One of my oldest friends is getting married. This isn't exactly new news - he's been engaged for a little while now - but it is excellent news and I'm very happy for him and for his wife-to-be. The wedding is still something like ten months away, but it already looks like it is going to be something of an event. Well, you can't blame a girl for wanting to make something of her big day, eh?
At our annual Christmas get-together over this weekend, my friend asked me if I'd do a reading at the ceremony. Of course I would, I'd be delighted.
"Yes, there are some lovely passages in the King James"
I chewed on this for a second or two, and then I had to seek clarification.
"Sorry, are you asking me to do a reading from the King James Bible, or are you asking me to choose a reading?"
He looked at me a little blankly, so I carried on. "I was thinking of choosing something like 'Trainspotting', but are you telling me to pick a passage from the Bible?"
"But there are some beautiful passages in the King James."
I won't disagree with that, but before I could enter into the debate any further, we got interrupted and the conversation moved on. I can't help but think that this leaves me with something of a dilemma: the King James Bible is an absolutely beautiful piece of literature and is stuffed full of phrases that have entered into our language. It's positively poetic, in places. I get that. But it's also a Bible, and -- in my opinion -- it's stuffed full of wrong-thinking nonsense.
It's never come up, but I've sometimes wondered how I'd react if I was asked to be Godparent to a child. It's a great honour, obviously, to be asked to take that kind of a role in a child's life, but at the same time I simply do not want to get involved with the religious baggage that goes with it. Surely you can perform a similar role without needing to have God attached? Morality and God are not the same things.
So a reading at a wedding ceremony in a church?
Actually, it's taking place at the chapel at my old school. I haven't been back since I left, and it's going to be very strange to be there watching one of my old school friends getting married in the chapel where we used to steadfastly refuse to sing the hymns. I've read there before, as it happens. The last time wasn't anything from the Bible either, it was something I put together about the bishop who gave his name to my boarding house. He was at one time the bishop of Calcutta, but was tragically lost in the Ganges, where he may well have been eaten by crocodiles. Yeah, that got a laugh.
Maybe I should just read the same thing again? Maybe not.
I don't want to read a passage from the Bible. I will, if that's what my friend (or probably, more accurately, his other half....) really, really wants - it's not about me, after all - but I'm also pretty confident that I can find something better and more appropriate from the world of literature over the next ten months that has absolutely nothing to do with God.
Or am I just being a dick?
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