When I was a child Sundays were practically synonymous with boredom. Everyone went to church and the whole thing was an incredible performance; dressing up in your best (and most uncomfortable) clothes, sitting still through hours of excruciating boredom and not being allowed to do anything fun. When I was a teenager it was hardly less exciting as the pubs were closed most of the day, only the paper shops were open (and with restricted hours) and there was nothing to do. It is hard to see a connection between all of this conformity and the teachings of Christ.
Religion everywhere is a magnet for those who seek power. The tragedy is that religions often stem from prophets or messiahs who preach against power – but the lure of getting people under your spell by promising heaven and threatening hell and by aligning yourself with the gods you are supposed to be worshipping, is too great. One survivor of Catholic abuse said a nun told her ‘I’m God.’ This is the most basic idolatry ever and you can’t understand how they don’t realise it.
But! Yesterday was an antidote to all that because I went to a brilliant service at All Saints. The church, so often associated with shaming gays and lesbians and excluding those who don’t fit in (thus directly contravening the teachings of Jesus) has changed – and one small church in Loughborough has taken the brilliant step of having a Pride service. It was a terrific event, inclusive and welcoming not just to gays and lesbians but to everyone, encouraging us to love ourselves as God made us.
After that I went to the pub and then to another pub and then for lunch and then for a walk along the canal. That’s what Sundays should be like.