Wednesday, 13 February 2013

No Laughing In Heaven

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.


H2B said...

Mr PM,
Your teacher was plain mean. Why did he pick on your hair?

Re heaven vs hell, you haven't considered the 3rd choice: you may be reincarnated.


JahTeh said...

My take on religion is that God has a macabre sense of humour. He bolts around making the world in 6 days, sits down for a beer on the 7th, gets bored so invents religion, not one, but hundreds. And he's been sitting down, knocking back beers and laughing at the mess ever since.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi H2B,

My teacher picked on my hair because on that particular day it really was an unruly mess. I hadn't had it cut for months and it looked like an ultra slow motion nuclear explosion.

Aha - reincarnation. I would love it if that were true, though knowing my luck I would come back as something I hate - a spider.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi JT,

That makes total sense. My guess is that beer was one of the first things he created.




River said...

I'm convinced that God has a sense of humor. Why else would he drive men to invent corsets, if not to sit back and watch women try to fit into them?

MedicatedMoo said...

I'm with H2B - that was a terrible thing for a teacher to do.

I'm not a lapsed Catholic, but a lapsed Proddie. Gave up going to church when my parents offered me the opportunity at fifteen or so.

I read a brilliant article the other day that contained ten commandments for atheists (or slightly spiritual agnostics like myself). In essence: be a decent human. Enough said.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Yes indeed - evil contraptions.

But then I have to ask - why would a woman wear one?




Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

I actually thought Mr N was a good teacher. I am sure I was his nemesis and he was only getting his revenge for past misdemeanours.

I'll look up the 10 commandments for atheists. Might be an interesting read,




JahTeh said...

Plasman, I take issue with His On Highness creating beer first, every woman knows he created chocolate first.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jah Teh,

If God is a woman - then she created chocolate.

If God is a bloke - beer it is.

All we need to find out now is what gender God is.

Boy am I gonna suffer in Purgatory...




Anji said...

But wasn't Ian Gillan Jesus on the original sound track of Jusus Christ Superstar?

It really helps to be humiliated by a teacher in front of the class - especially in your teens. It's good to know that you survived and became the well balanced, tolerant and God fearing (?) adult that you are...

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Anji,

Indeed he was. My theory is that he was rebelling against that. I would love to hear the original version because I love the music from that show.




Big D said...

I'm convinced the gods sit around thinking of bigger and better ways to screw with us. "I've had a brilliant idea. Flying insect, painful sting - irrestibly drawn to jam."
"Yeah well, I still think packing the goolies with nerve endings then putting them in the most vulnerable part of the body tops that."
All things considered - and in the words of Mr Scott - "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be"

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Big D,

Yep - That AC/DC song was another one that caused a stir amongst born agains - as was anything by Sabbath.




drb said...

A case study of reincarnation:
M - 100% white boy

My sister came one X'mas and stayed at D's house.
She then showed her holiday shots to her bf V (he walked up to her in a restaurant because he 'recognised' her) who believes in reincarnation. When he saw M (D's son 5 yo at that time) in her photos, he claimed that M was his Chinese General in their last lives. Apparently, my sister was supposed to be a chinese princess to be escorted via ship to marry some foreign king. V already was in love with my sister in that life
They were all killed during the voyage by pirates and did not make the destination. V said, "M will scream suddenly and that is because the spirits are harassing him and he didn't know how to handle them. So, when he screams, just cuddle him to calm down."
My sister is a Christian and does not believe in such rubbish, so they broke up and she told me the rubbishy claim.

When I heard that story years later, my hair stands. Why?
That was exactly when happened when M was young, out of the blue he would start to scream and cry. Plus, he was very frightened of water, he did not like bath or showers, he would scream and scream like he was going to die. His parents sent him to swimming classes since 2 yo to get over that fear. Now, he is a very good swimmer.
TV violence are never allowed in D's house, so, I was amazed when M demonstrated to me at 3 yo how to attack a man with a stick he found in the garden, "First you whack him behind the knees, then you whack him behind his neck," demonstrating the strokes as he spoke. The actions were perfect kungfu steps. M was never sent to child care.

At 5 yo, M refused to go to kindy because the princess was visiting that day. He told his mum,"I don't want to go to school today because I will get killed. "Why will you get killed?" "The princess is coming and I have to protect her and then I will get killed," and burst into tears. That was the first time ever he refused to go to kindy, he loved school.

At 7 yo, they came to visit S'pore (their first ever overseas trip). First meal were at the food court, M picked up the pair of chopsticks and started to use it very well to eat roast duck rice like a native chinese person. No fuss, with the same ease of using a fork. Using the sequence of actions - pick up the pair of chopsticks, even them by standing them up on the table, then pick up the duck meat with great ease, and shuffle the rice to his mouth. All the adults stared at him and then to each other with big eyes - he had never seen chopsticks before in his life - no chinese takeaway in their town. The parents and grandparents don't know how to use chopsticks, don't have chopsticks in their homes, no asians in the town.
So, I asked him, "M, who taught you how to use chopsticks?" "Nobody. It is easy" and continued eating.

That was so spooky that finally Rob allowed me to tell M's parents that he may be a Chinese General in a prevous life.

At 9 yo, he started to count in mandarin to me, he lives in the town that has no asians. His mum, I think, started to believe in the Chinese General thing and asked me to show him how to write the numbers and his name in Chinese and he can imitate it quite well.

Today, we had tea together, we had chinese fried rice, M's fav. I gave him the pointy Jap chopsticks, M used it for 2 mouthful. Then, went to the kitchen and came back with the Chinese chopsticks, with blunt ends. "What's wrong?" "The pointy ones are too difficult to use." Then, he proceeded to finish his huge bowl of fried rice, way ahead of his father, mother, brother and grandpa who were all struggling with the chopsticks. M uses the chopsticks better than most chinesse.

Weird huh?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

That does sound weird. Has he been hypnotized?




drb said...

No, not yet. May get him to try regression hypnotism when he is an adult.

drb said...

Oh, of the fancy chopsticks I have, he chose the most primitive form - 2 pieces of bamboo with blunt ends, the disposable type.