Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech.

I happened to tune into the Archbishop’s speech to Synod (made in July this year) while watching television today. I wasn’t spiritually uplifted. Amongst other things he said:
“And as the Synod meets today, we are custodians of the gospel that transforms individuals, nations and societies.
Er no . . . the Church for the most part has stood in the way of nations being transformed. Prior to the French revolution, the Church was on the side of the aristocracy, not the poor. And it was largely the church elders backed the house arrest of Galileo for the last ten years of his life for having the temerity to claim the Earth revolves round the Sun. Plus they opposed Darwin’s theory of evolution when it first appeared. I could go on, but the general point is that when it comes to the really important or “transformational” issues the Church has never been much of a guide: it’s always on the side of the establishment.
The archbishop then said: “With all parties committed to austerity for the foreseeable future, we have to recognise that the profound challenges of social need, food banks, credit injustice….”
So who has really got to the bottom of the flaws in the pro-austerity argument over recent years, rather than just shouted and screamed about the problem?  Not the Church. It’s advocates of Modern Monetary Theory (like me) and others.  Doh!
Next, the archbishop said:
“..truth is not set by culture, nor morals by fashion…”. Wrong again. Morals are almost entirely a matter of fashion. For example, the morality of central America before the arrival of Europeans about 500 years ago dictated that human sacrifices were necessary in order to placate the Gods. Now what exactly is “moral” about human sacrifice? Darned if I know.
And the morality of Ancient Egypt dictated that everyone spent hours every day lugging large blocks of stone around so as to build million ton pyramids in which to bury dead kings and queens. Effing waste of time, strikes me, but what do I know?
And the morality of some societies (past and present) dictated that homosexuality was just fine, while in others it dictated that homosexuality was a cardinal sin. So morality is very much determined by fashion.
Anyway, while the Archbishop is a nice bloke, I can do without his advice. My religion is that expounded by Jean Paul Sartre: existentialism. Which roughly speaking consists of just one principle: “s*dding think for yourself”. Though existentialism is actually more subtle than that. It actually says that you have no option but to think for yourself. That is, you can follow some creed if you like (e.g. Buddhism), but it was you that chose to follow that creed, so the idea that you follow a creed is self-contradiction: you’re still thinking for yourself. You have no other option.
Here endeth the lesson.

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