It’s here again, regular as clockwork, except for when it’s particularly early or surprisingly late. Or both. I can’t remember how they work out the dates for Easter; He Is Risen, but times may vary. I think it’s got something to do with establishing when the recycling collection goes back to normal after Christmas and then you skip over Valentine’s Day and then spend 40 days wandering in your own, self imposed chocolate denial for Lent, that isn’t remotely the same as wandering through a desert, and then there’s probably something about the Spring Equinox, school holidays, the square on the hypotenuse and the council tax bill and, voila, that’s where you get your long weekend off and feast on old films featuring Charlton Heston being sincere or John Wayne as a very unlikely John The Baptist. That’s Easter. And I’m still not sure if it’s early, late or bang on the money. I’m fairly sure it doesn’t matter.
Driving home yesterday I had the misfortune to be listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2, and he was chatting to some chap about ‘this time of year’. For quite a few minutes I was pretty convinced he was talking to some absurd, bell ringing, psalm gripping, hedge clipping, curtain twitching old-school parish councillor who was quite happy to believe that science was helpful but God was who we really had to thank for all our worldly blessings. Of course, he reasoned, we must be very grateful to the scientists who have helped saved millions of lives in our current crisis but we should also be grateful to God for creating the scientists in the first place (we’ll take a brief break at this point, so please feel free to step outside and scream for a moment, kick the dog or put your fist clean through a sheet of reinforced industrial glass).
For once Vine said something useful and offered the assertion that if God had let Covid happen he couldn’t be all that great after all, to which his guest suggested that science and God could exist together and that God had shown he must be a loving one by giving us the choice of ignoring him (her, it, them, whatever) and not punishing us for doing so. At least that was the gist and it felt to me that it must be very hard to wake up and persuade yourself every morning that any of it makes any sense whatsoever. Despite all this the fellow was clearly quite sharp in many respects (certainly sharper than me) and only then did it finally drop that I was listening to Justin Welby, aka, the Archbishop of Canterbury (and something of a national treasure now that he has confirmed that Meaghan McSussex let a little porky pie out when she told Oprah he had married her and slack Harry three days before the official wedding. Nice one, Justin).
Anyway, my main point is that I found myself warming to Welby, not for his views on religion and the tangled web he must perpetually weave to keep what’s left of his flock onside and in formation, but because he came across as a fairly sound bloke despite all that. Over the coming days he’ll be leading churches half full of starry eyed God-botherers, many of whom will have an immunity to boredom and bullshit, and will be reminding them how some poor sod got stuck on a cross and then came back to life just so we could all carry on being horrible to each other and then cover it up with prayer. If Christians can manage to explain away all the horrors of existence and let God get off scot free then perhaps they shouldn’t be mocked but rather feared instead – their cunning tactics mean they can come up with an explanation for everything (good, bad and indifferent), safe in the knowledge that the explanation is conveniently silent, invisible and utterly without trace. Perhaps it’s idiots like me who should be mocked for letting them get away with it every single time. Today doesn’t feel like a particularly good Friday.
G B Hewitt. 02.04.2021