Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

01 April 2013

Who's On The Other Side?

Religions, according to The World Factbook

Christians (33.32%), Muslims (21.01%), Hindus (13.26%), Buddhists(5.84%),
Non-religious(14.09%), Other (12.48%)



When I was a small boy in the 1930s and 40s, Good Friday was so deeply solemn that the tone of the day was as that of the death of a close family relative, a monarch perhaps, or - well, Jesus Christ. There was no happy music on the wireless, people dressed sombrely, went to church and tried not to smile or raise their voices. I was sent early to the local bakery to buy hot cross buns before they sold out for they were only available on that holy day. The crosses were branded into sweet, brown buns that were still warm and smelled of cinnamon. During the war a week's ration of butter was saved for those buns, the combination of warm, sweet, scented dough and slowly melting butter was sensuous beyond belief as they were consumed while one dutifully pictured an almost naked man with exposed ribs being crucified; it was a hard picture to keep in mind.

Solemnity was carried through to Easter Day and, as with every sabbath afternoon, children were packed off to Sunday school. (My friend David has a thoery that most of the English race was conceived on a Sunday afternoon while mum and dad stayed at home having safely sent their charges to scripture lessons).

Easter Monday was when the dark curtain of public gravity was lifted and the earnestness of respectful, symbolic, crossed bun-eating gave way to the Pagan cracking of the chocolate Easter egg, a ritual that surely had its origins long before Christ was elevated,  leaving a cenotaph.

At Sunday School we were told that Christ suffered on the cross in order to redeem our sins; that 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life'. I didn't understand what that meant then and I still don't. But then I've never believed that Mary was a virgin when she bore Jesus (indeed, if one acknowledges that even artificial fertilization involves de facto penetration I don't believe any mammal can be born without losing its virginity!). The idea that Mary might have been impregnated by an angel is, to me, in the same pool of fiction as the Hobbit and the Mad March Hare. As for a wafer and swig of wine turning into flesh and blood, well, that borders on a mixture of cannibalism and fantasy!

I don't know when solemnity flew out of the window but suspect that television, especially TV sports, had something to do with it. While one or two programmes might cast a glimpse at Christianity, it's not overdone and serves to excuse people having four days off, days upon which a tiny proportion of beneficiaries actually go to church and most of those because they like to go at Christmas and Easter - just in case...

To most people I suspect that the legal restrictions of shopping on Good Friday and Easter Day are just a confounded nuisance. But there are always a few shops that will open, having done the calculation that, after they've paid the fine, if they're prosecuted, they'll still make a profit.

Meanwhile a far larger number of global souls (see above) will go about their business during that four days without a single clue about the Christian calendar or the sympathetic way that Christians shake their heads sadly and feel sorry for heathens, Jews, Buddhists, Moslems and others who have not heard those cryptic words of Christ, his disciples, adherents and all the gospel writers who have played tunes on the old story over two millennia.

Well les autres need not worry, even within the Christian camp there are a few - Baptists, Exclusive Brethren, Elusive Brethren and not a few Roman Catholics - who claim that they are the only ones, the only ones. That being the case, heaven must be an empty place.


No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Archive

Hits Counter


Loaded Web

Blog Directory for Albany, New Zealand


Blog This Here

Blog Flux

Commentary blogs


  • <$BlogCommentAuthor$> // <$BlogCommentDateTime$>


By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.