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God Was Everywhere When I Was Growing Up by Xavier Leret

Round about the time that I became a teenager my father became an Orthodox priest. He would go out and about in all this priest’s regalia, black robes and black hat, beard like Rasputin, this massive eastern crucifix chained about his neck. You could see him a mile off. He looked like that even if he was going out to Boots to buy toothpaste. I don’t think my mum liked it very much either even though she could be quite stern about her faith too.

I went to a Catholic primary school so God was pretty much everywhere. He was there too in secondary school because the headmaster was a lay-preacher. Priests never visited my secondary school like they had my primary school but a band called Amessiah did play. I had no idea what they were singing about but I thought the guitar playing was great. I loved how loud it was too. I didn’t have pop music at home, in fact we didn’t have a record player. Watching Top Of The Pops was frowned upon. I did have a radio in my room and I was given this old record payer in a suitcase thing that someone was throwing out. I began to discover music.

When I was fourteen or so I went to this Evangelical church which was like a hypnotists’ show. One of the preachers told this story about how once, when they were flying somewhere, they needed cheering up, because their life was not going as it should, when all of a sudden an air stewardess appeared and offered them a seat in business class. It was an obvious gift from above and a sign that he was real. It was a great sales pitch, you could really see it hooking these kids. Then some people started falling on the floor and wailing. It was quite creepy.

My R.E. teacher was a rugged looking old Teddy Boy who was rumoured to be a raging alcoholic. He brought this man in to chat to us about God. He took out this old watch on a chain and said that it had been made by a master craftsman. Then he said that the universe was like the watch, the economies of scale made this plainly ridiculous. By this point in my life I had really had enough of religion, which did not make any sense when compared to all that I was discovering about just about everything. But, it was not until I was at university that I said that I was an atheist out loud. There was a small wood out the back of my halls and I said it out there. I was not smited down. Which I was very relieved about.

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