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This is a question Churches, temples and holy places

Tell us about the times you've been to a place of worship, and - this being b3ta - how you are now consigned to the everlasting fires of Hell.

(, Thu 1 Sep 2011, 13:50)
Pages: Popular, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

I went to a Catholic school
But it was really one of those nominally Catholic schools that took on the RC prefix sometime in the 60s, probably as an attempt to keep brown people out.

By my time it was hard to tell the difference between us and any other non-denominational, bog-standard comprehensive. There were a few masses, a little more overtly religious stuff in the assemblies than most schools, but by-and-large the staff and pupils were Godless heathens, or at least, pretty secular.

In fact, it was my RE teacher who turned me on to atheism. He was a self-professed Catholic himself, but his various answers to Life's Big Questions (I could never decide if they were egregiously stupid or ingeniously subversive) made it clear to me that nobody with a faith could possibly be described as a rational person.

Here's an example- one day he was discussing baptism in other cultures, and he got talking about those who criticise Catholics for baptizing infants (freedom of choice etc.). His defence of the Catholic way was to suggest that people who don't raise their children to share their faith are like "the idiots who let their kids pick their own football team to support". As I say, I could never work out if he was trying to point out the arbitrary and superficial nature of organised religion, or if he was actually just an idiot.

Anyway.

One day a Bishop arrived. He had an Italian accent and turned up in full costume with an entourage. I had no idea who he was, and from the sheepish reactions of the staff, neither did they. The pupils had had no warning of this, and I suspect that it had been sprung on the school. So the headmaster summons the whole school into the hall for an epic, sprawling, endless mass that seemed to go on for fucking ever.

By an hour or two in, most pupils were so bored that we had lost all sense of fake-civility and were beginning to chatter, giggle, pass notes, and generally pushed our luck to stave off boredom. Suddenly, the Bishop stopped the sermon, banged his fist on the table, and began ranting about how we were the worst, most awful people he had ever encountered. He was livid with rage, shouting, hurling insults, with us stunned into silence. The teachers looked like they wanted the ground to swallow them up - the headmaster just sat there with his head in his hands.

But we weren't even half way through - and unfortunately, the rigorous bollocking we had all just received had heightened the tension in the room, to the point where not giggling at the slightest thing had become a herculean effort. So there were 2000 odd children, all trying their darnedest not to laugh, with a ridiculously dressed, red-faced old man, with this crazy accent, condemning us all to a hell that hardly any of us actually believed in.

To make matters worse, some of us were carbuncular teenagers of the male variety, and nearly every phrase we heard was to our ears crammed full of the most lurid unintentional double entendres imaginable. It was unbearable. I remember at one point during a hymn I was actually lying on the floor underneath my seat, rolling with laughter, tears streaming from my eyes, hoping that I could let out all the giggles before the hymn stopped. And it just went on and on and on, the Bishop getting more and more disillusioned as time wore on, until finally, the eucharist.

Knowing that the end was finally in sight, we had all settled down a bit. People were lining up for their bit of cheap wine and crackers that some believe actually transformed into the flesh and blood of their Lord Jesus Christ. All was going fine. You could tell the Bishop just wanted out by this point, so for the first time that day we were all singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak.

And then Michael Langford spat out his wafer. Into his hand. To look at. And the Bishop saw him do it. I have literally (*literally*) never seen anybody go so fucking bat-shit mental in my life. It was like we'd broken his mind and he'd finally snapped any remaining tether with the real world. First, he started pumping his fists in the air, and did a little spinning jump. His face seemed to contain every drop of blood in his body, but he was just too angry to yell, and started making these bizarre 'eep eep' noises. And the room erupted into uncontrollable laughter.

We laughed and laughed. The sound completely drowned out the raging, ranting, red-faced Bishop. The worse we felt about it, the funnier it got, and by the time the laughter subsided - the Bishop and his entourage were gone, leaving us with a sad, broken headmaster who barely could summon the spirit to tell us off.

As far as I can remember, there were absolutely no consequences for this, and the staff never spoke of it again. Although from that point onwards, for some reason, I have always found masses really, really funny.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 16:36, 8 replies)
This might be a repost
A colleague went on a business trip to Germany, and went on a tour of some kind of cathedral or something with the German business.

The tour guide pointed out various things - the heavy oak doors, the ornate coverings on the altar, and a series of iron cages hung around the walls. The guide pointed to the cages and said in faltering English:

"and these cages, this is where we used to keep.... um, here we used to put....."

