Good Friday Procession in Hastings Old Town – and general Easter thoughts.

Well, that’s it for the Mini-eggs for another year.  On Friday we watched the Old Town procession, which enacts the Stations of the Cross. It does not fail to impress, even for a pair of atheists like us.
     It starts at St Clement’s Church, and winds it way through the streets, stopping at St Mary Star of the Sea, and finishing with the crucifixion at All Saints. Jesus is accompanied by soldiers who kick, beat and flog him in a disturbingly authentic manner, and a crowd, including his mother, dressed in biblical robes, who shout and remonstrate with the soldiers. There are also various clergy persons and a mass of on-lookers, many of whom chant and sing as they go.

Jesus starts his walk
He falls
Beating and scourging

     We first heard about the event because one of my Hastings Writers’ Group Committee colleagues, Janet, plays Mary, the mother of Christ.

Makes a change from the Writers’ Group

     Last year it was terribly cold. Jesus kept his robe on throughout because he had on long johns and a T shirt underneath. Not totally authentic. This year, it was warm enough for him to be stripped of his raiment and the soldiers to draw lots for it, as required.

Up the hill to All Saint’s
The finish…

       I’m sure it is bad form to blog about religion, but it is Easter, after all.
       Battleaxe was brought up as a traditional Anglican.  At boarding school, we were dispatched to the vicar for confirmation classes as soon as we showed signs of puberty.  In common with many of my class-mates, I went through a very devout phase, fasting, fainting, seeing visions etc. This did not last, mostly because God did not cure my teenage spots, despite much earnest praying.
       I like singing hymns, and the ritual of a traditional service. My fantasy church would use the book of Common Prayer, Hymns Ancient and Modern, the King James Bible, have no kids running up and down the aisle, no embracing your neighbours, no guitars etc. We’d have sung Eucharist, anthems, choirs, the lot. At the same time, this church would have cast off its ridiculous attitudes to women, gay people etc. Some chance of all that. This sounds like very muddled thinking, but for me, any sense of transcendence or spiritual uplift comes through ritual, the more mysterious and picturesque the better.
      A few weeks ago we went to a Buddhist burial ceremony, where ritual is all important. They don’t bother about the meaning or the modern relevance of the chants, the ringing of bells or bonging of gongs.
      While I’m at it, there is currently a row in the media about Mr Creepy Cameron saying that this is a ‘Christian country’. Of course that is not strictly true, only a tiny percentage are practising Christians. However, it is largely the case that our unwritten ‘way things are done round here’ is based on a history of Christian values.
      Presumably, Cameron is trying to make some sort of muddled appeal to the Tory heartlands, but for us Brits, these things are probably better left alone. I don’t agree with an established Church, and I would prefer ours to be an officially secular society.  However, to have a true secular society, we would have to have written codes, like France, and we would never agree what was to be in them. Having said that, our wooly minded liberal ways leave us open to be pushed around and bamboozled by religious fundamentalists, bigots and bullies, of whatever faith.
     Enough of that. Yesterday we met grand-daughter Eve in London – she is staying until Friday. Roll out the Battleaxe Granny.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Comments from Google+