I’m not really a Christian. I grew up in a sort of very loose Easter-And-Funerals Methodism, I can recite the Lord’s Prayer and say Grace without embarrassing myself, I know enough to blag about when the Malaysian Government wouldn’t accept agnostic for my work VISA, but I mostly only find myself in a church by accident and I’m always anxious that my gay ass is about to combust.
Now Catholicism is a whole ‘nother thing, the closest I can come to understanding it is that I read Harrow the Ninth twice, but I found myself in a cathedral today, attending a Christening, and I simultaneously realised two things:
- I don’t really know the rules
- I desperately needed to fart
Particularly in times of stress, we process the familiar first, and as a singer I can tell you that place had superb acoustics. Hoo boy, some very clever architect designed it to amplify sound spectacularly, each footfall and rustle could be heard by every single other person in the building, I can imagine it’s wonderful for creating a sense of community, it’s hard not to be aware of everybody else, the way you’re all occupying the same extended piece of air.
Which I really needed to fart in.
I could hear everything, and even the daintiest fart, I knew, would rattle the stained-glass windows like an artillery barrage. It really was a gorgeous space, lavishly decorated, a carved marble altar showing The Last Supper and a SECOND carved marble altar holding no less than seven Marys, dozens of Saints and angels staring down at me from all directions. Here, in descending order, is how I thought they’d judge me for farting in church.
- The Angels. There are a lot of them, they’re all very high up, they have swords, and I imagine they prefer a sort of Old Testament Justice, but on the other hand do their perfect bodies fart? Could they even understand what is happening? Did God make them with knowledge of farting? Surely not, farting came later, with mankind, I suppose God could’ve filled them in but I’m not sure how necessary that info would be to their holy mission. If they do know what a fart is, I’m a dead man.
- The Saint Holding a Book. Hoo boy, this guy looks like his first words were UM, ACTUALLY; there is a small boy at his side who is asking him a question and The Saint Holding A Book is giving him a look halfway between condescension and the perverse joy of getting to lecture somebody; the Saint Holding A Book would absolutely ruin board game night. Giant asshole, definitely wants you to know his loud opinions about farting.
- Mary Mother of God. I think she would also be relatively chill about church farts but on the other hand I would be utterly mortified to fart in front of my own mum (also present) let alone The Mum of God. File this one under “probably not an issue, but let’s not.”
- The Baby Holding A Large Jug of Wine. Is this a saint? He’s certainly up there amongst them so I’m counting it. Despite potential Heavenly intervention I doubt his alcohol tolerance is very good, because he’s a baby. If I farted he would be too wasted to care, and also he’s a baby.
- The Saint Holding a Leek. He’s too far away for me to read his nameplate, but even at a distance I can make out his expression of dignified anxiety, like a substitute teacher whose class is behaving a little too well. Dude had enough foresight to bring lunch, I am filled with a desperate need not to let him down but even if I fail I think he would be sympathetic.
- Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Now there are a lot of Jesuses, outside of Mary he’s certainly got the numerical advantage, but they all seem preoccupied with getting murdered by Romans and even if he does notice, even my limited understanding of Christendom covers the fact forgiveness is his whole deal. Jesus holds the milk of human kindness, he can forgive killers and thieves, he is probably going to be okay with me farting in his gaff.
Caught between these impulses, for a moment I got the tiniest inkling of how Catholic Guilt works. I’m willing to belief jesus forgives and angels don’t, I feel pre-judged by Book Saint and more than anything I want Leek Saint to get back to the staffroom in one piece. Caught between awe, love, and abject terror, I got up, left the church, and farted until I was free from sin.