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THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE
#5 RELIGION – FAITH NO MORE
Settle down at the back
‘That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the Spot.’
‘Losing my religion.’
So sang Michael Stipe of corporate rock pseuds REM. I say ‘sang’ but it may be more accurate to describe it as some sort of rasping cough, not dissimilar to the wheezing of a goat. But that’s not the point, damn it. The point is that we are all losing our religion, all day, every day. And then some. But WHY?
WHAT IS RELIGION SUMMY?
For many of us in England and Amercia, religion is little more than a flip excuse to take our knickers off and have a bit of a party here and there, for others it’s merely a legal way to get out of going to work. And rightly so, I’m sure God – in whatever manifestation he/she/it may take – slopes off for a crafty smoke every millennium or so for spurious religious reasons. (If there’s no possibility of a temporarily godless world explain Hootie and the Blowfish.) But this workshy and cocky approach to spirituality is a recent thing.
Once, in holier times, babies had the ten commandments screamed at them by wizened, gibbering psychopaths, and everybody went to church out of sheer, trouser-filling terror. People who did not believe in God were frightened to speak out for fear of retribution from the state, their friends and, ironically, God himself.
People went to church daily, sometimes to pray, sometimes to confer with their spiritual guide and sometimes to check out the latest in hats and gloves. And it didn’t stop there: children were sent to schools where religion was instilled via the medium of ritual beating and shouting; hell, even horses had to learn how to kneel . Although, strictly speaking that was to get the saddle on.
And it was always like that. The religion of a nation would change; Sun Worship, Paganism, Beany-Malonism, Proto-Christianity,; but the nation would remain religious. A striking example of this occurred in England in 1638 when King James, rewrote the entire Bible. Presumably he knew what God was really trying to say.
GOD VERSUS SCIENCE
But to get to the source of the division between forward thinking and the church we have to delve a little further into the murky arsehole of history. In 1540 Copernicus ruffled a few feathers by saying the following: ‘Earth is one of many planets. It is not the centre of the universe. In fact, it’s nothing special at all. And the King is a big wet nelly.’ These views strongly divided the church and science. ‘If it can be proved that earth is nothing special, the necessity for God and creationism will dwindle’ cried the scientists. ‘But Copernicus is a heretic, he argues against God himself’ retorted the Church. ‘Tell you what, he’d better cross the bloody road if I see him,’ said the king.
But it was Charley Darwin that really put the mongoose in the hen-house when he dared to suppose that the human race evolved from ape-like creatures, In his book ‘The Origin Of The Species’ he bravely proposed that evolution was brought about by a series of happy accidents rather that a pre-ordained master plan. The crazy fool.
In Tenessee, America, in 1925, a young teacher by the name of John T. Scopes was taken to court for teaching Darwinism, as if to illustrate that perhaps Darwin was wrong, we hadn’t evolved at all. In some southern states Darwinism is still frowned upon. The idea that this state of affairs is in any way connected with the notion that black and white people could have common ancestry is, of course, ludicrous. A fine film was made of the trial called ‘Inherit the Wind’ – and although it made no reference to the racial under-currect of the theories, it WAS made in black and white. Oho!
THE NEW MILLENNIUM
And so we find ourselves today; rather than shouting from the pulpit we squawk about religion on the internet; instead of searching for clues in ancient manuscripts we look for hidden meanings in Beatles songs. Have we abandoned God, or has God abandoned us? How come he never returns our calls? Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry? Woh-oh-oh-oh.
Sorry, got carried away there. The X-Files, one of the world’s most popular programmes, illustrates how far we have come from the scared peasants who did what the vicar said. Its persistant motif of questioning authority in a godless world highlights the changes in public perception that have allowed the race to mature and rationalise it’s spirituality on the dawn of a new millenium. So let’s pat ourselves on the back and ignore the fact that the world’s most popular programme ‘Baywatch’ buggers that theory right up.
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT?
Until next time