THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY
YOU WERE not seven yet when you first doubted there was a loving, powerful God who could answer prayers. It wasn’t that your kitten died but that, when you said, “I know she’s in Heaven,” Sister Maria Consili told you, sternly, that cats had no souls and did not go to Heaven.
You knew Sister was talking horse manure.
Because you knew your kitten loved you more than most adult human beings, including your own parents; not that your parents didn’t love you, but your kitten let you know she loved you.
And, though you could not articulate the thought, you knew you were better off with no god at all than with one that spurned cats.
You’d begun to question when simple arithmetic told you that two plus two must always equal four – and yet the nuns insisted there were three persons in one God. “Impossible,” you said – but the nuns said you had to have faith. You said, “But that makes no sense!”
And the nuns, with tears in their eyes, and canes in their hands, told you Jesus was weeping because you were a wicked little sinner.
Aristotle said it, but it rings truer from St Ignatius of Loyala, founder of the Jesuits, to whom it’s usually attributed: “Give me the boy for the first seven years and I will give you the man.”
Their hooks were in you so deep, to pull them out meant tearing the flesh to shreds.
And the mind.
In 1974, you read 1984 and the last line blew – and freed – your mind. You put the book down and thought, “God is Big Brother.”
And George Orwell’s “thoughtcrime” was the church’s “doctrine.”
And the punishment for questioning either was the same: banishment.
Loss of yourself.
But you lost your worries, too.
Let go and let God.
But, luckily, you already knew your penis was a surer guide to life than the Bible.
You remember the horror surrounding telling your first girlfriend that made you whisper the truth in her ear: that you loved her more than you loved God.
Only in your 20s did you realise that, for religious adults, it was preferable to enslave another generation than free their own minds.
Misery loves company.
You let God go for good, if not for better, when you were 30 and understood that you would die and never live again, no matter how many nice songs were sung, or how many tall buildings brought down by suicide pilots.
And how bleak it is, sometimes, for you, nowadays.
Without God, you have nothing.
Which is to say, everything.
If you can stomach it.
A man, when you were 11, said, as you got out of his taxi, “Why do they call it Good Friday, if Christ was crucified on that day? It should be Bad Friday.”
Part of you wanted to chuckle – the part that sniggers now – but the sombre, pretend-grownup, God-fearing part of you (and those first seven years) kicked in.
And you told the taxi driver it was Good Friday because Jesus, through his death, had brought us all eternal life.
The taxi driver shook his head.
You were only 11 and you were already lost to yourself – which is what all faiths call “saved.”
Your own daughter will be 21 soon.
You were going to go along with her being baptised as a baby, to get your mother and mother-in-law off your back, but God sent Denis Solomon to the phone to put a buff on you: “Do not participate in a ridiculous empty ritual.”
You saved her – and the church lost her.
When she was only six, you explained to her that the major tenet of Christian faith was that God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten son to suffer and die, that mankind might be redeemed for all eternity.
She paused and her tiny brow furrowed deeply. You could see the cogs turning, the way yours had, when the nuns said there were three persons in one God.
She looked up at you.
“What a horrible thing,” she said, “for a father to do to his child!”
And, for the first time, you were sure you’d done the right thing.
BC Pires is going straight to Hell, fast, with plenty torture and fire and brimstone and thing for all eternity, and Galileo Galilei for an all-fours partner. Read a longer version of this column on Saturday at www.BCPires.com