Many religious influences have dominated my life.
But I’ve had a tank full!
by Miller Caldwell
Religion. I’ve had a tank full. I was born a son in a Scottish Presbyterian manse. Not a strict upbringing but one which raised doubts about faith as 16 years old. I could not answer ‘Yes’ to become a committed Christian.
At the age of 8 I moved from peaceful Kirriemuir in Angus to Glasgow. Moving from a rural school of 12 to a massive Glasgow Primary. My class alone now had 37 pupils.
On the first day I received the belt for not understanding what long division was. I told the teacher there was no long division in Kirriemuir. Her response was to introduce me to her Lochgelly leather strap. Just imagine, a business in Fife producing teachers’ leather straps.
At break I was befriended by a sympathetic pupil His name was Leslie Hecht. I though his name unusual and he thought that of mine too. He asked if I was a Jew. I gave this some thought to his question. If Christ was King of the Jews, then I was surely Jewish. I attended meetings with the Rabbi for two terms before my father realised I was speaking Hebrew. He told me I was not a Jew. But as an Edinburgh student I went with Camp America to a Jewish Camp. They were amazed that I spoke Hebrew.
When I graduated, I did feel an urge to serve the Church and walked into the Church of Scotland Edinburgh offices. I asked to speak with the Overseas committee. To cut a long story short, I was sent as a missionary social worker to Ghana, West Africa. And in Ghana after five years, I met an English Maths VSO teacher. I have been married to this Anglican woman for over forty years now.
In 2005 there was the South East Asian Earthquake. A Muslim police officer in town stopped me and knew I had been the children’s reporter. (Scottish legal system to adopt, foster or provide supervision to children). His niece was killed in the earthquake and he was going to Islamabad to receive aid coming in from the world. He suggested I care for the children of 45,500 victims in a camp at Mundihar in the NWFP of Pakistan. When I got there, I was suddenly made the camp manager. So I lived with Sunni Muslims for four months. Many tried to convert me.
Having been the reporter to the children’s hearings meant we needed panel members. Some were Anglican, others Presbyterians or Baptists and one was a Humanist and I went to some of his meetings with an open mind. So too did I with my wife’s boss’s wife who was Baha’i’. I attend their meetings for some time too.
So Presbyterian, Jewish, Anglican, Sunni, Baha’i, and Humanist influences have dominated my life and I guess you are wondering where this has led me. I say ‘led me’ for I do not make as bold to say my present situation is final. But I simply don’t believe in any formal religion. I know many people require the assurances given by their faith and that’s fine but it leaves me drained but certain that until the world’s religions come together, I will not be part of any individual belief.
I make one final comment. It comes from a Ghanaian Akan Twi proverb. It is that “no condition is permanent”.[Editors notes: Miller Caldwell became a full-time author in 2003 after a diagnosis of MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) necessitated retirement from his existing professional working life. He has written numerous books of different styles including novels, biographies, children’s books, self-help books and film scripts. Healthy Life Essex reviewed the wonderful self-help book: Have You Seen My…Umm…Memory? in 2018. Miller also provides us with humorous, self-depreciating titbits for a An Interesting Coffee Time Read and has added his personal experience of memory loss issues to Anna Betz’s article Dementia can be prevented and it’s symptoms reversed.]