Driven by a higher call­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - Colin Pearce colin. pearce@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au townsville­bul­letin. com. au

THE last time I went to church – not count­ing friends’ wed­dings and rel­a­tives’ deaths – was when I was 17.

There were lots of girls. The church had a Sun­day break­fast af­ter the ser­vice where young and old, re­s­plen­dent in their Sun­day best, would re­lax a lit­tle, be jolly in a rev­er­en­tial sort of way, and eat eggs and sausages.

Un­less you were 17. At 17 even the sausages in the vicar’s vestry were shiny with un­slaked lust and car­nal long­ing. Did the vicar know, I won­der, that while he beamed down on his young dis­ci­ples with avun­cu­lar af­fec­tion, we were men­tally strip­ping each other and play­ing with the soft bits? At least, the boys were. At least, I was. I was an earnest be­liever in God’s power. The girls were there; I was there. If God could place just one of them within range of my smoul­der­ing pas­sion, he was wel­come to my soul.

Later, when the girl I fan­cied went off with a choir boy, I took it back. God was a fraud.

I still feel that way, and ev­ery year some­thing hap­pens to re­in­force my view.

Ten thou­sand Ja­panese dead, min­i­mum; 2000 bod­ies turn­ing in the surf at the wa­ter’s edge; whole towns chewed into splin­ters, pa­per, and man­gled car bod­ies. If the im­me­di­ate hor­rors are not enough to deal with, they now face an un­cer­tain fu­ture plagued by the in­vis­i­ble dread of atomic ra­di­a­tion that can con­tam­i­nate the un­born chil­dren of their un­born chil­dren.

So are we deal­ing with an allpow­er­ful God here? Or have we got merely an in­com­pe­tent lieu­tenant? Should we be ap­peal­ing to a higher au­thor­ity? And when we find it, can we ask, ‘‘ What the hell were you think­ing of?’’?

This is na­ture, in all its de­struc­tive in­dif­fer­ence, shat­ter­ing the fu­ture for whole dy­nas­ties of peo­ple. In Fukushima, Ja­pan; in Christchurch, New Zealand; in Gran­tham, Queens­land

What kind of a God would al­low this? OK, an all-pow­er­ful God may want to flex his all-pow­er­ful mus­cles; and I sup­pose a car­ing God that wasn’t allpow­er­ful may not have the abil­ity to pre­vent it. But an all-pow­er­ful, car­ing God? Sorry, I don’t buy it.

Nor do I buy the idea that we need a god to help us deal with such ter­ri­ble events. The peo­ple who rolled up their sleeves and got to work on the Queens­land clean-up; the res­cue work­ers pour­ing into Ja­pan from all over the world . . . I doubt many of them were driven by God. I suspect they were driven by some­thing much more hon­est and much more ba­sic . . . the knowl­edge that there, but for chances of time and place, could go any one of us.

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