Culture, Good News, Plain Speaking, Religion

Not-The-Good News Network?

Earlier this week (August 12, 2020, to be exact), first thing in the morning, I eagerly downloaded my email and clicked to open my Morning Jolt of Good News, a daily bulletin I receive from the Good News Network.  It generally cheers me up, as I contemplate the other daily trials, tribulations, and botherations of life in this twenty-first century. (High among those botherations at the moment are the endless customer satisfaction surveys I’m being badgered to complete, all of which ask me to please rate the vendor involved as having “exceeded expectations” or as a “10,” and to answer an enthusiastic “YES!” to all questions as to whether or not my sales representative met my needs and discussed everything from the price of tea in China to the right way up to plant tulip bulbs in the Fall. At this particular moment: Nissan wants to know if they met my needs when they sold me my new Rogue Sport (love it BTW); the crematorium which took care of Mr. Right at the end wants to know if I am satisfied with their efforts on his behalf (umm…argh); Allstate wants to know if I’m delighted with the expeditiousness with which they removed his name from the policy and wrote me a new one; Target wants to know if I’m happy with the velveteen coat hangers I bought a couple of weeks ago (not-so-much since I saw exactly the same things at Sam’s Club the other day for about one-third the price); and Staples (Staples!) would like to hear what I have to say about Avery Removable Inkjet File Folder Labels, 2/3″ x 3 7/16″, White, 30 Labels to a page. I met with my financial advisor this afternoon and told him I really hoped that PNC wouldn’t start harassing me in similar fashion about my conversation with him–he, rather shamefacedly, admitted that they probably would.)

And those are the ones that spring to mind off the top of my head. I’m sure there are plenty more.

So, a couple of days ago, I sat down with my (very good) cup of coffee, all set for my daily bit of good news. And I thought I’d found it here.  But as I read on, I confess a frisson of irritation with my usually reliable friends at the Good News Network, and I ended up “a bit cross” at what seemed something of a bait-and-switch.  (For an explanation of escalating British responses to increasing threat levels–one which may or may not have been written by John Cleese, but which pops up every now and again–see here.  The first couple of paragraphs run as follows and will give you the idea:

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent virus threat and have therefore raised their threat level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, the level may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.”

The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.

The virus has been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

And it goes on.

But here’s what set me off:

It seems that a fellow who does wood-carving as a hobby bought a “box of stained glass” at a London auction, and when he arrived to pick it up and subsequently unpacked it, discovered that what he’d actually purchased was the stained glass windows from St. Mary’s Church in Sheffield, Yorkshire, windows which had been removed to protect them from German bombers during World War II. (Sheffield, being, like my ancestral town of Birmingham, a center of manufacturing and steel production, was a prime target for the Nazis.)

The windows, which date from the mid-19th century, are lovely. Here are some images from the article:

So, all good, I thought. Lovely story. Windows to be returned, and appreciated, to their original home.

But, no.

Here is what ‘Reverend Claire Dawson’ said when she refused the generous offer from the purchaser to return the windows to St. Mary’s, after he had cleaned and restored them, and once he realized what they were:

“The windows are an important part of the church’s history which dates back to 1830 but, as nice as it would be to see them, so much has changed for the church for the better and it wouldn’t be practical to have them back. We are so much morthan we were in 1939. We have a beautiful new window which was installed above the altar and is a celebration of the journey from the church’s beginning to the present day” [emphasis mine].

Excuse me? So much has changed for the church for the better, and “we” are so much more than we were in 1939?

What we were in 1939, Reverend Claire, were the generations, and the people, who saved your sorry future, through the course and aftermath of two World Wars whose struggles, privations, and dangers you can’t even begin to imagine, so that you could grow up in freedom and safety from dictatorship and tyranny and have the latitude to mouth vacuous, politically correct, platitudes like those above. You may have a “beautiful new window” (I haven’t sought it out; I’m not sure I even want to know), but couldn’t you at least muster up the grace to show some gratitude, and to find a way, and a space, to honor the Church, and your parishioners of 1939 and before, and their sacrifices, by putting a few pieces of the glass on display?

Shame on you.

Crimenutely. What a downer.

I might need to find a new faith tradition.

1 thought on “Not-The-Good News Network?”

  1. I will confess that a day or so later, I finally plucked up the courage to go look for the “new” window that was recently installed in the church. Couldn’t find a full-length photo of it, but I expect it’s the one shown in part at the top of this page

    That is:

    Now, perhaps the effect of the whole window is lovely; I’m really not the last word on what makes a stained glass window something to write home about. But my first two thoughts were 1) If the original windows had been destroyed by the German bombs, and they’d picked up the shards of glass off the ground and pieced them together willy-nilly, it might have looked something like this, and 2) it reminds me quite vividly of some flashing bright spots and patches of color that have passed across my field of vision on occasion, when I’m in the throes of a migraine.

    As to what it might represent, if anything, I have no idea.

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