Owing no doubt to the large number of evangelical churches in my neck of the woods I have come to accept the sight of people wandering around the streets clutching bibles like security blankets.
Stepping back for a moment this is actually quite bizarre. I mean they can't all be on their way to and from church and I can't imagine many real life scenarios in North London which require instant access to the surreal guidance of a holy book. To be fair though may be I underestimate the practicality of some of the seemingly crazy-shit advice such as this gem from Deuteronomy: 'If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity'.
It says something about my reaction to my own religious background that - in a house groaning under the weight of books - until last week we didn't have a copy of the bible.
Unlike myself, my kids have been brought up as freethinkers (and I use that old-fashioned term intentionally). So when my eldest asked if she could have a bible I didn't feel too concerned or threatened - she is of that age now when some of her friends are 'finding' religion and was just intrigued to check out what the attraction was. Ironically through her friends she was probably better informed about Islam than she was about Christianity. So last time I visited my parents I borrowed on her behalf one of their several bibles (approved Catholic versions of course).
A week later I'm very happy to report that her independent findings are that from a historical, logical and ethical point of view the bible is every bit as nonsensical as I concluded myself at a similar age. In fact whilst I may have attuned my expectations to my environment she is stunned and outraged that so much dangerous and reactionary rubbish is treated with so much respect.
The revelation that 'religion is nonsense' is hardly an original topic for a blog post - but these days as a parent I set great store in trying to view things through the eyes of a young mind untainted by forty years of 'experience'. Sometimes it opens your eyes and makes you question some long held assumptions - and just occasionally it reassures you of some fundamental truths that are worth be reminded of.