Faith is something some of you have, some of you don’t and most of you would rather avoid talking about. It’s very much similar to the chance of getting a broken egg at breakfast; some of you will have it, some won’t, and when you picture your mother’s rage over how hard she works for her ungrateful family, you tend to avoid complaining. But whether you have it or not, doesn’t make it any less relevant in most of our lives. Being atheist doesn’t stop me from crying out ‘dear God’ whenever Elodie proposes an idea and it doesn’t stop me from praying whenever somebody suggests I see a doctor. Religion is far too imbedded into culture to disappear entirely (see Samuel Beckket for more on that). So it’s odd how it can seem so extraordinary to people. But for certain, faith can bring a person comfort amongst their difficulties.
When I was 11 years old, I joined the Christian club. Two men came to the school from the Church of England, and ran the club every Wednesday afternoon during the lunch break. Although the name said it all, the content was a little more disguised. They’d play film clips on the tv, organise games, even arts and crafts. Sweets and cakes were a given; regardless if you lost, won or just came to watch, you could be sure to be stuffing your face by the end of it all. But no matter what was on the agenda it always ended with a short 5 minute monologue about sacrifice, goodness, forgiveness and many other topics with obvious biblical connotations. They paraphrased extracts and stories from the bible, giving us little moral lessons on top of repeating over and over the importance of faith. But they needn’t of done that. You see, I went because I had faith.
When my parents found out, it sparked a concerned discussion at home. Having a Catholic father and a atheist mother meant that they were open minded to most philosophical views on life. Had I announced my devout faith to the Sun God, they would probably have supported me by finding a way for me to worship without the messy necessity of sacrificing someone on an alter with a stone dagger (however morbid it might have been, it does sound cool doesn’t it? When I think about all the people who annoy me, I can definitely appreciate the same appeal that the Aztecs and Maya had for devouring hearts). So when I explained I went to Christian club, they immediately discussed how to support me. Organising who would take me to church on Sundays, how could I be baptised or, should they avoid all ceremonies until I decided on which Christian branch to side with. Church of England seemed the obvious choice but maybe I’d lean toward Catholicism later on. This conversation was completely unbeknownst to me however; I was far too busy pushing how far I could imbalance homework and procrastination.
At school, it began to affect how people saw me in very slight ways. My identity had just received a new label to be listed. I had evolved from the weird unsocial half Spanish kid to the weird unsocial half Spanish Christian kid. It came up in comments out of the blue, usually starting with ‘so that’s why you’re so strange’. In those days, I still cared about other people thought so it bothered me but not as much as the other attention I received. Suddenly the other Christian students flocked to me, ready to adopt another minion into their holy ranks. I was asked for my favourite passage, what I thought of the text from ‘insert bible page reference’ and best of all, just how much I loved God. I made the mistake of telling these guys “yeah, he’s cool” which left me at the mercy of their love speeches. Had they been the romantic kind of love speeches, my sexuality to one side, it would have at least been flattering but these were tedious. Everyone needed to prove their sincerity, though I’m not entirely sure why. I could have avoided them all by not going to the Christian club but you see, I went because I had faith.
Later on I saw the darker side of those students. One in particular, began expressing very singular opinions that he claimed was justified by Christianity. He declared he would not be a passive Christian and would preach to the world just how terrible homosexuality was. He started with angry lectures before moving on to berating others for disagreeing. He later advanced to printing and distributing anti-gay pamphlets around the school (which was quickly intercepted by teachers thank goodness) and finally started his very own witch hunt, in order to excommunicate those who he believed sinned. I was lucky enough to listen to most of his rantings, which made my Wednesdays (and every other day I bumped into him) truly delightful in the most furious way imaginable. In the end, my indifference toward the other students needed to be replaced with something a little hotter, and I stopped attending the club before I lost my temper. (That stain of human life later went on to renounce his faith and become more active in his hate quest. As everyone could see quite clearly, he wasn’t completely devout; just a complete dick).
At home my parents were sympathetic and encouraged me by saying that although I couldn’t go to the club, they would take me to Church instead. It took them completely aback when I refused.
“Don’t worry, there will be boys your age there too you know”
“Hmm, no thank you”
“But you can practice all the ceremonies there. You can be baptised and attend mass”
“Hmm, no thank you”
“It’s all part of Christianity. You’re not interested?”
“No, not really. I don’t believe in God so it’d be a little silly to go to all that trouble”
My parents exchanged shocked glances before rounding on me.
“What do you mean you don’t believe in God? Why on earth have you been going to Christian club all this time then!?”
“Because they give me free food and sweets. And they show films. I don’t think I’d get those things at a church”
I went because I had faith. I had faith that no matter what, so long as I listened to a ‘how great forgiveness is’ speech, there’d be a Victoria Sponge cake and a film waiting at the end of it. I had faith I could stuff my face every time, with jam and sugar and skittles. Oh and fruit tarts! Oh fruit tarts were easily the best thing about it all. Faith, if nothing else, brings comfort and nothing is more comforting than knowing you’ve got a fruit tart waiting for you at lunch time. Being a Christian was never a requirement of the club; they invited everyone in the hope of converting non believers. Hearing about how many biblical messages the Narnia books had was interesting but it couldn’t top a film and fruit tart. I had faith that films and fruit tarts are amazing, and without a shadow of doubt, I was right!