so, today sees us sitting in a catholica church, surrounded by people, the god-a-fearing, the sucked in, the scared, the sheep, the asleep, the innocent, the guilty, the mewling hoards.
and out the front, the priest, the father, the leader of the flock, the tormentor, the boogey-man, the conveyor of threats, promises, the keeper of the riches.
he who must be obeyed.
he who hands around the basket for the coin. TWICE cause once aint enough you tight-arsed congregationalists.
he who reads the book, wipes the germs from the cup, breaks the bread. in a purple robe with snappy elocution and a kind of arrogant bearing, to my atheistic mind, that is.
i sit there dressed nicely with a calm, respectful face, not grimacing externally, resisting the guffaws when i feel them surge. i stand when required, i pass the basket, i turn and shake my neighbour's hands and say "peace be with you." that much i can say with utmost sincerity.
but i don't do the amens. i don't pray. i don't bow my head and i don't cross myself. of course i don't cross myself. i'm not catholic. practising religion is an exclusive kind of activity. guaranteed there will be some non-religionist in the audience on any given weekend; do they watch with envy the lining up for the wafer and wine?
occasionally i will sing a hymn, if it's one i like.
who can deny the power of blake's fantastic jerusalem.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green
And was the holy lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills
Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spears o'clouds unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
'Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land
'Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
how do i reconcile my love for this poem, nay my adoration of it? it includes god, it includes religious concepts.
it's easy, dear reader. god is just that, a concept. it is something i can sing of, just words, i don't have to believe. for me the beauty, the awe and the power is in the words of this glorious hymn and the music. we sang this at my secondary school, an anglican school, where religion was part of every monday morning assembly. we had the hymn books, and we sang all sort of horrible hymns. this was the one everyone loved. it was so uplifting, you could feel that sword in your hand and see the chariot of fire, and i swear recently when i bellowed it out to the bush, singing with my sister and brother-in-law on our camping trip, i had tears in my eyes. the others, clokes and the kids, i think thought it was weird. they weren't moved, they didn't get it, they didn't know it. so how could i, a non-believer be the only one in the church (quite possibly) to be moved by that hymn? oh sweet irony.
today in the church, as i had princess leaning on me, rolling her eyes and sighing about all the god stuff, i watched the people going through the motions. of course not all are. some would be genuine in their faith and for them it be a goodly thing.
i thought of perseus as i sat in the church, watching the purple-robed one. i wondered when the last time was that he was in a church, and what his approach is. i figure i am a guest there, and as always when i'm a guest in anyone's house, i try to be respectful and polite. i could imagine perseus and me ganging up on the whole congregation - grabbing the mike and trying to tell them how wrong and blind they are. the priest was talking about abraham preparing to sacrifice his son. he spelled it out, sacrifice means kill, he thought god wanted him to kill his son.
there were kids in the congregation; what did they make of this? we've just had a man throw his daughter off a bridge, and then here's this man talking about fathers killing their children? where's the sense in that? where's the sensitivity?
sitting there it seemed more than the con that i generally see it as. to see all the families and the people going through the motions, and really, a lot were, they were there out of guilt, out of family obligation, out of habit.
is that how you want to live your life?
the irony is princess has been asked to read a prayer at a year 7 school service at church next week. i think she's chuffed to have been asked, but i said to her if it's very goddy, she would be able to tell them if she felt uncomfortable reading it. that she could offer to read something else, something more about humans than make-believe. she loves the idea of vampires and witches and wizards, but she is as scornful of an omnipresent god as i am. she knows vampires and the like aren't real, so she applies the same logic to the idea of god. but she said she's ok to do the reading, and i am so proud of her; for being chosen and for doing it. she can read it and not believe it. they are just words. the school she's at would respect her wish not to read for her own reasons if she explained them. they are tolerant of diversity in religious faith and belief and active dis-belief, which i was pleased to see specifically listed in some literature they put out.
i am exhausted. by the church. by the lunch, and chatting to people and smiling and ignoring my period stomach-ache and tiredness. i did my duty and that's good. but as soon as we could, we came home to play guitar hero.
serious addiction developing.
off to the golden age of couture in bendigo tomorrow, and very excited about it too. my type of religion: art.
happy sunday to you.