How I passed my Religious Studies exam due to divine intervention.
Religion and I have never got along. I think I was born a heretic. Either that or I am a blasphemous pagan at heart.
Through school I suffered the excruciating assemblies with their hymns, prayers and bible readings. I abhorred them. I also despised the RE lessons with all their bible bashing and indoctrinating rhetoric. My brain was impervious to religion. It bounced off.
Then when I was fourteen I discovered I did not have to do it at all. I could get a dispensation on religious grounds. All I had to do was induce my parents to sign the relevant form or write a short note to the effect that they wanted me out of all religious practice. Problem solved.
Except it wasn’t. For some obscure reason, that I do not understand to this day, my parents, who brought me up with a liberal, unindoctrinated perspective, and respected my views, refused to write the note.
That made it even worse. So I dug my heels in. I went to see the RE teacher and explained to him that I was categorically not going to do the RE. He could do what he liked. I was not going to budge. After a lengthy argument we came to a compromise. I would attend the lessons and give out the bibles. Then I would sit quietly at the front and read. That suited me fine.
So while the rest of the class filled exercise book after exercise book of boring comparisons between the four gospels I read great Science Fiction by Arthur C Clarke, Robert Sheckly, Asimov, John Wyndham, Philip K Dick and Robert Heinlein. I reckoned the content of fiction in my books was superior to the fiction in theirs.
RE was a subject that was sat earlier than the other subjects. We took our O Level at Christmas. I was surprised to find that my name was included. I went to see the RE teacher to point out the error. I had not done any RE; I should not have my name down for the exam. He huffed and puffed and did not like to admit his mistake. He told me that it was easier for me to just go through with it rather than trying to scrub me from the exam at this stage. I shrugged. I wasn’t bothered.
The night before the exam I borrowed a bible. My mum found me looking through it.
‘What are you doing?’
I explained that I had my RE O Level the next day. I had been intrigued by a couple of things. I looked up to find out what the Transfiguration was all about and I checked out what Jesus said on the cross. – ‘My father why has thou forsaken me?’
I always thought that was a strange thing to say. It seemed to suggest to me that at the last minute he was having doubts and had realised that it was all bollocks.
After ten minutes I became bored, which amused my mum no end. She knew what felt about the bible.
The next day I took my exam. We had to answer four questions out of five. Question one was about the Transfiguration. Question two was about the words Jesus had said on the cross. Question three was about a psalm I knew well from assemblies. Question four was a parable that I was familiar with. It was easy.
The next term the results came out. Only a third of the class had passed. I was one of them.
I have a qualification in Religious Education. I bet my RE teacher was as pleased as Punch.
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