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The Testimony of Taliesin Jones – Rhidian Brook

February 27, 2016

TTORJA Welsh farmer’s youngest son tries to deal with his parents’ impending divorce by turning to faith healing. Taliesin Jones is a quiet, introspective 11-year-old boy who immerses himself in the world of books to escape the harsh reality of his family’s collapse when his mother leaves his father to live with her hairdresser Toni.

He forms a connection with his piano teacher, an elderly former roofer named Billy who also dabbles in faith healing. Billy allows the boy to participate in the “cure” of an older woman with spinal problems, leading Jones to form a gang called the Believers, whose efforts are based on prayer and the laying on of hands. Their first candidate for a potential cure is an athletic but diabetic school chum, but the effort backfires when the boy’s parents protest the healing and Taliesin is forced to “testify” about his beliefs at a class assembly. The result of that assembly is a connection with the class bully who had been Taliesin’s nemesis, leading Jones to some small but important revelations abut his future and his potential gift.

I don’t remember a lot about my feelings and beliefs at age 11 except that I’d rejected belief in ‘a loving God’ because I’d been bullied at Sunday School. However, I have a feeling that this story is a good portrayal of the spirituality of a boy of this age.

With the imminent ending of his “childhood”, questions of faith and belief arise. Teachers discourage his questions except, as always, the RE teacher in whose lessons discussion is the order of the day.

Meanwhile, Hoop the Mental says there is no God.

TTOTJ 2Quotations:

‘Worm’ is a term of endearment or derogation depending on who says it and how they say it. His enemies call him ‘Worm’ to remind him of his diminutive build; his friends call him ‘Worm’ in reference to his love of books and inces­sant reading of them. He is a copious reader, burying himself in stories, burrowing deep into their other worlds and losing himself there. This a source of great irritation to his teachers. The glass-fronted cabinet in the corner of the form room already contains the first confiscation of the year — Animal Farm, impounded by his form teacher, Mr Davies. Mr Davies has promised to return it in time for the holiday, ‘When there will be plenty of time for reading.’ But ten weeks is too long to wait and see what happens to that horse, Boxer, so he has borrowed another copy of the book and this sits in the side pocket of his satchel, ready for the journey home.

There is a third meaning in his nickname, although few have appreciated it. Like a worm, Taliesin likes to get into the core of things — through a slow and persistent questioning. Questions are sweet apples to be eaten and this worm has a taste for all kinds. He questioned from an early age, maybe as early as two or three, pointing at an object and saying, ‘Called? What called?’ His parents were always happy to humour this hunger and provide the appropriate name: piano, potato, perfume. It seemed they had a word for every­thing he could point at. Then he discovered books with pictures and labels and names for all kinds of things, and for a time they provided all the answers. Then, quite suddenly,

You should have heard what bloody rubbish they were sayin’,’ she rants. ‘Jason Ball said that we should look for God in space. Like He is in the sky or something. He’s not just up in the sky. He’s in people as well,’ she says, planting a finger in the middle of her chest.

This sounds far-fetched, even more far-fetched than talk­ing pigs planning a revolution. Taliesin hasn’t taken his idea

of God beyond ‘the hands’ yet. Meanwhile, Julie Dyer pushes out her chest and says that God is inside her. Her simple theology has complex implications. If God is inside people then does that mean that there is more of Him in fat tall people than small thin people; more God in Julie Dyer than him; more God in an elephant than a sparrow. And if God is in him, which part of him does He inhabit?

His atlas tells him that we can’t actually see the sun. It says we only see the light of the sun. We know the sun is there because we see the light testifying to its existence. God is like that, Taliesin thinks. He cannot know for certain what God is or looks like but he can look at the light that God gives and guess at the character and substance of the source. He can follow that light back to the place from which it radiates.

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