The SAP ain’t heavy. He’s my…oh, c’mon, really?

The Smart-Alec Pastor (SAP) has thrown a furfy into my creative mix. Remember the ‘Who shot JR?” cliff-hanger in Dallas? It’s kind of like that. I’m debating whether to write him out this blog script via some nefarious misdeed. Then I might have to deal with resurrecting the character, like Bobby Ewing stepping out the shower after it all being a dream.

LovepeopleWhat has he done to deserve such script-writing acrobatics? He and Mrs SAP have gone and prayed themselves into a new gig. Which is awesome and shows the brilliance of God at work. He will, I’m sure, based on my own brief experience, be an absolute blessing to his new congregation.

But, God, just to be a little bit selfish, I do have fun making up SAP adventures (or exaggerating them loosely on real-life examples). Whilst a part of me prays for ongoing SAP story lines, God’s bigger, insistent voice is saying, “Time to go it alone.”

Many times over the past nine months on my new Christian journey, I have asked: “God, Jesus, is this me? I am getting it? Or is the SAP just good at his job?” That’s the danger of new Christianity. You need to connect with God and Jesus and the Bible, not just the SAP delivering it. But you also need the training wheels that someone like the SAP provides to make sure you correctly connect with God, Jesus and the Bible.

Plus there’s the power of personality. The SAP is good at his job because of who he is: a supremely honest, Christian bloke who embraces the imperfection of life. I have wept at his kindness, laughed at his irreverence, and enjoyed a sense of humour that echoes my own.

How many pastors could you immortalise in a global blog under the nickname ‘smart alec’ and have him take it happily in his stride? Then somehow flipping it to laugh at me and teasing that it is my brand of evangelism? Or, better, dealing happily with my response when I told him to go himself and fornicate under carnal knowledge?

Based on all that, I figure he’ll be OK if I do decide to kill off the SAP. Just as he’s off on a new journey, I will be too. SAP training-wheel free. I have no idea what God has in store, but I do find it amazing that literally the week before the SAP made his new job announcement, God delivered two wise UHT Christians to me, both offering to be my mentors. Not one, but two.

I’ve also been introduced to a church looking to grow; the pastor is seeking help of a professional kind to market Christianity in this changing world. Plus, just quietly, I’ve had a hankering to do some distance education of the bible-study kind. But no rush. God’s got the reigns on this. I’ll just pray and step forward as He guides me.

So, in case I do decide to greatly exaggerate the rumours of the SAP’s demise, here’s my kind of epitaph to him:

Dear SAP,

Thank you. You, God and Jesus have all helped me become a better person. I know you will humbly respond that it is not necessarily in that order, but please accept the compliment gracefully.

Not only did you help me become a Christian, you also helped one of the most important people in my life join me along this road. Priceless.

Thank you for being there. For the random emails you would field as this writer processed whatever God and Jesus were pressing her to unpack. I am humbly cognisant that mine was not the only email, the only text message, the only Facebook message that your flock fired off. I only hope that my black humour kept you entertained rather than overwhelmed.

You have known when to push, when to shut up, when to compassionately hold the space, and when to congratulate me as I wobbled along on these Christian training wheels. You say that you always ask God to keep you out the way so He can do His work, but I suspect He tells you when to get in the way too. Thank you for listening to Him so well.

I pray your new congregation sees just how uniquely the spirit of God works in you. It’s not a typical brand of spirit. It’s rare, refined and aged nicely in whiskey barrels. Let’s hope there are not too many Puritans in your new parish.

Whilst writing this has required a tissue box, the awesomeness of what you and your family are about to do eclipses any tears of quiet sadness at your departure and turns them into joy.

There have been a few highpoints. Meeting G&J being major ones, obviously. Picking up the phone after Easter and being told you knew how this would end. Being hauled safely back up out the water during my Lipton-ing. And then, the other day, hearing you were grabbing this God-given opportunity to again lead a church.

But the biggest and best highpoint? Knowing that even if I do write the SAP out these blogs, I have the blessing of a SAF in real life. Stepping out from behind the keyboard now: I am honoured, blessed and grateful to have you as my smart-alec friend. I love how we can joke around, have fun and then have deep conversations without it getting weird at all.

So blessings on your new Godventure, SAF. You ain’t heavy, you’re my brother. And that’s about the shiniest Christian language you are ever going to see me use.

