OPINION: My old man has been on at me this week.
"Go on, write that column we talked about. The one about how inspiring the pope is."
It all started with Pope Francis inspiring a resurgent Catholicism in my father. The church was saying things he actually agreed with and we found ourselves discussing theology more regularly.
Dad has always tried to trick me into being a Catholic. He baptised me and made me take my first communion. But no matter how hard he tried, I turned into a smarmy Richard Dawkins-quoting atheist. I think he blames himself for teaching me to think independently.
This is a failure for a Catholic. Catholics are like Labour Party members, in that having children is part of their membership drive.
But he caught me out at the pub; caught me sticking up for Catholics without even realising the turnaround in my behaviour.
Another hardline atheist was gleefully recounting how the pope had released some doves in a symbolic act of peace. They got wasted by a couple of bad-ass street birds - a crow and a scabby seagull - which he reckoned was symbolic of the fact that all churches should be burned down.
I don't know why it happened, but the next thing I was sticking up for the Catholic Church.
And there was my dad, like a Labour Party member proudly watching over your shoulder as you cast your first teenage vote.
"As long as you live under my roof your vote's mine."
I can't help it. I keep stepping into the conversation and finding myself on side with the guy in the silly hat. This is very hard for me to reconcile.
I see him in the paper saying inspiring stuff about the economy, the planet, ethics, and human beings, and find myself falling under his spell.
Maybe it's just idol worship. I need to feel like someone in charge of the world has a set of values that I find appealing. I used to be in love with Barack Obama. He gave me hope. Then he made me lose hope that anything meaningful can be achieved within the American political system.
So my hope for the planet is now tied up in an old bloke who drives a Renault and sits at the head of an institution that has a hell of a lot to answer for.
Dad has always hoped that his children will grow up to become well-rounded, contributing members of society. Even better if they could be Catholics. Forgive me Christopher Hitchens, love is winning over my hate.
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