Taking the stand

Southover Bonfire Society – Clergy Stand 2013 from Martin Porter on Vimeo.

There’s yours truly on my clergy stand. My sermonising this year was constrained by the failure of our amplification system and my own lame attitude to opening my mouth in the face of the salvoes from our congregation. I managed a verse from the Bonfire Prayer and shouted across the abyss that I held in my hand Keith Austin’s prayer book, from his days as Archbishop of Cliffe Bonfire Society in the 1960s, and that we would be sending his ashes, along with the estimable Joyce Miller’s, to heaven in our firework display. That’s Cliffe’s display in the background by the way. Good old Cliffe.

Click on all the following images to enlarge them.

Southover Bonfire Society clergy process to their firesite, along Southover High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, England 2013. (c) Ian Cumming, 2013, http://icimages.com

Boys will be boys!

Our Society is blessed to have a world class photographer of fire related events in our ranks: Ian Cumming, who took the photograph above. Last year he stood by my right-hand. See what I’m doing here? You don’t need a legal blogger to tell you that the photograph above is clear evidence of me letting off fireworks in the street. Clearly, in any other circumstances, this sort of carry on would be illegal in the UK. However, my view of the matter is that we have established the right to do this on 5th November 2013. No, I’m not going to explain my view of the law, our rights and the practicalities. That’s because there is a tiny minority who would like to see the end to our tradition. I’m holding onto my ammunition.

The point is that this is our tradition. We know what we’re doing and we do it well. So well that Lewes is regarded as having the best bonfires in the world. Although the public stream into Lewes for the event, we do not encourage tourism. If they insist on coming, here’s my advice for tourists to Lewes Bonfire. As my good friend @ian_bec put it, “Don’t try this at home kids.

Bonfire is a serious matter and we take it seriously. As tradition dictates, we ended our night with Prayers. As with everything else we do, our Prayers are more lively and much more likely to be heard in heaven than all that tedious nonsense served up by the established churches which we mock so well. Here’s some photographs of our Prayers in 2013, reproduced here with the generous permission of Juls Haddow.

Southover Bonfire Society, with its Archbishop (Duncan Roy) in the foreground, preparing for Prayers, 2013

Preparing to pray


Our Prayers have to be heard to be believed

One Response to Taking the stand

  1. I heartedly recommend The Wu-Ming Foundation’s ‘Q’ for a great fictional take on the history of non-conformist theological argument as revolution – prayer as a way of seizing power. You guys are carrying on the Anabaptist tradition if anyone is today. Good on you – hope to join y’all one year soon (if you’ll have me). Omnia Sunt Communia.

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