There was a pause.

"Jews?", suggested my colleague helpfully.

"No... bags of grain to keep the mice away".
(, Tue 6 Sep 2011, 13:50, 4 replies)
Church band
My ultra-religious ex boss (lovely chap tho) had 4 kids. Between them, they had formed a happy clappy band, and played together every sunday at church. It was, apparently, amazing.

I know this because he told me all the time and endlessly tried to cajole me into coming. I ran out of excuses and agreed to go on a particular sunday when i would be nearby.

I turned up and met him and his family outside. I wore a suit, I didnt want to be dis-respectful. All his family seemed lovely, kids a bit creepy but I plastered on a smile and told them I was really looking forward to hearing them.

I should probably mention they were baptists, ie humourless nutjobs.

We were milling about outside, people were chatting with the minister and doing a bit of village networking, all very lovely. Eventually it was time to go in. I was ushered forward toward the door, and suddenly, I had an idea for a little joke.

As I arrived at the door, right at the threshold, I hurled myself backward, trying to look as if I had walked into some sort of invisible barrier and had been repelled. I stumbled and fell on my arse, with mock amazement and surprise. Everyone stared.

My boss came over immediately, genuinely concerned and asked what happened. I said I didnt know - and repeated the entire stunt. I stood up and said, I dont think god wants me inside.

My boss took me to one side and told me to go home. I have never seen anyone quite so unimpressed and I think there was a crying child.

I have never actually felt so bad before. The walk to the car with half the congregation watching me leave was pretty bad.

Monday morning wasnt funny though. We never really had a good relationship from that point on. So the moral is, church can ruin your friendships, dont go kids.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 14:00, 6 replies)
Organ Humour
This story comes not strictly from a holy place, but does involve a very old air powered organ used for daily hymns at a young Prime's old school.
The size of the organ was, quite frankly, ridiculous in comparison to the assembly hall. Mighty grey pipes stretched up to the ceiling, through decades old intricate oak carvings, waxed and polished lovingly to form the pride center piece of the school.
This organ was located at the very front of the main school hall, in full view of all the students. It was a huge source of pride for the Head Master, an ageing hulk of a man with a fiery temper.

The 800 or so students had filed into the hall as usual for morning assembly and hymns, being congratulated on the school's triumphs and scalded for incidents of bad behavior, nothing unusual. Then came the time for the first hymn, a rousing number with a powerful opening chord. Organist at the ready, head teacher's chest swelling ready to lead the praise, the organ burst into life....

....and promptly fired out hundreds of ping pong balls the students had placed in the tubes the previous night.
(, Tue 6 Sep 2011, 12:46, 4 replies)
Comedy timing
At a friend's wedding, which was being held in a church to keep the relatives happy, the priest had reached the bit where he says "Does anyone here know of any reason why these two should not be joined in Holy Matrimony?".

At that exact moment, with perfect comedy timing, a small child broke free of its parents and ran down the aisle toward the groom, calling out "Daddy!"

No, he wasn't
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 16:19, Reply)
I uploaded this image of our lord Jesus to the parish newsletter




I think I'm going to hell
.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 10:49, 11 replies)

I was walking home one night, a bit pissed, and I saw that the convent down the road had a distinct lack of security. Being a bit mischievous I decided to help myself. No 'fence. Nun taken.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 9:31, 4 replies)
Reflected Glory
As well as mosques, Shia Islam builds shrines to its various saints, seers and holy men. One of these shrines, the Imamzadeh Ye-Ali Ebne Hamze in Shiraz, is decorated on the inside with hundreds - no, thousands - of mirrored tiles. (There's a video that someone shot inside here.) The place leans dangerously towards being horribly tacky, but irrespective of your taste, it's quite a stunning place to enter for the first time. Having removed my shoes, and gone in, I stood for a moment, taking in the amazing sight.
"Jeeeeesus Christ," I murmured.
And a voice from somewhere over my shoulder said, "Not quite..."
(, Thu 1 Sep 2011, 14:41, 3 replies)
As I have allergies to religion here's a pea;
A friend of mine's grandad reached the age of 84, and rather peacefully passed away in his sleep. Twas a nice man, as I'd spoken to him a few times on the way to a few pissups and he'd always made his upmost to speak decently and as politely as possible to me.

