(THE PARK. It is getting darker. ARNIE perches at the top of a ladder near the monkey bars. JAMIE sits on the slide. RHODA had climbed over the rope wall and is at the top, legs swinging. She has medium length hair and wears a skirt.)
RHODA – So eventually we brought the tabby home, and it’s doing quite well now. She’s already forgotten she needs to feed it in the mornings thought, so I’m having to do it. Surprise, surprise.
JAMIE – Hmmm? Yeah, cool.
ARNIE – I still think Mendeleev is a weird name for a kitten.
RHODA – My sister’s always been interested in science. In primary school she got this old typewriter and a load of ribbons from our grandma, and she didn’t have anything interesting to write herself, so she decided to type up all the bits in the encyclopaedia about famous scientists. Dmitri Mendeleev was one of them... Alexander Fleming, Marie Curie, Einstein, Aristotle...
JAMIE – Aristotle?
RHODA – Yeah. I think he came up with this theory that the sun goes around the earth. Back when you didn’t need to prove a theory, I guess.
ARNIE – How do you know that?
RHODA – She made me proof-read all her typed pages. She did Mendeleev three times, she kept misspelling his name.
JAMIE – I’m sure Aristotle was more of a philosopher.
RHODA – He did all sorts.
ARNIE – Jamie’s had philosophy on the brain all day. (pause) What’s your angle on it as a Christian?
RHODA – Eh? What do you mean, ‘as a Christian’?
ARNIE – Well, I dunno. But what IS your angle?
RHODA – Er... It’s fine, I suppose... What does religion have to do with philosophy?
JAMIE – I’m fairly sure the ancient Greek founding fathers of philosophy were religious to an extent. (sighs) I hate not being able to research things like this. Did I tell you Mum took the computer with her?
RHODA – Really?
JAMIE – Yeah.
ARNIE – Left the printer though.
JAMIE – I can’t look things up on the printer, Arnie.
ARNIE – Why are you so interested in this all of a sudden?
RHODA – Hey, at least he’s interested in something other than playing ‘Wasp Man’ on the Wii.
ARNIE – Oi, that’s a good game.
RHODA – I’d just say you need to look more closely at different kinds of philosophy.
JAMIE – Like what?
RHODA – I don’t know. I just know there are loads of different kinds. There might be some books on it in the library.
JAMIE – Yeah, I’ll check there later. (pause) Rhoda, do you think religion is a good thing?
ARNIE – Er, guys, can we walk and talk? I’m missing Doctor Who.
(They get up and leave the park, heading for Jamie’s street.)
RHODA – Well, yes, I think it can really help people who are... you know, in need or guidance. If you have the ability to trust and believe in something you can’t see... I don’t know. There’s a wonderful spirituality about it all.
ARNIE – I don’t believe in God.
JAMIE – I’m an agnostic.
ARNIE – What does that mean?
JAMIE – I’m not sure.
ARNIE – Then why’d you say it?
JAMIE – No, it means I’m not sure about God existing. You should pay attention in R.E.
ARNIE – Well, this is my turning. See you later, guys.
RHODA – And I think religion can bring people together.
JAMIE – I’ve been worrying about the way people can progress and evolve. And I think religion is an important factor, because it’s been around for thousands of years – the longstanding ones anyway – and... (pause) It affects a helluvalotta people. And I wonder if all those commandments and doctrines and pillars aren’t... holding people back.
RHODA – Sorry?
JAMIE – Well, no offence, but if someone’s dogmatic about their religion, how can they do everything they could possibly do? They can’t modernise or better themselves. They’re restricted.
RHODA – No, sorry, I have to disagree. I think believing in God can give people strength, actually. I mean your religion can help you when you’re feeling suicidal, so some people wouldn’t still be here if they didn’t believe in God.
JAMIE – But those people could be bound forever to a set of rules in some holy book. Granted, a lot of religions are a bit more laid-back, but others...
RHODA – Stop right there.
JAMIE – (calmly) All I’m saying is... people could be limited by their religion as well as saved by it. And... well, your God might not even exist. Sorry, but it IS a maybe.
RHODA – You have to respect people’s beliefs. And anyway, look, about what you said earlier. You’re going on a sort of philosophical journey, right.
JAMIE – Er... I hadn’t exactly thought of it like that...
RHODA – And you’re asking questions and all that sort of thing... but religion, whichever one you choose, is providing a lot of answers to the questions you’re asking.
JAMIE – Well, what if I become an atheist?
RHODA – Then you’re not choosing those answers, that’s all, whether they’re right or wrong. But who knows, maybe this philosophical journey will make you more religious.
JAMIE – Well – I... I don’t know. I really wanted to put more of a scientific spin on my study of human advancement and potential, not a religious one.
RHODA – (shrugs) You should think about what exactly you’re trying to do first. Like, come up with a list of questions, or map out your ideas. And you could research the history of philosophy at school in a few days.
JAMIE – Yeah, I will. Thanks, Rhoda.
(They stop in front of Jamie’s house, wave their goodbyes and split up. Jamie goes back inside.)