Thursday, 22 October 2009

A Matter Of Faith

As a consequence of going Israeli dancing last weekend Polly and I found ourselves addressing the congregation of Holy Trinity, Wallington, this Sunday. We had been chatting to Stephen, the vicar, between expositions on dance in Leviticus, and had inadvertently reminded him of our existence. He asked us if we would be prepared to be interviewed during the service about our faith. Polly said yes, totally ignoring the little strangling noises issuing from me and the frantic shaking of my head that was going on behind the vicar's back. With malicious glee she committed us. Only later did she realise that she too would have to speak.

Sunday arrived and we arrived at the church as a family only a few minutes late. Before I had even had time to warm myself next to one of the iron radiators we were being invited to the front to address the congregation.

I have been in this situation many times in the past but not for a few years. A hundred or more faces watched me expectantly. I flicked the controller on my wheelchair and levitated into the air. That was better, I could now see and be seen. It also killed a few seconds. Polly took the microphone and spoke with her usual wit and assurance about her faith and how it enabled her to cope with some of the extremely harrowing situations she faces with her work as a clown doctor. All well and good but it was upping the bar and I was acutely aware that anything I said was going to sound trite or glib or worse, hypocritical.

All to soon Polly finished her bit and Stephen turned his vicarly attention to me. After giving the congregation a brief run down on my writing and theatre background and doing a great job plugging this blog he asked me what my faith meant to me. Good question. It was one of those situations when you open your mouth to talk and haven't got a clue what's going to come out.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you will be aware that if Jesus wants me for a sunbeam then he has grossly misjudged the weather. I admitted that I had 'issues' with God, which seemed to strike a chord with a significant number of those listening judging from the wry chuckle that followed. I went on to talk a little about the many good things in my life and left it to them to decide whether I attributed those to my faith or not. I did say that my faith has formed the backdrop to my life for the last 35 years or so, which however I feel about that sometimes, is absolutely true.

As ever when I raise matters of faith on this blog I am acutely aware that I am disappointing or disillusioning many of my readers, especially my many Christian friends who would, no doubt, prefer something more unequivocal from me. Equally I know for a fact that a huge number of my readers are atheist and hold no truck whatsoever with anything pertaining to faith. They say you can't please all of the people all of the time, but it would be nice to please a few people some of the time. So, for the tiny number of readers who lack certainty in matters of personal faith, this post is for you. As you dangle over the precipice of uncertainty you can at least be comforted by the knowledge that somewhere nearby I am hanging on grimly with you. Not a great deal of comfort, I realise, but at least we're not alone.

Until next time.


  1. Thank you Quick Sketch for your honesty.
    As someone who is also hanging on by chewed fingernails,I'd say it doesn't do any harm to express real doubts in the face of what often feels like insurmountable hardship that atheists call bad fortune. It will do no harm to people who were there, and to people who read your blog to hear that life sucks. The thing is, you can allow it all to take over and become depressed or you can try for the laugh in the situation. I like the description of you pulling yourself up to your full height when preparing to talk. I guess that determination and positive attitude is there from when God created you,some people haven't been blessed with it,even those who have nothing much to feel angry about.
    Now that you have established a recent track record as a public speaker, I wonder if I can book you for a whisky tasting evening in Dec giving you some time to become an expert on the subject.

  2. As one of your readers for whom the question of your religious faith has seemed irrelevant, I want to thank you for sharing this post.

    I'm sad to hear that the Christians you know are mostly certain, unplagued by doubt; too often that kind of certainty makes it hard to listen to another view. And I'm even sadder to hear, in what you write, the implication that you believe your readers probably fall into two camps -- those who are Christian and those who are atheist.

    As a devoutly practicing member of a non-creedal, non-Christian religion, I want to applaud your willingness to share your relationship with the Divine. From my perspective, struggling with that relationship is the work of maturation wherever we find it.

    Love and light and laughter to you

  3. Buddy,

    As somebody who has walked the same path as you, faith wise anyway, for almost as long as you, I too find those Christians that refuse to admit that the road can be rocky and full of obstacles a bit wearing at times. I think they tend to skip over that bit where Jesus said that his way was narrow and extremely know, "Pick up your cross and follow me"....and he wasn't talking about that little silver necklace that we often like to wear either. Doubt is tantamount to heresy in many an evangelical eye, however; as the last comment said it is often part of our process of ‘growing up’.
    I suppose the trick is, when you are hanging on by the skin of your teeth not to let go.
    As you know, as my life long mate, who I love very much, I have prayed for you and with you that God will restore you. I don't have that strength of faith that he would heal you (although, God that would be just fine by me I can assure you), but that perhaps that he might give you back that certainty that you once had.
    I know there will be those that will find that a stupid remark, but in all honesty, what harm can it do? Life's tough enough as it is, without some git switching the light at the end of the tunnel off.
    Looking forward to me and the boy Bassbin seeing you again soon and we can debate the meaning of life over the whisky you are having to research!!

    In a very real and heartfelt way...God Bless



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