Tuesday 4 August 2020

Scottish Presbyterians

 Aunt Mary was quite shocked  when she entered an Anglican church and saw a religious picture on the wall, as she considered that idolatrous.  She really upset my mother by writing to her when my mother was in India to say that she was grooming her daughters for damnation by sending them to a convent school. But when she took me to one particular Protestant church when I was a child she was really sorry for it. That church was having a communion service by passing round little cups of grape juice and little plates of bread.   It didn't occur to Aunt Mary that no one had explained to me about communion  and she was completely taken aback when I started shouting out "I want refreshments! Everybody else is having refreshments!  Why can't I have refreshments?"  She had to take me out of the church and never brought me back.
     Something she really insisted on was avoiding all theatrical performances, whether in the cinema or on stage, as that was participating in telling a lie.
     Two other things she really insisted on were strict chastity and Sabbath Day observance. Men were to be avoided at all costs, an insistence which got her the reputation of being a Lesbian in some parts of the family, although my mother refused to believe it.   Men, according to her, were just so many rapists.  And on Sunday you should spend the whole day reading the Bible and going to church  and not even think of taking a walk for pleasure.
     In stark contrast to Aunt Mary were two other important figures in my childhood, Aunt Maidie and  Our Evelyn.  Aunt Maidie was no relation but my mother's best friend.  She was involved quite openly in an unmarried sexual relationship and took the occult much more seriously than religion, although she was glad to have her mother praying for her during the Blitz when she was an air raid warden.   Our Evelyn, who was a nursemaid my mother took on when I was about eight, was Catholic and made attempts to convert me that made much more of an impression on me than my Aunt Mary's similar attempts . It is probably because of her that I take great pleasure in saying Catholic prayers today, even though that doesn't stop me being a Quaker.  So all that ends up as quite a mixed bag of religion.

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