So another Christmas has passed and, once again, we have had to listen to the churches pontificating that the true meaning of the season has been lost. This is patently untrue, since the original spirit of the season was the pagan festival of Yule – a celebration marked by feasting and by drinking to excess and which, coincidentally, was therefore quite often associated with unexplained pregnancies where there was some sense of mystery regarding the precise identity of the father…
Of course, what the church is actually complaining about is that the season has become dedicated to worshipping in the cathedrals of consumerism, rather than in their own temples of lavishness and splendour; but the churches themselves have had their own part to play in the corporate crushing of what was merely a carnival of conviviality in the dim and distant past; and, in truth, perhaps they doth protest too much.
Religion – and this is true of any religion, take your pick – has always preached the nobility of charity whilst somehow finding itself unable to contribute because its own rather formidable wealth always seems to be tied up in property or long-term investments. Indeed, a great deal of most churches’ capital seems to be locked into some serious stock and this suggests that they may have more than a passing interest in market performance on the high street. The Church of England, certainly, has a £5.3 billion investments portfolio which includes £90-odd million in HSBC, £20 or so million in Barclays and close to £30 million in Tesco – for, whilst it is considered bad for the money lenders to be in the temple, there is apparently no issue with the temple being in with the money lenders. After all, is it not written that the love of money is the route…?
Indeed, whilst it is undoubtedly true that Christ was a socialist, Christianity is unquestionably now a capitalist establishment which just loves you to spend cash – even if you have to borrow it – no matter what protestations they may make. Let us APRay.
There is, of course, some scriptural justification for this: “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11) Presumably this is the passage which permits the clerical patriarchy to tacitly support institutions which offer a high-interest slap in the face to those who are left struggling with repayments.
[As an aside, there also seems to be the small matter of £9 million which the CofE still has invested with News Corp. I am unaware of any biblical hypocrisy which might manage to cover this, but I suppose there might be a passage in the Good News bible.]
The Catholic Church, meanwhile – possibly the biggest single financial power in existence – has much wider investments still (estimated at some £15 billion) and yet remains reportedly the biggest tax evader in Italy, perhaps in the world. Bear that in mind as nations fail and the global economy collapses.
From the very beginning, with the story of the Garden of Eden and the tree of knowledge, organised religion has tried to teach us that the ability to think for ourselves is a bad thing – for we must not question either God or the Church – and has attempted to instil in us a sense of guilt at who we are. Of course, that little tableau also produced the wonderful lie of original sin, which has allowed all our false churches to subjugate and oppress women throughout history.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam have also always told us that God is watching over us at all times. This is dressed up as the almighty curator [sic] tending us as his flock but, historically, it has also been used to instil insecurity and guilt amongst believers. This is nothing but supernatural assassination of individuality – we are to be robbed, it seems, of our very selves – for character is who you are in the dark: the one test we have available to us of our true identities is to be able to see who we are when we are not being judged and have to be accountable only unto ourselves. Apparently, though, he who created us in his image does not feel able to trust us to be alone with our thoughts or, for that matter, our bodies.
Making love is a simple pleasure without a price-tag which is accessible to us all – it is our right and our privilege as human beings and will not be marked with a number. Even the animals are free to enjoy this escape with no sense of impropriety or sin (with the possible exception of pandas – who knows what’s going on there?) and yet it is deemed that we should not simply enjoy this indulgence for its pleasure by those self-proclaimed prophets who stake ownership to the very architecture of our moral codes and our belief systems. Could this be because, if we can be happy without having to contribute to the economy (spending without spending, as it were), then it is feared that our desire to consume might slow? After all, no corporate logo has yet been able to be stamped upon our sexual organs (perhaps because there isn’t always room…)
The act of pleasuring oneself, we are told, is the most debauched and immoral of all, and thus many of us find ourselves forced to seek out alternatives with which to fill this void that has been created in our lives: a gaping chasm within us which we have little choice but to endeavour to occupy with telephones, electronic toys and Jeremy Clarkson – surely the worthiest personification of the single male’s wasted ejaculate that there has ever been.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution for you all: take pleasure in life – for life itself is the pleasure, not anything that you can buy, and there is no greater pleasure in life than to enjoy being with others or to profit from the effort of one’s own hands.