Daily Archives: March 6, 2011

Syncretism in 2011 England

And so there is this chauffeur having to drive me home from the airport. The chap has serious problems with the language of Shakespeare (and no, I may be a foreigner but I have no big problems with it) and therefore the conversation is very, very restrained.

Still, once in his car several objects attract the passenger’s attention:
a) a strange Hindu deity in the form of an elephant (have heard of him; forgive me but I can’t be bothered to look for the name now);
b) what seems to be a small medal of the Blessed Virgin, and
c) a cross hangling from the rear view mirror that at closer inspection appears to be, in fact, a small crucifix.

Under normal circumstances I’d have politely enquired as to the religious persuasion of the man and, if the opportunity had arisen, I’d have started with my little “sales pitch”. The circumstances being what they were I – exceptionally – decided to just shut up.

This forced me to think, and there were only two possibilities coming to mind:

1) chap is a bit of a “belt and braces” type and, whilst still superstitious, decides to enlarge his small pantheon to Christian characters, in order to hedge his bets.
2) chap is slowly coming to see the truth of Christianity and whilst he can’t still get rid of cherished figures that have accompanied him all his life, he has got the Christian message all right.

As I have said, I’ll probably never know the truth. Still, it was very interesting for me to remark that the brand of Christianity either embraced or “hedged” by the chap was very clearly Catholicism (this in a country with at least six Anglicans for every Catholic). Be it as it may, I couldn’t avoid playing with the idea that, in that chauffeur car, the Holy Ghost was silently but constantly at work.

A Hail Mary for the chap is certainly in order and let us hope that one day he will – if he hasn’t done it already – come to see the strange elephant only as a souvenir of his childhood.


%d bloggers like this: