Thursday 13 July 2023

Seeing the madness that intrigues

Looking up to see

Foregoing the discomfort that accompanies welcoming people to the cathedral, the experience is quite enlivening, even if it is in the snatches of conversation and the sharing of the very basic snippets of interest as the angels with string instruments on the right side of the ceiling of the nave as you look towards the altar and the angels with wind instruments on the left side.

As one visitor opined, every time she has visited a church, the most interesting things are found looking up, to which I intoned, if you are looking up to the heavens, the church is an excellent place to be doing that. Then again, you do not have to crank your neck to look up, there is a magnifying mirror like a table from which you can observe the ceiling.

In the path of forebears

Then another who was visiting from Canada, though from these parts had not been back in the UK for over 30 years. Her visit to the cathedral was in commemoration of over 5 generations of family that had been christened, baptised, and married in the church, I would suppose the funerals of many of them would have been conducted by clergy in the diocese too. It was amazing to watch the emotion as she took pictures of the baptismal font where her forebears would have been baptised.

As much as there were visitors from as far away as Chile, there were many from France and Italy too, Hong Kong and China featured as well as an African American family from Switzerland. Though, what surprised me was the number of people from Manchester who had never been to the cathedral before. The gems of interest we miss from proximity are many, even I realised there are still many places in the centre of Manchester that still need to have my footfall.

A homily of madness

As welcomers to the cathedral, we are also exposed to interesting people, of one, I was asked to be very careful because she was assessed as very clingy once engaged. However, it was one on his way out of the cathedral that left me feeling weird and almost out of sorts. He started, “You know society is living on lies?” I could not imagine what he was talking about.

He continued, “The world will convert to Islam by 2050 and this place will change. Do you know why? Because it is 100 years after WWII, we signed up for this.” I should have had the men in white coats on speed dial. He finished with, “England would be the first Islamic country because English is spoken around the world.” I stared at him blank-faced as he made for the exit.

Then unusually I looked out in his direction to be sure he was moving on rather than just waiting around. Though not a terrorist in the typical sense, he was a terrorist to reason given to one of the strangest conspiracy theories I have heard in a long time. Maybe it was time to sit down and give no heed to anything he said, though I find myself remembering more than I would have cared to recollect. We are in a world of madness; it is stranger when you meet one that does it better than us.

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