This is not a discussion I’m comfortable discussing as without a doubt it will offend some, and it just shows me for what I am, an appeaser. Yes, and I hate appeasers. Here goes…
After my assault I viewed life very differently. The social justice façade was just that, a façade. Looking deeper into the façade there were many injustices which could be identified, but I had seemed all too blind to. With this observation and the sudden drop in friendships after confiding in my loved ones I felt incredibly lonely.
As a child I had been Christened and we went to the Sunday service up until I was about eight. As a youngster sat on those hard, cold pews the church never seemed a particularly warm or inviting place, especially with this bitter, British weather. It didn’t matter though because the eighties and nineties had brought the age of the fashionable atheist. And I wanted to be fashionable. Hey, I had learned the importance of good values and traditions in my earlier years. What else did I need to know?
In a time of fashionable atheism, it seems not everyone learns these important values. This isn’t a reflection on my attacker. He may well have been religious for all I know, possibly a Christian, even. I guess I’m looking somewhat deeper beyond that. The instant gratification, the over indulgence especially of materialistic uselessness. The lack of acceptance and therefore forceful changes within society. But certainly, this didn’t quite dawn on me until recently.
I relocated a year after my assault to a nice suburban area away from the multicultural and diverse hustle and bustle. Here I noticed three churches within walking distance, two of which were located either side of my new home. To be honest I had never seen so many churches in close proximity of each other. I felt a real sense of relief and security from these stunning yet domineering buildings. Also within walking distance was a Cathedral. A year after having spent several months walking the grounds of the Cathedral on a weekly basis, I managed to find the courage to tiptoe into the grand building.
I felt great relief, and my eyes lit up as every corner every brick oozed with great history, great British history. I was mesmerised and thrilled. I made a habit of visiting the Cathedral. I would sit myself on a seat and marvel at the grandiose of it all. I never prayed. Perhaps too ashamed? I had left all that Christianity nonsense behind by now after all. Maybe scared. How do you pray these days? Has it evolved like society has? Does it still work the way it used to when I was a child? No, best not pray.
For some reason I never visited the striking church on the opposite side of the road to me, it’s intimidating structure observing me constantly through my windows. But what a beautiful sight to see when you are relaxing with the fire on, on a cold evening. I was watching it, and it was watching me. Had I have watched television I suspect the chimes of the practise bell ringing would have been an unthoughtful intrusion of my favourite show, but I don’t watch television. Instead I would put my book down and enjoy the calls.
Finally, a couple of months ago, I peered out of my window. Yes, the grand building was still watching me, eyeing me up and down. I pulled my shoes on and edged my way out of the front door, careful not to make eye contact with the structure. I was not going to be defeated. I wasn’t ready for defeat. Not again. I watched it with suspicion as I crossed the road, the height of it dwarfing me. There I stood hands on hips, tapping my foot, biting the corner of my mouth, staring it out.
It stood its ground, and I stood mine. Neither of us flinched. Seconds turned to minutes. Then, within seconds the sky seemed to throw what I can only describe as nonstop buckets of water at me. That was it. I ran for cover. In the church. It wasn’t so bad. Not as intimidating as I had imagined. It was peaceful…. And warm. Certainly not what I expected. I took a pew and sat silently, so as not to disturb the empty building.
It was at that point I thought deeply about my many concerns regarding society today and it was there that I recognised I must speak about my concerns for my own sanity, but with no friends to confide in, and not at a point where I wish to tell family, I decided to blog it and speak it. Having cleared my head and come to a clear conclusion as to how to deal with these demons, I lifted myself to my feet and walked out relieved and smiling. I didn’t pray. I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know that I want to pray. But I felt better and I felt clear of the fog.
I set up my accounts on social media and it wasn’t long before I received a particularly warming message on Twitter where she spoke of God. “Thank you. I’m an atheist but that was a warming message.” Or something like that I replied. But I was reflecting on how happy that tweet made me feel. I’m glad I visited the Cathedral and plucked up the courage to visit the church. I’m glad I live in an area surrounded by churches. I don’t want to see this change. I think it might. But is it right to support the church for just traditional, British values? I haven’t considered it further. I’m sure I will tiptoe to a conclusion at some point.