|I went to see the Good Friday service at the Tump for the first time in a few years, mainly because I wanted to get some pictures of the cross being erected on the summit.
My attitude towards this has softened recently. Most people in Lewes assume the Tump was made by the monks of the medieval Priory as a Calvary Hill, so this is not really an act of conscious Christianisation, even if it is in fact.
The cross was carried at the head of a silent procession through the town to the Tump, where a small group carried it to the top, while the rest of the procession stayed on the adjoining Bowling Green.
Then there was a short inter-denominational service, which is taken by a different local church each year.
As a non-Christian I have to say I found it a dignified and moving event, despite the inevitable references to anyone who is not a Christian being deficient in character.
This is one of the few occasions when most of the Christian denominations in the town come together to worship. This can only be a good thing as there are all too many parts of the world in which this is still not possible, some not so far away. But there is still an unavoidable exclusionist element to the proceedings. As a Pagan I was completely an outsider looking in, and the Tump, a site that has very strong personal meaning for me, felt somehow "taken" from me for this short time.
The fact that many in the town object to the cross was mentioned in the sermon, and this kind of attitude is always assumed to originate from such people feeling somehow "challenged" by its presence.
While I have no doubt this is true in some cases, and that this "challenge" is of the sort that many people may need in their lives, it needs to be acknowledged by those who erect this cross that many of these objections may run a little deeper than this and are not signs of moral degeneracy, but of genuine discomfort in seeing a communal site seemingly "claimed" in such an open manner.
After the service I went to the summit to look at the cross more closely, and in particular the hole in which it is placed.
It felt good to be able to go straight back onto the Tump once the service was over, and the fact one is able to do this helps me to be far more tolerant of the occasion than I would otherwise be.
Until Easter Monday the cross is left to the mercies of the weather and whoever goes up there to look at it, and there have been years when it has not survived this process. I hope it does though. Partly because I expect as much tolerance of my beliefs and partly because there is little point in giving people further excuses for self-righteous indignation.
As I have said before, the only thing I really object to about this tradition is the way in which this hole is left open after the cross is taken down each year, so that it can accumulate a new collection of lager cans.
A spade, some earth and more respect for the place outside its role as cross-bearer is all it would take.
Posted by Cursuswalker
11th April 2004ce
Edited 14th April 2004ce
Cursuswalker's TMA Blog
1-10 of 15 Posts |