "job" in that set-up, was traditionally what one lined up for the male offspring in a family who through reasons of hereditary law, farming tradition, imbecility, lack of military aptitude, or otherwise socially suspect status, had nothing else to look forward to - the proverbial "runts" who still have to keep the wolf from the door through some means, and what better way to invite divine assistance than to put the runt in the deity's service? It therefore became a sump pit of sorts filled to the brim with many of society's reprobates (and not without some delicious irony in that), but also with those whose glorious eccentricities - and often downright lunacy - rendered them unfit for productive use elsewhere.

And that was indeed a benefit to society at times. Blake and Swift spring to mind at the high end of the cultural scale in Britain and the C of E. But the tapestry of life was rendered all that much richer by a whole plethora of other minor characters who shared little else besides having the same celestial employer and apparently no otherwise useful role in the society of their day. A few lovely examples have been assembled here at HubPages.com, but there must be hundreds of others equally worthy of note and remembrance.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Oct 2016, 08:01

Oh, that link is glorious, nordmann - thank you.

I know people often don't open links, so may I reproduce the following about Rev. Hawker? I particularly like his wearing a seaweed wig when he did his mermaid bit - no doubt off his head on opium. But the accounts of the other vicars are funny, too (oh, Lord, am I sounding like Rowan Atkinson's Archbishop of Canters?  pale ) Sorry, but you have to love the Church of England -  the proper old C of E, that is; it has produced some wonderful characters (not all of whom were completely bonkers, by the way) over the centuries. Can Rome compete with us?


•Once, he swam out to a rock and sat on it wearing a wig of plaited seaweed and howling as he supposed a mermaid might;
•He excommunicated his cat because he caught the animal mousing on a Sunday;
•Damian Thompson writes that the poetic parson “believed that the air was thick with invisible angels and demons - but then he also had a fondness for opium.”
•He dressed in vividly coloured clothes and the only black garment, the regular uniform of his trade, he wore was socks;
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Oct 2016, 09:50

At last, a 'benefit' with which I can enthusiastically concur: the multitude of fictional clerics (and a few rabbis and the odd imam etc) who have elicited  wry smiles, chuckles and helpless guffaws from me over the years have indeed been a boon and a blessing. From Mr Collins, through Brian Rix (sans culottes), the peerless I. M. Jolly, and Father Ted to Rev Smallbone, they have brightened my life although I must make an exception for that bloody Dibley woman.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Oct 2016, 11:18

One of my favourite clerics (a real live one) is the Reverend Benjamin Jowett, who was also an expert on Plato. He is reputed to have said: "My dear child, you must believe in God, no matter what the clergy tell you." I have adapted Jowett's words for my own personal benefit (when assailed by doubt as, alas, these days I often am). I tell myself in such dark moments, "My dear child, you must believe in God, no matter what the clergy - and nordmann - tell you."

But let's have a bit of Mr Collins, shall we? Tom Hollander (Rev.) played him in the film with Keira Knightley, but I actually prefer this presentation of him from the more famous BBC version. I wish I could find the clip of him dancing with Elizabeth - he turns the wrong way and bumps violently into his partner (Lizzy), who in embarrassed anguish has to tell him: "Other way, Mr Collins!"





PS I do so agree with you about the Dibley person.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Oct 2016, 11:21

Temp wrote:
Can Rome compete with us?

I think post-reformation Catholic priests in Britain and Ireland had slightly different motivations in taking up the job, Temp, and hence some rather different temperaments prevailed (not to mention working conditions). However as the organisation slowly filled the vacuum created by the Emancipation Act and disestablishment of the C of I in Ireland it began to attract characters comparable to the established C of E in your neck of the woods too. To maintain a suitably remarkable eccentric lifestyle as a cleric one needs a measure of stability in domicile, a captive audience to recount one's exploits, a stipend, and a pretty effective immunity from arrest or being sectioned - and I admit the C of E candidates have had a huge head start over their Roman counterparts in Britain and Ireland in all these respects.

