Long after you forget the mountain peak,the deep valley ,the immaculate dawn or the soft sunset,you remember the bus ride. The last two hours of the fourteen hour ride from Kathmandu to Deralli , the pass ,an hour from the school, in the dark was such a ride. Bump,bump. Grind,grind, Nobody could stay in their seats,everyone was holding on and getting bruised.. Nobody could see a thing. the bus so old and decrepit one feared bits were falling off in the effort to get up to the top. But in the end mixed and shaken we got to there. Like potatoes we fell out.
My Western friends were a couple of German social workers. We talked with the earnest ,once in a life time,strangers in the night, way travellers sometimes do. They were Catholics faithful to the point that they paid a percentage of their salaries to the Church of Rome. So we got down to it,
Surely with so many faiths around each believing that are the one and true,all but one must be wrong and therefore the whole venture of worship and religion is at best suspect As Amy Winehouse so breathlessly sung,they replied, No, No,No.
My Jerry disciples had an answer Supposing a lot of different people were in a totally dark room in which there was an elephant They would all grab hold of a bit-tail, leg, trunk,stomach and think they had got the whole story, hence all the different religions each with some divine authority.
So Church of England(relapsed) replied suppose there wasn’t an elephant in the room and they were all just stroking each other. They rolled their eyes and passed the sugar.
Since that moment ,two months ago I have got more into the blessed Christopher Hitchens. In one of his many brilliant anti God You Tube excerpts he talks of the history of mankind. The species has been around for 100,000 of the earth’s many million years. So how come God has only made himself known in the last 3000 years and then to only one particular part of the planet. Not the Chinese who could read or write or the South Americans who had created fabulous civilisations but to some illiterate Semites living in the desert.
How indeed. Mankind, of course, needs ritual and symbolism for comfort and security There is no other explanation for babies’ attachment to their blankies-it is not taught,its as natural as suckling. But the need for comfort is no argument for God. But the memory of a bad bus ride is with us till we die. And after that,another bus.. I hope not.