Friday, 12 November 2010

Talking it over.

“You’ve stopped blogging?” asked one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other since we were both testosterone-crazed fundamentalists, and having reconnected after a ten-year hiatus (so Facebook can be useful ;-) meet every month or so for lunch.

“Not really” I replied. “It’s just that life gets in the way. These days nearly all my time is occupied with convincing Mr. Two that the world really won’t end if I hang his Thomas the Tank Engine shirt on the line to dry before he puts it back on. Or attending countless presentations by Miss Four of ballets with names like “Swan Lake & the Nutcracker meet the Beautiful Princess Fairy” on our back porch, where I’m not only responsible for set construction and sound, but also for maintaining decorum among more easily distracted members of the audience - “Daddy, will you please tell Fiver that he’s not supposed to lick himself there during a concert. He might be a dog, but it’s gross, and that ballerinas find that sort of thing disgusting.”

“Then there’s work: the minor inconvenience I try to squeeze in between taking the gang to the library, to Kindergym, shopping, and making juice just right in the Wiggles cup that was ignored yesterday, but today is suddenly a matter of life and death.” I was about to continue with a detailed description of PHP syntax, and how constructing a browser-based mobile payment facility involves thousands upon thousands of lines of code – all which refuse to run if so much a single semi-colon is misplaced – but he’s endured that whinge often enough to see it coming...

He shifted the conversation to our waitress, a friendly young woman with a figure that looked like it had been designed by the Pamela Anderson Appreciation Society (Dirty Old Men Division). “Remember how there was once a time when we’d have been arguing whether she’d been sent by Satan to tempt us into impure thoughts, or by God as proof of the infinite wonders of his creation?”

I laughed: “Or by the Holy Spirit to inspire us to preach the good news that frees men and women from bondage and servitude to the flesh. So what do we reckon now?”

“How good it is to be a couple of middle-aged blokes who’ve finally learned to stop taking themselves so seriously. That she, just like us, is only trying to make the best of whatever it is that life flings in her general direction. And that ‘Judge not, lest you also be judged’ wasn’t something we ever really tried to apply – both when it comes to judging others or ourselves.”

I returned to the subject of my blogging – or lack thereof: “I guess that’s why I haven’t fought harder to make time for Caliban’s Dream. Ninety-nine percent of people who read the thing are amazing: intelligent, insightful and witty – I’m really honoured that they should take the time to read my ramblings about life in Anglicanism’s weirdest diocese. But that final 1% are something else. Pedantic. Utterly devoid of anything even remotely resembling a sense of humour or compassion. The kind of people who treat a post about a little boy’s baptism as an excuse to launch into a diatribe about the breakdown of his father’s first marriage fifteen years previously.”

“Yeah, but of course.” He replied. “They’re in a cult. Shit like that is what they live for. We were in it once ourselves. Other people’s messes help you kid yourself that your own aren’t so bad.”

“Do you think it really is a cult?”

“Either that or Scientology is therapeutically valid and really will one day clear the planet. And Burma’s a democracy. Get real, will you? This is an organisation that’s as nepotistic as North Korea, which has misappropriated millions of dollars worth of its members’ assets, and which refuses to act with even the most basic degree of transparency. Asking questions about transactions between the organisation and a private company controlled by its leader and his family members will get you permanently ostracized, and they’re convinced they have a monopoly when it comes to truth, God, and any form of afterlife not involving brimstone, eternal darkness and/or a lake of fire. Are there any boxes on the Cult-O-Rama checklist they don’t tick?”

“Ok, I agree. It’s a cult. So what’s the point of posting if all it does is enrage cultists? Not to mention nut-jobs like the one who keeps leaving 'Religion is stupid' comments”.

“Is he the same guy Father Christian calls 'little Brad' and claims is his long lost love-child?”

“Probably. At least the Chinese porn-spammers bother to change their text occasionally.”

“You should feel honoured to have showed up on his radar. And if the spammers can find it in themselves to show a little creativity, so can you. It’s the least you can do for the other 99% dropping by.”

“Fine. But what the hell can I say that hasn’t been said before?”

“Probably nothing. But why let that stop you? Just try and make a few of us who’ve also banged our heads against the wall stop and smile for a moment. That’s more than enough to remind the bullies they’ll never win, and every moment they spend seething with rage at you is one they can’t devote to attacking someone whom they could actually hurt. Blog about this conversation if you like.”

“How about I write about the waitress, and give the address of this cafĂ©? That way all the Sydney Evangelicals furiously reading this will come to get a few furtive thrills checking her out, and with all the extra customers she’ll be able to afford the surgery she’s going to want when gravity inevitably kicks in?”

“Nah mate. Fundies are lousy tippers. And didn’t Jesus say something about not casting pearls before swine?”