I found out the funeral details and promptly attended quietly at the back of the church, right by the aisle. After a few hymns the vicar gives a speach about how well the turnout was for him, and also about his heroic deeds in the 2nd World War. Apparently this guy used to be a member of the Unexploded Bomb division in Swansea during the blitz, and single-handedly saved hundreds of lives during his time in service. An army representative was called up to give a brief speach about his career record and thus did so. At the end of his speach he closed it by announcing for everyone to stand and that the Royal Military Brass Band Representative will now play a song in rememberance. I'm looking down the front, stretching into the aisle to see this, and I can't see this rep nowehere.

The cunt was standing just behind me in the aisle, bugle in hand and lined up about a foot from my right ear.

I fucking shit myself as he started playing, hymn book flying gracefully two rows ahead of me, aptly striking another mourner. The utter bastard.

I try to avoid military funerals from now on.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 10:27, 2 replies)
Nothing to do with god.
It was November 1989 and I was nine years old at the time. Most of the toys available were merchandise from the Ghostbusters franchise and for my recent birthday I had received a proton blaster (which was effectively a plastic gun, with a projector built into it that projected pictures of various ghostly apparitions onto nearby surfaces.)

I took this round to my best friends at the time, who happened to live opposite the local CofE church. He was a year older than me, and looking back, somewhat of a prick, but upon seeing this, he had an idea that was pure genius. Why not go to the local church's graveyard and we can use the proton blaster to bust actual ghosts?

Of course, I thought this was a fantastic idea! So we waited until it got dark and walked all of the forty-five seconds it took to get to the church yard and begun our busting activities. Unfortunately, due to a lack of actual ghosts we ended up just projecting the images of the ghosts onto headstones whilst mimicing the noise the blasters made in the original film. What we hadn't counted on was that there was a small service happening within the church and their leaving time corresponded perfectly with us projecting an image of one of the more grotesque creatures on a headstone opposite the church entrance.

The screams we heard pretty much told us that we needed to scarper and quickly.

edit: Found the damn thing on the internet! ghostbusters.wikia.com/wiki/Weapon_Action_Figure_Toys_1

It was the one in the top right hand corner that provided the panic! Happy days.
(, Thu 1 Sep 2011, 14:48, 2 replies)
Armistice Day
Every year on Armistice Day, as members of the Boys' Brigade (the Christian equivalent of the Hitler Youth) we'd have to attend the local church service of remembrance. One year, in order to spice up the minute's silence, I thought it would be a good idea to take the pin from my poppy and jag my best mate firmly in the arse. The comedy gold would be derived from the fact that he'd be unable to make a sound despite the sharp pain.

Or so I thought.

In complete reverential silence he let rip with the loudest "FUUUUCK" you've ever heard. EVERY head in the church turns our way. So I quickly close my eyes pretending I'm in deep contemplative prayer. In retrospect this made me look suspiciously guilty - being the only person not curious to see the source of the noise. My guilt was further exposed 2 seconds later when my mate gives me, a not undeserved, peach of a dead-arm. The two of us were suspended from the Boys' Brigade for a fortnight.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 13:41, 2 replies)
Another grave mistake (pearoast)
Aged about 9 or 10 years old, I was playing with a few mates in a graveyard - it adjoined a park, and was treated as part of the park by all us kids. We were wandering amongst the gravestones, when we came across one of those large stone box-like tombs. This one caught our eye because the side had fallen out, revealing the hollow interior.

Peering in, we saw that the earth within had also collapsed, at one end in particular leaving a deep, dark hole disappearing into the ground. Not surprisingly, we started to dare each other to climb in. Woooo, spooky!

A couple of kids scrambled in then out again as soon as possible, and then it was my turn. I wriggled through the open side, then slid down into the depths. As my eyes became accustomed to the darkness, I saw that at the far end of the pile of earth there was a number of odd white things poking out. For a moment I was puzzled, then realised that they were, in fact, toe bones.

OK, time to leave, I decided. But at that point there was a creaking, grinding noise, and a change in the light - the box-like tomb had chosen that moment to complete its collapse; the other side fell out, the ends tilted and the lid settled down over me with a thud.

So, I'm now trapped in an occupied grave. Oh, terrific. Where's Scooby Doo when you need him? The darkness was absolute, and the shouts of the others seemed a very, very long way away.

Thankfully before panic could really set in, light reappeared as the largest and strongest of the group heaved the heavy slab up far enough for me to wriggle out, and (probably screaming like little girls) we legged it and headed for home. I think I spent the rest of the day under the duvet.

