Yesterday I and Mark went out to the pub to have a few pints with Stephen and another bloke. It ended with Stephen abandoning us for a girl at the bar, and they departed after a couple of hours. Surely to investigate Stephen’s extensive stamp collection, or something. That left us with this stranger bloke that Stephen had brought along, who turned out to be a devout Catholic.

No, it wasn’t the stereotypical encounter that this could have been. The bloke, Stuart, was entirely at ease with us. No religious condemnation of our status as “breaking the order of God” by being married. He was, in fact, intensely relaxed about us, and was exceptionally friendly and charming throughout the whole evening.

I enjoyed it immensely. It’s not often you meet someone my age who can confidently discuss the minutiae of the philosophies of Thomas of Aquinas. That’s because this man had spent his entire school life being taught by Jesuits. From his earliest age, this man had been challenged at every step, and was the better for it.

There may, or may not, have been a debate about the truthfulness of string theory, and Mark may, or may not, have been stumped by something. I am unsure because at that point I was sitting in a corner drooling as the terms and nomenklatura of their talking flew over my head. I am a simple one, after all. I eat, sleep, and read books.

Today, as I picked up my ego from the floor having been so challenged intellectually, I considered the nature of beliefs, and have spent the day wondering about whether my beliefs aren’t just ‘belief’ except with armour on it. I am wondering whether I seek information to confirm my biases, or whether convictions come from being informed. Is this a chicken or an egg thing, this understanding?

I had a good time, yesterday. Even if Stephen abandoned us and left us with this stranger. I hope the stamp collection was worth it, because I’m sure he would have liked to take part in it.

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