Monday, 23 April 2012

For England and St. George

The bells at Bath Abbey were ringing at 8.00 o'clock this morning again - this time for St. George.

I've never been much of a flag-waver, but I must say that I like seeing the George Cross flying from the tower of an English church in the countryside - it's just so... English.

For quite a few years now, the George Cross flag has been almost hi-jacked by the far-right, in particular the National Front and all those stupid skin-heads, and to have a George Cross emblem emblazoned on your car usually means that your political views tend to be a little to the right of Adolf Hitler's, which is a bit of a shame, really.

Everyone who has spent a week or two on holiday in Cornwall thinks it is their right to stick the black and white Cornish cross on their vehicle, but most people think twice about the red and white one.  Actually, there is a bad reason why so many non-Cornish fly the flag, and that is because they believe that the Cornish police will allow them special favours when parking illegally in - say - Penzance, but that is a myth.  It is also a bit rebellious - like flying the Confederate flag in the US.  The Cornish have been sticking up two fingers to the distant central government for about 2000 years now.

Recently, there has been another reason to have hidden the St George cross in shame, and it is all to do with the Iraq war, which has been described as a 'Crusade' by certain anti-war spokespeople.  All those children's story books depicting knights wearing the St George cross on their tabards and fighting the good fight for the Holy Land have turned a bit sour, and are now - quite rightly - regarded as politically incorrect subject matter for schoolchildren who may include a high proportion of British Moslems.  Of course, the far-right have picked up on this, falsely accusing governments of trying not to 'offend' Moslems of any nationality, but the truth is either more complicated, or more simple - depending on how well up you are on history - even recent history, as it is dished out to schoolchildren today.

In any event, those books were romantic nonsense.  The vast majority of Crusaders were a bunch of ruthless mercenaries who were more interested in acquiring vast wealth from the Middle East than wresting control of the Holy Lands from non-believers.  Hmm...  that last bit sounded familiar.

And St George himself?  He was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity, and was beheaded in Palestine around AD 300.  Hmm...  Palestine.

Symbolically, George is credited with killing the dragon which represented the ancient Pagan beliefs in place before the Roman superimposed their own gods on the conquered tribes, but at least the Romans tailored their gods to be as close to the local Pagan ones as tradition would allow.  The Christians simply banned all other religions as heresy by killing the dragon.

So when you see that George Cross flag fluttering on the tower of a hill-top church in England today, bear in mind that the church was built on top of the remains of a Roman Temple, and that temple was built on top of an earlier, British temple which was founded in pre-history, long before the Romans came, bringing Christianity with them as we bring the influenza virus to Amazonian indians.

What is everyone's catch-phrase?  'There is only one God, and that God is God'.  It has been translated into hundreds of different languages, including Arabic.


  1. The whole faith thing is so odd, and seems so ingrained. You'd wonder how an individual can ever quietly change a cheese preference to another cheese preference.

  2. If all Englishmen openly displayed the George Cross flag, then presumably the NF would have to find something else to flutter!

    1. I think that one would - like the Cornish one - also be in black and white, but maybe a bit of red too.

  3. And here was silly me thinking the flag-waving was all about football! Good post, Tom. As usual full of interesting titbits...

  4. Yes Broad Apr - I wondered why all the red and white flags were out today and thensudddenly realised the date! Pity we don't make more of the date - after all, ad Welsh and the Scots make plenty of their National Days.

    1. Nobody cares about the Welsh and Scots here, though everyone turns Irish on St Patricks day I've noticed. Where's the sense of National Guilt gone?