The next day, we returned to the scene, and I was chilled to discover that, without the boost of shock-induced adrenaline, he was unable to lift the slab...
(, Tue 6 Sep 2011, 15:44, 1 reply)
my christening
my parents were all set to get an 18-month-old Smash christened, when mum found out she was expecting again, so they decided to wait and get us both done at the same time. my new baby sister was a bit poorly, so by the time of the christening, she was 6 months old and i was 3 years.
according to mum, all was going well. sis was done first, then the vicar put the holy water on my head.
"get off!" i shouted, "i've already had a bath today!"
the vicar laughed, the congregation laughed, mum went atomic red with shame.
in the following 33 years, she hasn't set foot in that church again.
(, Mon 5 Sep 2011, 19:06, Reply)
Another altar server story
Being a short arse I didn't often get to swing the thurible (incense burner) during mass as it got bloody heavy after 1/2 hour and I usually kept smacking it into the floor. Anyhow, on one occasion I was somehow picked to be the bearer, at the end of the service as I turned to leave the altar, the backswing arced out and cracked poor old Fr. M in the shin. His muttered 'Ow, fuck' would have only been heard by the altar servers if he'd only switched off his radio mike but it was projected round the whole church.
I was never allowed near the incense burner again.
(, Mon 5 Sep 2011, 17:20, Reply)
Pearoast
When I was still doing my GCSEs, one of the A level music technology students was a guy called Owen. I didn't know him very well, but I knew that he had - at one point - done quite a lot of work as a church organist. I happened to mention this to a mutual friend, who laughed and asked me if I knew why he had stopped. Apparently one day the vicar of the church where he played had recieved news that the local bishop intended to visit - quite a big deal for a small church in the middle of nowhere. Owen was drafted in for the service and asked if he could play some film music. The vicar, seeing no harm in this, agreed.

Picture the scene. The bishop was proceeding down the nave in a stately fashion, flanked by his attendants, in front of a packed congregation when the organ struck up. What did Owen play? This.
(, Mon 5 Sep 2011, 16:07, 7 replies)
St Paul's, child with tourettes, predictable consequences...
One of the staff on a school trip to London. The High point was a visit to the top of St Paul's. I was the rearguard as we went up. With me a child with coprolalic tourettes who was reasonable at keeping this to the sort of sub vocal mutter you expect from a drunken tramp.

Today was the day the he discovered that he is seriously afraid of heights. The first part of the ascent involves a gently climb up a wide gently sloping staircase. This turns into some narrow corridors before popping out in the whispering gallery at the bottom of the dome. You then have to shuffle around a thin walkway with the dome above and a substantial drop below.

So we get to the point where the corridors meet the dome and the poor kid is unwilling to come out as he has spotted a bit of void. To demonstrate how safe it is I flop onto the substantial railings designed to stop the suicidal from getting closer to their maker than necessary.

As I look down I just have time to get a bird's eye view of the dress rehearsal of Handel's Messiah spread out below me, before the child leaps forward, bounces off the rail, screaming obscenities at the top of his voice and springs back through the door out of sight. Everything stutters to a halt as every eye in St Paul's turns to the sight of me spread-eagled alone on the suicide fencing.

Apparently this a funny story, although I have never seen the humour in it personally.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 10:27, Reply)
An unexpected addition
When you first approach the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, it looks like a gnarled fairytale castle, hewn out of roots and spires. It’s only as you get closer that you see the incredible detail, the thousands of intricate carvings charting the course of biblical history. Truly incredible. And the inside is even better – Gaudi was obsessed with nature, from the structure of cells to the whorls of a shell and the symmetry of a pine cone. His columns are grooved so as to resemble the helicoidal twists of a sweet chestnut tree. The arches of the vault are like a giant ribcage.

Amidst this grandeur and genius, I sat waiting for the lift to the top of the tower, basking in the interplays of greens reds and blues from the stained glassed window. Our turn came, and up we went.

It’s amazing up there. Amazing. You look down on the massive decorative clusters emerging from the roof of the cathedral like wild arum, the enormous metal sculpture of Christ suspended from the bridge, and the city itself stretches away into the distant haze. “He built this for a god I don’t even believe in,” I thought. Am I wrong? How could such a thing be inspired by an error? Have I been missing the point all along?

