I have become a godfather. To Luke “Scratch” Pierce (or “Luk” as it was written on the church handout. Luk of course being a major oil company in Romania). It was an interesting experience. The service was conducted in three languages, none of them local to the city in which the service itself was held. Spanish, Polish and English (in Catalonia). There were two babies – Luk and Miriam, a Polish/Spanish baby. The whole thing was like an extended ad for the EU.
As one of the padrinos I had to respond to a number of statements with the lines “Yes, I believe” or Yes, I promise” (in Spanish). It was a pretty liberal interpretation of Catholicism, so for the most part this didn’t create any sort of problems. I am happy to say “Si, creo” when the statement runs something like “Working towards peace, justice, and mutual understanding”, but it’s less easy to do so to things like “I believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of God, blah blah blah”, so I just remained silent at those points. One sentence about the “Espirito Santo” I stayed quiet at, not because I didn’t believe it, but because I didn’t understand it. The Spanish was OK, but I’ve never understood the holy spirit. What it is, where it comes from, what it is supposed to do, any of that. I’m convinced that it’s just a ruse to justify the study of theology. Once priests had literacy on their side and could act like they knew it all, just because they were the only ones who could read. Now they have to have this incomprehensible third arm of the trinity to fall back on when challenged. “Oh it’s this way because of the holy ghost.” I wanted to say “No entiendo”, but that might have left us in the church for hours.
I had been told that I would have to renounce Satan (and all his little wizards), and had been quite ready to do so, by picturing Donald Rumsfeld while doing so. But satan had been left out, and all I had to do was renounce mal. I’ve never been a great fan of mal (In fact Mal Donaghy was my least favourite member of that 80s Luton Town side with Brian Stein, Ricky Hill et al) so that was fairly easy. I had to check with the madrina which way to do the cross, just in case anyone was watching to see if I was a really trustworthy catholic. “Psst! Is it right to left?” She had to quickly do it to check as she’d never thought about it before. We then got to a bit where we had to promise to pass on our faith to our new charges, which I am delighted to be asked to do. It didn’t actually specify which faith it was that we would have to pass on, so I am freely at liberty to interpret that how I like. With that in mind I spent a part of the evening after the event trying to persuade Luke to say “Chris Waddle” and “David Hirst”, and will soon start looking for pop-up picture book versions of Chomsky.
As I understand it, being a godfather means that I can kill (the godfather handbook recommends “whack” or “clip”) either of my brothers if they disappoint me, and leave horse heads in the beds of my rivals. A special updated version in response to protests from PETA and the RSPCA allows you to replace the dismembered animal part with quorn or tofu these days. I’m looking forward to this padrino lark.
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