I find church services make me grimace more each year. I grimace inwardly, it would be rude to grimace in front of the parish, though most wouldn’t notice the grimace as it would be worst when they are kneeling to pray. Mind you, the vicar might see me, and she might be a tattle tale, or pull me over during the handshake and ask about my overly active facial muscles and then we’d have to have that talk – atheist to Anglican, Anglican to atheist.
I am not one of those atheists who hankers for the church service and gets a thrill of togetherness when in a pew.
I like churches, but I prefer them on a Monday afternoon, when you can saunter and peruse the plaques, masonry and leaflets on outreach, society, and floral arrangement timetables.
I don’t go to church at Christmas, I feel no pang. I watched a church service with my family, some of them like that sort of thing and I am the only one that somehow dropped out of the deity rigmarole.(for anyone who has a problem with the term “watched”, this meant that I watched a service on the TV, this seemed to be an important issue, though it changes nothing I have written) Carols don’t lose their delight, though my favourite version is a brass band outside a fading shopping centre, where the rendition of Silent Night stops drunks in their tracks on their quest to find an advent pub that hasn’t barred them yet. It’s been a while since I saw that, the last time Chorley in a different century.
It is the prayers that become harder to watch on each new viewing. Every year, they become more ridiculous to me. It might be the delivery, that sonorous monotone that suggests no real dialogue with a god, merely a recital by actors who have been touring with the same script for so long, they have forgotten what the words mean and why they are saying them.
I wonder how the reciters imagine who their words are going to? Is it an embodiment of a creator, a spirit or something indefinable. The fact that the god is not as clearly conceived as it was the past doesn’t stop the tradition or the pleas, it is the done thing.
In my adult years, I have never really been able to conceive what this Christian God thing is. I have spoken to Vicars, Deans and Bishops, and there comes a point in their explanation where my mind winces, not out of mockery for their opinions, just because it can’t seem to make any sense to me. This happens to when I have the behaviour of sub atomic particles explained to me, but I understand why I am confused. I haven’t put the effort in. When I go off and research more, I get inklings and shadows of what it all means. I will never be a scientist, but I find that by questioning and reading, the concepts become illuminated, sometimes only for seconds. I believe that if I really put the effort in, if I stopped being distracted by all those other shiny spines on my bookshelves, I could get closer to comprehension. The opposite is true of godly religions. The more I read, the more it seems to make no sense at all, just a hangover from a time where evidence based explanations were more elusive and so something beyond the physical and measurable was brought in as a motorcycle leap, mid equation. I know of no reason why I stopped believing in God or gods, it is not due to some precocious intelligence, charismatic geneticist or the allure of a librarian’s cargo cult where the science books rained down from the sky and concussion by On the Origin of Species led to an awakening and elation.
This is why I try not to get hung up on religion. I will save my time to get hung up by dogma and the bigotry that can lead to. Sometimes bigotry doesn’t even need dogma, just a lack of information and a few hunches will suffice.
Anything that doesn’t offer the freedom to question and the freedom to think how you wish, anything that burns books or bans speakers (utilitarian rules applicable), anything that hampers education, you know, the usual list that leads to those conflicts when we have to try and accept those who say what we don’t like but hopefully we don’t send them to a gulag or stake.
This is why when people say, “you must meet this rabbi/preacher/imam, it could really change the way you think and you could have a good argument”, I often say no. If I was without time constraints, I might say yes more often but, just as I don’t have enough spare time to sit and listen to someone persuade me that I must see Battlefield Earth or die unsated, I ration the time for being told how and why I must let a god into my life.
My life may have holes, that’s why it sometimes makes a whistling sound when I am in a hurry, but none of them seem to be god-shaped.
I am back on tour in the new year with new shows, some new solo shows, some new shows with Grace Petrie and Josie Long, as well as the return of Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire and Dirty Book Club. all that hullabaloo is HERE
Tip Top Chris Hadfield interview is amongst additions to http://www.cosmicgenome.com and Android friendly version available from Boxing Day. New Brian Cox review of the year and plenty more.