Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life — or doesn’t.
It doesn’t, so that was an answer to the question. I quite like to visit old churches, they have an interesting architecture and are wonderful subjects for photography. Their history is also very interesting.
Some years ago, when the world was recovering from a second world war, I was born. My dad fought in the war for five years, came home on Friday and married mum on Saturday. Now that was faith, not having seen his bride for five years and only meeting once five years before in the pub. Mum sort of believed and it was a big white wedding with dad in his army uniform as he had no other clothes at the time. Youth clubs did not exist, discos were not yet invented and dance halls were too expensive, so you got your entertainment where it was. Social life in my part of London was organised by the church at this time. The Church of England to be exact. It was a natural developent that I was christened at our local church known as the Red Church, because of its red brick construction. The church had been standing just across the street where I grew up for many years, built 1844. So I never really asked questions and accepted my religion, as everyone believed. Today the church still stands as a building, has been deconsecrated, and has been converted into appartments.
I would just mention that the area where I originated had a very large jewish population and even my school served two meals, one kosher with their own crockery and cutlery (had a “K” engraved) and one “christian”.
As a child I was a regular visitor on Sunday morning to the church, as they had children’s services. There were various youth groups attached to the church of which I was also a member. It was still our one source of social life. Our local chuch also had nuns. I was used to those ladies in their long black clothes, and strange headdress I never had a problem. At Easter we did something called stations of the cross, where we met in the evening at the church and looked at paintings of the crucifixian and got a stamp on a card. Palm Sunday, we were giving crosses woven with palm leaves.
As time went on, a friend of mine at school joined the local Mission and asked me to come along. This was something completely different. They had a way that you really learnt what was in the bible, most of it by memory. You got little pictures to put in you bible as book marks. At the same time my grandmother and aunt became pentecostal. I once attended a pentecostal baptism. As an eleven year old this made quite an impression, and I started to think “Who is right”.
As I got older, I really only attended church for weddings and christenings and the odd funeral. I left England for another country. I spent the first two years in Switzerland living with a family that were moslem. The father was Pakistani, the mother Swiss and the family religion was moslem. This was more than forty years ago, and I had no problem. The food was Pakistani, they had an Indian restaurant, and I would not say they were completely orthodox. Wine was served now and again, and I don’t remember being starved because of Ramadan. It was another time, there were no religious problems or disputes.
So where was I eventually? I now have a niece and her husband that are buddist. My family would be Swiss reform church, although we live in a mainly catholic area (nice to cash in on all the religious holidays they have). Looking into all this religion, I made up my mind many years ago. I did not get married in a church and have never missed wearing a wedding dress or marching up the aisle. My children were chistened in the local church. They can make their own decisions on religion. So I am very happy as I am, meaning that I just do not belong or believe. If I did choose, I would probably choose Buddist as that seems to be a harmless thing. But I would probably let them down eventually.
If we leave nature to do its work, then nature copes quite well. It is only through human interruptions that things do not turn out as they should. We all know the argument that there are too many wars in the world caused by religion, but not only. No-one is perfect and with or without faith, wars will occur.
I am quite satisfied in my atheist world. I respect religion, try to be tolerant towards all beliefs. I believe this is the first time I have officially “outed” myself in this connection. It is not a big problem for me.