a Catholic, a Jew, a Presbyterian/Anglican and a lapsed Presbyterian. One of the nuns is Buddhist and the Presbyterian/Anglican is actually a bit of a fraud - a churchgoer who does not believe in the theology but does believe in the principles.
I am the lapsed Presbyterian - I haven't been to church since the argument with my mother in my teens. My brother and two sisters have not been either. Well... we have attended funerals and the occasional wedding. I will even help out by running the second hand book stall at church fetes but please don't ask me to go on Sundays.
The Senior Cat goes to church. He is really a lapsed Presbyterian at heart but he goes along to the Anglicans on Sundays. He likes the company and he likes the basic principles - the "love one another" type principles that I also like.
The attendance at the Anglican church was a sort of compromise for my parents. When they returned to the city my mother would have gone back to the Christian Science church. My father refused. They did not really argue about this. My father simply said he would not go. He did not like it. He had never liked it.
My mother had continued to try and inculcate the principles of Christian Science into us when we lived in the bush. This was despite our attendance at whatever church service happened to be held in the community hall on a Sunday - mostly Methodist or Church of England. It was a social event. Most people went to church. Did they believe? I don't know. I suspect it was more of a social event.
My mother tolerated this but tried to keep us on what she saw as the true path. The more she tried the more we rebelled. In the end there was an almighty row and, on returning to the city, we children simply refused to go to church at all. (As the eldest I was blamed for this although my brother backed me at the time.)
But yesterday we had visitors - yes, the three nuns and the Catholic and the Jew. One of them was our friend Polly and another was her sister. We know them well. They both have an almost startlingly robust view of religion and, while they still believe things I could not believe, they do not believe in talking snakes or the infallibility of the Pope.
I do not know the others well enough to comment on their beliefs.
The Buddhist nun is a delight to know. She is down to earth and practical. Things get done when she is in charge. The other nun came to it all rather late in life. She was once married and she has children. I wonder if she could have taken up a vocation if it had meant never marrying and never having children? Her faith surely has to be different from that of Polly who never married and never had children?
When Polly took up her vocation she expected never to go home again. Now she travels alone, drives a car, visits her family on a regular basis, comes to see non-believers and is going to pick the Senior Cat up to take him to her home to do a repair job. He can even tease her about making sure she has the kettle on. Her every day life is perfectly ordinary. She knows the Jew too. They have worked with each other and occasionally have coffee together. I have introduced both of them to a Muslim friend and they all get along perfectly amicably.
And this is what puzzles me over and over again. We all get along perfectly well together. We know we believe different things. We don't tell each other "you are wrong" or try to convert each other. I told them about a picture I had seen recently - of the graves of husband and wife separated by a wall because one was Catholic and the other Protestant and they way their "hands" reached out to touch one another over the wall. We all agreed such things should not have been necessary and should not be necessary now.
I think there is a lot to be said for that "love one another" principle.