Saturday, 30 April 2016

Places Of Worship In Birmingham And Ys

In Birmingham, we visited the Central Mosque, where we watched an imam leading prayers, and St Martin's Church (see image and here), where we ate in the cafe and I meditated in a side chapel. On the street, I heard a Christian preacher and received a free Koran from a Muslim propagandist - but, when I sat on a bench to read it, a passerby advised me to read the Bible! Like Poul and Karen Anderson's King of Ys Tetralogy, these are books in which God(s) are active. In fact, here is a centuries-spanning scriptural sequence:

a Torah scroll in a synagogue;
a Bible on an eagle lectern in a church;
a Koran in a mosque;
a Granth at the highest point of a Gurdwara.

And what a seemingly endless historical succession: the Granth includes hymns written by Muslims who accepted the Koran which repeats stories from the Bible which incorporates the Torah which is the only scripture accepted by Samaritans. Other hymns in the Granth were written by Hindus who accepted the Veda and its many sequels. These are the works of millennia, not of any single author or even of a husband-wife team... Nevertheless, the Andersons present an impressive four-volume account of changes among Europeans and their Gods.

If I were able to visit Ys, both backwards and sideways in time, I would:

visit the various Temples and Shrines;
ask whether it was permissible to meditate in one of them;
in any case, meditate in lodgings in Old Town or high in one of the towers surrounded by seagulls.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I too have visited Birmingham, noted such religious centers as the Catholic Cathedral of St. Chad, which I thought a good example of "brick Gothic." Quite homelike, "brick Gothic" was much used by Catholics in the North Eastern US.

I also noticed, but did not enter, the Anglican cathedral, whose name I don't recall. One place I visited in Birmingham was a museum explaining the city's role in the Industrial Revolution. Fascinating examples of early industrial machines were shown.

I have read the Koran, to help understand the theological basis for Muslim hostility to the West and non Muslims. I wish all Americans would read the Koran--to better understand the war we are in. The version I recommend was translated by N.J. Dawood, because his version is more honest and accurate than the Usuf Ali Koran.

And when it comes to the Bible I lean more to the formal equivalence mode of translation than to the "dynamic". Because the latter tends to flatten out the color and vigorous metaphors used in the Bible. For an example of what I mean compare 3/1 Kings 14.10 in either the Catholic Douai-Reims-Challoner Bible or Anglican Authorized Version with contemporary translations of 1 Kings 14.10.

If my memories of what the Andersons said about Mithraism in THE KING OF YS is accurate, I don't think you could have meditated in the Mithraeum. My recollection is you had to be an initiate of Mithras before you could enter a Mithraic shrine.