|Friday 13th November 2015
Remember, remember the 5thof November.
Or was it the 25thof December?
Perhaps it was the November 13th 2015 in Paris.
Notwithstanding the tragedy in Paris this weekend the most evocative time in November in the world calendar has for many years been the 11thhour of the 11th day of the 11th month…
All are enormous dates in our calendar, and all were vital to my brother Malcolm, who died in the run up to Christmas 2014.
As an explosives expert, to those who only knew him from a distance he possibly came across as someone whose life revolved around Bonfire night.
But Malcolm wasn’t a one trick pony.
He was a deeply religious man who felt the call to Christian ministry before conscription took him into the army in 1953 and changed that path.
Do bear with me if you think this prose is only about my brother!
As big a character as he was, it’s not.
It’s about more eternal matters, in heaven and on earth. And what is religion anyway?
Much that Malcolm stood for was embodied in Christmas Day, which we’ll soon celebrate.
And much of his life after service in the Army revolved around the values portrayed on Remembrance Sunday, and the night before at the Royal Albert Hall, when reconciliation planted at 11.00 on the 11th day of the 11th month, November, in 1918 is recalled.
330 years before Malcolm was born, in 1605 Guy Fawkes was part of the Gunpowder plot, an unsuccessful scheme to unnerve England’s ruling class by setting fire to Parliament.
36 year old Guy, a principled Catholic Yorkshire man, the stool pigeon of the conspirators, was caught, tried and took his last breath seconds after he threw himself head first from a tall scaffold erected opposite the building in Westminster he’d planned to burn down.
So instead of being hanged to within an inch of his life Guy Fawkes died by breaking his neck, thus avoiding the agony of a part hanging, his testicles then being cut off and bowel mutilation that minutes before he’d seen fellow co-conspirators endure.
I don’t know about you, but this makes me feel weak at the knees.
Was this because Guy Fawkes was a left footer?
Sure he was a Roman Catholic and the ruling class in England were Protestants.
It’s one of many incidents when religious intolerance is responsible for inhuman ends.
Of course my brother wasn’t implicated in the gunpowder plot, but simply made a living making and selling fireworks for Bonfire Night.
But look at the division between catholic and protestant “Christians” in Ireland, and between “Muslims” and “infidels” worldwide.
The truth is that thugs have always used religion to excuse their violence.
Yesterday, on Friday November 13th, thugs pretending to be Allah’s children murdered nearly 200 souls in Paris.
Mohammed wasn’t there, for he was in tears in heaven, having a group hug with Jesus and Buddha.
Love is the cornerstone of Mohammed’s, Buddha’s and Jesus’ philosophies.
Mohammed said “Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith”
The atrocity in Paris was committed by thugs.
I am incresingly assured that Buddah, Mohammed and Jesus all agree that religion is for fruitcases.