Simple Faith Can Be the Greatest Gift of All
Byline: David CHARTERS
WHEN I was a young man and tea was loose, the banks were tight,and ice cream came in the three main flavours of pink, white and brown, we sometimes adopted the pose of night-cap theologians to consider the idiosyncrasies of the various Christian sects. Those were the days of foggy nights when the last bus home was always accelerating away from the stop at exactly the moment you arrived there, panting, with enough beer in your belly for it to ripple and gurgle like a hot -water bottle. To catch this bus, you had to sprint and make a shut-your-eyes-and-pray leap for the platform at theback,before swinging on the passengers' chromium pole, where the conductor would mumble something about silly young fools, before demanding the number of pennies necessary to carry us home. He would then crank out the tickets on the handle of the box which hung from his neck, examining its digits, twiddling knobs, shaking his head and sighing, in the style of a tourist with acomplicatedGerman camera. We would head for the back seat on the upper deck to continue the discussion begun hours before in the pub. One of our group had a reputation for being worldly wise and when he spoke we listened. On a particular night he decided to tell us a little about the doctrinal and social differences, which could be found in three Christian churches -the Methodists, the Presbyterians and the Roman Catholics. Sucking on a cigarette until it glowed like a blow torch,he stretched his legs and offered us the following observations from his many experiences of life.
The Presbyterians,he said, were against the devil's brew, intemperate language and stocking tops revealing thigh; but they were very much for stout shoes, sound business practice,Scottish victories over England, and nice floraldisplays. The Methodists were against gambling, painted lips, red garters and ruthless capitalists; but they were for stirring hymns, fresh air, picnics and youth clubs. The Catholics were quite happy about the drink, he said,from the priests do. n to the humblest kneelers. And they didn't mind a spot of fruit cake and bingo either, especially if it was to raisecashfor a new church organ. However, they were vehemently opposed to sex outside marriage. ``But there is an active ecumenical movement,'' our friend said, ``which could mean them all uniting in thefuture. What a rich mix that wouldmake.'' ``It would result in all our pleasures being crushed,'' added one of us, whohadenjoyed success with the bottle and the horses, without yet threatening the virtue of any young ladies,as far as we knew. …