On weekday mornings I’d walk my daughter to pre-school. We’d shortcut through a park, passing a long sandstone wall featuring spray-painted letters almost a metre high:
Duck Noodle Gang - broken-hearted disillusioned desperates against meanness and nastiness, greed and stupidity
Perhaps it was only a precursor to the madness that later almost devoured me, but I grew to love this strange graffiti. My mind, marriage and dreams were turning to dust, but the message of the Duck Noodle Gang stood in contrast to the labels which were around me being used to confer power and authority upon their bearers, and to exclude and destroy those upon whom their bearers frowned.
This became my silent joke. When fellow students boasted of their credentials, I’d smile to myself; “I’m just a broken-hearted disillusioned desperate against meanness and nastiness, greed and stupidity. I’m one of the Duck Noodle Gang.”
The years passed, and the pressure of belonging to a machine which crushes all who dare be different also crushed me. The little girl who once walked alongside me is now an adult, and although I think of her every day, I fear she’s yet to see the land beyond the machine’s shining lies for herself. Condemn me for the past if helps you, but please realise my prayers are never far from her side, nor - if only she could understand this - are her cries from mine.
I’m no longer licensed to officiate in Sydney, and the world to which I once belonged either thinks I’m dead, or wishes I was. But I’m not, and neither are a great many others like me; we are those whom the darkness couldn’t kill. Sydney diocese may no longer consider me a ”Bible Teacher” (they don’t like the title “Priest” – it’s “Not Reformed”), but the Duck Noodle Gang still rides the wild ranges of faith in a quest against those things which nobody should ever be frightened into believing.
And the name “Duck Noodle Gang” strikes me as funnier than ever – the sheer Goon-like/Pythonesque ridiculousness of it seems inherently Christ-like. Visions of earnest doctrinal warriors beseeching their god to smite the blaspheming broken-hearted disillusioned desperates against meanness and nastiness, greed and stupidity always start me chuckling – “Oh Father God, of all the evils which conspire against thy word, we ask in your son’s name that you may reveal your might against the Duck Noodle Gang.” You’d better believe that I’ve known a great many men capable of praying that with a straight face, but these days I can't imagine listening to them without bursting out in laughter.
Ok, so I’m only aware of three currently active Duck Noodle Gangsters, and two of them are dogs. We're hardly a mega-church. Yet in reality there’s millions of us, separated by nothing more than space and time. Like Calvin’s “hidden elect”, most gang members mightn’t realise their true status, but this in no way diminishes their standing. If you ever feel like joining then please consider yourself a member. The Gang’s pretty easy going about such things ;-)
The writing has almost faded, but you can still make it out if you know where to look. Most of the finest things in life are like that …