Today I did a survey. It took about 12 minutes. It tried to measure how much I worry in relation to how much I believe in a god. And yet in the eons that have made up my lifetime I have never previously made that connection.
And yes there is definitely a connection. I worry about God a lot.
I remember listening to babies cry in church. Becoming fussy in the arms of their silent, anxious parents. Once their noise hit the appropriate level of nuisance they were banished, along with their carer to the ‘Mothers room’ out the back. A room that smelt of stale farts and moulding draperies. A room where the Sunday sermon was piped in through a crackling old speaker salvaged from the wreck of the Hesperus. A room that made babies cry even louder.
There were the Deacons. A group of men who held the church congregation to ransom and whose role was as mysterious as the Knights Templar but with less costuming. Holding secret meetings, counselling wayward boys and judging women who didn’t behave. They were fun.
And the array of prohibitions that seemed as interminable as the wives of Solomon. There were the boundary disputes: Who could go to heaven, who might go to heaven, who, I’m sorry, just didn’t make the grade. The generosity police; who could give, who could receive, who could love, who could forgive. And the exercise limitations; When you could have sex, dance, gamble and drink. Or not.
Communion was also a terrible ordeal. Those beautiful little glasses clinking in the tray, topped up with the most delicious looking red cordial and the neat squares of crustless white bread, fit for an angels tea party. But no, not for the experimentalists. I tried some anyway. Hanging back after everyone started to file out and guzzling the dregs from the discarded glasses. And it’s funny now, thinking back, because that is actually a skill I have maintained. You know. Trying things I’m not supposed to. And drinking other peoples booze.
Oh yeah. The animal sacrifice. The ritual slaughter of the roast chicken. Put on to cook by the minister’s wife, on low, in a covered frypan at 8.30 on a Sunday morning. By the time it was consumed at 12.30, that animal had really suffered.
And Mrs Haig’s singing. Lifting her voice in exultation. It really scarred me.
And it’s not that I think this has any connection to God.
And that’s why I worry.