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Tuesday December 30th



In the convent where I went to school in Liverpool, every Thursday evening we had to go to the school chapel and confess our sins to the priest. Mine would go something like this.


“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession. I have been disobedient and I have been cheeky. Last Sunday I took money out of the collection plate when it went around during mass, instead of putting a penny on it. Please forgive my sins?” I would then be sent to the back of the church and told to say 10 decades of the rosary. Had I not admitted to the collection plate business I would have got away with 2 or 3 decades? Trouble was, I knew that the kid who was going round with the collection plate was totally blind like me. The nuns had told us that if we died with sin on our soul we would not be allowed to enter the kingdom of Heaven and would have to spend sometime in purgatory, and at that time I was keen to go on a non stop flight. Later when I had decided the whole damn thing was nothing but a fairy story, I asked myself how can it be considered a punishment to be ordered to spend sometime talking to Jesus and Mary the very people I am suppose to love and who in turn love me. It seemed very weird. When I put this question to the nuns, I was told not to be so smart. So, these unanswered questions remained trundling around in my mind for the rest of my school days. In later years I dismissed the whole of religion as little more than a scourge that has blighted the entire world for thousands of years. Not even when I was told last year that I might only have a short time left to live, did I have any notion to turn to religion. People have often said to me that the world is a very unfair place. Why do some folks on the planet starve, whilst others wallow in food? Why do some folks live in poverty, whilst others bask in riches? Why are some the picture of health, whilst others are sick from head to toe? Answer. Well, of course I don’t know, but stop and ponder this thought!


I don’t have a personal God, but that does not mean that I don’t believe in anything. I believe there is a vastly superior power at work, call him/her/it God if you wish. I’m sure they don’t mind. But someone created this world, it didn’t just happen. Just imagine if they had made it so everyone was equal. We would all be the same size, the same colour, we would all be able to run at the same speed, and we’d all have the same level of intelligence. So there would never have been a Shakespeare, never have been a Churchill, Mahatma Gandy or President Kennedy. There would be no point in football or any other sports because we would all be at the same level. We would all be healthy so how the heck would we die? What kind of world would that be? One that neither you nor I would want to live in! So, I don’t know about a God but I am certain that whoever it was that created our existence knew exactly what they were doing. You will not find wealth or poverty in a graveyard. There is neither health nor sickness. Everyone is the same. Dead! Would you still swap your unfair world?



Tom Glassey on the banks of the Silverburn River


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Hi Tom


Having read your book, I realise that the convent you attended was well intended and whereas perhaps not ideal, it was probably not as bad as some.


Not too long ago I watched a film on Channel 4. The Magdalene Sisters. I wrote in my blog at the time: "A powerful and moving story with more than a little moral hypocrisy. Apparently based on real life. I watched it right through to the last credit . . . . . totally captivated and shocked".


I write this only because coincident with your own blog today, the film was repeated this evening on Channel 4. Obviously I appreciate that you don't bother with TV much if at all, but because this was a particularly well made film, I wondered how you would have related to it, I wondered what you would have thought.

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We were taught to go through the ten commandments if we couldn't recall our wrongdoings. That is why, at the age of eight, with no understanding of what I was saying, I confessed to numerous counts of adultery!

Best wishes for the New Year, Tom. :)

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