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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

A Little Inflammatory Rhetoric

22 September, 2010 Leave a comment

As far as I’m aware Jesus and Mohammed were great advocates of peace. As were most prophets through the ages.

Not the peace we forge in these days of Government funded conflicts in the name of global stability and world peace. Peace in the true sense of the word, ‘love thy neighbour’ and all those sayings which are paid lip service the world over in quaint old buildings in villages and suburbs as people search for meaning to their existence.

Peace of the kind promoted by the very Gods that armies wage war in the name of.

The World Peace monument in a pond next to a s...

Image via Wikipedia

This is not a new occurrence by any means. All through history nations and alliances have waged war in order to prove their Faith is the one true religion. And they have done so with the impunity only secured by the knowledge that their belief is justification in itself for their actions.

Okay, enough already!‘ I hear you cry!

Yes, I know it’s all a bit heavy but, as I’ve stated before, it’s the whole premise behind this blog’s title. (Look closely…)

Despite the premise that this is a ‘War on Terror‘ everywhere you look there are religious icons to be seen. Crosses made of wood or brass shell casings, Stars of David, Crescents, you name it and you’ll find it here. Each of the sides have their religious elders along for the ride and they hold religious services to glorify the sacrifices made, on both sides.

This, in my Devil’s Advocate of a psyche, raises the question: Are we on a crusade? It was this question that raised its ugly head late last night while I struggled to get to sleep. It was this question that rattled around the empty space that I had been trying to fill with some words to put to the latest track I’d received from Pete. And it was this question which grew to form the lyric I have been searching for, for weeks.

This is not the peaceful, introverted or reflective lyric I’ve produced of late. To be honest I’m a little surprised by its anger, but I’m also pleased with it, as I am with everything produced so far…

Down through the ages they’ve answered the call, they’ll answer again
In history’s pages the worthy stood tall, will they stand there again?

The soldiers of freedom with faith as their guide, they’ll answer the call
Taking lands from the heathen regardless of right, their armies will fall

Holy Wars, fought in whose name?
Holy Wars, always in vain
Holy  Wars, who counts the cost?
Holy Wars, humanity’s lost
In the name of the Cross
This is the Last Crusade
Is this the Last Crusade?

Facing down evil at every turn
This is the reason you answered the call
Seeking redemption through others demise
Can’t you see reason? It’s all just a lie!

As hordes stand against them they’ll fight to the end, no matter the cost
When the world stands against them it’s time for the end, we can’t pay the cost

Holy Wars, fought in whose name?
Holy Wars, always in vain
Holy  Wars, who counts the cost?
Holy Wars, humanity’s lost
In the name of the Cross
This is the Last Crusade
Is this the Last Crusade?
This is the Last Crusade
Is this the Last Crusade?

Answers on a postcard…

Faith Healer

25 August, 2010 Leave a comment

Politics and Religion. Two subjects never to be raised in polite conversation… Just as well we’re anything but polite isn’t it?!

There are subtle differences to life in Afghanistan in 2010 when compared to 2007. The workplace is now a portacabin rather than a tent, as is the accommodation, but the locations are the same as is the food… And that’s not all, there is much more going on ‘out there’ with everyday seeing some level of contact with insurgents and PEDROs or MIRTs having to carry out their unenviable role. Perhaps I’m more aware of it this time as our guys are further forward and so they’re directly involved in some of the incidents.

Whichever it is it is somehow less profound than last time, perhaps due to the regularity, and I find myself considering different aspects of the whole process.

On my last tour we attended ‘ramp’ ceremonies to salute those who had passed as they were carried onto the aircraft which would transport them home. It was a humbling experience and one which left its mark on my psyche for all time. Those ceremonies still take place but the number of people involved tends to be smaller and consist of those directly involved or from the same unit. What we do instead now is stand ‘vigil’ en masse prior to the ramp ceremony. There is a parade where eulogies are read by the chain of command of the departed and, in most cases, also by their friends.

These ‘vigils’ are best likened to miniature Remembrance Services. They are led by a member of the Clergy and include the Last Post, 2 minutes silence and cannon fire by way of salute. And here’s my problem… I don’t believe any of those who have given their lives have done so for their Sovereign or God. I know of no soldier who has come here due to a sense of duty to their Nation. We’re here because we’ve been ordered to come and, if we didn’t, someone else would have to take our place and that would be ‘jack’! We’re also here because our friends are here, and who’s going to watch their backs if we don’t?

