Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Questionning the T Word.

My parents were classic middle-of-the-road people. There were no books in the house, no music except the radio and some bits of lightweight popular stuff, no art on the walls apart from a couple of ubiquitous chain store prints. I’m not critical of them for that; they were who they were and what they had a right to be. And they were a lot more ‘normal’ than I’ve ever been. The one thing about them that probably had the most profound effect on me, however, was that they never taught me to think. That was a process I had to work out for myself, probably starting at age 11 when I went to high school. Coincidentally, it was around about then that I started questioning my fervent Christian beliefs.

‘How do I know there’s a God?’ I asked the vicar.

‘You don’t. God doesn’t allow you to know. He says you must have faith.’

‘How do I know that?’

‘It says so in the Bible.’

‘Who wrote the Bible?’

‘God did, through the hands of men.’

‘But how do I know there’s a God?’

I began to realise that I’d never really questioned it before, I’d just been swept along on the tide of Christian propaganda. Children are, and it wasn’t long before I left and started searching for alternative answers.

I don’t remember when it was that somebody first said to me ‘You think too much.’ At the time I dismissed the concept as stemming from pure ignorance. It seemed to me that such a statement dribbles unthinkingly from the mouths of people who lack the capacity to think. But maybe I was wrong. The older I get, the more I wonder whether we should just allow ourselves, as so many people do, to be swept along on the tide of propaganda served up to us by our culture (what Ishmael rather aptly calls ‘the hum of Mother Culture.’) Life is so short and its purpose (if any) so inscrutable, so why waste it trying to work things out?

But doesn’t that produce bigotry, ignorance and intolerance? And isn’t bigotry, ignorance and intolerance the source of so much that is horrible in the world? Isn’t that why we are all potential angels being led through this short life in shackles by a bunch of monkeys?

I think it probably is, but I’m not sure.

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