Let me take you back to 1981.
I was in my final year at school and A-Levels were approaching like a speeding train. I had mad hair, so mad in fact that my form teacher, a certain Mr N, decided to humiliate me in class by saying the following in front of a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds:
“Mr Mancunian...” – actually he had no idea that I was going to end up in Manchester – but just go with it.
“Mr Mancunian. Before you come to school please, in the name of God, stick your head in a bucket of water.”
After the inevitable riotous laughter had died down (it took about 20 minutes). He continued:
“Do you know, Mr Mancunian, you remind me of a boy at my old school. He had copious amounts of unmanageable hair. Do you know what we used to call him?”
This was like comedy gold to each and every member of my class – apart from me.
“They used to call him The Boy with the Chrysanthemum Head.”
I think that some kids in my class are still laughing even now.
What on earth was he thinking?
Anyway, that’s just setting the scene.
Back in 1981, we were typical 17 year old lads with all of the pitfalls associated with that particular point in life. I was a mad-haired, rebellious, arrogant, hormone-enraged arse, surrounded by similar people with varying degrees of self-importance and mane madness (it was just a little past the 1970’s after all).
I went to a grammar school and it was, kind of, meant to be for the brightest boys in Walsall. In the sixth form, conversations veered between total immature, hormone-driven stupidity and all manner of intellectual subject matter, embracing just about everything else in between.
One such topic for discussion was religion.
In 1980, I noticed an alarming explosion in the number of born again Christians in my school year and as more of my friends succumbed, I found myself having to defend myself for being a Roman Catholic.
One particularly arrogant mate of mine said:
“I told my pastor that you aren’t a true Christian because you are Catholic. He told me I shouldn’t try to ridicule you; I should try to convert you.”
The fact that I was a lapsed Catholic and had given up going to church two years earlier was irrelevant. My rebellious streak urged me – no – ordered me to fight my corner.
And then Ian Gillan released a song. This song actually made it into the UK charts. And it stirred up a hornet’s nest, causing several major arguments and several friends to fall out with each other.
It’s called No Laughing In Heaven and, to a born again Christian, the lyrics are totally offensive. I, and many others, found the lyrics amusing.
Here it is – with lyrics. You may not like the song – but stick with it.
Did we argue about the lyrical content of the song? Of course.
Did we fall out about the song? Absolutely.
I think I started the ball rolling with:
“Surely you find it funny. A man changes his lifestyle so that he can go to Heaven and spend eternity partying, only to find that Heaven is like a perpetual church service and that Hell is the place where the party is. Don’t you understand irony?”
And my final pièce de résistance:
“Hasn’t God got a sense of humour?”
You can imagine the reaction. Those who liked the song or couldn’t see anything wrong with it were lambasted mercilessly.
“You really WILL spend the remainder of your existence burning in Hell,” they said.
And of course I reacted with:
“I’m Catholic – I’ll spend some time in Purgatory and then get my pass from St Peter.”
Since my schooldays, I’ve mellowed a lot though I am still curious about religion and why a born again Christian would regard me as heathen, despite my being a Catholic and despite having spent the first sixteen years of my life praying in church, confessing my sins to a priest and taking communion.
One of the problems is that you simply cannot argue with some of these people. I enjoy having a discussion with anybody, particularly if I am curious about the subject. I find it difficult to talk to evangelical Christians because their argument is always something along the lines of:
“It’s God’s will.”
And the discussion terminates at that point.
I watched a comedy routine from Reginald D. Hunter and he pointed out this exact thing. He said something along the lines of:
“When a Christian says “It’s God’s Will” that really means “I’m done thinking”.”
There’s many a true word spoken in jest, so the saying goes.
If you are a born again Christian, dear reader, please be aware that I am not here to mock you or your beliefs. I am genuinely interested in why you have the views you have and will gladly and willingly have a chat about it and why you think I am going to be Satan’s plaything for eternity just for trying to have an open mind about these things.
I have a scientific mind and I would dearly love to see proof that God really does exist and that he has a sense of humour – and probably most importantly, if he can divulge what will happen to me when I shuffle off this mortal coil:
(a) Spend eternity in a vast empty void of emptiness … or
(b) Be condemned to eternity in Hell for writing this post and laughing at “No Laughing In Heaven” …or
(c) Be punished in Purgatory, alongside Ian Gillan.
Knowing my luck, it will be (b) – and I will be chained to Piers Morgan and forced to eat rhubarb while listening to opera and Shakespeare for the rest of time.