As a child I was forced to go to church on Sunday. So empty and repetitive was the ritual that I would borrow my dad’s watch and just watch the second hand going round. That was more interesting than the melancholic chanting of the same old script time after time.
I suppose I was too young at the time to make the obvious intellectual challenge to my parents: if they were taking me to church because of their faith in its value to me, how come they were willing to collude in my spiritual absence by letting me stare at the second hand of a goddam watch?
In the absence of intellect, I resorted to stubbornness. One Sunday morning, at age 11, I simply locked myself in the bathroom and refused to come out. To my parents’ credit, they caved in and that was the end of chuchgoing for me.
It was only many years later that my mother admitted explicitly that she didn’t believe in god. I still feel a mixture of shock and sadness as I reflect on that.
Even after my successful revolt, Sundays were always miserable days. Probably for two reasons: school was looming the next day and that meant homework. And the Sunday trading laws of the time seemed to impose a total deadness on the world around me. I nearly always got headaches on Sundays; and little wonder.
Now Sundays are cool, but I’d quite like to invent the term Sunday Syndrome to stand for the oppressive impact of pious regulation which takes the place of genuine faith and spontaneity. I see plenty of that in “best practices” and quite a lot in many prescriptions for how to be successful in life.
And thanks to Dave Snowden for reminding me of yet another classic Python clip, to be added to the Python School of Management in that parallel universe. Further evidence that we’re rationalising, not rational, beings….