For those of you who are like us in the office and are missing your regular dose of Tony Payne, we'll occasionally put up a Saturday blast from the past from Tony while he's on long service leave. Hope you enjoy it.
They say that everyone has a book inside them, and fortunately, in most cases, it stays there.
Some of us have more than one.
I seem to have half a library lurking around in there somewhere. My adrenal gland, for example, wants to write a sporting autobiography called Seeing Red and White: the Misery, Anxiety and Very Occasional Relief of a Swans, Arsenal and St George Tragic . My fingers have always wanted to write a novel about a gifted young guitarist whose out-of-this-world talent is never recognized and who languishes in musical obscurity in a Christian publishing office, his only creative outlet being the church band on Sunday mornings. (On a String and a Prayer is the working title.)
But it's my spleen that is positively bursting with books. There's The Grumpy Dad's Guide to Correcting Your Children's Grammar. There's a bad-tempered memoir about living with feisty teenage daughters, called Two Cats in a Bag.
And then there's the Against series: Against Mercedes Owners. Against Liberal Anglican Bishops. Against Telemarketers. Against The OC. Against Email. Against Michael Moore. Against Mysticism. Against Materialism. Against Hollywood. Against the Loony Left. Against the Self-Righteous Right. Against the Simpering Centre.
I've got a million of them.
But having recently sampled the militantly atheistic rantings of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and co., the book my spleen is most keen to vent at the moment is Against Religion. Our atheistic accusers are right at least about this: religion gets far too much respect these days, and we are far too slow to label superstition and idiocy for what it is. Several chapter headings suggest themselves immediately:
- Do vs Done: the anxious busyness of religion
- Dumb and dumber: the idol and its worshipper
- Strangling the last priest with the entrails of the last guru
- It's not a leap of faith: I can see where I'm going
Perhaps the best chapter of all would be the one which gave full voice to the antireligious critique of Jesus—his relentless shredding of the religious authorities of his day, who had turned a real relationship with the true and living God into a jumbled paraphernalia of duties and petty observances, all of it masking the stinking reality of their own hypocrisy.
Now there's a book worth writing. Shame that it won't write itself, now that I've thought up the chapter titles. Maybe that's why so many books remain inside their authors.