Make me a Christian

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned in passing that I have been giving a lot of thought to notions of God, religion, spirituality and faith. As it was a thought in progress I assured all of you enthusiastic folk out there in interweb land that I would return to it. Prepare to contain your excitement.

There has been, on Channel Four, a three part series called “Make Me a Christian” in which a group of people attempted to live a Christian way of life. And you thought it would be about spelunking. Being television, this group included a lesbian, a converted Muslim and the manageress of a pole dancing club.
I watched it because I thought it would be interesting and, more importantly, would teach me more about Christianity and the way it is practised today. As it turns out, it was immensely contrived, disinterested in its own conclusion (a real shame as whether or not it intended it, it was a good one) and failed to bother with anything as mundane as information about the different branches of Christianity. Plus there was a woman singing Amazing Grace who was under the impression she was really good at it. She was average.

The conclusion it seemed to draw was that there is a Christianity for everybody. The ex Hells Angel who began by refusing to go into York Minster for a service and spent Bible classes shouting at the preacher and demanding he explain why the Bible was true was sent to work with the Salvation Army ferrying old folk about and feeding them. This he could understand. It was going out into the community and doing something positive for them in the name of God.
The parents of the Family who felt as though they were slaves to the materialistic desires of their children were charged with reading the Bible together every day. They also held a barbeque for all their neighbours. They are now undoubtedly better people.
The young man who spent much time drinking and having it away with young women was sent to have a healthy night out with some young Christians. Rather than sitting in a darkened room discussing Bible quotations with each other, they went bowling. He had a good time. Astonishing. He was also rather enthused at the one of the church services they went to, possibly the Evangelical one, feeling that such energetic singing was a better way to reach God than the sitting very still and listening closely methods of other churches.

As part of my investigations, or “Personal Journey” as it would no doubt be referred to if I had my own camera crew, I went to the book shop to buy a new copy of the Bible. Not only is my old copy is falling apart but it is also the truly terrible Good News Bible (the good news being that you no longer need to buy a door stop); an internet translator would make more sense from the original.
One of the banes of my life is foreign novels which have been translated by an American and considered adequate for the British market. They are not. American English has no subtlety to it and very little elegance. Start giving us translations of books in English as we use it please. And start using British spellings too.

So, in the bookshop and searching for the religious section. It is a very small section. It is two shelves wide. They have one copy of the Bible. It is the Good News Bible. Next to Religion is Spirituality which is 5 shelves wide and has a multitude of books with useful instruction on Tarot, Mediumship, Angels and How to Harness Your Psychic Potential for the Powers of Good.
Failing to procure a Bible I instead pumped for the Koran, inviting an alarmed look from the sales assistant, and Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”.
I have started reading this second tome and find it very good indeed. Part of the reason I am not religious is probably down to the fact I have never found a person or text which could adequately explain everything to me to my own satisfaction. This is less to do with the inexplicability of the Christian faith, I feel, and more to do with the way the people who are willing and capable of expounding on such subject matter tend to be a little… earnest, shall we say. It stands to reason then that I should seek somebody to explain to me why we shouldn’t all believe in God. By the end of Chapter One I am intrigued but not in total agreement.
In a bout of unintentional irony, I am book marking it with the UCB Thought Of the Day brochure sent to me by a well meaning chum.