Sinning, again. And again. And again.

One of the biggest issues I had with Christianity was the whole ‘confess your sins, and all is forgiven’ angle. After all, if all sin is forgiven, why bother not sinning? Why make any effort to live a life that is kind or good?

Problem is, that’s not what Jesus taught. Nowhere did he say, “You can murder, covet and steal, just come back to me each Sabbath (which is a day of rest, by the way, so please don’t murder, covet and steal that day, thanks) and ask for my forgiveness. Then you can start sinning all over again on Monday.”

That’s what has become twisted out of misunderstanding, poor communication and an unwillingness for people to let go of their belief systems about what they ‘think’ they know. It’s comforting to be able to slap at something you don’t truly understand – and worse, spend no time trying to. The danger is non-Christians (NCs) end up spouting ill-informed nonsense whilst feeling falsely superior to those ‘unthinking Christian masses’ in need of a bit of ‘crowd control’ (borrowing a few stereotypes here).

When I look at some of the bigotry NCs shovel (using the definition of bigot as someone who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion), I realise true Christians don’t need crowd control. They need a bloody medal. Turn the other cheek? Far out! The SAP amazes me with his generosity. I reckon I’d have punched a few people by now.

For the past five months I have had the privilege to sit with, question, observe and listen to an amazing cross-section of Christians on their journey. For them, this is a life choice not an event. You see, in The Bible, Christians are specifically commanded not to sin even though they have been saved by the death of Jesus and by his grace: Romans 6-v15: What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Not to sin? Whoa. That’s clearly very different to “keep sinning, over and over, and I’ll keep forgiving you.”

This isn’t something true Christians put on each Sunday when seeking forgiveness. It’s a 24-hour, seven-day a week thing. Unknown-1

To live a life not sinning probably strikes you as nigh near impossible. It did to me. Which brings me round to Jesus again (he pops up a lot). My very basic grasp of it is:

If you accept the grace of Jesus, then not sinning gets easier and easier. Because by accepting that grace you become more Jesus-like. And by becoming more Jesus-like, you are then less likely to miss the mark.

Christians work at not sinning, not because they are ‘fearful of some unseen power’ (as suggested recently) but because of the sheer joy they receive. This has been the biggest stereotype-buster for me. The joy. I don’t think the term ‘happy clappy’ is actually an insult to a Christian. I think it means they’ve connected the dots:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Apostle Paul, Romans 8:38-39)

You don’t need to be Christian to choose to live a good life. You can be kind to others. Do the best that you can. It’s valid, it’s worthy, and, absolutely, far, far better than choosing to lie, kill, maim and steal.

Yet living that life doesn’t make you a Christian. Just like meditating every day, eating vegetarian, and not harming life doesn’t make you a Buddhist.  I slowly started to realise what the interviewer meant in that job interview about Christianity when he said, “But it’s the structure.” It takes some focus on the teachings of Jesus, prayer, a decent dig into The Bible, and getting out our own way.

We can be spectacularly bad at getting out of our own way. Change is often scary. But, mostly, I think too many of us are scared of the possibility of great joy. Which is what Christianity offers. Yet we are so trained for disappointment in this world, we shove it away. So it fascinated me, this joy. Because what I was observing was that Christian joy, unlike worldly happiness, flourished, even when the circumstances around it pointed to the contrary.

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a… it’s a sin

Disclaimer: This video was chosen ONLY because of the catchy tune and title for creative purposes. The use of this video and the subject of this blog should not be construed as any commentary on the sexual preferences of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. Or monks in chains. So no-one get your knickers in a twist.

That I have to write the disclaimer above shows just how explosive this small, three letter word is. In a second disclaimer, I’m wandering around the reservation on my own here. Possibly going off-piste. This blog is what I’ve pieced together since this began. I didn’t ask the SAP to do a sense-edit before I published because I wanted it to be a bit raw and messy. And to be as close as possible to how I – as a newbie – have uncovered it. All the errors here are my own.

Sin.

Straight away, all those notions of heinous wrong doings. I think this is why Christianity is so confronting because no-one likes to be told they are sinful, which is essentially what Jesus is recorded as saying in The Bible. I remember hearing it in church and immediately my back went up. “Here we go again,” I thought.

