On finding real truth, peace and reconciling ourselves to the future

It is Good Friday. I once again maintained a Furneaux family tradition quite alone by eating far too many Hot Cross Buns. I am anticipating chocolate eggs on Sunday and looked forward to having the family around me for a few extra days over the weekend instead of finding myself alone at the computer all day.

And then this morning, instead of the usual Homes Under the Hammer or Animal 24/7 with my coffee I found myself catching the final few minutes of Bettany Hughes discussing forgiveness, and how hard we have to work to say ‘I forgive you’ or ‘I am sorry’ with any true meaning. I cannot say my life has been transformed, but my morning certainly has been. I remained seated for the first part of The Story of Jesus, examining the man’s life from an historical perspective and reading of the four gospels. Suddenly, the day seemed to have some significance beyond buns and chocolate. As my husband continued with some dubious puns and general mocking of religion it occurred to me that the increasing secularisation of society might have some direct correlation to increases in stress, anxiety and depression. I am sure this is not an original thought, but it crystallised for me the idea that my search for a place in the world, my anxiety about the future and my desperate need to find peace of mind and a place of safety might relate to my relationship with society as a whole.

This thought may not have been prompted by Bettany Hughes at all. I felt the first stirrings yesterday; once when I went to browse in Marks & Spencer and saw a whole range of chick and bunny decorated kitchenware. Who needs (or has the money for) tea towels, tea pots, cereal bowls, etc etc specifically for Easter? Christmas has long been lost to rampant commercialisation, but there has always been something rather more reserved about Easter, shocking though it is to see chocolate eggs in Sainsbury’s in January. I also thought shops had to remain shut on Easter Sunday, but on checking opening times for my daughter I found that Clarks Shopping Village in Street is open all day. Is there now no day in the year where we have to sit quietly with our own thoughts? Or does society now demand constant opportunities for distraction? Is our need for chicks and bunnies to celebrate one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar more to do with our love of childhood; our nostalgia at the loss of innocence?

I have never been able to commit to organised religion. I have long suspected that the need to ‘find God’ related more to my desire to shift responsibility for my life on to someone else than a real need for his spiritual presence in  my life. However, listening to Bettany Hughes; drifting along on the calm voice of Archbishop Rowan Williams; feeling uplifted by the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu; I felt more strongly than ever that we all need to find some peace in this mad world.

I believe, though, that to find peace you need to find truth. A real truth and an understanding of what is truly right and wrong in this world. With the increasing commercialisation of every aspect of society and the state of the British media how can we succeed in that search? Only yesterday the Daily Express printed figures about the number of people on long-term Incapacity Benefit owing to what they clearly saw as ‘lifestyle choices’ – obesity, drug and alcohol addiction. The words were then taken across internet news channels and supported by Conservative politicians. Apparently these ‘scroungers’ are costing us billions of pounds a year. Apart from the fact that as my friend wurzelmeone pointed out these claims amounted to less than 4% of the total, are these people seriously suggesting that people are staying on drugs, ruining their lives and relationships with addictions and eating until they can’t get out of a chair just to avoid work? Shouldn’t we be berating the fact that the budgets of voluntary sector organisations supporting these people out of self-destruction have been slashed in recent months whilst investment bankers continue to reap the rewards of their own destructive behaviours – gambling with our money? Or looking at our enthusiasm for another war in the Middle East where our oil interests lie when there are dictators in other areas of the world who can continue to persecute their own people without our intervention?

How can I, or anyone in society interested in finding a way to reconcile opposing values in the years to come, find the ‘truth’ necessary to offer the calm atmosphere necessary for clear and rational thought?

I have on many occasions been ‘accused’ of ‘thinking too much’, of being ‘too sensitive’. ‘Life isn’t like that, get on with it!’ is a phrase thrown at me on suggesting there ought to be a different way.

Well on Good Friday, whether you have an interest in established religion, seek a spirituality of your own or just ‘get on with it’ I think we ought to take a long hard look at the way we live now. It is not only me that needs to find some place of safety in this mad world.

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14 Responses to On finding real truth, peace and reconciling ourselves to the future

  1. I had to chuckle, Suzie, when I read you are “accused of thinking too much, of being too sensitive…” In my book, there is no such thing. You and your attitude are exactly what the world needs more of. Very nice post, thoughtful and timely.

  2. Rivenrod says:

    Mrs. S, you have probably guessed I will have a few things to say about your dissertation, however . . . I must go to Tesco.

    I’ve just realised the irony in that . . . I must go to the church of material commercialisation and gather its bounty “so we might live”. HA!

    • keatsbabe says:

      Hee hee – I anticipated a response from you Mr R! Hope the trip to Tesco met some of your spiritual as well as physical needs….

