Philobiblon: The non-religious Settlement

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The non-religious Settlement

Interesting comment piece in the Guardian this morning, which suggests that the post-Civil War settlement between the Church of England and the government and society involve a tacit agreement:

Safe though he was, the nice country vicar in effect inoculated vast swaths of the English against Christianity. A religion of hospital visiting and flower arranging, with a side offering of heritage conservation, replaced the risk-all faith of a man who asked his adherents to take up their cross and follow him. The nice country vicar represented a very English modus vivendi between the sacred and the secular, with the sacred, in swallowing many of its convictions, paying by far the heaviest price for the deal.
In exchange for a walk-on part during major family occasions and the opportunity to be custodian of the country's most impressive collection of buildings, the vicar promised discretion in all things pertaining to faith: he agreed to treat God as a private matter. In a country exhausted by wars about religion, the creation of the nonreligious priest was a masterstroke of English inventiveness. And once the priest had been cut off from the source of his fire and reassigned to judge marrows at the village fete, his transformation from figure of fear to figure of fun was complete.

I tend to broadly agree with that, although not with his next step - he wants to restore the fiery religion, I'd like to take this historical progression to its logical conclusion - get rid of the religion altogether, run the church as a community centre and choose a community worker to do the visiting, tea drinker and marrow-judging.

While I'm talking history, if you're a history blogger, watch out. The UK glorification of terrorism act comes into effect today. Be careful what you write about those Vandals....


Blogger clanger said...

In theory a problem, but in reality, only very bad historians glorify anything. Glorification went out with the ark in serious academic study.

As long as State Lawyers don't want to quibble on semantics. As if they would.

Another brick in the wall for anyone who decides they want to bring down the jackboot, and another glass ceiling for freedom of expression. Post 911 we have installed more metaphorical glass ceilings than Mies van der Rohe.

I suppose folk get to a point where they really just want to survive their own life without waking up in a dictatorship, rather than worrying about the grander issues on where the nation is going, and whether the world can be saved.

By then you've established that the nation is run by incompetent nutters, and that there is very little you can actually do about it.

You exist below layers of incompetent tossers failing to do whatever the public purse is paying them to do, whilst sitting behind their desks dreaming of escaping to the country, or Tuscany.

You live at the mercy of the spiv economy, in the shadow of the festering immorality of large corporates, and try to balance the bills.

People with kids probably worry more, fertility coming before wisdom in life's passage.

Sometimes you want to save the world.

Sometimes you think it doesn't deserve saving.

Sometimes you admit that it will always refuse to allow itself to be saved, given the popular genetic predisposition to laziness, ignorance, and greed.

Ultimately, you can Trust in the Bindweed.

When our wonderful, stupid, greedy, beautiful, selfish, adventurous, arse-witted species has finally wiped out enough of its own carefully-bodged civilisations, no matter how radioactive, how polluted, or how crispy the planet, the bindweed will still be there, and nature will start to recover.

4/13/2006 10:05:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

Glorification is in the eye of the beholder ... What if I said, hey Boudicca was good since she defended (see book review above) the native, relative female-friendly culture, against the female-infanticide-practicing Roman invaders, and if she had to burn London along the way, well that was to the good? Hey, I'm glorifying a "terrorist" - someone opposed to all those nice neat laws and straight roads...

4/14/2006 12:43:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

Agree totally that the law creates all sorts of potential problems. Its so badly designed you'd think it was drawn up by politicians...

Helpfully, English law traditionally depends upon a judge and jury regarding both the letter and spirit of the law, and the intention of the suspect when convicting and sentencing. Though they'll probably change that soon too.

The current trend seems to be to criminalise people by default, so they can more easily pick off the ones they want at will. Whether this is for convenience, or for more insidious reasons, only time will tell.

So whilst yes, you would be in breach of the new law, nobody would bother prosecuting you unless you wanted to be a martyr for PR reasons.

Such PR stunts (as the 'serious and organised' ladies at Menwith Hill-now there's a T-shirt opportunity) would one hopes, result in nothing more than a nominal £1 fine, and in the MoD case, a demand that protestors stick to public footpaths. Not forgetting a comprehensive bollocking to the MoD for wasting tax payers money on a ludicrous prosecution.

If of course you sneak into an MoD base under cover of night, you only have yourself to blame if you are shot dead by guards, or by an automated defence system. So any human rights PR ought to be done in daylight with the media in tow.

4/16/2006 05:53:00 pm  

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