Sunday, September 10, 2006

Of happiness and clapping

Today was the christening of my sister Fifi's Smallest Minx, and it was lovely.

Around the time that this photo of me was taken, my parents had me christened. I still have no idea why. My stepfather wasn't a churchgoer (what with the violent alcohol-fuelled bullying taking up most of his spare time), and my mother, as far as I can tell, doesn't care about anything very much so I can't see Jesus being high on her agenda. Despite this, my stepsister and I went to Sunday school, and in order to facilitate this, I had the old cross-on-the-forehead routine at the age of about three.

I think it had more to do with my parents' social ambitions than any desire to lead the pair of us in the way of the Lord. For a period of about ten months, my stepsister and I spent Sunday mornings in the church hall, colouring in pamphlets about Jesus and singing songs about letting our little burning lights shine. All that good stuff. Once the weekend cocktail party routine with the neighbours was established, we stopped going, although I remember attending church on a couple of endless, fidgety occasions, and once burning my fingers fairly badly on the heater under the pew. That was pretty much the extent of the church's influence on me - I learned that if you touch a heater, it hurts quite a lot. The whole religious aspect of it pretty much passed me by. The concept of a friendly, avuncular man in the sky (a bit like Terry Wogan, but with a beard) was a bit odd in itself (weren't people who talked to people that nobody else could see a bit, well, mad, like the patients on a pass from the local mental hospital that we used to see in the town on Saturday trips to the off-licence), but throw in giant crosses, men kissing other men and all that talk of love, and it was all a bit overwhelming.

And my view, I discovered this morning, is pretty much unchanged. I just don't understand why anyone would believe all that stuff. I know, I know - that's why they call it faith. It just doesn't work for me. It's a nice enough concept, I suppose - if you're a good person and help others and pray and stuff then you get to go to heaven when you finally pop your clogs, and sit on clouds with your dead granny, and eat crumpets and ambrosia rice pudding and lovely things like that. It just seems a bit...tenuous. I mean, nobody can prove to me categorically that investing an hour of my Sunday in singing songs to an invisible person is going to pay off. I'm just not convinced the odds are good enough, plus I have enough guilt without worrying about sin on top of everything else.

In a weird way, though, I'm slightly envious of people who have a religion. It must be comforting to think that, at the end of everything, it's all sort of taken care of. Or if you're having a bad day, you can have a little word in private and then look forward to it all getting a bit better soon. It just doesn't work for me.

Besides, all that drinking from a cup that loads of other people have drunk from doesn't seem that hygienic to me. I can think of better ways of contracting herpes.


Anonymous Stu Savory chimed in with...

Surely children are sent to sunday school so that mums and dads can have
a noisy shag or two once a weak end (sic!)

10 September, 2006 19:21  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

that may well be the case, but i really, really don't want to think about it.

*puts fingers in ears, runs away*

10 September, 2006 19:51  
Blogger Spinsterella chimed in with...

I thought parents only sent theor kids to Sunday School so they can get them into a 'good' secondary so darling little Petronella and Tarquin won't have to mix with (the horror) any poor kids.

10 September, 2006 20:36  
Blogger Patrick chimed in with...

Agree re: all that religiony stuff. Realised with some sadness the other day that religious people will never know that they were wrong all along as, when dead one is, of course, dead. Not sure what this means but it makes Moby sound even more melancholic. I wish I did believe for the same reasons you give Surly, but it isn't happening.

10 September, 2006 21:43  
Blogger Donna chimed in with...

That really is a cute pic Surly.

10 September, 2006 21:45  
Anonymous pink chimed in with...

i went to sunday school for a while too, when i was around five. i learnt this:

colouring in pictures of jesus is really boring.

10 September, 2006 22:13  
Anonymous heather chimed in with...

Ambrosia rice pudding, crumpets and Terry Wogan as god? Now if religion was really like that then maybe I might just be interested. Unfortunately it isn't and I hate it all.

I'm a sunday school veteran - it took 8 years for my disillusionment to sink in, but eventually it did and with a vengeance.

10 September, 2006 23:28  
Blogger RLT chimed in with...

Yes, but you see, you can have the comfort stuff without the other stuff. "Faith" and "religion" are two different things. Some of us believe in one and don't have anything to do with the other's like the best of both worlds.

