I decided not to walk through the dark woods, not because of some irrational fear of malevolent ghosts or voracious zombies, but because I might fall into a mud hole or maybe be bludgeoned by a very real axe murderer, driven to blood by Christmas.
And maybe a little bit because of the ghosts in my imagination and pattern seeking mind, keen turn wind rustled leaves into a spirit.
I try so hard to be a rationalist, but I watched too many MR James adaptations when I was too young. I presume that is why I was never drawn to being an amateur archeologist, those warnings of the murderers unearthed when antiquities are disturbed.
I don’t think you can ever be more than a wannabe rationalist, smidgens of myth hover about in darkness. I am not scared of ghosts, just people who believe a ghost has told them to kill me in the undergrowth. I try to be pragmatic with other people’s bullshit…and my own.
Instead of the woods, I went for the quiet country road path. Usually, this has no one on it, but this night there was someone that awkward distance away, the quandary of slowing down until they are always one brow ahead, or speeding up, overtaking, then worrying that is just what he wanted you to do so you’d be unaware of the sabre being drawn from its secreted sheath.
We all lived.
The sky was almost cloudless, so I was a Johnny Head In Air, and the opening line of A Matter of Life and Death came to me –
“This is the Universe…big, isn’t it”.
And, in clergyman sermon style, these memories led to thoughts of my atheism.
For no real reason, sometimes I wonder if I can pinpoint when a god was no longer in charge of my world. I have no idea. I have few memories of praying. I remember praying to god when I heard my Great Aunt Phyllis was ill. I suppose I was seven. I had only met her once or twice, but she must have given me delicious cake or ten pence, as the thought of her death worried me enough to put my hands together.
I was a member of the school’s Christian Forum group when I was 14, but I can’t work out why beyond the squash and biscuits and 45 minutes protection from having my head stuck down a toilet.
I don’t really have any memories of active belief nor active atheism.
Sadly, I do not have any of those anecdotes that lie in the books of well-known unbelievers. That one that starts, “I remember that when I was seven years old, I asked a teacher a rather clever question about heaven, and they had a most unsatisfactory answer, so I thought, a pox on this Yahweh”.
Others have a brief falling in with some fundamentalists in early college days and have a Damascene moment in a shopping arcade while giving out flyers promoting Jesus’s presumed homophobia.
Whatever my belief was, and I have looked around for it in memories, it just drifted off, forgotten rather than shaken off or wretched from the fabric of my being.
No god-shaped hole left, wherever the deity was must have scabbed over a long time ago.
No melodrama or family fights, slipped away due to lack of interest.
I can’t see it coming back, I don’t know where I’d fit him.I hope he’s not waiting for me in the woods.
(I always feel a little sexist making the god I believe to be non-existent male, I don’t believe in a female god either. Oh the perils of middle class liberal guilt)
I am off to tour Australia for Atheist folk (believers welcome too) dates HERE
And I am off to USA with Prof Cox dates HERE
and I have a smattering of UK dates from Berwick to Belfast, Swindon to Glasgow, Edinburgh to Uckfield http://www.robinince.com