Pub atheism redux

Disappointingly, there was no Rapture last Saturday, which not only robbed us all of an exciting period of secular frolicking (or something along those lines: the various diagrams are rather confusing) but also meant my carefully planned Friday can’t be described as ‘going out on a high note’. Still, it was fun nonetheless. During the day Grace and I joined Oliver, Abi and Sarah for a picnic and some badminton in their back garden – now doesn’t that sentence sound absurdly genteel? And then in the evening I went to a charming pub out in Harrow with Henry, who I’ve known vaguely through whatever social networking was in vogue at the time but never actually met. Some things you should know about Henry: he’s the country’s third youngest Catholic school chaplain, he’s got numerous Facebook fan clubs, he’s endearingly passionate about drinking real ale and he – hallelujah! – is great conversation too.

See, this is my thing. Like most people, “I enjoy spending time with people with different views than my own”. Nothing remarkable there – we all like to pretend we’re charmingly tolerant and well-mixed like that, because then when your friends cheer on your drunken rants with “yes!” and “exactly!” and “I know!” you can flatter yourself that it really was the full persuasive force of your elegant slurring which stirred their hearts and won their minds, rather than admitting that your friends were unlikely to have been quiet supporters of the Hitler Youth \ Toby Young \ Comic Sans in the first place. However, some people seem to work by the maxim that you should delicately steer every conversation around any conceivable disagreement so that you can arrive at the hallowed destination of ‘common ground’ without doing any of the spadework first. I have a theory that this is why we like talking about terrible crimes so much. If you think that cannabis should be given to nursery children instead of milk and your neighbour wants to reintroduce capital punishment for smelling of it, then why not open each chat together with a gloomy anecdote about the latest gruesome murder and reassure each other than you’re not monsters after all?

Except this is silly. This is like setting a film in ancient Rome and not featuring gladiators. When I have a rare opportunity to drink real ale with the country’s third youngest Catholic school chaplain, you can be sure that I want to talk about gay rights, condoms and faith schools rather than – oh, I don’t know – petrol prices. So we did! It was brilliant. BBC Four should have filmed it and used it to fill up their pesky ‘Religion and Ethics’ quota. And, as usually happens, I’m liable to get on with people much better after such conversations rather than suspecting someone to be hiding behind a front the whole time. So here’s to Henry. Because no one should have to talk about petrol prices all night. *raises glass*

(Apparently he wouldn’t have been Raptured anyway: not sure American evangelicals are too fond of Catholics. Now, who wouldn’t want to go to the pub with one of them…)

P.S. I have other things I want to blog about, and am behind schedule, but this turned out wordier than I expected. Apologies.

P.P.S. It’s still a lifetime ambition to go to the pub with Father Alexander, although I am unsure as to how this could ever be contrived. I’ll just put it out there, again.

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One Comment on :
Pub atheism redux

  1. helen says:

    Love this! the whole sentiment of it really made me smile! oh, and it’s a lovely sunny day, too, which perhaps helped.

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