Water, Water Everywhere
Posted by Exile on February 3, 2008
Nor any a drop to drink.
Please forgive me, Samuel Taylor Colleridge. But I couldn’t resist borrowing the line from the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner“.
We were invited to a christening today, so, like it or not, we had to go to church on a Saturday. I am not religious by any means. Atheism has its grip well and truly on my sense of rationality. I cannot put my faith in a supreme being any more than I can believe in fairies at the bottom of my garden.
However, I cannot deny the others the right to do so, so I must defer to them on these occasions.
The church was packed. There were three families, all determined to have their latest addition to the family christened in the name of “the Lord”, amen. Due to the size of the church, which wasn’t big, I found myself standing at the back. My wife found a pew right at the front but I declined the offer to sit there in the company of strangers and partake in a ritual that I do not particularly believe in. I’m no hypocrite, after all. I allowed someone else the pleasure of seeing what went on at close quarters.
We were to sing hymns. Music poured forth from a huge organ. No one knew the words or the tune. That happened twice. Then everyone was asked to repeat the creed. No one could remember it apart from the priest, apparently. There was frantic leafing of the psalm book going on all over the place. Finally the great moment arrived. The parents of the three children, plus Godparents, were called forward with the infant children who were then doused with holy water, three times each. One more hymn, again, which no one knew, and we were out of the church.
Our little one took it all quite well. He didn’t bawl, squeak or protest. In fact he looked all but interested. His ordeal over, he looked tired and bored. Now officially named and recognised in the parish, he couldn’t have cared less.
I couldn’t help wondering as I stood at the back of the church about the innocence of these children. I remember the priest praying for the absolution of their sins. They aren’t even a year old yet, and they need absolution? For what? They haven’t done anything wrong yet.
Which is part of my reasons for not believing. The presumption that we are all sinners, despite how well we try to live. That we are all wrong-doers in some way. But I suppose that is inherent in all religions. The demands are absolute and impossible to live by to the letter. It’s all about being guilty before you even get started. You are doomed to failure.
Which brings me back to Samuel Taylor Colleridge and the mariner. Quote;
Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.”
I reckon we were all decorated with albatrosses years ago. I know of one youngster who got his today.
By the way, read the poem. It’s a corker.