Fire and brimstone preaching and bible thumping has caused the church a serious image problem when it comes to sin. It either offends the non-Christians (NCs) (“I’m no rapist/murderer/thief” – insert your preferred style of sinner here) or causes Christians all sorts of comparison problems (“Well, I’m not as bad as her!”). It also contributes to why so many NCs think they are going to be judged by Christians and be found lacking.

I think most of us have got the idea of sin all wrong. 

Sin, as defined in the original translations of the Bible, means “to miss the mark.” The mark, in this case, is the standard of perfection established by God and evidenced by Jesus.

So, based on that, the ‘equation’ I came up with is:

I’m not God or Jesus. The only way to NOT miss the mark is to BE God or Jesus. I am patently neither. Then I have to conclude: I’m a sinner.

Say that line a few times. It gets easier. Imagine it’s like an AA meeting.

(Sorry, SAP, if you are now pulling out your remaining grey hairs. I’ll give you a blog post to set the record straight if required. A really small one. Like one of those ‘notices of retraction’ that no-one ever spots in the newspaper).

Now, get ready for the next twist.

No matter what we do, we’re still sinners. Whether you give to charity and go to church each Sunday, or whether you go out on a megalomanic serial killer spree. There is no difference.

Now all the NCs (and possibly Cs) are up in arms. “How dare you compare me to a serial killer?” you yell. Build a bridge and get over it with me. Because much as I hate it (ego, ego, ego), God doesn’t have a sin barometer. Sin just is. There’s no measurement of it. 

If this was a poker game, it’d be feeling like a pretty crap hand, wouldn’t it? Which is why I need to get to the Christian equivalent of a Royal Flush.

Jesus. The lightening rod. The uber-blog post. The central tenet of Christianity.

Distilled down, if you trust in Jesus then all your sin is taken away, all thanks to his crucifixion, resurrection and grace.

Mind-blowing. Rather than try to rationalise it (nigh on impossible) I had to surrender, run with it,  and see where it led. Because of that commitment I made at 3am to God, to step up to the plate and sort out my ‘baggage’ around Christianity. Otherwise I’d still be stuck unhelpfully stereotyping ‘religion’, ‘church’, and ‘sin’.

Rather than being a struggle, accepting the gift of forgiveness and grace is meant to be easy. But I had to put all that ‘Christianity’ baggage down first, so I could free my hands to grasp it.

“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” – Timothy Keller.

Pride (In the name of love) of Lions

Another hangover from ‘church’ and ‘religion’ was my (limited) exposure to churchgoers who struck me as, how can I put this politely? Well, not quite ‘present’. I can’t lay that all at the feet of the church though, as I’ve had plenty of exposure to new-age spiritualists who would spend so much time looking at and chatting with angels and spirit guides to the left and right of my aura, I’d constantly look over my shoulder to see who else was behind me when we had a conversation.

While it seemed quite appropriate for spiritualists to have their ‘head in the clouds’, when it came to Christians it made me think about cults. Blame Karl Marx. All that opiate for the masses stuff. Think of the stereotypes: if you’re sitting in a pew each Sunday, you’ve left your brain out in the glovebox of your car. If you’re a Christian, it’s like you’re believing in Santa and the Tooth Fairy.  But if you’re a wiccan, or enamoured with Gaia, that’s perfectly acceptable.

Thrown to the lions

I’ve noticed on this journey than non-believers seem to think it’s perfectly OK to challenge Christians on their ‘magical thinking’, yet the same amount of bias rarely appears to be thrown at believers in other faiths, be they historical or new. rc-camera-buggy-meets-a-pride-of-lions-008

Since setting off on this pursuit, I’ve had both funny and hurtful conversations. Been on the receiving end of 2UE style rants. Jawdropping, goldfish gasping silence when I casually mention I’m off to church. Surprised friends giving me books such as Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion‘ – to try and balance my mind, perhaps? They would be apoplectic if I lent them The Bible. Why? Because if a Christian suggests someone read The Bible, the non-believer typically assumes the Christian sees them as somehow ‘less’. The immediate response is, “I don’t f-ing need saving.” I’ve done the same myself: “How dare you? I don’t need you to pray for me!” Yet meditating on and sending love & light to friends has been acceptable in the past. Figure that out…

Forget opiate for the masses. This is not a journey for the faint-hearted. Particularly at 40 (something) years of age! I’d quite enjoy a shot of something to take the edge off because, wow, Christianity digs into my pride. images-4Particularly given how much stock I have put into yoga and non-attachment over the years. I hadn’t packed that pride down quite as effectively as I liked to think! I know how things should be done, I can make my own decisions over what is right and wrong, and I can damn well do it on my own, thanks very much.

