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By Phil Thornton


There we are walking the dog (or rather waiting for the dog to shit) in Delamere Forest and a gaggle of cyclists pass us by, then stop to stare rather suspiciously at some horses in a near-by field. Fuck all wrong with that I suppose but then I notice the fish symbols on the back on their specially designed kagools. These people are Christian Cyclists!


Now I’ve not got a downer on Christians per se, infact I regard myself as a kind of Christian, albeit one who doesn’t believe in God or indeed Christ, which some people would argue is no kind of Christian at all. But if we’re talking symbolism and metaphor, if we’re talking of abstract moral concepts such as forgiveness and the kingdom of God being the knowledge that you have tried to lead a life that at least attempted to be ‘good,’ that you tried to help your fellow man once in a while and that the resurrection was entirely a symbolic act of spiritual re-birth then, count me in! Nowt wrong with that. I know women who boast about how many times they go to mass and how much they do for the church and yet never perform a Christian act in their lives. Likewise I know many supposed ’socialists’ who’ve never done anything that wasn’t in their own interests.


OK, so what’s so bad about Christian Cyclists? It’s not the fact that they’re a) Christians or b) cyclists that annoys me, it’s the fact that they have to fucking advertise it, that they’ve obviously gone to the trouble of sending their waterproofs to a special printer to have the piscine symbol attached to their garmentry. No doubt they also have the same symbol as a car sticker and there’s nothing worse than being overtaken by a speeding Christian (good name for a band that; The Speeding Christians). We get it, you love Jesus! He’s your Lord and saviour. Do I go around with a hammer and sickle sticker on the back of my motor or my Mao Of The Moors Barbour?


Christians, especially the evangelical kind who usually feel the need to display their belief system as some badge of merit, some congressional medal of honour, love to feel persecuted, as if their messiah gets short shrift when compared to the likes of Buddah, Mohammed and er, that other fellar, whatisname, big beard, whoever! They’re an easy target, an oppressed minority and the worst thing is, since 911 and the ’war on terror’ most non-religious, never-been-to-church-except-for weddings-funerals-and-christenings types are now talking up their Jesuit credentials. Footballers being the worst culprits.


Now we expect Latin Americans, Italians and the Irish to perpetuate this prehistoric mumbo jumbo, but now  even obscure 19 year old Beazer League boneheads are getting  big mad fucking Grunewald depictions of the crucifixion tattooed across their back with verses from Revelations running down their legs…. in Hebrew! They’re crossing themselves as they walk onto the pitch, sometimes up to three or four times and praying to the heavens when they score improbable goals. I doubt any of the Beazer League Jesuits understand much about High Church ritual or the catechism but they’ve probably seen The Da Vinci Code and think all that stuff that the Brazilians and the Italians do, looks kinda cool and they don’t want to be left out in a sea of atheist asceticism when there’s they can cruise around the genteel shores of non-committal Christianity.


Back when I was a kid we joined the local chapter of the Boys Brigade (ie the paramilitary wing of the Anglican church) and part of the membership criteria for such a Mini-Masonic guild was regular attendance at St Andrew’s C of E every Sunday. There’s nothing like a dose of theological flannel over a five year period (got my gold badge and everything) to put you off religion for life. I was a kid but even then I knew there was something ridiculous about the concept of virgin births, miracles and resurrections but, these adults, these grown ups all appeared to believe every word.


It’s like Dougal in Father Ted when he questions the entire basis of Catholicism and indeed Christianity. Even a retard knows it’s a load of bollocks and yet, here were these apparently educated, responsible and respected men and women listening to stories of loaves and fishes, of raising the dead, of walking on water, of turning water into wine and taking it literally.  There was no questioning, no second level of meaning, no abstraction or common sense applied and this is what they call ‘faith.’ A belief in things that are patently absurd and impossible. And these people scoff at Scientology, as if all this talk of lizard people is any more preposterous than half of what they believe in. 


Now, I’m not down with Dawkins on this. I accept his reduction of existence to a mere reproductive impulse but not with his sneering depiction of ’believers’ as halfwits and simpletons. Theology isn’t an ology at all, it’s a branch of psychology or even anthropology - the human need to invent belief systems as a framework for morality and as a  control mechanism. Ofcourse most people would rather believe life after death, whether that’s reincarnation or a life everlasting in heaven, paradise or TK Maxx. It’s far more comforting than the brutal conclusion that we face an infinity of darkness. Within religion there are some sects such as the Quakers who take a non-dogmatic approach to God and  attempt to infuse Christianity with a degree of subjectivity.


I was asked once what I thought God was and replied ‘God Is Love‘. I’d never really thought about that cliched church-poster slogan before but suddenly it hit me; if God is ANYTHING, it’s LOVE. And love is itself an abstract concept and some would argue that what we pass off as love is only an instinctive animal need to protect the gene line and that nothing humans do is ever truly altruistic. Jesus may never have actually said ’turn the other cheek’ but that is the essence of the Christian message. Do not respond to evil with evil. Try to help your neighbour. Eat more fruit. Maybe not that last one. You don’t have to be the Archbishop of Canterbury or an evangelical  Darwinist to understand that. Being a Christian should be something you strive towards, not something you automatically become just by sticking a fish symbol on the back of your kagool.





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