Sunday solemnity

As he approached he found that this tower rose from an embattled pile, low and irregular, yet singularly venerable, which, embowered in verdure, overhung the slugish waters of the Cherwell. He passed through a gateway overhung by a noble orie, and found himself in a spacious cloister adorned with emblems of virtues and vices, rudely carved in grey stone by the masons of the fifteenth century. The table of the society was plentifully spread in a stately refectory hung with paintings, and rich with fantastic carving. The service of the Church was performed morning and evening in a chapel which had suffered much violence from the Reformers, and much from the Puritans, but which was, under every disadvantage, a building of eminent beauty, and which has, in our own time, been restored with rare taste and skill. The spacious gardens along the river side were remarkable for the size of the trees, among which towered conspicuous one of the vegetable wonders of the island, a gigantic oak, older by a century, men said, than the oldest college in the University.

Excerpt From
The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 2
Thomas Babington Macaulay

For those of us who have wandered far afield, the anaesthetic that is religion is difficult to recall without the assistance of glamour and mysticism. But once captured by images or acoustics of the grandiose scale familiar to high Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism generally, it’s an allure. Indeed the atmospheric though relieving feature of theology is competitive with our blunt instincts and convictions. As it should be. Who was it that said, “Religion is the opiate of the masses“?

This statement was translated from the German original, “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes” and is often rendered as “religion…is the opiate of the masses.” The full sentence from Marx translates (including italics) as: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

The quotation originates from the introduction of Marx’s work A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, which he started in 1843 but which was not published until after his death.

Naturally these libertine thoughts and innuendo of mine do nothing to repress the persuasion of an incomprehensible Latin mass and the irrepressible manifestation of saintly purpose and design. Such is the collateral of Sunday morning – at least vicariously. Like a defunct child’s toy discarded in the box, there persists within my decaying (and some would say, jaundiced) mechanism a lingering knell prompted by the sound of distant church bells.

We have chosen today as the occasion to fan the embers of familial unity by rejoining at a popular bistro on Sussex Drive in Ottawa for brunch. This casual outing represents one of the few times within COVID history that we have ventured to dine upon a public table. The alteration is made all the more acute by the tootle arising in the centre of the nation’s capital, steps from the Houses of Parliament and the Château Laurier hotel where we so often foregathered in the past. Distinguishing this particular convention will be the presence of youth, an ingredient of social gathering I find especially invigorating.

In the diminished activity of the moment we are spirited by the depth of heredity to enlarge our experience. Family comes first.  Then friends. Then business and acquaintances. There is no value in attempting to blur the boundaries. Some things are non-negotiable though I confess the slant smacks of hillbilly resourcefulness.

In human society, family (from Latin: familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideally, families would offer predictability, structure, and safety as members mature and participate in the community. In most societies, it is within families that children acquire socialization for life outside the family, and acts as the primary source of attachment, nurturing, and socialization for humans. Additionally, as the basic unit for meeting the basic needs of its members, it provides a sense of boundaries for performing tasks in a safe environment, ideally builds a person into a functional adult, transmits culture, and ensures continuity of humankind with precedents of knowledge.