Sunday, May 22, 2011

Church of the poisoned mind

Religion, hey? Well, I’m not going to shy away from the subject. I’ll do my (Sunday) best to address it, because I believe (pardon the word) that it’s important for you, dear reader, to know my position. Do I have a bias one way or the other? Am I from the Richard Dawkins camp, or am I a card-holder of some other Salvation Army?

As a child, my parents never dragged me along to church by, thank God. They didn’t impose that Sunday ritual on their children. In that respect, my siblings and I were left to our own devices. We enjoyed unadulterated freedom (is there a pun in that?), and it was only my school friends who would sometimes invite me along.

And I did. I went along to several encounter groups run by hip teachers in the hope of making friends—never easy for me. These were run along faintly evangelical lines, but I did my best to ignore that. I took part in what looked interesting, sat out on what looked suspicious, and endured the rest as best as I could.

But that faint biblical hiss in the background kept my hackles at the ready. Things came to a head one weekend when the teenagers’ group that I attended was ‘ushered’ into the church next door. Some sort of service going on.

Meekly I submitted with the rest. There was no time to voice a protest. As we trooped on over, I felt we’d been conned, but what can you do?

I sat there on a pew, listening critically. So we all have this personal relationship with God, do we? How to know for sure? I decided to put the sucker to the test. As others traipsed up for their sip and a nibble, I stuck fast to my seat. I socked God with an ultimatum. ‘Right man, I’ll give you one chance. Give me a sign that you’re up there. That’s all you need to do, and I’ll go along with this charade. All I ask for is a sign.’

And then I waited . . . 

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