Alan Gaston

Your poem reminds me of one of those formative moments in my life, when I realised there was a chasm between the Christianity I was brought up with and the "Christianity" of popular protestantism in my homeland. I stood in Barnett's park overlooking "the field" at Edenderry and watched with horror as this drunken mob swayed to the words of Ps 23. I was nearly physically sick.
A deep discomfort started that day. One that always made me uneasy in NI around the 12th and one that did not lessen when, many years later, I lived across the road from that same "field".
Maybe I have taken the easy road by running away to another land.


Funny, I've just been listening to a pile of albums I've not listened to in years and amongst them was a Pedro the Lion album containing the song "Suspect Fled the Scene" - Its repeated lyric "Ride as fast as you can, they're shootin' to kill" is too often Good Advice when it comes to our "Christian" subcultures!

Still, I wouldn't be too dismal about the Orange Order and its cultural trappings. God can be very disobedient when it comes to using the methods we lay out for Him in drawing people to Him. My cousin joined a few years ago and developed a level of spiritual awakening that surprised me given his past - and its source.

From a cultural perspective, I think we in NI are extremely fortunate, a fact that seems to be eluding us. The bonfires and parades are an extraordinary popular festival that should be cherished, not exterminated. I love that I can watch an Orange parade one day then a few days later go to a hurling match (an amazing sport!!). We can easily find aspects of our culture(s?) that hurt our sensibilities, but we've been focusing on that for far too long, and to no good end. Time to not just accept, but embrace.

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