And so back to Andy…
And so back to Andy. As I was saying I had been popping along to his place regularly over the weeks, normally of a morning, and I was enjoying it all immensely. Chatting about all sorts of manner of things, as well as things concerning what I was going there for; God, church and becoming a member of the C of E.
Finally Andy came out with the big, inevitable question… ‘Do you think you’re ready to go through with it then? Being confirmed?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes. I think I’m okay with that.’
In my own little way, I thought, ‘Well, that’s that then. This may well be the start of something new for me.’
But then Andy asked me, perhaps not unreasonably, ‘You realise, don’t you, that during the service I’ll have to ask you a few questions and you’ll have to answer me in the affirmative.’ I thought a little; Yes, I suppose so. What kind of questions? And said, ‘ Yes, sure.’
‘Do you believe that Mary gave birth to Jesus a virgin?’ Andy asked.
This, I think is exactly why it’s better to have kids christened and confirmed at early, or a reasonably early age, because when you’re a kid you can be excused for not thinking things through completely. It’s possible to believe in lots of things when you’re young. You can even say ‘Yes!’ When you mean ‘No,’ or ‘I’m not sure,’ or ‘I haven’t given it much thought really!’ But when you’re older you consider your words more. That’s not to say I would never say something I thought wasn’t true. Far from it. But I would nevertheless consider my words: why am I saying it, and would I then become ridiculous later on?
I remember, that this was more or less the period that Osama bin Laden was killed by the American Navy SEALs. His body was disposed of at sea, as to avoid his burial place becoming a place of worship… or whatever. I have no reason to doubt this, in any way. But…
Or… Just a couple of months ago we had the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK. Who was it? The Brits say it was Russia. The Russians say it was the Brits. Me. I don’t know. I would only say that when Jeremy Corbyn (the left wing Labour leader of the opposition in the Westminster parliament) suggested that it might be wise to have some solid proof before holding Putin and the Kremlin responsible, he was ridiculed by, not only the Conservative benches, but the whole of the House of Commons, including his own party, and denounced as a traitor. For me, both these stories, and many others are not categorically closed by any means.
History (and religious books) is written by people, and sometimes people have an agenda. Sometimes. Politics come into to it too, surely. Why did Bush and Blair fly so readily into Iraq? The evidence was wrong. So, so wrong!
This is all stuff that is recent, and so should be possible to check, but it isn’t! Not easily anyway. Rewind 2000 years… I do not believe for one single moment that reasons for painting history imaginatively were not as numerous then as they are now.
‘Well?’ Andy said.
‘It’s not important for me if Mary was a virgin or not. If she was, I’m happy. If she wasn’t, it makes no difference to how I feel.’
‘Do you believe Jesus was the son of God?’
‘I’ve no idea.’ After all we are all the children of God. Aren’t we? If you’re saying that God was the physical father of Jesus, not merely metaphorically; perhaps we’re stretching it a little bit.
‘It doesn’t matter if I believe it or not. If I believe it doesn’t make it any truer or less true than if I didn’t. Either way, it’s not a problem for me. If he was, I’m very happy!’
‘Do you believe Jesus died on the cross to save us all?’
‘Another tricky one!’ I have no reason to disbelieve that Jesus was nailed to a cross, and died. To save us all? Perhaps I didn’t understand the question. There is a theory that he didn’t actually die; hence the problem of translation. Hebrew is unclear the difference of ‘resurrection’ and ‘resuscitation’ and can be translated into Latin in both ways. I have heard it said that Jesus indeed didn’t die, but escaped to Kashmir and continued to live and preach for years later.
I don’t know. I still don’t know. I do, however, know that it is important to believe in something, and it was this space that I had been hoping the Anglican Church might have been able to fill. If you want the right answers you have to ask the right questions.
Needless to say, I was never taken into the Anglican or any other Church. I believe in lots of crazy, stupid things, and if you want to call one of those ‘God’, so well and good. I do hypnosis, and during my sessions I say things I completely understand are not true. But it helps. Indeed it can even seem to come true by some kind of magical power of the mind and universe combined. Even the incredible! And often things do indeed become really true and not just seem!