Chapter 1 Jack argues with his father
Jack was an outgoing type and enjoyed meeting people and having fun. Those qualities were why he’d been given a job as travelling salesman. This was his first proper job, at 18, after finishing at Wavertree Technical School. The building contractors had hired him to talk to potential customers, and there were many in and around Liverpool. The city was expanding fast, and that required all sorts of construction work.
He enjoyed his meetings and always arrived at his clients’ with a smile on his face. After sitting down together, he took a box of cigarettes out of his pocket and offered a smoke and soon cracked a joke. That broke the ice. He came across as a pleasant young man and someone to trust. Some business trips took him to towns in other parts of Lancashire and then he was away for a few days.
His work gave him some of the freedom he wanted. Coming back home then seemed even worse. The contrast between the thwarting family life and being out and about made Jack realise he needed to be independent and live away from home.
After arriving home in early September, his father asked, “What have you been up to today, Jack?”
It felt like an interrogation to Jack, and not for the first time. He knew that criticism would follow, whatever answer he gave.
“It was a normal day at the office, doing the records,” he said with clenched teeth.
“Helping those capitalist owners to cook the books were you?” his father said, trying to provoke.
“Nothing of the sort. I wouldn’t cheat. I’m honest and just recording my own work. We’re a reputable company,” Jack replied calmly, used to his father’s socialist comments.
“Well, tell them to pay people better. There’s so much poverty while the big bosses live an extravagant life.” Father continued, “There were riots again yesterday. Catholic children attacked Orange children at St. Polycarp’s. Then a Orangeman shouted scurrilous words to a Catholic Father and tried to pull off his collar. Fighting broke out in the streets, people threw stones at the police, windows were smashed.”
“That’s the fault of religion, which does more harm than good,” Jack retaliated.
“The genuine cause is that employers, like your bosses, pay the Roman Catholics far less than they deserve,” father said. “The Scriptures say all men doing the same work should be rewarded the same. The churches observing the Holy Bible are not at fault. Those not adhering to the Bible are at fault.” He paused to glance at the Liverpool Echo and cleared his throat, “Look here, a Catholic woman hit a Protestant woman in the back with a hammer, injuring her seriously. Another case: An elderly Catholic woman who kept a shop on a Protestant street was so badly harassed and threatened that she died. What kind of people do this sort of thing? We’ve brought you up to follow the word of God and that no man should hurt another man.”
“Now you seem to agree with me that the churches are the problem,” Jack retorted, the pitch of his voice rising.
“Those churches are losing sight of the true Word of God. They should be helping the poor and not siding with employers. They should pay workers a fair amount. That is the enlightened way.”
“I agree pay should be fair, whatever church people attend. What I see happening is people fighting because they’ve been led to believe those from other churches are wicked people. Churches are too divisive and too restrictive. I have no wish to join a church. I want to live the Christian way without going to church. Every man should be free to make his own choices, and mine is to be independent,” Jack paused for a moment. “Independent but caring for one another, working hard, keeping high standards, but also enjoying life.”
“How can you live without guidance from the Scriptures? You’ll have nothing to refer to when you’re in trouble.”
Jack took his cigarette rolling tin out of his breast pocket. He opened the tin and took out the little packet of cigarette papers. Using his right thumb and forefinger he removed some tobacco and put it between the rollers in the tin lid. After pushing the tobacco down well, he took hold of a cigarette paper, stroked the glue edge with the tip of his tongue, and carefully put it in the roll. On closing the tin a complete cigarette popped out. He placed it between his lips and lit it with a match, before answering his father.
“I have my own inner guidance. The Scriptures are from a time long past and don’t address today’s problems. We must use good principles and fair judgement,” Jack said feeling confident. He’d often thought about where the world was heading and concluded the church should play a less dominant role. He was glad of the opportunity to ventilate his thoughts with his father, although knowing he would never agree on most aspects.
“Well son, your principles are those I’ve brought you up to follow. But you must pray and use the Bible. It will be a blessing all your life and you’ll stand well in God’s view.”
“I can believe in God and His principles without being part of a church,” Jack said before retiring to his bedroom.
The next day he would take another decision that would not make his father happy.