The biggest challenge to any eccentric cleric in Ireland of course is to distinguish himself on that basis from the bulk of his flock, but some hardy souls did indeed take up the challenge with relish.

One who sticks out is ä lad called Liam Ferris who ended up as a curate in Ballylongford in County Kerry in the late 1800s. Ferris was a leading light in the Gaelic League which in the 19th century was at the vanguard of a resurgence in the use of the Irish native tongue. Ferris's participation was scholarly and effective by all accounts - but his diligence wasn't without some unfortunate side effects. He threatened excommunication for anyone who displayed a sign outside their premises in his village not in Irish, which included the local branch of the Gaelic League of which he was a member and who couldn't afford to replace their brass plaque with a translated version. He ended up temporarily excommunicating himself as a result, which posed a thorny theological problem regarding re-entry into the fold once the suitably amended plaque had been procured from the monger in Killorglin.

His understanding of theology was unique too, in any case. He decided, for example, that there in fact could be no such thing as "mortal sin" as to execute the deed one would need to have "grievous matter, perfect knowledge and full consent" simultaneously in place in one's head, something he reckoned was an impossibility (a view shared by psychologists today). However to declare a mortal sin not a mortal sin was in itself a mortal sin, and one moreover that was one of the few exceptions to his otherwise sound theory, which meant he had just therefore committed one. Ferris spent the rest of his life trying to work out how to undo that one.

His colleagues grew so used to Ferris's departures from Catholic theological dogma that they no longer called them heresies but "Ferrisies", and even contrived a special Ferretical Absolution sacrament that could be enacted in a jiffy whenever he got into one of his conundrums. One such was when he declared rugby to be a sacred rite and one in which every Irish person had to be indoctrinated, this belief stemming from his discovery that William Ellis had spent time as a child in Tipperary and therefore was subject to another thing he believed in - the "Caid" - which tradition states was an ancient Celtic forerunner to football in general but which Ferris believed was used by St Patrick to help young males understand communion with christ. Ellis, by picking up the Sassanach ball and running with it had obviously been spiritually consumed by St Patrick's Caid, which ipso facta ad sacramenta made rugby a divine Catholic sport.

When Ferris was suspended by his bishop at one point (excommunication of Ferris was only ever done by Ferris) the villagers threatened to convert to C of I. He was back on the pulpit within a week, and I reckon if I had been a Ballylongfordian of the period, I wouldn't have missed a sermon either.

I agree about the fictional variety too, ferval. Though when it comes to lunacy it would be hard put to find fictional examples who could hope to emulate the real thing. No one would believe them.

PS: And can I add my vote to the Dibley consensus? I like Dawn French immensely and in many guises, but ...
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 14 Oct 2016, 12:50

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 12:47

There was a programme about the Condottieri on Yesterday TV last week.

Thousands of suits of armour were manufactured during the 14th and 15th centuries, but of these only a handful have survived.
One place they did was in the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle grazie di Curtatone, where people of all classes gave thanks for good fortune. This particular church is the repository of life sized mannequins, among them those of soldiers dressed in the armour of the time. It is thanks to this that these armours have survived.

Milanese armour of the 15th century preserved at Santa Maria:



The Mannequins in their niches;

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 01 Dec 2016, 10:47

I feel obligated, following our bar discussion, to add an encyclopedia of saints (assorted) to whom believers can relate for all manner of circumstances. We hhave this week learned of the one for shattered dreams St Adnomnod (sp?) (I can't recall exactly and which ever way its spelled it doesn't pronounce that way - or according to nordmann (Vol 8 chapter 48 vv 27)

Then, he mentions St Pancras also being a patron of a frozen pipes.... I may have misunderstood that but this was at revealed at the bar so am a tad hazy.

