Addressing the issue was something that writer and performer Amy Mason, a native of Poole in Dorset, was forced into by an accident that happened to a bus on which she was travelling.
When she realised that the vehicle had run over two people, her immediate reaction was to pray, before she reminded herself that she no longer believed in God.
So the award-winning writer started looking into religion and its function in society, and concluded that the best bits of Christianity (the religion she knows best) are a fine template for how we not only SHOULD but WANT TO live.
Her new interactive show, Mass, opened at Bristol Old Vic this week, and before the audience even took their seats in the studio, they were asked to contribute a “prayer” or wish for the future, should they pray.
The hour-long show is based on the Mass structure, but with the boring and incomprehensible bits replaced by more attractive and modern alternatives (Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in place of an arcane Latin hymn, Hooray! for Amen … that sort of thing.)
If you think it’s sacrilegious you couldn’t be more wrong. As the “service” progresses the audience is bound in an immediately supportive community.
And by the time we reach the anaphylactic transubstantiation, there’s a realisation that there really IS a lot in what Amy says about music and compassion and real miracles.
Don’t go if you are easily offended, but do go with an open mind, and a hand as willing to dig deep in your pocket as to shake the next hand in the row, and the one in front, and the one behind.
Mass is clever, funny and intensely thought-provoking, it’s on until Easter Saturday.
Photographs by Jack Orfford