And you certainly don't have to spend any time at all doing a lot of rigamorole to get to that nice place when you pop off. Just the being a good person and helping others type thing is enough. In fact, you don't even have to believe in the nice place - you'll just get a lovely surprise when you least expect it.

Or, at least, that's my view. After all, no one really does know for sure, do they? But I'm a lot more content this way than I ever was during all the years I was growing up with the rules and regulations of a formal religion.

Anyway, if this comment is unwelcome, I am sincerely sorry. It isn't my intention to try to convert people - well, I don't really have anything to try to convert them to. But I did just want to point out that one thing, because a lot of people somehow overlook the possibility of having faith without religion. You know, to each his own and all that.

11 September, 2006 03:58  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

no such thing as an unwelcome comment around here (except for the usual exception - you know who you are). that was thoughtfully put, rebecca.

11 September, 2006 08:44  
Blogger Donna chimed in with...

Now I need to know about the exception. Or is that another post. Or is it one you've posted about and I've just forgotten? Was it that whole pole-dancing thing? Shall I shut up?

11 September, 2006 09:55  
Blogger Donna chimed in with...

Oh, and one more question ... How come you were commenting at 8:45am when YOU HAVE A NEW JOB!!!! YAY!!!

11 September, 2006 09:55  
Blogger Billy chimed in with...

"Besides, all that drinking from a cup that loads of other people have drunk from doesn't seem that hygienic to me. I can think of better ways of contracting herpes"


It's converts to religion that scare me. Anyone who grew up in a religion is usually ok, but anyone who found religion later on tend to be the ones who insist on telling me all about it. *shudder*

11 September, 2006 15:26  
Blogger funny thing chimed in with...

It's people like this freak from Christian Voice - the paramilitary version of *christianity* that puts me off.

I just want to sin more, just to get back at him.

Hooray for kissing!

11 September, 2006 16:05  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

Apart from a few obvious scowls during the service, for which SG rightly slapped me, I managed to get through it reasonably well. It was lovely for the parents and was important for the family which I suppose is the main thing.

My problem is, being an athiest, I find the whole religion / faith / where-do-you-go-when-you-die thing a totally pointless debate. I'm a realist, you're born, you live (a happy life hopefully) and then you die. When you're dead, you're dead. We're a mass of flesh and bone which simply decomposes once life has been extinguished. There's no bright lights, no sudden redemption for all the bad things you did just because you say sorry to some invisible, omnipotent being.

I'm sure religion or faith brings a lot of comfort to a lot of people and I would not presume to tell anyone how to live their life...equally the unbelievers amongst us should be left alone to burn in hell HAHAHAHAHA !!!!!

11 September, 2006 16:37  
Anonymous Beth chimed in with...

You'll be pleased to know that my Catholic parents only allowed us to partake of the body of Christ. Never, NEVER the blood from the communal cup.
It didn't dawn on me for years to think about how gross it was that we were supposed to be eating and drinking Jesus.
I never said I was a quick child.

11 September, 2006 17:22  
Blogger claire chimed in with...

re: beth's comment: yeah, i always thought that was pretty creepy / disgusting, too and never sat well with me.

I went all the way thru to confirmation as a kid and then never had to set foot in church ever again. I have tried fully, and whole-heartedly to let it remain that way. Unfortunately, people get married and die and all that and they just keep dragging me back in. Silly.

11 September, 2006 21:21  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

anyway, never mind all that - wasn't i cute??

11 September, 2006 22:09  
Blogger First Nations chimed in with...

yes, you were a cutie! and more than likely probably still are, unless you've had a lot of facial tattooing.
even then.
catholics (used to?) believe that you can't catch anything from communion itself but you can from the priests fingers, altarboys sneezing, etc. at least thats what I remember learning.

12 September, 2006 01:20  
Blogger toomuchgrief chimed in with...

How do you catch something from the altar-boys fingers -on the other hand - for want of a better metaphor- perhaps we should leave it there.

The fact that you are all talking about the church thing is why they exist at all.

We all wonder what is going on in the world and we all fear death so manipulative gits take advantage of this uncertainty to get themselves some power and some authority ..."let me explain it for you simletons etc etc" bit like tax officers or the civil service really, just worrisome middle managers!

Anyway, back to the alter boys fingers I think...

13 September, 2006 14:16  
Blogger toomuchgrief chimed in with...

Sorry -priests fingers, alter boys nose......

13 September, 2006 14:17  

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