“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A Cornish funeral.

As a life long atheist all religious involvement sits uneasy on my conscience. I avoid all of it if I can and try not to judge one faith against another because although I don't think that the Quakers are as repressive as Wahhabi Islam I remain convinced that we would be better off with none of it. Think that Buddhism is all about peace? Tell that to the Sri Lancan Tamils. But yesterday I had to attend a Church of England funeral. The demands of friendship far outweighed my misgivings. It was a traditional Cornish affair,   The vicar seemed a pleasant enough cove. The church was beautiful and we sang Jerusalem, Will Your Anchor Hold, and the rousing Cornish anthem Trelawny. To be truthful I found it all quite uplifting.

1 comment:

Dr Llareggub said...

I hoped for a discussion in response to this post on religion. The atheistic left always misrepresent religion as an outfit where the gullible believe in big daddy in the sky whose existence is incompatible with material science, but nevertheless responsible for a history of oppression and slaughter. They are usually quiet or have excuses for the horrendous body count in atheistic left regimes - from Leninism to Labourism - throughout the 20th century, which raises questions why many anarchists identify with them.
When Solidarity packed up Chris Pallis and I examined the medical and religious/ethical data on the boundaries between life and death. We researched the beliefs in the major religions. Although he was an atheist, Pallis's essay on Death in the Enc Brittanica is a classical contribution to theology. I too covered religious attitudes to life and death in my books on brain death, organ transplantation, and medical ethics, including the ethics of abortion.Too important to ignore whilst escaping into some empty headed materialism- as we have seen in those miserable countries where religion has been suppressed.
The problem with the atheistic left is that of Orwell's newspeak; replace religious discourse with an impoverished language which cannot critique society or formulate serious moral guidelines. I am not talking here about a transcendental God who makes rules. Not all language is referential. The moral expression 'he gained the world but lost his soul' cannot be reduced to a non religious dimension as in 'he gained the world and lost his mind/brain', as the Cartesians would say. Or consider the current state of Class War: can the followers of Comrade Bone be correctly described as anything other than 'apostles'?
A former colleague was watching TV with his five year old daughter and he described one of the animals in the show as rather ugly. She told him not to say that about one of God's creatures. He had no religion but recognised she was saying something which could not translate into the language of animal rights or the RSPCA. At school she was ordered by the PC teachers not to refer to God's creatures as it was likely to give offence. She was told to speak of nature instead, which robbed her of an ability to pinpoint a significant moral attitude towards animals.
I cannot make sense of accounts an all powerful all knowing deity, but I see the importance of religious discourse. I used to attend meetings at Windsor Castle on science and religion and recall pointing out to the former Archbish of York that his God was like Rupert Murdoch - who only had to exist in order to be obeyed. The Queen had a good attitude and overruled he Churchmen when insisting that a portrait of the crucifixion should stay as it depicted Jesus with severely damaged arms which, she said, would resemble a working carpenter of those days.
A serious question for anarchists: how to liberate the left before re-building a better world?