Baptism and mass versus non-belief and pomp
Now I know this chap a goodly number of years, since I was a youth in fact. And one of the main and abiding things I remember most about him is that he is and out and out atheist. Not an agnostic, or fence sitter like myself, but a firm, 'No God' camp follower.
So naturally it was a bit eyebrow raising to read of his upcoming baby drowning or baptisim.
I emailed him immediately. 'Exactly what faith are you drowning your child into?'
'Why? I thought you didn't believe in any god. Have you had a conversion? A road to Demascus type blinding? Have you been recently saved? Raptured? Lourdesed?'
Turns out none of these things had happened, but what did happen was even more powerful. He had been Irish mothered. No sooner had his sproglette cleared the birth canal and hollered her first lusty bawl, his mammy- a vicious old harpy with a tongue so forked I could use it to plug in foreign plugs into Irish sockets, also friend of my mother- and his girlfriend's mammy- don't know anything about her-started banging the baptism drum.
'You've capitulated.' I typed.
'There were two of them.' he typed back.
But the whole set up strikes me as utterly ridiculous. Neither he nor his girlfriend are even remotely religious. They do not attend mass, don't pray, don't believe in any diety. Live cheerfully 'in sin' and break every RC rule in the book. So why, I pondered over cheese, would they mark their newborn's card ike that? Why label her RC? Why label her at all?
If they don't practice and more importantly, don't believe, why soak their newborn's head in a draughty church?
If nobody actually believes in the rite itself what is the point of it? Is it simply tradition these days? To impress the friends and neighbours? Where it the piety?
Why does not this type of dousing die out if each successive generation doesn't believe?
I asked the one person I know who seems to care even less about god stuff than I do.
'Paramour, will you want our future imaginary children baptised?'
He was chopping carrots at the time. 'I don't think so?'
'You don't sound very sure.'
'Okay, no then.'
'Well, I don't believe in God and we don't go to mass so what would be the point?'
'So no then.'
'But what about our wedding? That's in a church.'
'WHere else are you supposed to get married?"
'In a regi-'
'Ha, can you imagine if I'd suggested that?'
'So it's just for the ceremony?'
'Yep, the pomp and ceremony.'
'All right then.'
Armed thusly with all manner of hypocrisy, I turned my thoughts once again to my friend and his much battered sensibilities. I understood it. We are a secular country and no doubt but we want what we want and what we want is pomp and ceremony, regardless of what club that leaves us in. We are hypocrites and traditionalists. We neither believe or are arsed disbelieving.
God- if he exist at all- is like a doddery old uncle, dragged out for those occasions we're having a bit of a do, banished to the great old folks home in the sky when we 're done with him.
Perhaps he needs new PR. I know a couple of Irish Mammies that would be a good hire.
Labels: The power of Mom compels you.