I did not want this. I did not seek it. Some of the time, I’ve been bloody annoyed about it. The SAP has been told to go himself and fornicate under carnal knowledge as I’ve pulled this apart. But I couldn’t ignore it.

I’d already read plenty of books against. But it makes me a pretty woeful journalist if I didn’t spend some time exploring the ‘for‘. I’d never bothered with the other side of the argument before, intellectually or emotionally. You reckon’ my aethist friends are surprised? How about me?! In the early weeks this agnostic veered between horrified and, well, more horrified.

As for pride? It came round and bit me. As one of the things I take the greatest pride in is being ruthlessly honest with myself. I have a near-sadistical bent for shining the light on my darkest corners.

Accepting does not mean abdication.

My brain is firmly engaged. Because to do this, really do this, means excavating pride. To turn the other cheek. To love. There are far, far easier choices I could make. Crucifixion, anybody?

So why keep going? Well, I like the person I’m evolving into. It may be mystical thinking to some. Yet I cannot deny the ease, joy and trust that has welled up. Do I find myself shaking my head? Each and every day. But more often now in amazement rather than disbelief. It’s precious and surprising.

For the lions, both gentle and rough, I’m not blogging to change minds. Nor am I blogging to convince anyone that this is a journey they ought to be on.

I started this because I communicate best when writing, and it gave me a spot to ponder and process. I share it publicly because if there’s one reader seeking something spiritual beyond Dan Murphy’s, and has failed to find solace in new age, I wanted to give an insight into a choice that, I now realise, has suffered from some woeful misconceptions.

Please notice the word choice. You may not seek solace, you may be just dandy with the selection at Dan’s. And that’s absolutely fine too.

Evangelical stereotyping is a blog post for another day 🙂

Getting to Church. Would my head spin?

One gothic friend used to say he could never go to church because his head would spin as soon as he walked through the doors – a poor reference to The Exorcist. I wasn’t quite at that point when I decided to visit the SAP ‘in-situ’, so to speak, but it wasn’t easy. Sneaking into a Christmas Eve midnight service and not making eye-contact with anyone was quite different to me turning up on any old Sunday, in broad daylight, without a religious festival day as an excuse.

I confess I even did a drive-by of the church before sending the email saying I may attend a service. I was also slightly comforted by an article on their website that made gentle recommendations on how to welcome new visitors.

The designated Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Major domestic that morning over everything and nothing. The appropriateness of trackie-daks as a clothing choice. Sunday best? Did I need to dash out to DJs for a fascinator? On the drive over, the bickering continued. “I can’t believe we’re bloody fighting on the way to church,” I ranted. Not a great start.

We arrive. Paste on smiles. Hold hands. Walk towards the doors. I now understand this is jokingly referred to in the trade as ‘the carpark conversion’. If we slap on a game face, then we may just ‘look’ faithful enough. Which isn’t the point at all, but I hadn’t learnt that then.

The Bolly-swigging PR stereotype I borrow when I can’t remember names.

In the doors. Name badges. Phew. I am spectacularly crap at remembering names so typically retreat to the PR stereotype and call everyone ‘lovey’, ‘gorgeous’ or ‘darling’ in order to hide it. But this wasn’t a room of media hacks, I wasn’t swanning around with a Bolly in my hand, and peppering strangers with endearments would have probably made me look like the wacky OTT evangelist. I have never been happier to see Avery labels and a Sharpie.

I liken our welcome that day to Goldilocks and baby bear’s porridge. Not too cold, not too hot, just right. Everyone was, well, normal. I remember feeling a little awkward when asked had we come from a different church, but no-one raised their eyebrows when we said we didn’t have one. Most importantly, no-one pressured us to come to this church when they discovered we were ‘church-less’. One member of the team did rush over with enthusiasm and I recall bracing myself, only to discover her passion was sharing where to find the barista coffee served after the service. Considering I believe instant coffee is the work of the devil, I appreciated the advice.

Growing up in England, my church exposure was all sandstone edifices and glorious stained-glass cathedrals. Hallowed halls. Pomp and circumstance organ music. Despite my lack of structured Christianity to date, I do love a good, rousing hymn. Dear Lord & Father of Mankind is a particular favourite. Attending my Mum’s weekly W.I. meetings as a kid where they belted out ‘Jerusalem‘ each week probably also played a part.

