There were Jewish and Catholic kids in my school but the majority of us loved the nativity and the baby Jesus was a hard and fast fact, even if some of his super powers were a little uncertain. We prayed every morning, sang hymns about dancing with the devil on our backs and ate chocolate eggs at Easter to celebrate dentists and agonising crucifixion.
The local church was running the Summer School during the 6 week holiday and I went along one year. We were welcomed by beaming adults with guitars chairs and scraping on wooden floorboards. The room was decorated with cartoon pictures of a smiling bearded Noah and happy giraffes about to go for a jolly bob on the ocean.
The supervisors gave us all a picture of Jesus to colour and we did bible stories and games. Towards the end of the day members of each table would go to the wall to colour in the large rainbow that showed the points we’d scored during the day for knowing about frankincense, Eden and how 5,000 hungry party attendees got fed back in da day before frozen party pies.
At the end of the rainbow was a starburst and the aim was to be the first colour to reach the explosion. I coloured in the yellow band for my table and thought I was having fun.
One of the supervisors, in a shirt and tie armed with a clipboard and thick scent of belched Nescafe, came and knelt by me. Hey. He smiled and I smiled back, Jesus had me for a rainbow. Having fun? I nodded. Can you bring a Bible with you tomorrow? I said I would try. I wasn’t sure if we had one. He smiled and burped more Nescafe.
I went home and asked for a Bible. The only one we had belonged to my mother and was something she had since school when she’d been the Virgin Mary in a nativity. It was too precious for me to take to Summer School so we dug up a book of bible stories that I had.
Next day at Summer School I sat back at the yellow table. The supervisor came over during the good morning happy sing-along and asked us all to get our bibles out. I pulled out my big book of bible stories and he stopped, picking it up and looking at it. No bible? I said I didn’t have one. He thumbed through the book, looking at Samson standing between the two pillars and Moses parting the
Sea and he made a tsk sound.
He led me over to another table and I sat with a few other kids there. There’s a special job we need doing that you
guys can help us with.
For the day we made paper chains while the kids with bibles ran around and shouted the answers to quiz questions, guaranteeing their place in heaven and – to my frustration – coloured in the rainbow. I really liked colouring in, actually I still do.
After 5 hours of making paper chain decorations we were allowed to sit with the other kids and listened to bible stories, all of which I knew from my bible book. Hell and damnation, pestilence and famine, drowned animals and big boats. Then we prayed and went to get our coats to go home. The supervisor stopped the paper chain gang and asked us again if we could bring in a bible tomorrow, we all said we’d try.
Next day, I still had my bible stories and a note from my mum explaining that the bible at home was a precious family object hence I could not bring it. 2 of the 4 kids I had been making paper chains with now had dusty old dog eared bibles they had found down the back of their families faith. That day 3 of us made paper chains.
I handed in my mums note and the Supervisor read it and said only A bible is a precious object indeed before walking away to the coffee.
I watched someone colour in the rainbow and spent the day with the taste of adhesive gum in my mouth. We joined the group for bible stories again and we went home. I finished out the week, by the last day there were only two of us left without bibles, and we got a special thank you on Friday for all our hard work making paper chains. The kids clapped us and I felt happy again until I saw each and every kid clutching their bibles had smiling sun stickers on their t shirts. I wanted a smiling sun sticker.
The smiling shirt and tie with clipboard held the door and looked forward to seeing us next week. I didn’t go back.
In 2007 Bear and I sat on the headland watching the moon. He was 18 months old and the moon was turning blood red during an eclipse. He was coo-ing at the moon as I told him I would make it change colour. People were sat around us having picnics and sipping wine. A man in a tie with a clipboard stood and started shouting about God’s wrath, about the end of days. He pointed skywards and then at the sea side town I live in. He railed about the faithless and heaven. I covered Bears ears for a moment and thought about making paper chains and watching other kids colour the rainbow.
Mate, I have a kid here. He pointed at moon and shouted again about hell. Mate, please, take it somewhere else. He promised us brimstone.
A dreadlocked backpacker walked over to the devout man and whispered in his ear. Pointed to Bear and I. Pointed to the crowd. The man took a deep breath and opened his mouth to continue his tirade. The dreadlocked man jolted, as though raising a fist, and the pious penitent man did verily...fuck off. A small cheer went up amongst the godless astronomers, wine drinkers and parents and we went back to watching the moon turn crimson as I kissed Bears ear.
Now I wear a tie and a shirt. I carry papers with me and surround myself with children every Wednesday morning. I go to Bear’s school and in the playground I feel like a Christian, like I should pull out a guitar and start singing that Jesus loves my Calf Muscles and wants me for a paper chain maker. I don't sing, I teach Ethics as the alternative to Scripture. I sit with a class of 8 and 9 year olds and chat philosophy.
I am the anti faint instructor, hear me discourse.
Share share and share again - Thanks