These mixed feelings of doubt and wonder stayed with me as I descended the long, tightly-wound spiral stairs. Peering over the rail and looking down, it’s exactly like the spirals of an ammonite. Yet more genius and wonder, only seen if you change your perspective. My fingers brushed along the wall as I walked and pondered. And then out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed the piece de resistance, the final embellishment that made this the greatest building I’d ever walked in:



“Ah, Mahoney,” I chuckled.

Best day ever.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 9:53, 5 replies)
Drunk and in church.
About the age of 13 I had a bit of a reilgious crisis. Or to put it another way, I decided that since God clearly hated me I was going to start hating him right back.
Yeah, I know...
Anyway, five or six years later a group of motley teenagers was doing that thing where we hung around on a streetcorner, swigging cider from cans and believing we were cool. Up the road came more black people than we had ever seen before in our lives, led by several Black Mama types who asked us if we wanted to come to church with them.
Drunk as we were, this seemed like a good idea.
Now we were used to CofE - mumbled prayers, halfhearted hymns and a definite air that the whole thing was some sort of penance for existing. As it turns out, West Indians do things slightly differently. Have fun for a start. While they belted out the songs we sort of clapped along at the back and beamed at all and sundry and actually had a bloody good night out.
Somewhere there are some elderly black women who may possibly remember the night they invited along a bunch of drunks and if I ever got the chance I'd tell them. "Thank you for your hospitality. I'm still an athiest but now I try not to be a dick about it."
And if any vicar wants to know how to make his services more entertaining, simple; Recruit somebody who knows how to do slap-bass.
(, Sat 3 Sep 2011, 18:09, 4 replies)
Too late...
When I was a wee nipper, my family made futile efforts to be religious around Christmas time. Foolish behaviour in hindsight. So off we'd trot to the church for Mass on Xmas eve. Being around 5 years old, I found the idea of sitting on cold, hard benches in the middle of the night as a little unnecessary, especially when Santa was due to drop by any second, so my Mum bribed me with lots and lots of sweets which I yummed up.

After what felt like an eternity of droning by the vicar, the service finally finished and there was a general stampede for the exit. It was at this point that I, following 3 packets of wine gums hoovered down in quick succession, proudly declared to my parents that I was going to be sick. I had turned a funny shade of green to back up this exclamation, and I prepared to blow... (fnaar!)

Dad immediately hoisted me onto his shoulders and did his best to push and shove through the congregation of God botherers amassing at the exit with limited success. All he succeeded in doing was getting me right into the middle of the group where I passed the point of no return.

VOMCANO!!!

I projectiled over at least 20 people from my elevated perch. Multicoloured, half-digested chews scattered in a wide arc, accompanied by what can only be described as a wave of pink milk. It was like a camp version of the Exorcist.

I wasn't invited back. Forgive thy neighbour my arse.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 10:28, 1 reply)
How I left the Church
I was never a religious child, but in my early teens I felt a little lost and went searching for something. I found the Church up the road inviting and the preacher, April, was fantastic. She was a white preacher in a very black Church, a little Happy-Clappy but in a good way. I found my place in the community, went on some weekend outings with the young people in surrounding churches and have a bloody good time mackin' lips with the daughters of conservative Christian dads while they were inside praying.

Anyway, as one of the youngest adults I was invited to help with the microphones in the Church and other techie bits that no one else could do. I did that for a couple of years, still mackin' chicks and having the occasional joint with the organist. Life was pretty sweet.

Eventually, the calling came for April to move, soon to replaced by a thoroughly incompetent vicar called CBain (name changed - obviously). She saw the congregation as beneath her and always talked down to people, I remember that she used horribly weak connections of pop culture to explain the message of God, such as David Beckham's sending off in the World Cup as an allegory for Jesus and the crucifixion. Awful preacher.

So I decided I could do better.

I said my intent, there had been guest speakers before, but never one from our own congregation, especially not someone who hadn't been ordained and was still a child in the eyes of the law.

My intention was to do a little bit on Samson, we hadn't heard much about him recently, CBain kept to the New Testament and we were starting to hear repeats. Jesus did this; Jesus did that, who cares? Let's throw some Old Testament God into the mix.

But CBain kept cockblocking my sermon with fake bureaucracy, 'you need to have the sermon vetted by myself and local Christian Council', 'I need the sermon written out in full with timings', 'there isn't enough time in the two hour service for a 5 minute sermon'. I can't remember exactly what she said to throw in front of me because it was always so trivial, whatever I did for her, she demanded something else.