      • Rivenrod says:

        “I believe, though, that to find peace you need to find truth”.

        Is truth the same as honesty? Is my pot-bellied truth the same as that of the pot-bellied refugee child? Or is their distended belly due to fatal liver enlargement and excess fluid caused by starvation? How much knowledge do we need before we can recognise truth? Does recognising what might be true confirm the existence of truth?

        Does our quest for truth mean we acknowledge the presence of a higher being? If so, is God truth? Or is truth, God? Given there is one God for every human being on the planet, would that God exist without us? Must we suffer to achieve true enlightenment and is that suffering measurable? And if so, is the degree of enlightenment equivalent to the degree of our suffering?

        Is there a correlation between the depth and quantity of suffering and the extent of redemption? Is redemption granted hierarchically? And, if this is the case is the granting of truth also based on a meritocracy with certain truths only being made available to certain people? If so, what are the rules?

        Is truth synonymous with good in the way that untruth is evil? How, then, do we reconcile devilish and cruel acts performed honestly in a manner true to character? Must we blindly accept them as the will of a higher being and ignore the dilemma posed by the Godhead of all goodness performing or allowing the cruellest and most evil acts?

        Those born into the flesh will die whether in peace or in pain: that’s the human condition. Jesus of Nazareth is said to have followed humanity into death. Is resurrection and the promise of life everlasting the greatest lie of all?

        Perhaps this is how the devil traps us, when we let our guard slip and become so distracted by questioning Truth too deeply?

  3. Lisbeth says:

    Lovely post. I’ve just come back from a Good Friday service for children. It’s a strange day – I think it’s the most similar to the traditional Hallowe’en in a way – remembering the dark side, the horrible side, the full stop of death. It’s all very Jungian. Explaining it to small children is odd – the scourging, the spear, the sponge, the dice, the shirt, the hammer, the washing of the hands – symbols of a death that are becoming so remote from our modern culture as to be meaningless to most people these days.

    Walking home, I noticed the war memorial at St. Mary’s church has all these symbols down the side. I let the smallest one climb on the war memorial (norty!) so she could trace her fingers over the carved stonework and I tested her on the symbols; we talked about the war memorial and death, and how we believe there is always something worth surviving for, a happy ending beyond the sad tale.

    I feel sad though that so few children will understand all this rich symbolism around them; the meanderings and ponderings of centuries of philosophy and theology. For me it isn’t about whether the story is true, but what the truth is in the story. There is so little pausing left in our society; so little time to appreciate the full stop, and to ask where we might find meaning.

    • keatsbabe says:

      I do so agree with you! The Story of Jesus on BBC 1 this morning was wonderful in its assumption that there was some truth in the story and it respected its historical context and meaning. It really was a pause for thought and I understand how hard it is to encourage children to take that little bit more time to think about what wonders surround them…

  4. Lynne Earthy says:

    Brilliant post Suzie. I think it is appalling that some shops are open on Easter Sunday. When do we get chance to be together as families especially as lots of famillies theses days are spread about geographically.The people who winge about stores being closed for one day have no regard for those that have to man them!! Happy Easter xx

    • keatsbabe says:

      Happy Easter to you too! I really don’t understand why, when this is such a long holiday, we can’t save just one day to be shopping free and to encourage us to spend time away from the high street. Poor Jane may be stuck working over the holiday if the garden centre changes its policy. So many people just seem to assume it will be open..

      • Lynne Earthy says:

        I know, and that would be the same for Emma. They work their butts off prior to the weekend, they deserve time to rest. The so called Sunday being the day of rest is non existent now (sorry, not very good grammar)!xx

  5. Phil says:

    Hi Suzie.

    I’m not going to say too much about the post (I suspect we might disagree on a fair proportion of it) but I will say this – you were not alone in upholding the Furneaux tradition of Hot Cross Buns. I may be a couple of hundred miles away, but I was there toasting and buttering away to my heart’s content (bad choice of words probably, given the amount of butter…)

    Px

    • keatsbabe says:

      Its great to know you were eating buns with me this morning, even from such a distance. No one else here likes them and after the demise of the Grand National tradition I want to hold on to these brief moments of nostalgia!

  6. I’ve never known of a pet, or any animal , to wear a cross, a yarmulke, a turban, a headscarf or any other item denoting it’s separateness in the name of any grand keeper of the universe unless forced upon it’s being by a human.
    Happy Spring!

  7. Louise Berry says:

    Great post Suzie, it did make me think which is the point, of course. It struck me that it wasn’t until quite late in the day on Sunday that I remembered that the main point of Easter Sunday was the resurrection. As I child, my grandmother made a point of me knowing the meaning of Easter. I look at religion differently now, but it is sad that children nowadays are often out of touch with the spiritual side of life.

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