"I can ride to church in it", said Ailz, "And take part in the Whit Walk".
That made me panic. I'd forgotten the Whit Walk was coming. The Whit Walk is a north country thing- so not part of my heritage at all. Every Whit Sunday the churches dust off their banners, hire a marching band and parade their membership round the streets with the kiddies in uniform- scouts, guides, church lads, whatever- swinging along like the Hitler Youth. It's sectarian, triumphalist, tribal. My skin crawls at the thought.
"So, I'll have the scooter," says Ailz. "I don't need you to come along. You can stand on the pavement and wave."
Here's where we differ. Ailz really likes the idea of being caught up fully in the life of the church. And I..... don't. I'm not a team player. I'm going to church because....
1. I feel the need to stand up and say, "Fuck you, Richard Dawkins!"
2. I'm in the process of embracing- and forgiving- my younger self.
3. I like the idea of having some links to the local community.
But that's it. I'm not a Christian. I don't in the least regret having hung up my cassock a quarter century ago. My position is delicate, contradictory, false.
I wish I could suspend my niggling and just relax into the situation- all cool and zen- but I can't. God gave me a brain and I use it for niggling. That's me. It's what I do. And I view Whit Walks- like so much else in the Christian tradition- as a monstrous lapse in taste. Here it comes then, the monstrous, tasteless thing- like an end of level Boss- and I can't just go round it.
Or can I?