I remember school assembly being the first place where I confirmed the already suspected non-existence of the Christian variety of the all-seeing, omnipotent, but strangely insecure, ‘God’.
I was seven.
It was when all of the two hundred or so pupils were stood up ready and the teacher leading the compulsory morning hymn singing assembly, sat at the piano ready to tinkle something that started ‘Give me oil in my lamp….’–which already made no sense as we all had electric lights, even by the time I was seven, and I didn’t know what a lamp you had to put oil in actually was– stated ‘Everyone must sing. If you do not sing, He will know. And He will likely strike you down.’ (I wouldn’t bother to use a capital letter for He, but it was a quote of what the teacher said, and he did use a capital letter like that. ‘He’. Also, it was the early 1970’s, so god was definitely a He then, although, from the pictures I had been shown, he wasn’t fond of the modern fashion for eight-inch flared trousers. Or even trousers in general.)
And, because the young bryntin was largely as disrespectful of authority and tradition as the older bryntin, on that day I chose to rebel. I stood there and didn’t sing. Just to see what would happen. Because in my seven year old mind at a British Christian school, I had been led to think that thunderbolts were a thing and that was how God dealt with people he was angry at for not believing in him.
But I figured I had never seen anybody get thunderbolted, even foul-mouthed Ricky from the other housing estate, and I was pretty sure it would feature on the news or in the papers if, for example, the chief all-seeing entity had actually seen any Dave Allen on the telly and so had thunderbolted him. So I was fairly confident of my position.
But this may have accounted for the look of fear in the friends stood immediately next to me at the school assembly, as they were obviously wondering what the collateral damage area of an imminent thunderbolt strike might be.
Anyway, that memory was stirred as I signed this, just in case you were wondering why it appeared on my twitter feed widget thing.
And why I heartily support young children not having these attempts to frighten their individuality out of them with tales of vengeful magic and the like, especially before they have a chance to learn everything real they need to successfully negotiate this confusing but wonderful world with.