‘Can I go to Sunday School?’ I asked. Well, other school friends went and said it was good so I thought I was missing out.
I was duly despatched, with my elder cousin who lived next door, to the Metho one in town at 3pm.
Boring, boring. Boring as hell. So to speak. We had to draw pictures of bible stories. I couldn’t draw at the best of times. Where was the intellectual stimulation?
I gave it one or two goes and decided watching the Sunday afternoon film with my parents in the smoke-filled sitting room after lunch was a better alternative.
My thirst for extra knowledge had evaporated rapidly.
‘I go to school from Monday to Friday, I’m not going on Sunday,’ said stroppy little Roughseas, who had originally asked to go.
Did I have any other brushes with religion?
Well I enjoyed singing hymns, Verdi’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Mass. I liked visiting churches and admiring religious art and sculpture. After all, my degree involved a lot of that.
But did I believe in any of it? No.
Who, in their right minds believes in virgin births and resurrection? Let alone the rest of the fantasy tales?
And that, I’m sorry to say, is all I have ever thought about religion.
We are born, we live our lives, and we die. Hopefully we can do some good in our short period on earth. Our choice is to help our neighbours, strangers needing a hand, when we can, and to rescue the odd abandoned dog. Not a lot, but something.
Would I or anyone else be better off if I wasted time praying at church or studying the bible? I think not.
I was baptised. I was never confirmed. My mother had a religious phase. Her brother was killed in WW2 and she was close to his wife. They went to church together and she became confirmed. She wanted the full funeral service at her death instead of the shortened version. Quite right, if you do these rituals, might as well go the whole hog.
My father, on the other hand, really didn’t give a shit. Brought up Methodist, his only interest was in having ‘Eternal Father’ sung at his church funeral. (A naval thing)
I made sure both my parents got their wishes.
So luckily, I wasn’t brought up with religion. My school was not religious, but was nominally Anglican, in later years I skipped assembly. Religious studies dropped off after the third year in senior school.
Life as an agnostic/atheist person was easy. I went to church for matches (marriages) and despatches (funerals) to respect people. I went at Christmas to sing carols.
But I have never spent hours thinking about a god or a religion. Academically, it is interesting, pragmatically it is, well, rubbish.
To people who were and still are religious, I appreciate this may sound flippant. It’s not.
I thought about it briefly, decided it didn’t hold water, and knocked it on the head.
The idea of indoctrination freaks me out. I do feel for people who have suffered it. I can never understand it. Maybe the same way people can’t understand how easily I rejected it as ridiculous. In a two second conversation with my partner, he asked me if I ever believed in it.
‘No, did you?’
And there you have it. Succinct.
We have a personal and moral ethical code that we follow, we don’t break the law, and we respect other people. Even the idiots.
Now, tell me what I would gain by following any god, because truth is, I’m not in it for personal gain. Seeking salvation, forgiveness, eternal truth and glory, sounds selfish to me.
But, let’s have a relevant read with The Devil’s Apology, (free, just click on the link) by Kevin Cooper, who is well versed in Christianity and used to be a lay minister.
This short story turns the Christian religion on its head, painting the God as controlling and manipulative and the Devil as a supernatural being who wants to ensure individuals have the right to exercise their free will.
The book recounts the story of a war between the God and the Devil, in which the God is portrayed as the bad character. The Devil isn’t perfect either, he starts by responding to the antagonism and ends up loving the battles, but however, in the end, he loses.
But the real question posed is, will people use their free will to make their own choice?
It’s a good read and a pertinent question.
Right now, when we look at the religious indoctrination across the world, from the bible belts of America to the Islamic States of the Middle East, more people might want to think about whether they want to be controlled by a non-existent god.
Seriously people, do you honestly think you are going to burn eternally in hell fire in the middle of the earth? That is so Middle Ages.
Just concentrate on the here and now, lead a decent life, and don’t worry about everlasting paradise. It isn’t going to happen. It’s dust to dust, not floating up to la-la land and sitting on a cloud.
Credit for this post goes to a comment on violetwisp’s blog, by insanitybytes, who seems to think atheists are privileged because they have a lot of time to contemplate the issues. Sorry IB, you are wrong, some of us don’t waste our time contemplating the issues. Big difference. There is nothing, and I repeat nothing, worth contemplating.
Normal service … etc …
I added this to one of the comments, but it should really have been included in the main post …
It is the classic story of selling religion. Brilliant book, and brilliant portrayal in the film by Burt Lancaster. Superb. Glory Hallelujah. Get behind me Satan.