Friday, February 08, 2008

Where's God?

I am at Belfast Aldergrove waiting for my flight home......sadly I had logged it in my brain as being at 5.40 when it was 7.40. Hey ho, it was ever thus! But recalling my journey over here yesterday. I was sat in a row with a mother and her small boy. I am not sure if it was his first time of flying but as we climbed above the clouds he turned to his mother and asked "Where's God?". She didn't reply, so he asked "Is he invisible?" "Yes" says she. I couldn't help reflecting on how the conversation may have continued had Laurence Boyce been sat in the same row!

On arrival I had a surprise, bumping into Chris White. I don't know about you but it always seems really strange seeing people out of context, doesn't it? He was en route to Derry for a conference, but told me he about his blog which I am just on my way to have a look at.


Laurence Boyce said...

I couldn’t help reflecting on how the conversation may have continued had Laurence Boyce been sat in the same row!

Yes, that could have been the flight from hell! This reminds me of a nice passage from Ludovic Kennedy. I’ll try to dig it up later.

Laurence Boyce said...

Well done on the Politics Show! As promised, here are the opening paragraphs from All in the Mind by Ludovic Kennedy. I found them quite touching.

My first introduction to religion was my mother telling me that God made the world and everything in it including us; and every night I was instructed to kneel by my bed and say a prayer to him, as morning and evening I had seen my father do. Later I was taken to church for the first time, and when I asked my mother what church was for, she said it was the house where God lived and we were going to say prayers and sing hymns to him. I understood from this that we were actually going to meet God and say hello to him and was disappointed when my mother said he would not be there in person, only in spirit. She tried to explain to me what ‘in spirit’ meant but it was beyond me and, I guess, beyond her too. Another puzzlement on reaching church was to find that God had nowhere to sleep or wash. I mentioned this to my parents over lunch and it naturally caused much merriment. Yet who were they to laugh, for most people have always thought of God, if not as an entirely flesh and blood being, as a Being of some sort with human attributes and understanding, like ourselves only better?

Was God watching us pray? I asked my mother. She hesitated before replying but then said, Yes, she was sure he was. All of us, I asked, and all at the same time, and the people in the other church in the village as well? Yes, my mother said, but not all that convincingly. How did he manage that, I said, did he have a thousand pairs of eyes and ears? Ah, said my mother, that was one of the wonderful things about God, he could do things that human beings couldn’t do. And the hymns chosen in church seemed to support her. “My God, how wonderful thou art,” we sang, “Thy Majesty how bright/How beautiful thy mercy-seat/In depths of burning light,” and it went on, “Oh, how I fear Thee, Living God/With deepest, tenderest fears/And worship Thee with trembling hope/And penitential tears.” Another hymn whose tune I liked (I found most hymn tunes very melancholy) began, “Immortal, Invisible God only wise/In light inaccessible hid from our eyes.” All this was a great puzzle. If he was as wonderful and important as people said, why did he make himself invisible and inaccessible? And if he was both, how could anyone know if he was wise? He was said to be merciful too. Where did his wisdom and mercy show itself? Once again I asked my mother for an explanation, but by this time she had had enough. “Listen, Ludovic,” I remember her saying, “there are many things about religion that are hard to understand, but you’ll come to them in time.” Something in her voice prompted me to ask, “Do you understand them?” Desperate to avoid further quizzing, she was quite frank. “No,” she said, “I can’t say I do. Not entirely anyway.”