Some thoughts on belief 16.12.02.
I was born into a world which consisted of seven days, six of which were
devoted to a variety of pursuits such as ‘earning a living’, ‘housekeeping’
‘shopping, visiting relatives, going to school, and occasionally, enjoying
oneself. The latter was done with at least a mental look over the shoulder
in case God was watching. He did not really approve. His agent in ensuring
that one did not enjoy oneself too much was known as ‘Mother’ or ‘Dad’ –
The seventh day of the cycle was Sunday. It was only much later that I
learnt that Sunday was, in fact, the first day o the week, but at that time
Sunday was the ‘Sabbath’ and a ‘Day of Rest’. “Why ?” I enquired, having by
then reached an age when this seemed to be a legitimate question. I was told
that God made everything in six days and was a bit ‘out of puff’ by Saturday
night. So he decided to have the day off. At least that was the gist of the
Later still, I tried to resolve the apparent non-sequitur of our being
compelled to rest on a Sunday because God did so an unspecified number of
years ago. The attempt was without success.
It soon became apparent that regarding Sunday as a ‘day of rest’ was
apparently qualified. The rather obvious way of resting seemed to me to be
something like lounging around all day in one’s pyjamas and dressing gown,
but apparently this would be as sinful as ‘working’. Being an active sort of
chap, this did not appeal to me anyway, but the question did not arise as
one was expected to mark the day of rest by ‘Going to Church’.
It is true that the 11 o’clock start of the Church service allowed for
just a little extra time in bed before rising. Just a little, because
preparation took some time. First there were the shoes to be cleaned and
polished, the fire to be lit, the requisites for dinner to be prepared, beds
to be made, ablutions to be performed, clean ‘best’ clothing to be
discovered and laid out, hair to be brylcreemed, breakfast to be cooked and
eaten. None of these tasks were classified as ‘work’ which was forbidden on
the ‘Day of Rest’. They were just as onerous, boring and exhausting as their
weekday equivalents but excused on the grounds that cleanliness and
respectability, especially the latter, were demanded if one was to appear
before God and one’s neighbours – especially the latter.
“Work” – strictly forbidden on Sunday, could be defined as anything which
involved manual labour such as gardening or hanging out washing, or any
occupation which could not be carried out in one’s best clothes without the
risk of getting them dirty.
© The Estate of William John Green, 2004