The Faithful Departed

Yesterday evening I’d a second visit to church in five days when attending a Commemoration of the Faithful Departed service at St Michael’s Church in East Ardsley. My previous attendance in a congregation occurring last Wednesday when I attended the funeral of my great aunt Rosa, in Ossett.

Both magnificent ‘old school’ churches, Wednesday’s place of worship providing services for catholic parishioners, whilst last evening’s commemoration played out at a Church of England kirk in the West Yorkshire village where I reside.

GJ Strachan’s attendance to pay respects to a good family friend (Neil Brittlebank) who sadly passed earlier this year after a short cancer fight. Neil, a larger than life character, a fine raconteur whose existential journey had blessed him with a wealth of interesting stories on a variety of topics. His name read out by the clergyman, along with a multitude of others from the village who passed in the last 12 months.

After a lousy few years which’ve seen the passing of my father, a long term spousal cancer fight, me suffering two life threatening illnesses (including a heart attack), leaving my marital home and numerous other dreadful circumstances affecting my close family, the spiritual faith I formerly bore has diminished somewhat.

Consequently, I don’t sit through a church service with theist beliefs of old. I’ll obviously attend weddings, funerals and commemorative service out of respect; however, don’t sing the hymns with the former gusto I felt, or indeed listen very attentively to the sermons or teachings.

As hard as I try to resist, my cynicism towards religion, in the aftermath of the deluge of detritus my family’s endured in the last decade, leads me towards deeming the preachings are nothing but words of fiction. The members of my brood who’ve suffered some terrible life events are/were thoroughly decent people without a bad bone in their body, undeserving of their lot…… We all have bad things to deal with but in my clans case it’s seemed utterly relentless.

I’d always believed in God until a few years back, but recent evidential observations don’t reconcile with what I remember promised in bible teachings. That is, if you behave with an acceptable level of compassion, humanity, love, care, nurturing and mentoring then your existence will be more rewarding than sinners. That isn’t what I observe plays out, especially in the last decade of my life.

I completely respect the fact many, many people gain a great deal of comfort and solace from their spiritual faith, and in the absence of proof on both sides of the argument all opinions on the subject are subjective and pure conjecture. However, for me, there’s too many individuals who attend church, or claim to be god fearing who behave in a manner which is the very antithesis of the teachings they allegedly follow.

An observation backed by notions that it’s surely about your actions as a member of society. Not the vacuous promises of behaving according to biblical teachings which you know deep down you won’t follow, but endorse because you believe enough to avoid becoming hell bound.

There are many good people who attend churches who I’ve the utmost respect for because they are decent, caring, humane individuals who behave in a manner they promise in Kirk.

I maybe on a different page from them with my spiritual beliefs these days, however that’s fundamentally unimportant to me; my aspirations are to behave with the same decency as they do. A mantra taught by my earthbound, biological father as well as what I picked up from a Heavenly Father during the half a century when I was a believer……… Admittedly, something I fall short of achieving those aspirations at times.

As for those who claim to follow a religious, god fearing path but behave contradictorily perhaps it’s not the bible they need to wade through, as they don’t adhere to it anyway. Maybe their religious guidance should simply come from the following four words:-…….. “Don’t Be A T**t!!!’

As an aside the word count on the original narrative, prior to me adding this final sentence (which I’d not intended to add) was 666……. I kid you not!!!……. How weird is that?!!


  1. Our thoughts and sentiments are identical Gary. A superb and thought provoking narrative. Well done and my sincere regards to you.

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