Whenever I am feeling a bit low I cheer myself up by remembering Dawkins saying somewhere once – or perhaps I imagined it, for life is only so full of comic incidents in so far as we imagine incongruous comparisons, so in the comic sphere we easily imagine to have happened what in fact did not – Dawkins saying, if he ever did, that when they pray religious believers ask a little man inside their heads to stop it raining on the day of the church garden party.  I love this idea, ringing up the little man.  I say litte man, do you think there’s any possibility you might….When you consider the vast mystical literatures of the world; that for so many millennia countless multitudes have abandoned everything to find a pearl of so great a price;  of the arduous experiments in the internal life as rigorous and disciplined as any science performs in the outer; of the extraordinary unity of mystical experience reported by mystics of every colour and stripe;  of the remarkable congruity between the intellectually baffling discoveries of the mystics and those of quantum physicists;  that mystics have reported experiences of rapture so far transcending any of those of ordinary life so often this vast weight of testimony can hardly be ignored;  that even I in my amateurish little way – and if these are my experiences what must be those of Carthusian monks and Hindu swamis? – even I am compulsively spellbound by the emotional encounter with the transcendental;  and then a chap comes along, if he ever did, and says prayer is asking a little man inside your head to stop it raining on the day of the church garden party.  It reminds me of once taking a party of adolescents down a coalmine.  We were taken round by a gnarled old miner who had worked in the pit for many years, when it was a working pit before it became a museum.  They used to take minah birds down these pits, said a boy to the miner,  to make sure that there was no poison gas in the mine.  Really? said the miner, I though it was canaries.  Oh no, said the boy, it was a minah bird.  That’s why they’re called minah birds.  Still,it would be nice if it didn’t rain on the day of the church garden party all the same, 


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