I’m a strong believer in a ‘higher power’, not necessarily the Church as an institution, but I do have faith. And yet I find the overtly religious ceremony of these services somehow offensive.

Did anyone ask the fallen if they wanted a religious service? Or is it something which is done simply to appease the consciences of those who may feel responsible? I for one find it odd that we should be thanking anyone, let alone God, for the fact that despite their death in a far off distant land the individual died doing what he loved and his family and friends still love him. I bet he didn’t. I challenge you to find anyone who relishes the thought of dying thousands of miles from home from a gun shot wound inflicted by someone they’ll never understand for a reason no-one can explain.

They’ll never see that this fight sets you free
Won’t understand what it takes to be a man
As you struggle to reconcile just who you are
With what you believe, the cause you hold in your hand

I understand that some people find solace and strength in their faith, as do I, but I also find it hypocritical and sanctimonious to preach that those who have laid down their lives have down so in the name of God. I believe that Orson Scott Card had the right idea in his Ender Saga. When we remember the fallen we should do so truthfully, warts and all…

We should speak for the dead, not of them.

To you, perceptive reader…

20 June, 2010 Leave a comment

The first of the new batch of lyrics was inspired by, although it is not based upon, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I have not read a vampire novel which grasped my imagination like this since reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. I say vampire novel, I’m not sure it falls into that genre as neatly as those two words suggest. This is no pulp fiction gothic slasher instead preferring to draw vast portraits across the reader’s imagination of the Balkan states during both their 15th century grandeur and more recent decline into communist states.

The Historian cover art.

The cover artwork for the 2006 edition of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian

I have avoided the easy option of writing a vampire song, preferring instead to think of the Order of the Dragon and that of the Janissaries created to oppose them. I saw this as an opportunity to write of the burden placed on individuals by the decisions of past generations. Kostova herself states:

Dracula is a metaphor for the evil that is so hard to undo in history.

While I wrote initially from the point of the Western, Christian, Order of the Dragon I was compelled to include a verse from the Qur’an which is included in the book and, to my mind, portrays the attitude of all religions.

Those who do not believe
And die while they are unbelievers
On them falls the curse of Allah,
Of Angels and of men

This may well end up as being my first ‘voice-over’ on a song as I think it may be spoken over the middle eight, we’ll see.

The book has not only spawned this lyric (and possibly a second, slightly darker, sibling) but it has drawn me back to history as a subject, one I have delved into heavily over the years and am now enjoying again with a rediscovered vigour. Expect some historical epics on a grand scale then!

To quote Kostova one last time:

To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history…

Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

19 June, 2010 Leave a comment

Yes, I know it’s a Megadeth song title, but I couldn’t think of a better way to put it! And, if you have read the band’s blog, you’ll notice that blog entries are often named with song titles. Perhaps an alternative could be:

Politics and Religion – Never to be discussed in polite company.

The observant among you will have noticed at lease two uses of the word crusade so far in this ‘blog. The first in the previous post. And the second? (Take a peek at the URL in your browser!)

Why? The answer to that lies in a question I posed to myself in 2007, and have continued to do so since. (In all honesty I can’t remember if I heard the question somewhere else first, but for the purposes of this entry it is irrelevant.)

How will history see the recent conflicts in the Middle East?

Will they look back in years to come and see them as portrayed by the invaders? A coalition of benevolent, rich, capitalist states supporting a nation weakened by oppressive evil regimes. Or will they see them as a final war between Eastern and Western religious ideologies, Christian against Muslim. A Last Crusade.

Despite having been involved in both areas I fear it shall be the latter by which we are measured. The wars, for that is what they are in all but name, will be remembered as the predominantly Christian capitalists forcing their will on the predominantly Muslim tribes of the Middle East.

And it makes me sad.

I am a religious man. I am not a church goer, yet I can honestly say that I believe in a higher power. Over the years I have had cause to scratch the surface of many of the world’s major religions and their writings. The one thing which has struck me throughout these dabblings is the similarity, at a higher level, of them all and the intertwined mythology which binds many of them in the dim and distant past.  Yet despite these similarities, or perhaps because of them, we seem destined to disagree.

And so, in less than 6 weeks, I shall embark on my own pilgrimage to join what will not be, unfortunately, the Last Crusade.

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