15 Jun


Audrey, aged around 100 photo image2a_zpsbb5wqeii.jpg  You might have noticed that I’ve been trawling through my memories in search of nuggets to regale you with, and here’s another.

When I was knee-high to the mythical grasshopper my widowed mother’s best friend visited her every so often – it might even have been as frequently as once a week, I can’t quite remember. Being good and obedient children my brother and I would have gone to bed at a decent hour and all we knew of the visit was the sound of jolly and infectious laughter echoing up the stairs, past our closed bedroom doors and into our ears, making us smile. Audrey (for that was her name, and her portrait adorns the top of this piece, taken many years later around the time of her hundredth birthday) had one of those laughs that make you smile yourself.

I believe my mum and Audrey had been friends since their school days. I have a few photographs, monochrome and imperfect, from before I was born and I get the impression that, like so many young women in the interim years (my mum was born in 1905) there was a shortage of eligible young men as a consequence of the bloodshed of the first world war, and at a time of vastly improved social acceptance of women with enlightenment round every corner, they sought life and entertainment in each other’s company. I do know that mum and Audrey went camping whenever they could, and enjoyed that kind of simple and homespun holiday together.

Audrey had another side, though, one that sought adventure and, again like a lot of young women in the 20s and 30s, she took to venturing abroad at a time when not so many people could or did. She told us how she went to both Russia and Germany when wise people might have thought twice, and although I know virtually no details of those adventures she remembered so fondly at the time the above image was taken, there was still a teasing excitement in her voice.

One thing I know for certain was that both women, Mum and Audrey, were deeply Christian. I guess the majority were back then, and it has crossed my mind that there are two very conflicting angles to religions, and this is really what this piece is supposed to be about (as well as a salutation to my mum and her best friend, of course).

My mum was still short of sixty when life wrecked her and she died, and although Audrey lived to be well over a hundred my brother and I (and even my eldest daughter) kept in touch with her. We went to her funeral, and at her age and being single (she never married) there were few other mourners to acknowledge her passing. And both women, I’m sure, had the conviction that after they took their last breath they would be transported to another life. With new and perfect bodies they would meet and greet loved ones, and eternity would be perfect.

This was their personal faith, and because of it old age and finally passing away held few fears for them.

Theirs was a religion I respect. It was personal and a salve to ease the pains of ageing. It did no harm and Audrey actually spent her last years in a retirement home funded by the church she had attended all her days. And in the end, her senses fading (she became virtually blind and hard of hearing), she welcomed death. She wanted it. She spent her darkened final days looking forwards rather than backwards and although the reality might not incorporate the Elysian fields of her hopes her passing was made all the easier by her belief.

Hers, as I intimated, was a personal faith and one I can respect. If there was a god in it he was a shadowy old bearded man who benevolently watched over everything in his Eternity.

My problem with religion, all deity-based faiths, is that they’ve forgotten the Audreys of this world. They’re not there for the ageing and dying but for the living, especially the living with funds. They are the religious Mafia and, over centuries, have moulded simple homespun faith into a devil’s brew in which fear dominates.

Look at the evidence. People like sex, it’s very powerful (it must be, or the race would die out) and teenage boys in particular enjoy clandestine masturbation. Solution: soon after they’re born mutilate their genitals so that they derive less pleasure from life and tell them it’s all in the name of hygiene. Then let it be known they’ll go blind if they so much as touch their parts. Fill them with fear because fear is a mighty tool in the hands of the religious Mafia. And if you look at all major religions you’ll find that I’m right.

In order to remain faithful the people must be regularly force-fed the lessons, so until relatively recently it was what amounted to a legal requirement for adults to attend church services every week. Then, around a thousand years ago, the church grabbed hold of marriage (it had been a secular affair before then) and surrounded the wedding bed with all sorts of rules that meant a man could only make love to his much-loved wife very few days of the year. That took away a large part of the pleasure in life, meaning the peasants would have a great deal more time to do their religious duty.

That’s what I mean by Religious Mafia. For Christianity, it was (and still is) centred in Rome, and other faiths have their geographical centres (Jerusalem, Mecca and so on). You’d think their gods lived in those places to see their literature!

But God lives nowhere near them.

He lives, instead, in the beliefs, the comforting beliefs, of the Audreys of this world, in minds and hearts that were and are comforted as they near their end, and all the Religious Mafia has done is arm people like me with ammunition with which to attack the basis of their criminal empires in the hope of finally destroying organised religion, and as a by-product, take comfort from the dying.

Which has just got to be a bad thing.

© Peter Rogerson 15.06.15



  1. georgiakevin June 15, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    Yet another well written everyone should read post written by an outstanding young fellah!

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