I take you to all the exciting locations. Actually, this happens after the SU meeting; it follows straight on from the current chapter 2 of the Lent term. Had it made it into the final version I’d have made a couple of changes, but it… didn’t. So I’m not.
Will was ranting to some other Fellowship members. Peter thought it best not to interrupt, and so walked home with Olly, who was accosted at every pace by people congratulating him on his speech.
‘I didn’t realise you were going to speak in favour,’ Peter said, once they were out of the Venue. ‘Not that I expected you to speak against – I mean, I hadn’t thought you’d be interested in the question at all.’
‘Yeah?’ Olly smiled. ‘I dunno, it just seemed like the thing to do…’
‘I mean,’ Peter pursued, ‘I wasn’t surprised at Tim speaking, because he’s such a stereotypical Catholic with a chip on his shoulder, and he’s been threatening to do something like this for years, but you’ve never seemed to care much, when we’ve talked about it at home or whatever…’
‘Just because I don’t talk,’ Olly said darkly, ‘doesn’t mean I don’t listen. And if it comes to it, it’s not so much about… well, it’s not so much about taking a side swipe at Evangelical Christianity, as it is about seeing things properly labelled. It’s the rationalist in me.’
Peter wondered what Olly had been going to say that it was not so much about. He would not have been so surprised had it been something to do with impressing Georgia.
‘Which wouldn’t help,’ he said, out loud. Georgia was still seething about the Camilla episode.
‘Sorry. Just thinking out loud.’
‘Oh… I thought Tim was very persuasive on why the Statement of Belief makes the Christian Fellowship a specifically Evangelical organisation, which I didn’t really understand, before. Not, like, living and breathing this stuff, the way you do.’
‘That’s a Theology degree for you,’ Peter said.
‘Do you really think,’ Olly asked, ‘that the existence of something called a Christian Fellowship results in you being misrepresented as a Christian?’
That had been a contentious point in the debate, and had been misunderstood in all directions. ‘Um,’ Peter said. ‘No. Yes. All the time.’
‘Well.’ He paused. ‘OK, think about the person who tells you they’re a Christian, you know, quite early on, when you’ve just met them. Think about how you react. You take a step backwards, discover you’re late for your lecture, run away screaming…’
‘You mean Will. At least, the way he is now.’
‘You knew him before he was like that?’ Peter said, momentarily distracted. ‘I mean, I know you two were at school together, but I got the impression he sprang fully formed from some church leader’s forehead… Did he used to be a leftie feminist atheist, or something?’
‘Oh, he was always an over-privileged toffee-nosed git,’ Olly allowed. ‘But the Christian thing is new. He used to just fidget through the services up until his voice broke and he left the choir, and piss around in RE, like the rest of us. All this in-your-face Christian stuff has developed since we left school, so far as I can tell. Maybe something got him on his gap year…’ Going by Olly’s face, he was hoping it had hurt.
‘I hope he’s not following us… But yes, that’s my point exactly. It gets to the point where the rest of us are almost afraid to introduce ourselves as Christians, even to people we know quite well, because we know that we’ll then have to spend half an hour explaining that we’re not Bible-bashing, homophobic, anti-woman bigots who have no interest in them beyond converting them. I’m not sure if I get more people assuming that because I’m black… Anyway, that’s what Tim means by the Christian Fellowship misrepresenting other Christians.’
‘Evangelical Christian Fellowship, now,’ Olly corrected him.
‘Indeed. I don’t think, by the way, that it’s going to make any difference. In ten years’ time I will still be describing myself as a socially liberal Anglican on the high end of the candle…’
‘That’s a mouthful.’
‘Sorry. Just imagining the way Becky would laugh at that.’
‘Oh, well, Becky…’
They were turning the corner into Alma Road. Peter scrabbled in his pocket for his keys, but before he found them Colette had the door open. ‘Did you drop my card off?’ she asked, anxiously.
‘Hello to you, too.’
‘Sorry. Hello. And congratulations, Olly! Becky was refreshing the forums every five seconds until the result came out. But Peter, did you drop Lydia’s card off?’
‘No,’ Peter teased, and watched her face fall. ‘…I gave it to her in person.’
‘Oh! Did she like it?’
‘She didn’t open it when I was there. But…’ Peter frowned, trying to remember, ‘I think it was a nice surprise.’
Colette’s smile made his heart turn over twice: first with wistfulness on his own account, and then with dread, on hers.