So the drums, guitars and electric piano didn’t quite fit my experience, but I figured if the church could modernise then so could I. The hymns may not have been the ones from my childhood but the essence was the same. Joy. Grace. Thankfulness.

The sermon that day focused on prayer and how, in times of persecution, prayer increased. I could identify – I’d had a bit of an ‘in case of emergency break glass’ relationship with God until then! The tone was intelligent, in-touch, blending teaching with humour and plenty of relevance to the real world. Without a dog collar or black dress in sight.

There was also a reminder that prayer ought to play a part of regular spiritual practise. As I have weeks when I’m one and zen with my yoga and meditation, and others when I’m hopeless, I understood the sentiment. Plus, as I’ve found over the past months, finding time to have a quick natter with God is often far easier than getting quiet time with my yoga mat.

Post-service coffee and chats were similarly unthreatening. Genuinely friendly people who wished us welcome and wanted to know a little about why we were there. My stereotypes were proving more and more insubstantial. Where was the prideful self-righteousness? I sadly realised that, for those traits, I needed only to take a hard, honest look in the mirror.

After the service, during the afternoon and well into the evening I experienced a sense of what I can only describe as quiet contentment. A peaceful sense of space that reminded me of yoga and meditation, yet with a far deeper sense of….what was it?

And then it struck me. Connection. A spiritual affinity that not even my beloved yoga delivered. Now I had to figure out if it was illusory, or something I could work with.

If I’m thinking magnificent thoughts, how come I feel so terrible?

I love self-belief. Achieved healthily (being given independence as a child, resilience building, measured risk taking), self-belief stems from a healthy self-esteem. Not confidence. Anyone can bung on the confidence. True self-esteem, I think, takes it root in humility. Where you have strength enough within to realise that it is not the external world of ‘stuff’ that feeds your soul.

These blogs begin as I face up to my misconceptions about Christianity. Prior, I was firmly in a spiritual, new age mindset which began around 2000. My life had spun out of control (booming business, failing relationship) and I was seeking answers from the great beyond. I stomped the self-development trail for years. I’ve aligned my chakras, reframed my language, read ‘The Secret’, been to manifestation seminars, viewed ‘What The Beep’, and trained to become a kundalini yoga teacher whilst pregnant with child number 2.

I learnt a lot about the self-development industry and myself. Specifically, you can go broke fixing yourself. No energy? Try a colonic irrigation. No money? Do a course on manifesting wealth in your life. Fancy marrying Brad Pitt? Read ‘The Secret‘ and then focus your wonderful spiritual energy on that outcome and, yes, you too can be Angelina Jolie.

I also met some amazing human beings who are doing wonderful work. It’s just that first and foremost I’m a cynic and one of the cornerstones of new age spirituality – ‘Thought Creates’ – feeds the economic circle. You don’t like the way your life is? Change your thinking. You have? Oh, then you’re not doing it well enough. Book in for another course or treatment. I recall being pressured to sign up for one course and when I said I thought I had my mindset and issues pretty much under control, the salesperson told me, “Well, it’s the issues that you are blind to that you need to work on.”

When self-belief fails

After years of business boom, I was due for a bust (ah, no, I didn’t manifest it, there’s a universal law about ups and downs). The down happened spectacularly when the GFC wiped out many of our US clients’ Australian offices. I watched $300k in revenue disappear from our agency in less than two months. Time to get out there and do some fast business building. Just prior to the GFC I had been in Vegas on a course – all about mindset. Thought Creates. Law of Attraction. Law of Action. Time now to put it all into practise.

Except nothing worked. I was ‘putting it out there’ that I wanted to manifest profitable new clients (as well as actually doing the work: pitching, marketing, networking etc), meditating like a ninja and creating vision boards. The inevitable conclusion, if you follow new age thinking, is that I was responsible for my current financial reality (not the Lehman Brothers) as new age spiritualism says there is abundance for all of us to tap into – I just wasn’t doing it well enough.

For a smart woman, my internal resources failed me. I spent a lot of time blaming myself for my business failure. Yep, I’d built up a half a million dollar business in 6 months, kept it profitable for a decade, employed people, but rather than focus on all those successes, I was focused on the failure. And struggling not to focus on the failure because, well, thought attracts, and if I keep focusing on the failure then more will follow. I was exhausted. Utterly and totally.

