John the Baptist
Religion is a touchy subject in Ireland, especially in the six counties,
that part of the nation still subject to alien overrule. This is perplexing to
outsiders. The majority of the population there claims affiliation to
Christianity, and sets the most horrible examples of inter-communal hatred,
bigotry, and bloodshed.
Leaving aside political ideology, the factions that hold sway in different
small regions of those six counties have that one thing in common, they are
Christians. And a more quarrelsome group of Christians havenít been seen since
the days of the early schisms chronicled so well by the historian, Eusebius.
There are Catholic Christians, Protestant Christians, Methodist Christians,
Presbyterian Christians, Anglican Christians, Calvinist Christians, a host of
others, and bringing up the rag taggle rear, the Jones/Paisley Christians. When
I was a wee boy I lived in the six counties. I know whereof I write. Even then
we had professed Christians coming out our ears. If you werenít a Christian,
what were you? Something unmentionable. An outcast. Someone without a label.
Imagine my horror when I discovered that my best friend, the boy I played
with every day on a quiet street in Strabane, hadnít been baptised! At least he
didnít remember being baptised.
That was enough to fill me with evangelical zeal. My five-year old theology
convinced him that he had to be baptised, and the sooner the better. So off we
went, a budding John the Baptist and his disciple, heading for the nearest
Catholic church, some streets distant.
Unfortunately, our mothers discovered we were not to be found where we should
have been, and started a hurried search. They caught up with us before we could
claim sanctuary, and hauled us home.
My friendís mother seemed extraordinarily upset. She was an upright member of
her own church, and here was Rome trying to steal away her only child.
Thankfully, in a few days the two mothers were reconciled and laughed together
at their children's escapade.
Thus ended my career as a modern-day John the Baptist.
I think the Christians in the six counties should take a look at the
spectacle they present to the rest of the world. They are the laughing stock of
Christendom, or so says my seventy-year old theology.
| Canadian Vindicator