Because I was having doubts about many of the beliefs of the catholic church, I thought seriously about questions I was having genuine difficulties with and was not shy in coming forward with these to my R.I. teachers. My one remaining Xaverian report shows that this was well known. My teacher in 1962 was Brother Sylvester, a bespectacled highly strung Xaverian Brother. His comment of ‘Fairly good, always ready to ask questions’ is accurate although only he and I were aware of the under current of cynicism.
At one point I made the mistake of asking Mr Connolly whether the Book of Revelations which appears at the end of the New Testament was supposed to be believed or whether it was just a dream of St John which anyone of us could experience, possibly accompanying a bout of flu.
“Well Cummings”, he said with a gleam in his eye behind his horn-rimmed spectacles, “as you are so interested, I would like you to investigate the question and present it to the whole class in two week’s time!” I actually did this – I got hold of large hard bound exercise book and spent many hours finding out as much as I could about Revelations. As I was reading about the exploits of Aleister Crowley at the time, I may even have made reference to his assumed title of The Great Beast which figures large in the epistle but I cannot be sure. I certainly made frequent referrals to the ‘Whore of Babylon’ which was obviously expected by the rest of the class. I sometimes think if I had put as much effort into my homework as I did into my deliberations concerning the Book of Revelations I may have achieved more than two ‘O’ levels but that is pointless speculation now.
I do remember standing in front of the class and starting my lecture. It overran the lesson and for some reason no one was interested in hearing the rest by the time of the next lesson so I think we should call that a draw.