Of course I became sick. A series of dodgy blood results had the Doctor wondering about leukaemia and ordering more tests. I recall standing in the shower after the appointment and the thought crossed my mind that I may not see my children grow up. “Oh well” was my brain’s listless reply. Luckily, I had enough insight left to recognise this was not an appropriate response and took myself back to the Doctor for a Depression Anxiety Stress (DAS) test.

When the Doctor told me I was suffering from severe depression it was a Homer Simson moment: “Doh!” – that explains it! Chinese medicine has a saying: ‘tears close to the surface’ – I had felt like that for months. Numerous factors contributed to my depression, not least the impact of the GFC on the business, two major, concurrent sicknesses in my closest family, plus I was trying to be superwoman, juggling preschool age children with a business in recession.

As for manifesting my reality? My brain chemistry was so out of whack I could have been Anthony Robbins and nothing would have changed.  It’s hard to manifest anything positive in your life when your serotonin is through the floor. Depression isn’t simply a case of  ‘pulling yourself together’ or thinking the right thoughts. There’s a physiology to depression as well as a psychology.

Beating depression, for me, came through tryptophan-building, a great GP, a wonderful naturopath and a psychologist. And – I think this is the crux – letting go. Letting go that I could of my own self do anything. But letting go and letting the universe step in hadn’t worked that well for me either, all I’d gotten was depressed!

So what if I let go and let God? Really stopped prevaricating? If I could hand over my spirit to crystals, yoga, theta-healing, the light, the dark and all the aura spectrums of the rainbow, what about if I tried New Testament rather than new age?

Again, God displayed a sense of humour. Prior to calling the SAP, I had consulted another psychic. Who kept telling me she was receiving the image of Christ the Redeemer – the Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. cristo_redentor

I do now wonder if Jesus spent many months walking next to me, slapping his forehead and yelling, “For Dad’s sake, are you ever going to cop on?”

What I have loved about unpacking Christianity, in the context of my new age work, is learning how God and Jesus take us just as we are. Broken and crying on the floor. For me, utterly depleted and exhausted by my new age wanderings. And all I have to do is trust that they’ve got my back. As the SAP recently reminded me:

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ (Matthew, 11:28-9)

Having a try does not get you a conversion

lineout_window
The Game Played In Heaven. At the Notre-Dame-du-Rugby in France, one stained glass window has the figure of the Virgin Mary with a small boy in her arms and a rugby ball is in his hands. At their feet, players are jumping in a line-out.

Unlike the game played in heaven, giving church a try does not a convert make. After all, I’d ‘popped along’ to a few church services in my time and, whilst I especially adore the energy of the midnight Christmas service, it hadn’t moved me enough to do much else.

But, remember my failed job interview? I do recall spouting the line: “Well, I don’t believe I need to be at church each Sunday to have faith.” To which, one of the panel replied: “Yes, but it’s about the structure.”

So, in the spirit of open-hearted research, I decided I’d get myself along to a Sunday service. I’m at pains to point out that the smart-alec pastor (SAP) at no point hustled me along to his church. Which (as a business owner) now makes me wonder about the key performance indicators (KPIs) for successful pastors.

I must ask him if they work on a percentage rate. Trys: 60. Conversions: 6. Dip below ten percent and you’re under a performance review?

So, anyway, there was no car salesman approach. But that religious hangover of mine made me a tad wary. I recall writing that IF I ever came along, to please not put me near any scary Christians. I also recall deleting that line, then re-writing it, then deleting it, then re-writing it…..before pressing send.

Now I’d done it. Deep-down I did want to go. Underneath all my pre-conceptions I experienced a real pull. But, oh, the nerves. What if I took the Lord’s name in vain (which I’m afraid I do regularly) and offended someone? Stood (or sat) at the wrong time; forgot to follow the script? All this based on memories of a very confusing Catholic Holy Communion I attended for my niece years before. I felt I’d entered the religious equivalent of a Les Mills Body Attack class where I was hopelessly inadequate at keeping up with all the moves. I had mistakenly worn leather pants for that occasion too. Each time I moved, I squeaked.

Note to self: find appropriate outfit before Sunday.

N.B.: Read more about the Notre-Dame-Du-Rugby. I’m not kidding!