The Bells the Bells!!
I am a pretty lucky guy. Not that I want to start this post by alienating a portion of the readership or rub my good fortune in their faces. Rather it is a statement of fact. I am in a strong relationship with a wonderful woman who happens to be my best friend. It is only a matter of time and a not inconsiderable financial injection before we give what one of my closest friends calls ‘a day out’ that special occasion when we bring our nearest and dearest from our family and friends together to celebrate our commitment to each other.
Now in times gone by in Ireland this was a lot more of a straightforward process. Our practically mono-cultural society meant that it was a safe bet that your betrothed was of the same religious background. So then it was just a matter of getting married in her local church with the parish priest, or the priest in the family carrying out the ceremony and then on to the ‘afters’ at a local hotel. Job done off you go now and make some babies. Please don’t take my description of this tradition as me dismissing or denigrating the special nature of these ceremonies. I have myself been to many of these ceremonies and would not allow my own lack of religious beliefs stop me from appreciating and participating especially when it comes to the union of two of my friends. I must say that having recently attended both types of ceremonies I much prefer ceremonies that place the couple and the celebration of their love at the centre of day rather than a deity and their responsibility to perpetuate a rigid and dogmatic view of marriage. Rather I am highlighting the relative straight forwardness as juxtaposition to the myriad of thoughts, traditions, beliefs and non-beliefs that we in Ireland face now as a multi cultural nation with traditional religious establishments and traditions on the wane.
Anyone familiar with the content of this blog will know that three atheists administer it. So there are my colours pinned to the mast. My partner on the other hand believes in some greater power and, while she is not enamoured with the Catholic Church, she is a lover of iconography and tradition and had always seen herself getting married in the traditional Catholic ceremony. Early on in the relationship I dug my heels in on my opposition to a Catholic ceremony should I be lucky enough to have my proposal accepted. ( I realise I’ll have to give on something big later, but we’ll cross that bridge yadaa yadaa yadaa) The subsequent revelations about not just abuse but also of the cover up which was perpetrated by the Catholic Church meant that a lot of the persuading that I would have had to do was done for me by the very institution I opposed. Now I know that our choices will be met with resistance from both sides of our families but hell if they don’t like our choices then they don’t have to come. It will be their loss because we know how to throw a party.
These non-traditional ceremonies are very much on the rise. In today’s Guardian there is an article which highlights the rise of Humanist ceremonies in Scotland. Now over 1 in 2 ceremonies are non-religious, with half of those not taking place in registrar’s office. Here in Ireland legislation is slowly moving forward thanks to the presence of Labour in government and in particular Ivana Bacik.
The changing of mind sets and traditions is a slow and arduous process, but it is happening. People are now more open to other beliefs and non-beliefs. Society will not fall apart due to the ebbing of influence from former power structures rather structures will replace them based around a philosophy and morality learned through combining reason with human experience rather than dogma.