Sunday, 3 April 2011


Mothering Sunday and my son is in Barbados playing cricket with his friends and just knowing he's happy is enough.  Well, a card would have been nice, but any way, the sun is shining.   My lovely friend Sara invited me to exhibit some of my paintings and several of Tom's in the Church nearby.    It was a pleasure and I found myself helping with the cake sale after Mass.    I should have attended the mass but wanted to change and shower but the snail's pace of Richmond Park traffic meant in the end I didn't manage to do either.    But I helped out with the cake sale, talked about the art and chatted to photographers and the other excellent artist who's work was on display there.   And then this guy came up to me, all six foot four of him, and told me off for leaving kitchen knives on the counter.  Told off.   I was actually told off.  I couldn't get into the kitchen so left them on the counter for the women to take them to the sink but they hadn't.  I didn't explain this to him because he didn't want to know, he was talking at me.   He told me his child could have picked it up.  He reminded me of that time when that man chided me for not letting Tom and his friend get up from their seats and offer them to him - despite the fact there were others to be had.   At the time I stood my ground as the man was a nutter and a banker (the two are not mutually exclusive but am increasingly feeling they could be), but this time I was taken by surprise.  A church goer having a go at me. OK, he had yet to go to church so perhaps he was full of angst and aggression and hadn't yet off loaded it onto a forgiving all knowing God.    But this man was having a go at me for being a bad parent (leaving the knives on the counter when his child could have picked them up and danced happily round the room with them. And it's Mother's Day!).  But it was the way in which he did it.  I know I should have said that as a father he should have picked them up or the women behind the counter should have picked them up and that perhaps as a church goer he should pray for improved communication skills, and perhaps so should I, but I just took it. 

I don't know anything about the man and he knows nothing about me, other than the fact he suspects I want to harm his child.    He was Korean and my only previous encounter with a Korean was at a dinner party with a divorcee who told me that the North Koreans invented the seedless water melon.   So my knowledge of all things Korean is limited and to date, not very positive.  

But as I drove back through the park, pissed off that I was pissed off, I felt this is the problem I have with church goers.     And actually the whole experience of going to church.    As a child I went to church and believed (and still do) in God, and naively felt those involved with the church are somehow wiser with all their learning and compassion.    The Father at this church is a lovely interesting, intelligent, funny, compassionate man but I feel much of that stems from the fact that this is innately what he is and who he is, and less stems from the fact he is connected in any way to a Church.   

I expect church goers to be somewhat wiser, more at peace with themselves than the rest of us, but the ones I've met, and it's always the most zealous ones, are usually the most sanctimonious, self validating sinners on the planet. They pray for their sins to be taken away totally unprepared to do anything about it themselves, as though by sitting down and putting their hands together will take all the crap away, after all, that's what they've been told.  Point is, it doesn't.  God may forgive them, which is what matters, but it doesn't stop them being obnoxious arseholes and I would like sermons one day to shoot from the hip and not call the congregation 'sinners' but 'arseholes'.   That would wake them up.  Calling it sinning makes being an arsehole acceptable.    You have to be more self aware than that and I don't think the church, any church, teaches self awareness, it teaches dependence and disempowers those who are already afraid and needy.    And it enables arseholes to continue to think being that way is OK.  

The lovely Father followed me to my car and thanked me for not stabbing the man, (it hadn't entered my head) or telling him to eff off, (too close to the church) and I admit I was on a high from people liking the paintings and enjoying the cakes and sunshine and then this sanctimonious arsehole burst the bubble with the knives.    Perhaps God was punishing me for not attending the Mass.  Perhaps I should have urged the women, despite the fact they were busy to put the knives away.   Perhaps I would have done the same as him (I wouldn't. I would have just put the knives away, knowing that no one would have done it on purpose, and thankful no one got hurt.)   Whatever, the knives burst the balloon and I drove away a little less of the day and the sunshine.  I suspect he was a banker. 

No comments:

Post a Comment