The naked policeman 259

The British Home Office  has decided to recognize the “equal rights” of Pagan policemen. We’d be surprised if more policemen don’t now convert to the religion of the Vikings. As the London Times describes it, it sounds great fun. Certainly a lot more so than Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism, even if just as irrational.

From the TimesOnline:

“As of May 2010 the Police Pagan Association officially received the support and endorsement of the Home Office and the National Policing Improvement Agency and is now a recognised Diversity Staff Support Association for serving and retired pagan police officers and staff in the United Kingdom,” said PC Pardy, who despite his interest in hammer-wielding Norse gods still speaks like a police officer giving evidence at a magistrate’s court. …

The eight main festivals [are]:

Samhain — On Hallow’een (October 31), pagans celebrate the dark winter half of the year by leaving food outside for the wandering dead, dressing up as ghosts and casting spells

Imbolc — the festival of the lactating sheep held on February 2. Pagans pile stones on top of each other and make “priapic wands” to celebrate fertility

Beltane — on April 30/May 1, pagan and Wicca worshippers celebrate the Sun god. In Celtic times it was an opportunity for unabashed sexuality and promiscuity

Lammas — On July 31, pagans celebrate harvest time and go on country walks

Yule — On December 21 pagans go door-to-door singing and burn a yule log to honour Kriss Kringle, the Germanic god of yule.

Ostra — On March 21 pagans celebrate spring and heap praise on the Sun god

Litha — or summer solstice. Members drink mead and dance naked to celebrate the harvest

Mabon — pagans celebrate the autumn equinox with an outdoor feast

Pagans, including druids, witches and shamans, will have to take their official religious festivals as holiday days, but each day is given the same respect as Christmas for Christians, Ramadan for Muslims and Passover for Jews.

Pagan officers will also be allowed to swear upon their own religion in court now, pledging to tell the truth not before God but by what “they hold sacred”. [Roman men clutched their testicles when swearing an oath, those being what they quite sensibly held most sacred as the fons et origo of human life – JB]

One unscientific estimate suggests that there could be as many as 500 pagan officers in the country. In 2001 there were 31,000 pagans in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. …

One officer, who did not wish to be named, said: “When they talk about political correctness gone mad, this is exactly what they are talking about. I mean, what has it come to when a cop gets time off so he can sit about making spells or dance around the place drinking honey beer with a wand in his hand?”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government wants a police service that reflects the diverse communities it serves.”

The Home Office has long been fatuous, but sometimes it accidentally hits the the right comedy button.

Heaven and Hell (2) 157

Hell by Hieronymus Bosch

The playtime revolutionaries and vandals of the Viennese commune (see below, Heaven and Hell (1)) lived very comfortably in the midst of what they chose to call Hell. They knew it was nothing of the sort. They also could not help knowing that millions in neighboring Communist countries longed for the freedom and prosperity that they had and pretended to despise. Their Hell was a lie, but their Heaven was truly unimaginable.

Genuinely feared Hells are much the same in successive generations and diverse cultures. Hell is pain, sorrow, fear, loneliness, loss, defeat, oppression, humiliation, frustration, despair. It is all that we hate and fear. Its geography and architecture are hideous and threatening. Its images are iron and fire wielded by ruthless tormentors with absolute power, assaulting vulnerable flesh. Everyone can recognize Hell instantly in Hieronymus Bosch’s picture of it. As pain is universal, so are the furniture and vocabulary of Hell.

But what of Heaven? Who has described or pictured it convincingly?

The conventional Christian Heaven or Paradise – commonly depicted as a pearly-gated garden (‘Paradise’ is an Old Persian word for a garden) where disembodied but human-shaped beings with wings stand on clouds and pluck harp-strings, in the vicinity of a throne on which a huge bearded man is seated – cannot have a lot of appeal to a human nature that craves excitement, competition, challenge, variety, drama, achievement, and carnal satisfactions. At best it might be a rehab retreat rather than a pleasure resort. But there are profounder Christian visions. In Dante’s Paradiso the degrees of bliss – that is, nearness to God – depend on the capabilities of the individual souls.

In ancient Greece, the shades of heroes went to Elysium to wander about in a state of blessedness but not happiness, according to Homer. It lay on the rim of gloomy Hades, where the unheroic multitude languished forever. The wicked suffered unremittingly in the dreadful pit of Tartarus.

A perpetual feasting with the Gods in the great hall of Valhalla was how the Vikings imagined eternal bliss. But even if immortal digestive systems are part of the deal, such an afterlife, when measured against the pleasures pursued on earth, must surely lack a certain je ne sais quoi.

Jillian Becker,  December 16, 2009

Posted under Art, Articles, Christianity, Miscellaneous, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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