His glasses reflected the light, and the hem of his cassock swept the floor. Beneath his hood, his expression was all eyebrows and severity. When he reached out to shake my hand, he swiftly wrapped me in what I took to be an affectionately masculine bear hug. I soon realised there was nothing affectionate about it: he had me in a headlock so tight, I could hear the loud ticking of his watch in my ear.
“Why don’t you come back to the church of your grandmother?”
“Eh? Can’t hear you.”
“Why, I said why don’t you return to the church of your grandmother?”
“I can’t answer that,” my muffled voice came from under the wings of his robes. “It’s not that easy.”
“It’s the easiest thing in the world,” he shouted.
He manipulated my head under his armpit like a wrestler. At last I was able to free myself.
“God wants you to return to the church of your grandmother. I’m asking, why don’t you?”
Mark O’Flynn False Start – a memoir of things best forgotten (238)
How’s that for muscular Christianity? Mark O’Flynn’s memoir is a little classic in “the rich tradition of the great Australian yarn”, as the blurb says.
Image by Ludek (Own work), Wikimedia Commons