One Saturday night I decided I'd had enough. I threw out my Samson sermon and opened my Bible. It fell open on Matthew Chapter 23. Where Jesus opens a can of verbal whoopass on the Pharisees, the political and religious leaders of the time. This was the only time I genuinely felt that I had been given a sign.

So the next day, I reminded CBain that I wanted to speak, she nodded and whirled away to the Vestry. During the service, I waited patiently for my time to come. Of course it didn't, she had again ignored me and failed to put me into the order of service. Instead, I waited until the very end when it was asked of the congregation if there were any other notices.

I put my hand up. She tried to ignore me. So I switched off her microphone, turned on mine, stood up and read verses 1-12.

Here is a snippet for you now. "Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them."

It goes on and I read it in full. I then declared CBain to be the Pharisee in the Church, how she will not listen to the people and keep pursuing her own agenda. I kept it short, otherwise I'd have started swearing and spitting with rage. I received a splattering of an applause, which in a Church when you are defaming the Vicar is a pretty good reception.

Job done, flicked the microphones back, turned around and stormed out the Church.

The last thing I heard was "And if anyone wants to discuss the points raised with MrTeapot, I'm sure he'll be around after the service."

No I wasn't. I never went back. I dabbled in other Churches, other religions and I'm now an Atheist of some kind.
(, Tue 6 Sep 2011, 17:21, 17 replies)
I once went to a Hindu wedding
It took place in a large hall in a Hindu temple, with a stage. My good friend the groom and the bride together with the officiating cleric were up on the stage, dressed in the most outlandish fashion including the first pair of actual, real-life, genuine shoes-that-curl-into-a-spiral-at-the-tip that I'd ever seen.

My friends & I all arrived together and we discovered to our that our good friend, the groom, had had us all labelled "honoured guests of the groom" which meant we were kind of the equivalent of the best man en masse and although we took no part in the ceremony, we did get to sit right at the front of the hall, up with the parents of the wedded parties. Seeing as none of us was religious, let alone Hindu, and we were all white we felt genuinely embarrassed that we might be taking the best seats before people who might, well, be more interested in the whole proceedings. We were just there to support our friend and for the curry (which was excellent).

As things got underway, once we'd all had a good giggle at the shoes, it dawned on us that this wasn't going to be the most interesting spectacle ever. It was - unsurprisingly when you think about it - conducted entirely in Hindi, which none of us spoke. So we sat and shuffled our feet a little as the mums and dads next to us got all teary-eyed over the wedding of their darling children.

After a little longer it dawned on us that there were relatively few similarities to the Christian-model weddings that we were used to. One major point of difference was speed. This one went on.

And on.

(in a language none of us understood)

And on.

We grew restless. We grew bored. We began the early stages of nicotine withdrawal. Our legs cramped. Our brains began to turn to jelly. But out of a profound respect for a culture to which we were foreign and which had welcomed us with open arms, and for those parents we were sharing a table with and who were clearly wholly absorbed in the ceremony before them, we endured stoically and in silence.

It was awful.

Eventually, it ended. There was no reception afterwards in the traditional sense (no alcohol, you see) but people hung around and chatted. We went outside for a cigarette. And shortly we were joined by the newly married husband who'd been gasping for a fag as much as we had.

"Why?" we cried "Why did you not warn us in advance?"

"Does go on a bit, doesn't it" he admitted. "But then .. " and a sly grin began to spread across his face ".. if you're not sat at the front, it's considered acceptable to chat amongst yourselves, or even leave the room for a while if you want to."

"But you listed us as honoured guests!" we cried "We couldn't do that".

"No" he said, grinning like a fucking Cheshire cat "You couldn't"

He was a lucky man not to have been beaten to a pulp on his own wedding day, by his own "honoured guests".
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 16:57, 2 replies)
Sex (on the alter) Before Marriage
A couple of years ago my girlfriends Nan had a birthday party at one of these hotels that does functions such as birthday parties and marriages. After way too many drinks me and the misses decided that a little drunken sex was required and not having a room at the hotel we had to find somewhere else suitable to get it on.

We went for a little wonder around the back corridors of the hotel and stumbled on a nice quite function room with a nice big table at one end. That will do very nicely, we thought. I'll spare you the details but its safe to say we succeeded in what we set out to do.

A few years later her mum was getting married in the same hotel, we thought nothing of our drunken shenanigans until we were all summoned to the room where the marriage was to be performed. As we walked down the corridor I had a sneaking suspicion I'd been there before. On entering the room it hit me straight away, this was the room we got busy in. Not only that, the nice big sturdy table that we used was in fact the alter and was now the nicely decorated centre piece of the marriage.

