October 18, 2007

The Neighbours

We live in a funny wee bit of the world, populated by a lunatic (being the mayor) and some unusually religious types. In Wangas, we have the only full time church of St Pius X Society, and it happens to be quite close to our house. We also have an Exclusive Brethren meeting house on the other side of the block.

St Pious X are a Catholic group who are very unhappy with the reforms of the church after the Vatican II Council. Changes they brought in that especially upset them are the change from the latin mass to the vernacular (ie English and Maori), the allowing of males and females to sit together at church, the allowing of teenage boys and girls to go to co-ed schools and statement that normal people were as close to and important to God. So this group has formed. They have their own private schools where the girls wear long but not too long skirts, and the boys and girls only see each other during a school day if it is a Holy Day of Obligation, and they go to Mass. Members of the society tend to live near the church, and they make very good neighbours. They may go to Mass at 6.30AM but they do it quietly. They may have enormous families, but as they say the Rosary each evening, they sure ain't noisy neighbours. They are good people to have round.

The Exclusive Brethren also live round here as there is a meeting house here, and they apparently believe that they need to be close to the church. When Jesus comes again he is going to their church - if they don't get there quick enough they may miss out on the rapture. Their families are not as large as they used to be when I was a kid. Perhaps they are allowed to use contraception these days. They are not allowed to listed to the radio or use computers or tv, and they go to meetings every night - they also are very good neighbours, though they hardly ever talk to anyone who is not a Brethren. It seems to be a lot less strict than it was a few years ago when they could barely speak to you when you served them in a shop, but they still ain't exactly chatty.

I've been reading a book about a family of Exclusives, who were expelled from the fellowship - Behind Closed Doors by Ngaire Thomas. Its an excellent read - I'm recommending it. Being Exclusive is difficult as you have to choose between having your independence or having a lot of support and security. Ngaire couldn't accept the strictures of being Brethren even as a child, and she tells her story with a lot of compassion for everyone involved except the Brethren priests. I suspect it is a bit out of date with the present Brethren rules, but the basic idea is the same.

Posted by Toni at October 18, 2007 08:00 PM