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Agnostic Testimony 12
No road from Damascus...

from: Hannah

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Hi folks:

I am afraid that I have no road away from Damascus stories to tell you, no horrible realisations, no fall from grace. I am and always have been an agnostic veering towards the atheist. I went through a bit of a rabid atheism thing whilst at University but soon calmed down and had another beer.

I was born in England; a place where the latest national census put over 72% of people as Christian but only 7% attend church every week, 9% at least once a month.   People as a whole call themselves CofE[1] or sometimes catholic in the absence of compelling reasons in any other direction. It means that we generally get drunk and eat too much at Christmas and eat chocolate at Easter. We may even get married in church if it is pretty one and the vicar doesn’t mind.  In general though we don’t really “do” religion as a whole preferring to leave it to the occasional annoying Jehovah’s witness and the crazy Americans that we see on TV (sorry, I know it is a terrible generalisation). Religious conviction heartfully expressed tends to make us rather uncomfortable.

This is not to say that there are not actual real-life Christians in England , I have met a number of them. However, active religion, like morris dancing, is very much a minority pursuit. Apart from the zealous few, you might know someone for years without knowing whether they believe in god or not because it just does not come up in conversation very often. If you ask specifically, you are likely to get a screwed up face and something between, “maybe something in it”, “not sure really”, “I would like to think so”, “yes but not sure about the Christian thing” and “no, it’s a load of bollocks”.

So anyway-.

I had an atheist father who was christened as Anglican by his not very religious parents and a vaguely Christian mother who was not christened by her mildly Catholic mother and partially Anglican father. 

My parents got married in church but never attended (apart from mum, who attends midnight mass at Christmas because she likes the carols). 

My brother got married at a registry office and I can honestly say that I have no idea whether he is religious or not. He was in the church choir when he was a kid because he liked the singing and one of his mates did it but I don’t think it had much to do with religion. 

My granddad got buried by a Catholic priest even though he was Anglican because my grandma was nominally catholic and she was the one paying for the funeral. He had never actually met the priest.

My dad’s funeral got a non-religious ceremony from a really nice vicar who acts as a master of ceremonies but totally leaves the religion thing out of it if you want.

All in all a bit of a hotchpotch but managed more by tradition and aesthetics than any firm religious or nonreligious convictions.

I honestly grew up with no real understanding that people took religion as a serious thing. It still surprises me now.

Footnote:

  1. abbreviation for Church of England (equivalent to Anglican or Episcopalian)