I have never understood the adjective God-fearing to be anything complimentary. To me it is suggestive of someone unimaginative, submissive and accepting of their fate and, frankly, it does not put the Almighty in a good light if they have to rule by fear.
Earlier this year I noticed an excrescence growing on the middle finger of my right hand. It got bigger and bigger and although not painful began to look a tad unsightly. So I decided to visit the local quack. I don’t know if it is the same in your area but GPs aren’t what they used to be. They seem to be congenitally loathe to voice an opinion on anything for fear of upsetting their medical liability insurers, other than on their pay and conditions (but that’s another story). Instead they have a number of tactics to deflect the burden of decision on to others.
The first route is to recommend a blood test, the NHS’ 21st century equivalent of uroscopy. I’m very much in the Tony Hancock camp and if my body needs eight pints of blood then I shall do my very best to keep eight pints in me at all times. But regular users of doctor’s surgeries these days look like extras from Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. And when you get the results, surprise, surprise, the blood is normal – yes red, runny but then clotted. There is no attempt to explain what normal is, whether there is a spectrum of normality and if there is, where you fit on it.
Another favourite tactic is to refer you on to a consultant so that you become someone else’s responsibility. But there is a cost to this tactic because the Government in a desperate attempt to reduce waiting queues give a financial incentive to doctors not to refer patients to hospitals. A referral is to be cherished!
Occasionally, the doctor may pluck up the courage to make a decision and prescribe some drugs. Even this experience isn’t what it used to be. If nothing else you could march out of the surgery waving, rather like Neville Chamberlain, a piece of paper containing script only decipherable by a trained pharmacist. You felt that your visit had been worthwhile and you had something with which to deflect the scowls of those in the waiting room whose appointments have been delayed by the exegesis of your symptoms. Nowadays, though, we have electronic prescriptions which the doctor e-mails to the pharmacist of your choice. Works a treat but it is not quite the same.
But this time the doctor shocked me not only by making a decision but also by taking direct action. After shining an ultra-violet light on the excrescence, he proclaimed, “Ganglion”. I was taken aback thinking this was some form of medical oath. But no, it is a type of cyst which is commonly found around joints. One recommended treatment is for the cyst to be struck by a very heavy object.
On returning home I found as well as a rather battered looking bible the Qur’an and even a book of the Mormons. We live in enlightened times, after all, but I chose the King James’ version of the Bible.
As it came down I realised what God-fearing meant.