Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Tuesday Twins

"HUH???" I hear you all say. What's all this about then? Well, a little-known part of my life is that I help out at the local Church of England Sunday School. I hesitate to say I'm a Sunday School teacher because I don't feel like a teacher.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, my life is full of contradictions. And I'm a total hypocrite. But back to these pictures. Here's the connection: our theme for this year's Crib Service (on Christmas Eve) is the Twelve Days of Christmas. Now, some time ago, someone started a rumour that the Twelve Days of Christmas was written in Tudor times as a way for Catholics to celebrate Christ's birth. Henry VIII, as you may know, persecuted Catholics when he decided to get divorced and break away from the Catholic Church. In this country it was illegal to be a Catholic for the next 200 or so years. So each verse supposedly represents something biblical, with the partridge in a pear tree being Jesus.

Except when you start thinking about it, it doesn't make sense. Catholics wouldn't be punished for believing something all Christians believe. And so in the first meeting I attended, I started to ask a lot of questions, and found the answers here: http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/12days.asp. But the other women paid no mind. The decision had been made already about the theme. So now I'll be working with the older group to come up with what symbolism they think all the verses could have.

Helping out at the Sunday School, particularly the Crib Service, has become a real chore. I did it for my kids to begin with. I'm no Holy Roller, but I do have a religious foundation and curiosity. My atheist and agostic friends feel uncomfortable with this side of my life. My reasoning is this: We live in a complicated and difficult world. Understanding religion is a key to understanding different peoples, and you can't begin to understand others' religions, I believe, unless you have a belief system yourself. I am providing my children with one. If they choose to reject it when they grow older, that is their right. However, it is something to come back to if they ever need or want to. And at least I've given them something to reject. It is easy to not believe in religion, lazy even. You can pick apart all religions and find flaws because they are communicated to us by other humans. But through all the ages of humankind, religion in one form or another has survived. We have a basic need for a belief system, for a sense of community that religion brings us, for a structure of rules. Even if that belief system is to not believe.

But back to the Twelve Days of Christmas, I'm actually looking forward to it now. Some new people have come on board and diluted the overbearing martyrdom of one woman who thinks she's the only one who ever does anything. I'm sure you've met this type before. They usually belong to PTAs as well. She always goes on about how she's the only one who ever does anything and it cuts into her Christmas Eve with her family, yaddayaddayadda. No one else has a family, it seems. And she always forgets that for the last three years I've helped her. She did it with another woman before that, but she tragically died of cancer. And maybe that's what's behind the Martyr's complaints: she misses her friend, whom she never talks about. Or maybe she's just one of life's complainers.

I'll let you know how we get on. It could be interesting. It could be, dare I say, fun!


laurie said...

you might be right that a person needs a belief system in order to understand others'. my father was catholic (my mother had to convert in order to marry him) but by the time i came along (no. 7 of 10) they had fallen away from the church.

i missed out on all of the rituals--first communion, and regular church attendance, and any religious aspect to christmas or easter.

i still only vaguely understand what people believe, and i have a very hard time understanding why they would believe any of it. i'm not an atheist, exactly--just uneducated.

Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

My children are not christened, as I want them to choose their own religion when they want to as my mother did with me (and believe it or not, I was right into religion as a teenager!)

I've let them go to Sunday school, and attend holiday clubs, they enjoy it and are learning something new. So if you are a hypocrite for doing what you are doing, I'm going straight to hell! lol

Flowerpot said...

she sounds as if she should be in a novel. Lots of conflict - keep us posted - I might put her in mine if she starts giving you trouble!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I have to echo laurie's words. My dad was Catholic, but not very active. My mom wasn't. When I was growing up she dabbled in a variety of religions.

Then I married a man who was brought up (and educated) Catholic who had major issues with the church.

I don't know enough about any of it to know how uneducated I really am. Does that make sense?

Pixie said...

Irish Catholic mother, English Protestant father.
Lots of religion when I was younger till I refused to get confirmed, and I've not had much to do with religion since.
Neither of my children are christened, or my sisters two.
I'd like to believe, would make life simpler, but I don't.
But I do have a spritual side that I'm still discovering.
Hope you can find the message in lords ' a' leaping!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

laurie: I know loads of lapsed Catholics, and loads of people who just didn't grow up in any church. I have always found the study of religions quite interesting.

Vi: Can't be doing them any harm.

flowerpot: You're welcome to use her if you wish. She would suit a Mrs. Gaskell-type novel, I should think. I much prefer Frenemy as a character.

RC: Yes it does make sense. I'm not Catholic, but attended a Catholic high school, which was bad enough.

pixie: I think many of us do have a spiritual side that is comforting to be in touch with.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Well I think you are doing the right thing with the kids. If you give them a foundation they will have a reference point to start from, grow from and come back to if or when they decide to reject stuff as we often do as a right of passage in our teens.

That poor old martyr at Sunday School - no one tells her she is worthwhile so she makes out she is so important. Maybe she needs to hear a nice word from someone! Or maybe she is just an old bag!