Keeping the faith

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I prayed last month. And not just a quick mumble before the Sunday roast but a proper “Are you there God?, It’s me, Ben” supplication.

It has been a while since I have been to any place of worship so the gnawing sense of guilt and obligation propelled me to a pew three rows from the front.

The old place – about 4km from the Perth CBD – may be considered sacred but whoever does the maintenance is less than devout.  The paint is fading and anyone average height or above has their ears around their knees when taking a seat.

Developers are eyeing the land it sits on, hypothetically dividing it into increasingly smaller, funkier apartments.

The flock seems ambivalent to the building’s ultimate fate and I can’t blame them.

A new mega-facility to be built closer to the northern suburbs has a lot of support. Just because you are a fanatic doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate comfortable seats.

A couple arrive late and penitently ask where we are up to. I answer and they soon join in the familiar chant.

My faith may dull, blunted by the regular scandalous revelations, but just sitting here helps retain its sharp edge.  Because while true faith – trusting your happiness and salvation with a higher power who you have no direct contact with – is a big ask, it is easier when you are surrounded by fellow disciples.

They help rationalise some of the more ridiculous aspects like the costumes and the songs. I normally appreciate the the subtle nuances of our complex world but in this situation it is reduced to Us versus Them, Good versus Bad. We are good and They, well They are going straight to hell.

As the service reaches is climax I mouth my long-delayed prayer. “Please God, let my team win.”

All of us need a sense of belonging, to occasionally give ourselves over to a ineffable cause.

I don’t know what I’d do without football. Go to church I suppose.

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