Yesterday was the confirmation of one of my godsons at Eton Chapel. I assumed incorrectly that this was a one to one rite of passage analogous to the Jewish Barmitzvah. In fact it was very much a “job lot” as my godson was one of thirty confirmants in a service officiated by the Bishop of Lincoln.
Eton Chapel is a fabulous piece of architecture with frescoes, fluted arches and stained glass windows. The choir dressed in red surplices as were the chaplains and sacristans gave a middle to high church feel.
Later over dinner I asked my godson if he regarded it all as a rite of passage. Aged 15 he said he might if he was two years younger but most of the confirmants felt it was something done to please their family. For myself an atheist, I have long held the belief that religion controls the seismic events of life: birth (baptism) coming of age (confirmation) marriage and death. The Rust does not have a religious correspondent nor category, nor can I recall in nearly 2000 postings one of a religious nature or content. A a godfather is charged with his godson’s spiritual welfare so to that extent I am singularly ill equipped. However we had a long chat about sport and I’ve always felt we had a warm rapport.
I came away with two strong perceptions. To see the young Etonians confident and assured in their frock coats illustrated to me why the school produced 18 Prime Ministers excluding possibly the next one in Boris Johnson. Secondly that I was present at the baptism 15 years ago and felt connected to a family, three generations I know well. However the final comment belongs to my godson who in thanking all present observed “that I hope you enjoyed dinner and it was worth sitting through a boring religious service for”. Many thought it, none but him dared utter it.