The man who cursed God out

This was something that happened in the drop-in centre for asylum seekers where I hang around most Tuesday mornings at the moment, and it has proved hard to get out of my head.

The drop-in is in a church hall, very large, very echoey, very noisy, people come and go all the time. Young man walks in and starts shouting, it takes me a second or two to work out that this isn’t just a loud conversation, and then a second or two more (his English is heavily accented) to work out what he’s saying; and by that time others have noticed, and very soon the room’s silent, the conversations have stopped, the pool game at the other end of the room has stopped, and everyone’s looking at him. He’s shouting in two directions – some of the time at us, but rather more at the small crucifix on the back wall:

“anyone here who’s Christians, well f**k you… and f**k Jesus Christ… you do nothing for me, you see me, I’m homeless… f**k God as well… look at me, I’m telling you, I’m homeless… f**king Jesus Christ…”

and the very gentle but determined volunteers who act as security guards are ushering him out of the door as he shouts

“and Jesus, his mother, well she…” and everyone can see the gesture as he leaves. A couple more seconds of silence, and the conversations rise again, and the pool game restarts. The volunteers learn later that the young man is a regular ‘service user’ at the drop-in, and has been for more than five years; which probably means that he’s been stateless, jobless and frequently homeless for more than five years.

This isn’t a religious organisation (though a lot of the volunteers, and even more of the ‘service users’, are religious people), but I think on this particular occasion it was good that we were in a church hall, especially one with a crucifix to shout at. It seemed to me that there was something appropriate about what just happened; and that it was better for the man to take it out on God than on the next person he met in the street (or, more likely, on the volunteers at the desk); and that God can cope with it (this being the point). And then how sad it was that he tried to call Jesus out for a fight by insulting his mother. You’ve got to be desperate, for some attention from somebody with power, to try that line.

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