All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015


Here are post-it note prayers of propitiation in St Mary's Woolnoth a city church. One of them just says "Dear God, please help me today" - a simple sentiment I can sympathise with. Like many converts to atheism, I sometimes wish I still had faith.

St Mary Woolnoth is my favourite London church. Designed by the mysterious Nicholas Hawksmoor, it is an expert lesson in how to make a small thing seem grand and of course looms large in T S Eliot's Wasteland:

"And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine."

I followed this route on Sunday with David after we saw a wonderful recitation of the poem by Fiona Shaw at the equally remarkable Wilton's music hall in Limehouse. If you ever have chance to visit either of these buildings, do - they pin the two ends of English culture down rather well I think.

And on the subject of wastelands, yesterday to see 'The Road' with Glen. I've rarely been affected by a film so much but then I have rarely been so affected by a book as when I read it a couple of years ago. Very reassuring that such a subtle take on what morality and humanity actually mean in a godless world has managed to make the mainstream - but a very sad way to learn it of course.

Bless us all.


ArtSparker said...

I am among those who finds more morality outside of churches - except for looking at them. Do you know Karen Armstrong's book "The Story of God"? She breaks your heart.

Sally said...

Wow, such beautiful architecture.

I have faith in love, in which I believe this world is lacking.

When at the circumlocution office I hear the bell of Lincoln's Inn Chapel, I take comfort in the reminder of a more spiritual plane.

Sally said...

...PS Whether a true believer or not, it is truly amazing how, in times of need, some sense of religion or spirituality can deliver remarkable strength.

spillyjane said...

I just love the image/concept of prayers scrawled on post-it notes.

Anonymous said...

Faith is kind of a tricky thing. If you think of Christ, he loved and accepted everyone he met: The blind, the lame, the sinners. I don't have much faith, but that much I can acknowledge. It's religion (organized) that twists everything and sets everyone to hating people that believe differently.

I don't practice, but I definitely have faith in the principles of Christianity. That might be weird, but I don't know. I think it's a good way to think.

clerkenwell kid said...

Well, I definately understand the desire to pray - and there's something very lovely about the post-it note to God. Strictly speaking I would count myself an atheist only when it comes to the god of the major world religions. I'm agnostic with regard to any other possible god.

The archbishop of somewhere or other was on the radio this morning talking about the situation in Haiti and how it fit in with his notion of God's mercy. He sounded very confused - and honestly,he might as well have been taking about the tooth fairy.

But, I believe churches - and Lincoln's Inn chapel for sure!

Martijn said...

With the extremes some people go to for their religion these days it's a miracle that a lot of believers are still faithful, seeing as the principles on which all of these religions began are more morphed every day.

Although currently an atheist as yourself, I have friends from all religions that fortunately cope well together. I can agree with Sally here in that love is all that is needed, regardless of religion.

Sally said...

Yeah, perhaps many of us are saying a similar thing - we believe in love and all that goes with it - maybe there is a higher power, maybe we will never know; as a teen I did a ouija board with friends - it was scary and I never want to repeat it as the glass spelt out 'help' - there may well be some other life. As a babe I was Christened into the Church of England and I do pray, especially for others, but I'm not sure exactly what I believe in, except love; one of my sisters is a 'witch' (Wicca) who basically believes in natural world forces, our family is half Asian, half British, my Nana was a staunch Methodist and her cousin the Arch Druid of Cornwall!

In the words of M.I.A., "You can be a follower but who's your leader?"

clerkenwell kid said...

Well quite

My sister is a Sufi - or a 'Soufflé', as my mother, a devout catholic, says.

spillyjane said...

As for me, I was baptised Catholic (and have since lapsed.) I was always raised along the lines of "treat people how you'd like to be treated," which I can't really argue with.

Sally said...

Absolutely :-)

Souffléism? Divine. Your mother is a genius!

I am reminded of 3 particular counts of 'divine intervention', when Christianity overtly and even spookily seemed to find me, when I really needed guidance.

Jonathan said...

I was wondering if your southbank show is february 11th 2010 or 2011? Your MySpace says the former, but the BFI website says the latter!

clerkenwell kid said...


Its definately this year. I'm far too apocalyptic to be thinking about next ... yet

It's a DJ set btw

Could you post where you saw the info?

Jonathan said...

I wondered why they'd be telling us about a show a year in advance

Any more details on the DJ set, will you be doing it over a films?

clerkenwell kid said...

actually - that is a year late!

that was last year

this time is a just a dj set with jonny trunk

Sally said...

Time warp.

clerkenwell kid said...

'Charlotte's one second time machine'

Sally said...


Anonymous said...

Against all gods (and monsters)