Monday, 30 November 2009

God and all His Works...

Well, it had to happen sometime. My God post, or 'How it's possible to have a good, fulfilling life without believing'. It's actually quite easy when it comes down to it and I still get to walk and eat and laugh and cry, have sex and love my fellow man and woman without any supernatural interference, divine punishment or having even one iota of faith. It's a goddamn miracle, that's what it is. Things could have gone so differently, if it hadn't been for one night in 1986 when I went to a Born-again Christian rock concert. More of that later.


Here's the story of my descent into unbelief and, eventually, I guess, hell. 

For most of my teenage years, I had subscribed to a very vague, unthought-out, knee-jerk Celtic-style Christianity, which consisted of saying that I believed in Jesus and God but that was pretty much it. And hassling heavy metal friends who wore upside-down crosses. This behaviour, to my ever-lasting shame, is the only true blue Born-again thing I did, thank God. In all other things, I remained in my obscure pseudo-Christian sect of one. 

The bible was bogus and deeply boring as far as I could see and apart from using it to predict the future, (a great no-no and a sin, I found out later,) I didn't read it. 
Apart of course from the infamous Persian porn poetry in Ecclesiastes- the Song of Songs. And even now, it's a genuinely sexy bit of writing, exquisitely beautiful, erotic and powerful. If you've never read it, I would urge you to do so. 
What male teenage believer hasn't secretly swelled and impurely lingered over the page chapters where the lover's breasts are compared to variously, two young gazelles, dates and grapes and imagined how that might look. 

You are tall,
          as tall as a palm tree.
          And your breasts are like its plentiful fruit.
          I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree.
          I will hold its fruit.’
          I would like your breasts to be like groups of grapes.
          I would like your breath to smell like apples.

Or wondered if Jesus rose on the third day solely because of reading verses three and four-

         My hair is damp because of the night.’
      I have taken off my dress,
          I do not want to put it on again.
          I have washed my feet.
          I do not want to make them dirty.
          My lover put his hand through the opening.
          I was excited because he was near.

Well goodness me. The Bible, ladies and gentlemen.

So, that concert. It was a bearded Christian singer by the name of Adrian Snell and for your delectation, I've tracked down a recording of Alpha and Omega from 1988. Two years earlier, it was the title track from the album he had just released as well as giving its name to The Alpha and Omega tour. This tour, a serious-faced American interpretive male dancer in a black leotard would be interpreting Adrian Snell's songs, infusing them with all the multi-media impact and gravitas of free-form expression. Unfortunately, as it turned out, it also looked incredibly and joyously gay. This, sadly, was the beginning of the end for me. 

So, to recap. Before the gig, I called myself a Christian, bought a ticket, walked up the spiral ramp into the auditorium, before finding my seat, feeling embarrassed that I wasn't wearing a V-necked jumper but anyway... The lights went down and...

...until half way through, when after an excruciating hour of smothering my giggles and the serious kissing ups to Jesus on stage, Mr. Snell said the words that turned me away from the light. This was to be my very own road out of Damascus moment, when the veil fell away from my eyes, pomegranates be damned.

'I want you to turn to the person sat on your left and tell them that Jesus loves them.'

It sounds so innocuous now, doesn't it, and yet the truth was that I'd never actually met a real, fixed-smile Christian in my life until that moment, just the ones in the nice coloured head-scarves from the Children's bible. The ones that pulled thorns from lions' paws and got Egypt through the famine. Except, weren't they supposed to be Jewish?

To be honest, someone trying to hold my hand for Jesus, scared the living bejesus out of me. To be around people who could be that cloyingly earnest, even after reading the Song of Songs un-nerved me. And so I did what any newly made godless fool would do and incredulously and loudly said, 'No!', snatching my hand away before beginning the desperate sideways shuffle past the neatly trousered knees into a fresh new world.

So, at twenty years old I was re-born into a world without God, without Allah, without Krishna, without Zeus, even without the Invisible Pink Unicorn, (though verily, Her loss I feel the most keenly, causing me pain both potent and grievous). 
The sweet relief I experienced when I finally surrendered the last tatters of the religious flag I'd thought to fly was a revelation. 

Without a god, I realised that I didn't need to hide any longer. 

I was free.  

1 comment:

  1. OK, tell the truth, that's you swinging those scarves around. Notice how they keep getting stuck over his head?

    Also, I'd like to hear more of your born-at-some-point years.