Kentucky Fried God-in-a-Box (part 1)
Posted on March 1, 2008
Part 1: The Butterfly
Do you remember when you were at junior school?
Wasn’t there always some kid who brought a prized possession to school, such as a spider in a box? Or a beetle? Or, maybe a butterfly? The latter, usually stone dead from fright anyway, was sometimes stuck through with a pin, and nailed in a fixed position, to prevent – heaven forbid!- the white sepulchral wings from being damaged in the box.
This unhappy skewered corpse would then be shown off to the rest of us plebeians as some kind of seventh wonder of the world. If you were part of the in crowd, one of the initiates as it were, you too were allowed a breathless look in the box.
I remember it at times being a solemn affair.
This particular kid brought in a shoe box one day, with a small snake he had caught. He sneaked it into the class room, and we acolytes who were in on the plot, thought this was the finest piece of mischief we had gotten up to for a long time. Until of course the wretched creature, ungrateful beyond words, escaped from the box, and piled injury upon ingratitude by biting his abductor firmly on the shin. The teacher, upon recognizing it as an adder, a poisonous beastie, promptly evacuated the classroom. An ambulance was called, and the Police, and there was a major hullabaloo, and we were all convinced our hero was going to die. So caught up were we in the drama of this magnificent epic, that we regarded it as jolly unsporting when he returned the next day, chastened but – so boringly – alive.
Some time after that, I remember that our Catechism teacher, (he who made us learn by rote questions and answers about God), (which explained everything), told us of a very big exciting event that was about to take place. Some priest was going to come around and show us a real splinter from the cross of the crucifixion of Jesus. In due course, this happened, and I got a precious few seconds to gaze in awe at this minuscule splinter of wood under a glass cover.
In a box of course.
Perhaps, I admit it, these childhood reminiscences stayed with me more vividly than they would have done with a normal child. For I, the little Anglo-Irish child at an all Dutch school, sticking out like a sore thumb, was a sensitive, feeling kid. Or so I am told.
In my story “Going to Confession “ I have been able to capture in cold prose some faint memory of those innocent times. For myself, at any rate…
In later life, it was to this image, the staked and very dead butterfly-in-the-box, and, occasionally the tiny splinter-in-the-box, that my thoughts would stray when I listened to people tell me, with straight faces, the way God worked and thought. The way God did things. The way he judged people. Some people could give you the whole skinny, the entire she-bang, in about five minutes flat.
After which, there was nothing left to explain.
Just like the Catechism. The little book. Which gave you the questions. And the answers. All you had to do was learn them off! It was so easy, a kid could do it.
And was supposed to!
I thought it was pretty amazing. Here were these folk, who were just average at their humble professions. Be they tinker or taylor, housewife or parson. However, when the subject of ‘God’ came up, it was astounding how they were transported into a new body in an instant. They would stand up straighter, a fire would come into their eyes, and they would hold forth with an authority that was nothing short of remarkable.
Trouble was, I didn’t believe a word of it.
For I, sinner, (the saints have mercy upon his soul…) had lost my faith at sixteen years of age, despite my desperate Irish mother calling in the parish priest. Who duly came around to the house, and tried to save my soul. Looking back, it was nice of him to try. In this noble pursuit he was, alas, unsuccesful, for I remember standing up firmly to both him and my heart broken ‘devoutly Irish’ mother. To me, with the confident wisdom of youth, it was all baloney, nothing more than a holy hoo-lah, and I was not going to waste my time with it. It was all mirrors and smoke, and I had no more faith in God than I had in that dumb unfortunate butterfly that got skewered in the name of schoolboy science. Therefore, I was no longer going to Mass on Sundays!
I had, I was only to realize this later, quite happily placed God in a box entirely of my own making. And shut the lid. Tight. The box was put away in a seldom visited and dusty place, and I was entirely satisfied with that. Or maybe it wasn’t even a box. More like a folder. With a gray sticky label: “irrelevant “.
This happy condition, in which I felt little need for….who?…(God? God who?) … was to last for quite a few years. The definitive interruption to this relative state of innocent philosophical bliss came unexpectedly, and will be the subject, perhaps, (if anybody is remotely interested) of future chapters in the life and times of a fine young Anglo-Irish Atheist…
Suffice it for now to say, I was to drift, strangely, from
1) a simple child’s acceptance of the Catechism,
(The Catholics’ book which explains in a few minutes in words of not more than two syllables how everything works), to
2) Atheism, ( “I know that there is no God “) via
3) Agnosticism ( “I don’t know if there is a God or not “),
to a seriously thought out but distinctly
4) muddled bi-polar belief system,
symbolized perhaps by a strange and recurrent dream.
This dream I have written up ( “Floater Me “).
Since I’m doing so mightily well on the “-isms “, I have decided to call my muddled system by a fancier name. I need to give it some philosophical backbone.
I shall call it “Floatism “. That has a nice ring to it.
Hopefully, nobody is in the slightest bit interested in ‘Floatism’.
Then I won’t have to sit down and laboriously write it all up.
So, here’s hoping for not a single view, and no reviews.
Anyway, I seem to remember being an Atheist was lots of fun. But then I was young and single then, and I liked lots of pretty girls. And motorbikes. And skydiving. And beer.
Especially Guinness. With a chaser or two or four of Whiskey or Brandy.
Doubles, of course.
And a ninety mile-an-hour blatter home on my old Triumph seven-fifty.
Like the time with the Teddybear. ( “The Teddybear “) Or that time visiting Mrs Bird.
( “Visiting Mrs Bird “)
I also got to poke fun at Catholics, Protestants, and Jehova’s Witnesses.
And de-flower an ex-Nun.
Life was good…
Maybe I should just have stayed an Atheist.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on June 4, 2013, 9:37 pm