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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Reformation and the dead.

I live in a culture that has made birth, sex and death into horrific ordeals.

Cruelty, in the name of rationalism, comes value added.

Reformation- the act of stripping religion from religion- began as a cult, a 'back to basics'.

From its doctrine of this world as the only 'Holy text' came 'science'.

And a cynical money grab as church and monastery were stripped of gifts given to them by benefactors paying for prayer.

As a result, the dead were literally tipped into landfill.
Priests were disemboweled.

The memory of the dead for whom prayer had been promised.

Erased.

John  Houghton.
"O Jesu, what wouldst thou do with my heart?"
Richard Whiting, the abbot of Glastonbury,  had though that by accepting the annulment of so many of his duty's that his monastery would be safe from dissolution.

Under the law, as he understood it, Glastonbury abbey did not fall under the Act for the suppression of the lesser houses.

He was wrong.
His abbey was much too wealthy to be allowed to remain.

On Saturday, 15 November 1539, Richard Whiting now aged 78 years was taken to Glastonbury with two of his monks, John Thorne and Roger James, from a prison in London. There all three were fastened upon hurdles and dragged by horses through the streets, and then to the top of Glastonbury Tor.

Here they were hanged, drawn and quartered.

In the new cult of Reformation, the dead are beyond prayer.

Anyone who says otherwise....
Is a threat to the state.

Purgatory is closed.

The new cult stripped away meaning.
Time in the grave- oblivion.
Resurrection- the next moment.

All you need is faith.

Yet death had been portrayed for so long as a journey; the dying understood that death led through heat, cold and pain, through hallucination, ultimately to the divine.

Purgatory allowed the living to help the dead.
It is too awful to believe them gone.

The Reformation was an anomaly.

It didn't fit.

The godly puritanism of no drink, no drugs, no piercings, no tattoos, no rituals that involve pain. No sacrifice...

Doesn't fit humanity.

British prehistory begins with graves containing ochre-stained bones.
Mammoth bones, rings and rods..
Seashells...

As if the dead care.
No...as if we care.

The Neolithic long tombs
Chambers for the ancestors
Latter sealed
To keep the ancient dead away from the living...

As if there are ghosts!
No...there are ghosts; guilt, fear, plague, misery, shades and shadows that feed upon humanity.

Bronze Age round barrows
Where heroes, heads to north lie
Kept company by latter additions, heads to South..

Sleeping kings
King Arthur and his knights.

All the preserved bodies
The cremated remains
The bones taken from old ground and reburied to hallow a new site...

The dead were always a part of this life.

Until they were removed to the future.

The triumph of Reformation mythology is pretty amazing.
I wouldn't have predicted its success.