Emily and Phoebe

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Moving in mysterious ways

Phoebe's class is off to church on Friday, when they will all be taking holy communion - with the exception of Phoebe herself, that is, because she's a bit off colour at the moment and we don't want her passing on (or catching) anything via the communion goblet. Truth to tell, she doesn't doesn't seem much bothered whether she goes or not.

Emily, on the other hand, is most upset. "She has to take communion, Dad. She can't not take it!"
I explain that usually it wouldn't be a problem, but because it's possible to catch germs when you share a cup or mug with someone, then it's probably not a good idea.

"But you can't catch germs from the communion goblet," she immediately retorts. "And if you're ill, it'll make you better!"

Now this is a view in which Emily is not alone. Plenty of grown-ups who should really know better claim to believe in the healing properties of communion wine. The way they tell it, it's a kind of Lemsip Max, curing all manner of coughs and colds (and probably botulism and bubonic plague too).

Now I do understand that Emily considers herself to be a great expert on matters of religion (and me to be extraordinarily ignorant, it goes without saying) but I really don't think I can allow this to pass without putting forward the opposite point of view in a calm and considered manner.

"What utter nonsense!" I splutter.

OK, so calm and considered rather escaped me on that occasion and unsurprisingly, she doesn't immediately concede that I might have a point. Nor, though, does she lose her temper (as I probably deserve). Instead, she responds with martyred dignity. "Dad, that's not fair. I don't tell you that it's wrong of you not to go to church, and you shouldn't tell me that what I believe is rubbish."

Is there anything more maddening than being put in your place by your own children? Obviously I have to backtrack a little.

"You're right, my love. That was wrong of me. But I promise you, taking communion won't make you better if you're ill."

"Yes it will, and I've got proof."

This should be good. I raise a sceptical eyebrow.

"One time I had a tummy ache and then I went to church and drank the holy wine and afterwards I felt better. That proves it."

"Well not really, darling. I once had a tummy ache and then I ate a banana and felt better. And I don't think God had anything to do with that!" (As I write this, I can see how people who don't know me so well might imagine a slight trace of sarcasm lacing that last remark. I promise, though, that there was none at all. Really.)

The infallability of my argument silences her for a few moments.


Oh good grief, what now?

"...God blessed the banana so that you'd get better!"

To which I find there is really no answer at all...


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