When the Roll is called.

Johnny Cash “Hurt”

I wanted to include a Johnny Cash song in the blog and this one of his best. Cash is a man of many contradictions and a product of his time. I love this Nine Inch Nails song and Johnny makes it all the more visceral. He recorded this song just before he died and you can feel the pain. He was also a religious person and listening to the song brought back a long forgotten memory of the day when religious zealots tried to recruit me.cash

I was brought up in the West-End of Newcastle as, what my Father would have described as “A good Catholic boy”. Religion was drummed into us with a bible and a strap. For as long as I can remember, we were taught to accept and not to question. In the concrete shelters of our local park we were learning a different reality. Here we fought over playground access rights with the Protestant kids, kissed girls and smoke cigarettes

One winter’s evening a group of recruiters from the Bethshan Mission came into the park hoping to save the bad Catholic boys and girls from the clutches of Satan. They told us they were starting a youth club and invited us along. Cold winter nights in a warm church hall seemed more appealing than a concrete shelter in a park.

There were games and orange juice and biscuits and then hymn singing. I only remember the one and that was called “When the roll is called up yonder” It intrigued me,and I asked what it was all about and they told me that only the righteous would go to Heaven and the Catholics would all go to Hell because they hadn’t been saved. It was another small step in my realisation that religion was divisive and hypocritical

When The Roll is called up Yonder


Here come the Priests and the skinny Nuns

Telling me what to think and what to feel

Of how to dress and how to pray

What is fantasy and what is real


With their own version of the truth

The people who have all the answers

They want us to be better through fear

To become our spiritual planners


They feed us a deceit of their own making

There is no Roll there is no Yonder

There is no Almighty God

There is no afterlife to ponder


What we have is what is here

The now, not the ever after

Make the best of what you’ve got

Enjoy love, life and laughter


© Jeff Price September 2017








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