My misses was a bridesmaid and had to stand at the front and face the fact that she had defiled her own mothers wedding alter while I was sat on the front row sniggering.

Whilst not a church so technically not a proper alter I still got it on on the table where her mother swore her undying love to someone.
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 16:10, Reply)
Gone with the wind
Fat little boys can fart really loudly. I was 7 or 8, School trip to St Pauls Cathedral and had this great idea in the whispering gallery, I strained till I ripped one off. it was a multimedia experience, more than I expected. Teacher couldn`t finish the lecture on respect and manners she was trying to give me due to inability to keep a straight face.

II.....
My Gran was youngest of 14, so from 8 till I was 20-odd one or more distant great aunts or uncles or cousins multiply removed who I had never met would do the parrot sketch every year. Some of the funerals I was dragged to and it was all mindyermanners stress as a kid. The horde of aged relatives 70+ was astonishing in the earlier years.

During one of these funerals minute of silent prayer, a member of club 70-90 produced a window rattler fart that started from a squeaky pinched atonal overture before they couldn`t hold it any more, the following airhorn morphed into the sound of wet things being dropped from height several times a second. Kid-like it broke the tension and I started giggling, trouble was it was infectious, fortunately mum was a victim so I was spared any punishment (in this life).
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 13:54, Reply)
I don't go in the places myself as they tend to be full of smug, self-righteous cunts
...but I did once break down outside a church.

I was driving an old VW MkII Polo and it had a tendency to fuck up sometimes when trying to start - the starter motor would lock in the "open" position and the only way I knew to reset it was to slip the thing into first and physically push the car through one turn of the gears, resetting the starter motor. This is a tricky manoeuvre when there are two people in the car; by yourself it's physically knackering, particularly when it doesn't work the first time and you have to rinse and repeat the whole procedure.

So, as luck would have it, this church was just finishing their evening service and all the Jebus-worshippers were duly filing out, with the vicarpriest standing at the door shaking hands and thanking them for attending. "Aha," I thought. "Surely one of the congregation will take pity on me and give me a hand getting my car started. Surely to fuck." But no - even though every single one of them looked over and saw me in difficulties, they then turned away, got into their own cars and drove off. Finally there was just me and the man in the dress, who looked at me, shook his head and closed the door.

Speaking as an atheist who has helped push more strangers' cars than I care to remember, never have I witnessed such an excellent display of Christian charity. Smug, self-righteous cunts, the lot of them.
(, Mon 5 Sep 2011, 12:35, 26 replies)
My parents weren't very religious,
but thought they should at least appear to be, in order to be a good guide for their impressionable children. So inevitably we would be dragged to the local church every sunday, and I was even made an altar boy later on. But that's a different story.

So after spending some substantial amount of time in this little concrete walled encasement of god, I couldn't believe I had never noticed that strange thing on the cross over the altar. Yes, there were those two wooden beams intersecting at approximately two third hight, and yes, there was this skinny dude hanging kind of listlessly with a gaze of sheer boredom on his face. But what was that on his head? For some reason, I had never noticed his crown of thorns. And being very young, and not knowing about shit, I asked my parents in the middle of the service in that squeaky piercing children's voice that penetrates all other noises "Mom, why does Jesus have antlers?" This being before the invention of humour, I got kicked out immediately, with not a single stifled laugh to be heard.
(, Thu 1 Sep 2011, 20:24, Reply)
"Does God Exist?
◘ Yes
◘ No
◘ Maybe"

...read a huge banner outside our nearest community church. I walked past it a few times, the large, empty tick boxes almost beckoning me.

So, a couple of days after the sign appeared, on the way back from a heavy drinking session in town, me and my intoxicated accomplices got hold of some black paint, stole a ladder from a building site and scaled the church wall at 4am - only witnessed by a few blurry-eyed drunks wandering past - and left a giant black tick in the "No" box.

Everything went to plan. Took about a week before they painted over it again.
(, Thu 1 Sep 2011, 17:15, 1 reply)
Losing my Atheism?
I am a pretty committed Atheist. Not Dawkins level, I'm not going to harangue and hector believers, I'm not going to try to dissuade you from your views or enter an argument with you when we both know at the outset that the other isn't going to change their mind, so don't worry, no lecture coming if you believe. I will just silently judge you and find you intellectually lacking.

