Today’s post is all about stuff – that is, stuff in the Philip Larkin sense, as in ‘stuff your pension!’ But today we are substituting ‘sermon’ for ‘pension’, since on Sunday I broke with my usual habit and went with my other half to the Martyrs. (Incidentally, I’ve started calling him my other half as a means of side-stepping the whole gender issue – it’s not entirely natural but better than the alternatives.) Anyway, I arrived to find, up the top end in vestments, Helen – the diva of Sound Cafe. She greeted me with a cheery smile and a wave (they don’t do formality at the Martyrs) and then launched into a heartfelt sermon on the amount (see what I did there?) a sermon, I say, on the amount of money we might have and what we might do with it. She also invited us to consider how we might help refugees.
I had no problem with any of this: I’m fairly hard-up and I didn’t feel preached at: I thought it was pretty standard stuff really, considering the original mounted sermon. So as I was leaving I bumped into a woman I’ll call Mary.
Mary was, she said, absolutely fuming. I was baffled. Why was she fuming? Turns out the sermon had made her very angry. I was completely taken aback and wondered what on earth could have provoked such a strong reaction. ‘We should all give to the poor and take as many refugees as we can! Dreadful!’ she fumed.
Really? Doesn’t the original Sermon on the Mount say much the same thing? It has a lot to say about money, giving alms, not worshipping money and not being able to serve two masters.
And there are many references in the Bible to welcoming the stranger as God under your roof:
So why the beef? Are some people still challenged by this stuff? I didn’t feel comfortable debating the point with someone who was still fuming, so I turned the conversation. And I’m still not sure I understand her reaction, but it did make me value even more the Quaker way of sitting with something you disagree with.
The day got a lot better after that, as we went to Mariette’s 70th birthday party. The weather was lovely and we spent the whole afternoon in the garden. I must have walked seven miles at least, that day.
And so back to work on Monday. I’m writing the novel at the moment, but last week I made some alterations to the short story ‘Mem Mat’ and sent it back. It should be published soon.
I also have two vats of wine on the go