Thursday, April 13, 2017

Religion in a Glasgow Pub

Religion in a Glasgow Pub

My birthday was coloured by a stranger in a Byres Road pub, where I was having a Happy Birthday To Me Pint of Guinness.

“Do you believe in black holes?” he asked.

“Why?” I asked, wondering if this was some manner of coded language.

“Do you believe in them?”

“Well, scientists tell us that stars have imploded, yet their compressed mass retains such gravitational pull that even light can’t escape, thus dark holes.”

“Aye, but do you believe in them?”

“I’ve never been in outer space,” I told him. “And, anyway, if I’d been anywhere near a dark hole, I wouldn’t be here.”

“What do you believe in?”

I told him, as I must when asked a direct question.

“Religion’s loadysh-te,” he enlightened me, “Loadysh-te.”

“Right,” I agreed, “loadysh-te.” I left my birthday pint of wallop hardly sipped.

Sorry to hear about the blight on your birthday celebrations. Bigoted strangers, such as the one you encountered, are what give good pubs a bad name! Mind you, I agree with his “religion’s loadysh-te” (read: “religion is nonsense”!) analysis – especially if, (as I did), you develop your view of it from standing on the soggy terracing (or sitting on the bum-wetting seats) of Ibrox (or Parkhead) watching the Saturday football match.

I remember as an eighteen-year-old, for once, actually paying attention to the words of some of the songs and the abuse we were hurling and hurtling (along with mutton-pies and bottles and “refilled!” Tennent’s lager cans) at the opposing green-hooped team and its supporters. Of course, their supporters were reciprocating with vitriol, with vim, vigour and vitality! Thus, the excremental effluvium flowed both ways! “Loadysh-te” right enough! It was King Billy versus the Pope of Rome! Our songs invariably ended with imprecatory curses, usually seeking the demise of the beanied-head of Roman Catholicism: FTP! Enough of this religious bigotry! this sectarianism! “Religion’s loadysh-te” I too thought.

From then on I became an (albeit adopted) “Son of the Rock” (i.e., a Dumbarton Football Club supporter). “‘M’on the Sons!” (i.e., Sons of Dumbarton Rock). True, Boghead didn’t quite have the electrical-storm-like atmosphere of a Ranger’s game at Ibrox, with its thunderous murderous roars punctuated with the flashes of fiery-darts of taunting chants! Aye, “religion’s loadysh-te” – especially if you grew up in the 70’s like I did on the West Coast of Scotland!

As already mentioned, whereas I found refuge from the Glasgow version of “religion” by changing teams and religiously supporting the, mediocre as it was, Dumbarton Football team, your Quantum Physicist pub-pundit seems to have found some solace from “religion” by retreating into a theoretical “black hole.” Each to their own, I say!

But what is religion, true religion? Is it about being devoted to one’s own belief-system and expressing your worldview in the hymns of sectarian-song-singing from the stands as you praise your idols? Is it about being so devoted to scientific theories that you feel the need to overtly defend your epistemological insecurities to pub-punters who’re enjoying a birthday beer? Or is true religion about seeking to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever? And, is it about loving God and your neighbour (including pub-patrons!) as yourself?

I’m sorry to hear that that “fly-in-the-ointment” left a bad taste in your mouth and put you off enjoying your birthday pint of wallop, your, as you called it, “Happy Birthday To Me Pint of Guinness.” But I am happy, nay, I’m more than happy, I’m very encouraged to hear that you stood up for true religion and answered the way you did when he asked you, “What do you believe in?” He did the asking! Obviously it was a loaded question. He simply wanted to ram his “religion” down your throat! Well, the positive thing is that this stranger got you to pub-lically confess and profess your trust in our Saviour!

May He be pleased to bless you for not being ashamed of Him! And may I be as prepared as indeed you were “to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… with gentleness and respect.”

I’m so proud to have you as a big brother!

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