Anyway, I have a little secret. When I enter a church, I get this strange feeling come over me that I find hard to describe. I only have to step through the door and I can feel it deep inside of me. It gets worse if I speak to a vicar or priest, it's quite strong then. Gnawing at me, unsettling me, making me think that there is something going on that I need to address. And it's overpowering sometimes. Weddings, funerals, Rememberance Sunday when I used to be forced to go with the Scouts. I sense something so overpowering that I can barely control the urge to tell people about it, I get the overwhelming desire to share, to see if anyone else gets as moved by it in church as I do. It's a sense of something so great that sometimes I want to stand on my feet, raise my hands to the ceiling and yell at the top of my voice 'FUCK I AM BORED!'
(, Thu 1 Sep 2011, 14:27, 7 replies)
MatJ’s answer reminded me of time...
I used to work for an organ festival (the instrument not the um, well you know) and there were all sorts of pranks we used to inflict on the normally slightly odd young organists (I hasten to add here that I do know lots of normal, well adjusted organists, but there does seem to high number of them that think everyone wants to see slides shows of various organ pipes from around Europe- no, tragically, I’m not making this up).

Anyway. Being very keen organists they would sign up for the chance to play the, apparently, very special awesome organ in the chapel where the festival was based. As they all wanted to do this the practise sessions lasted well into the night where the they would sit in the dark church and play til 2am.
As we knew the chapel fairly well we knew a) where the light/fuses were, and b) how to work the radio mic system they had there.
It was funny to see how scared the organists would get when plunged them into utter blackness and scream into the mic “GET OUT! YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO BE IN MY PRESENCE! BEGON OR FOREVER BE CONDEMNED TO THE DEPTHS OF HELL...”
We got forced to stop after one wet himself though....
(, Mon 5 Sep 2011, 16:33, 2 replies)
As it contanins a Hymm
Bridgend in the mid 80's (Thats 1980's not 1880's but in Bridgend its hard to tell).
Assembly full of schoolchildred all warbing away at Onward Christians Soilders. Where it comes to a lull before the chorus.
One child calls out "Altogether now."
"Onward chrisitan soilders......"
(, Mon 5 Sep 2011, 13:20, 9 replies)
The least Christian christening in a while...
Mrs. Doom is the daughter of a former nun and trainee priest (clearly something went a bit wrong for God somewhere along the line there), and as such was raised Catholic. Furthermore, she has absolutely shedloads of family in Ireland. Owing to this we felt badgered / compelled to get our children christened over in Dublin, to keep that side of the family happy. The first mini-Doom, a few years back, went well enough, but this is the story of our second, William, one month ago today.

Owing to the epic journey from Porstmouth to Dublin by car, coupled with my job as a member of the teaching profession, we had to wait a while before it was convenient to make the trip over, thus William being able to crawl - quickly. Thankfully the priest didn't seem to mind having the alter ransacked by an eager 10mth old, bouncing about and giggling with what can only be described as a saloon-bar laugh, so we left him to it with the relatively small number of assembled family watching happily.

Then it comes to the bit where you make all sorts of promises - "Do you promise to look after this child to the best of your ability?" type stuff to which the parents and godparents drone a grudging "I do" in response. Or at least they would if they weren't, as we discovered at that moment ALL atheists. Any question concerning God in any way shape or form is met with sullen silence, the priest reluctantly saying "I do" on our behalf. Feeling a little shamed by this it comes to the bit where the bouncing giggle-bomb has to be clothed in a white garment, 'wrapped' in Jesus according to the words of the priest.

Jesus, in this instance, was played by a crisp, white, hotel towel, hastily shoved into a bag at the last moment before heading off for church. We had to hand Jesus back to the hotel, so I strongly suspect that by the time of writing, Jesus has been washed several times and used to dry the genitals of various sextagenarian tourists and sales clones.

My favourite sight of the whole event though was afterwards when, investigating the church while all the paperwork was being done, my father in law found a switch on the wall. No-one can resist an unmarked switch... no-one. An old lady was visitng the grotto depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing at Lourdes, and, as she looked at this very tacky, life-size diorama, the BVM's halo began to intermittently switch on and off. "Ahhh, it must be broken, it doesn't seem to do anything!" says father in law and wanders off to sabbotage something else.

Very surreal experience, being in church... Can't say I'd recommend it...
(, Fri 2 Sep 2011, 23:45, 1 reply)

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