Click for Previous chapter or the Next chapter or to return to the Menu

Our god is our belly

Okay, we're kidding with the title. God is stuck with us. It was His idea to put us on the payroll in the first place. But once in a while we fantasise about whom or what we'd worship if He hadn't dragged us (protesting loudly, we admit) into the greatest show on earth, the Kingdom of God.

It may be a teensy bit naughty to live and work within a geriatric shuffle of the Old City of Jerusalem and consider what other gods are on offer. Let's be honest, though, and confess some of our thoughts on the subject.

Not Baal, Odin or Thor. Far too grim-faced. Certainly not Astarte, Venus or Isis. They're the sort who'd give women's lib a bad name. Plus they're all has-beens. Old fashioned. We'd go for one that's up-to-date, with a sense of humour.

So how about that god who's quite hot around the universities: Modernism, aka Higher Criticism.

That's a laugh-a-minute religion if ever there was one. The goofy god Modernism pretends all the supernatural stuff in the Bible - miracles, prophecies, revelations, encounters with the true God - was a load of organic fertilizer inserted by enterprising and piously bent priests to wow the socks off the great unwashed masses. Modernist theologians and professors teach this religious atheism to their students and make a cosy living out of it. 'Enterprising and piously bent' might be a good label to slap on these theologians and professors as well, but maybe they'll just have to make do with a mention in the New Year's honours lists now and then.

Modernism's a giggle. But a five-minute encounter with God Himself makes all the 'no miracles, God is only a metaphor' line sound unbelievably corny.

Okay, we'll try another god.


Now, Evolution is a god that can have our respect any day. Click the remote on the National Geographic channel and wonder as the silky-voiced commentary extols the power of this daring deity. It (or she; sometimes the voice-over calls her Mother Nature, which is real cute) causes legs to grow here, fins to vanish there, wonderful organs to sprout, complex behaviour to just exist.

The life-cycle of a butterfly simply nhappened. Wow! Baby fish who've never seen Mum and Dad automatically recognise a shoal of their species out of hundeds of different shoals on the reef and go join them, thanks to Evolution. Whee! And consider the lowly home-grown throw-away, the placenta: does the work of a roomful of heart-lung and dialysis machines. Evolution invented it. Whoopee!

One snag, though, with Evolution. There's next to no documentation with that programme. When we were beef breeders, we could modify our cattle so far and no further. Past a certain point, all changes were for the worse, and experts (ardent Evolutionists all) couldn't tell us how to invoke Mother Nature's assistance. And though coffee-table books aplenty assure us everything evolved from everything else, they don't explain the steps or how Evolution knew.

Like, how did Evolution know light and colour existed, develop light-sensitive skin and modify it to become a three-colour, 3-D, autofocussing video system, commonly called eyes? Or play around with a jawbone or two to make those semi-free-floating twin sets of bone, known as teeth.

C'mon, folks. Leave faith out of this, will you! How does Evolution really function?

But what (you ask us) has any of this to do with two ageing Pom-'n'-Kiwi volunteers working their fingers to the elbow in an Orthodox rest home in Israel?

Patience! We're getting to the point, already.

We confess - and sadly we're serious - we two have a strong temptation to make a god of our belly. Let's start with the excuses...

We're far from home. That triggers insecurity. Sure, the Old Folks' place is required to feed us. But not all Middle East tucker (and the bland overcookedness for ancient digestions) is enticing to our palate.

When the Bible says the Children of Israel 'eat not of the sinew that shrank', it translates into the fact that we'd crawl over broken glass for a decent juicy steak now and then.

When the Bible admonishes Jews not to 'boil a kid in its mother's milk', it means that in Israel we can't pop into a kosher dairy for a meat pie and a thickshake.

Before you get all sympathetic - we're not starving. Our normal contours have filled out until we could be tactfully described as cuddlesome. There's serious dieting ahead on our re-entry to the Land of the Midnight Morepork in July.

But we've been self-employed for untold years. Our lifestyle under our control. Meals when we wanted, where we wanted, made of what we wanted.

No, we're not gourmet, Gordon Blow, five-star persons. Just we didn't realise how important food is to us. We think about it, dream about it, plan meals for when we return. Vow (in English, so the kitchen staff won't understand) never to touch couscous, semolina, tapioca, cold porridge and pasta again.

Look, we can't prove it, but the thought of martyrdom in a foreign country doesn't bother us. When the Intifada broke out, lots of Molotov cocktails were thrown, and bombs detonated on buses, we were wary for a day or three, then carried on whistling 'Amazing Grace', going shopping and riding buses as before.

It's the small things that bug us. When our duties are changed for the third time in one morning. When we're yelled at in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Polish, German. And over matters of food, food, food.

Our year in Jerusalem is a bumpy trip of self-discovery. There are umpteen plusses: like, we still like each other, even in our cramped garret, room 612. On the minus side, things are inordinately important. Hence our negative reaction to hearing a grandbrat has liberated our computer back home.

And food. Man shall not live by bread alone. (Nor shall woman; let's get this straight.) But when we catch ourselves dreaming (literally, we confess) of real chips (spuds in Israel are somewhat sad), moist takeaway sandwiches, and (oh, shut up!)... it's clear God is telling us something.

Pray for us! We're human, after all.

* * *

Click for Previous chapter or the Next chapter or to return to theMenu