Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Never Ever

Possibly the most tenuous connection ever between the title and the subject, which is this:

Click to tweet: http://clicktotweet.com/m6Ej5 . Happy St George's Day! St George seems at first to be a weird choice of patron saint for England, since he was Cappadocian, which is in modern Turkey, and killed what i think of as a beautiful mythical wild animal, the dragon. Clearly few people today would accept the story of him slaying a dragon at face value. The story of his martyrdom is also reminiscent of Osiris, and while we're at it the dragon story is quite similar to that of Perseus and Andromeda, although clearly accretions occur. Since we see ourselves as a nation of animal lovers, the notion of a Turkish warrior going around killing animals as our patron saint seems a bit odd nowadays, particularly considering David, Andrew and Patrick. In any case i have difficulty with the concept of saints in the non-reformed sense of the word, just as i have with angels, because they seem to stand between God and humanity in a way which makes me think of henotheism or polytheism and doesn't correspond to my experience of God. I have an exotic solution to that in the case of angels, but see saints as special individuals as an idea foreign to Christianity, though not to human beings in general.

St George is also one of the "martyrs" after whom our church, the Church of the Martyrs, is named - St George, Elizabeth Fry, William Wilberforce, David Livingstone and Martin Luther. It has been noted that most of these are not in fact martyrs at all and also that it's unusual for an Anglican church to have this name. However, that's another story.

This is my reading of the legend of St George and the dragon. A settlement in Libya drew its water from a source such as an oasis, spring or well where a crocodile dwelt. Since they needed the water, they distracted the crocodile with a farm animal such as a sheep or goat so that they could get at the water. Later on, when they'd run out of livestock, which would be quite a serious problem in itself, they decided to leave girls or girl babies there for the crocodile to devour, and they chose girl babies because they were considered more expendable. George slayed the crocodile, so the practice was discontinued. There's also, i think, a subtext to the story of the reputation the Phoenicians had of sacrificing babies to a deity in a fire. I don't intend to make a big thing of this though, since many religious traditions, including mine, contains much whereof we would be understandably ashamed.

Another unusual aspect to St George is that he is venerated by Muslims.

Taking these two things together, i think it makes sense to see St George as an icon of proto-feminism and multiculturalism, and as such there's no problem accepting him as our patron saint. The fact that he originated from outside Europe and addressed a problem in Africa is also quite positive from the viewpoint of the second factor. Therefore, happy St George's Day!

I had planned one on pocket universes but decided on this instead, since today is St George's Day.  I'll be interested in seeing if anyone watches this whose opinion has led them to join the EDL or the BNP because of what i said about multiculturalism and feminism, although presumably there's something like feminism in the BNP (just found some anti-feminist stuff by them, unsurprisingly, so maybe not - i wonder what the women members think of that).

Apparently there should be more stained glass windows everywhere, so i can finally use these:

No i can't, because they're missing.  Ah well.  Anyway, stained glass windows are good.  They're a good way of getting ideas across to a largely illiterate population, like the rituals of a non-reformed church.  The last time it was my turn to perform the intercessions, i got together a slide show of stained glass windows which logistical difficulties meant i couldn't show.  Also, with reference to this video, the window of St George was on my mind, though i have no picture of it.  It might be on the Martyrs website now i come to think of it.  I'll just take a look.