Subscribe by RSS

Friday, 20 December 2013

Which foot does he kick with?

Religion is a touchy topic in the West of Scotland and some people take great pleasure in using it to wind me up. One of these days I'll have the sense to realise what's happening and not rise to the bait.

"I think she's kicking more with her right foot," I say innocently, as we watch little Sally gurgling and laughing on the sofa at a small gathering in Susan's living room.

"She is not," says an unfamiliar woman in a woolly hat"Is he a ... ?" she adds, nodding to the right to fill in the blank and looking with displeasure in my direction.

"I'm afraid so," Susan says. 

"Bad luck," the woman says and wanders through to the kitchen.

"What was that about?" I say.

"She was asking if you were a Protestant," Susan says. "I told her you were."

"I'm not," I say.

"Are you a Catholic?" she says.


"Then you're a Protestant."

"That's ridiculous," I say. "There are more than two types of people in the world."

"He's right," Chuck says. "There's three. Are you a Muslim?"

"No," I say.

"Then you're a Protestant," he says.

"I don't believe you people," I say and a hush falls on the company.

"Pardon me?" Susan says in that tone that makes male hormones run for the hills. "You people?"

"I meant all you people in this room that are talking bollocks about religion," I say. "I'm a scientist. Doesn't mean I can't be religious. Some scientists are. I'm not. If anything I'm a Buddhist. Which is not a religion. It's a way of life. I'm not a Catholic. I am not a Protestant."

"Don't get out your pram,Chuck says. "Buddhist is just a kind of Muslim, isn't it?"

I shake my head, try not to react to the nonsense, and fail. "Buddha lived a thousand years before Muhammad," I say. "How can a Buddhist be a kind of Muslim? That's like saying an early Christian was a kind of Catholic."

"Well they were," Susan says. "What you're failing to grasp, because you have a Protestant brain, is that we're not talking facts here. We're talking faith."

"Look, I've had Catholic friends all my life," I say. "When I was young I loved going to watch Celtic. There's a spirituality in people like Mary that really appeals to me. I like Catholic culture. 

"But I am not a Catholic. I am not a Protestant. And I'm sick of this divisive nonsense. I don't want to hear another word about Catholics and Protestants. All right?"

"Calm down, dear," Susan pats my arm, just as the woman, who seems to be an old friend of the family, wanders in again and says, "What's he shouting about now?"

"He's getting excited about religion," Susan says. "He's telling us he's a Buddhist."

"Really?" the woman says. "What kind of Buddhist?"

"At last a sensible question," I say. "Well let's see. There are three broad groups. There is Theravada, the oldest and most conservative, Mahayana, the most popular nowadays, and Tibetan Buddhism, which might be familiar to you through the Dalai Lama. If you wanted to pigeon-hole my thinking I'd be inclined to call myself ..."

"Never mind all that," the woman says. "Are you a Protestant Buddhist or a Catholic Buddhist?"

No comments:

Post a Comment