It may be the weather forecast for the day but it is also an apt description of how I feel right now. I am aware that it is coming close to holiday time and a million deadlines are not just looming on the horizon but are passing over me like birds flying south.
The clouds in my sky are mostly paper ones – newspaper articles that seem to have been dipped in poison, rolled up into little spit balls and carefully aimed at me with an elastic band stretched between two fingers.
I have a habit of scanning papers for interesting articles with religious content. It’s an on going challenge to demonstrate to the young people that I encounter that religion isn’t dead and that it still has the power to turn the world upside down. Too often all I find are articles about church buildings being sold or which church minister is having an affair with one of his parishioners. It is a sad testimony.
Last week there was a plethora of articles few of which were encouraging. Religion might not be dead, but according to a mathematical formula, it’s dying and will be dead in at least nine different countries. The formula was something along the lines of how many people express religious beliefs and whether they do so in an interesting and attractive way. A small group of boring people was basically how religion was summed up.
I followed a link – definitely a bad idea – to another article about a poll commissioned by a Humanist organisation to research people’s attitudes towards religion. Now, it seems to me that a humanist organisation is hardly going to publish evidence from their poll to state that religion is on the increase. You get what you pay for – and forget the whole notion of not being biased. I took it as said they would find “evidence” that religion is on the decline. I took that with a pinch of salt. What really got to me were the comments people had emailed in. Not one of them had anything positive to say about religion. They vented spleen leaving the reader in no doubt where they stood on the issue. Some of them came up with the usual suspects – religion causes war.
Another article was about the handsome, attractive young man on TV who unravels the mysteries of the universe before our very eyes on BBC2. He looks too young to be a professor. He professes himself to be a humanist, but lacks the axe-grinding gene. In fact, I think the article made a comment about him showing too much “wonder” about the universe. I don’t mind old, ugly professors dryly unlocking secrets but this man’s very youth and enthusiasm seem to have a special appeal.
I know there is a distinction between religion and faith, that one can have a name tag of “Christian” or “Muslim”. It is just a name tag and no indication of a vibrant faith walk. That kind of religion was never alive to begin with. Most people don’t really make my kind of distinction. Religion is just religion. I can also appreciate that when people talk about religion it is often prejudice speaking, uninformed and without the relevant experience.
The final cloud in my sky came through yet another article. I would stop reading newspapers but I happen to think it’s important to know what is out there, so I know what to pray about, and perhaps respond to.
This was about Religious Education in schools. Apparently there has been an increase in pupils taking certificated courses. Something at last to applaud! Read on, sir. The slant of the article was not so uplifting suggesting that RE was an easy qualification to get. The only reason it pupils opted for it was because they would get an A without the same effort as History or Geography. It was a soft option and the qualification gained wasn’t on par with the other subjects. I won’t go into detail on the comments posted about that.
So…that’s my cloudy day! My faith being diagnosed as terminal and my vocation labelled as “the soft option”.
A choice or rather a number of options present themselves. To swallow the spit balls and choke on them. To consign them to the waste paper bin where they belong! Or because I have already done the former – to take it to God, vomit up the spit balls and let Him douse me with disinfectant!
I am doused!
I think I see some blue sky!