Jolly useful for some, all these saints. I have a friend who frequently calls on one  for finding lost stuff. Quite effective too as most turns up eventually; nice to know that there is a presence keeping check on what gets down ones sofa. I never tried as I can't recall his name. There must be many saints out there just longing to be called up if only we knew who they were - unclaimed benefits, perhaps.


Last edited by Priscilla on Thu 01 Dec 2016, 10:49; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : First error seen - there may be others.)
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 01 Dec 2016, 11:09

Oh dear, I read the name (above) of my saint of shattered dreams (my new favourite, after St. Nectan) as St. Adenoid.

Does the world spoil everything it touches? The idea of saints - men and women of special spirituality and goodness - was a lovely one, but, like all lovely ideas, was swiftly abused.

But I'm glad P. has brought this up - I was toying with the idea of a "The Patience of a Saint" thread - because saints are very interesting. Even in this secular age and in a Protestant country they are still all around us: not just church names, but in the names of roads, schools, railway stations, hospitals, colleges, even pubs. The Reformation's attempt to abolish saints never really worked. The saints were a comfort to people and it must have been bewildering to have had that comfort suddenly snatched away. Is a hope of comfort - even if it is illusory - always a bad thing?

In the message (in bar) which he altered, nordmann noted that saints are/were not divine - simply human. Well yes - Luther agreed: "No great saint lived without errors." But perhaps that's the point.

In haste.

EDIT: where you get saints, you get relics of course. But perhaps we had better not go there...


Last edited by Temperance on Mon 05 Dec 2016, 12:25; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : missed out a comma in a list.)
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 01 Dec 2016, 12:17

St Priscilla wrote:
I feel obligated, following our bar discussion, to add an encyclopedia of saints (assorted) to whom believers can relate for all manner of circumstances.

I'm not sure encouraging people in their mental illness should really be classed as a benefit of anything. Though I do admit that a lot of my underwear bears saintly monikers, so there is that.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 01 Dec 2016, 13:51

Well, that remark takes the biscuit - and most definitely a custard cream. Preferably in the face.

I think saints (some of them at least) are a really nice idea and I am not mentally ill (as far as I know).

I once had a friend who had, unfortunately, had quite a lengthy sojourn in the local psychiatric hospital. He claimed to be the only one among us who was definitely sane - he having a discharge certificate to prove it, a paper qualification of which he was inordinately proud. There must be a patron saint of the mad.

Any road up, I'm off to light a candle to Saint Michael (offering up thanks for his food, not his underpants).

Sorry, P. I at least tried to take it seriously. Mea culpa and all that crap.


PS

Our Patron

St. Priscilla is commemorated in Roman Martyrology. She dedicated most of her possessions and her activities to the service of martyrs. She is founder of what is likely the most ancient of the catacombs and probably donated the land on which they were built. St. Peter, the apostle, is thought to have used a villa belonging to her on the Via Salaria as his operational base in Rome. She seems to have been the wife of Manius Acilius Glabrio, who was put to death. And she is most likely the mother of the senator and martyr, St. Pudens.

In 98 A.D. St. Priscilla was placed in an amphitheater and a lion was set loose to attack her. Instead, the lion licked her feet. She was then returned to prison and killed. An eagle watched over her body until it was buried in her catacomb on Acentine hill. By the fourth century a church was dedicated at the site where her relics remain.

St. Priscilla is portrayed with a tame lion, an eagle, and in her hand a palm branch symbolizing martyrdom. Her feast day is January 16th




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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 01 Dec 2016, 14:05

A plain garibaldi will do me, I'm not greedy.

Talking to invisible people is not the most severe form of mental illness, I suppose. However if one has genuine regard for one's fellows' health it would certainly be best not to turn a blind eye to it. Abstract Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a complex, chronic, post-traumatic dissociative psychopathology, I hear. It starts with thinking St Peter is staying in your garden shed and ends up with lions licking one's tootsies. Not recommended.
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