Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Sorry, Another Bishop Post

Oh, for fuck's sake. Now the Anglicans are getting in on it, insisting that Christianity must stick its nose in all over the place or else Muslim state scary terrorists battle against Islam yada yada yada. No, Bishop. People are perfectly capable of functioning without an all-governing religion being forced upon them. We don't need your religion, we don't need their religion, we don't need my religion.

I understand that when faith is such a huge part of your life, you cannot understand other people not feeling it, or not needing it. You probably assume that atheists have a big gaping hole inside them, and having turned aside your prayers for their souls they search in vain for something to make them feel whole. I understand, I do. But it's not true. Music junkies don't believe there can be anyone in this world who doesn't really like music. For my part, I cannot understand people who say they just don't read books. We all have things that are so vital, central to our lives and our beings and our personalities that we have a hard time comprehending that none of these things are essential. I was going to say "Reading really isn't essential", but I can't write that and believe it, although it probably is true. So if you've dedicated your whole life to Christianity, it's probably very hard to believe that not everybody gets their moral guidance from the Bible, and that not everyone feels an intangible ache and emptiness from the abscence of Jesus Christ. It must be almost impossible.

By the way, I use the example of reading and not religion when relating this mindset to myself because in order to find the right path for me I had to separate from what the world told me was spiritually right. It's a silent part of my life, for the most part, and I had to find it through enormous amounts of research and self-questioning. Mostly, though, I choose not to use it as an example because I question it every single day. I will not become one of those people whose beliefs remain rigid merely because that's what she's always believed. If I'm going to grow, I must question. My love of words, however, I have never questioned, not once. Besides my family it was my first love, and I give it at least partial credit for bringing me through some awful times in my life. Paganism, on the other hand, is what I have come out with on the other side - not the lifeline, but the urge to learn to swim. I think that any bishop would credit his religion with having sheltered and strengthened him through the bad times, every knock further solidifying what he knew for sure anyway. This to me is books, not faith.

However. I do not blame society's ills on lack of reading. I might say that lack of education was a factor, just as a bishop may reasonably say that lack of general, not specific, faith, had caused a not-altogether-welcome shift in society. I have yet to find a bishop who advocates any kind of belief as opposed to his (never found a female bishop, either, though I hopefully will soon) very exact faith. This is sort of like me blaming society's troubles on the fact that not everybody went to university and took English.

The bishop in question appears to be arguing that Christianity = Britishness (no, taking the piss = Britishness), that we must use Christianity to "fight" Islam (do we have to "fight" Islam?), that other religions are not adequate substitutes for Christianity (again, I understand, but fuck off), and that Christianity gives us hard principles by which to live as opposed to the governement's vague ones.

I admit to being very amused by this:

"The Bishop of Rochester said Christianity had created a British identity imbued with values such as liberty and freedom of conscience."

followed by this:

"What are needed, he insisted, were the "transcendental principles" of Christianity - the sort of fundamental issues that are raised when people consider what it is to be human, and life and death questions such as abortion, euthanasia and stem-cell research."

So, nothing to do with liberty, in fact. What the fuck is "freedom of conscience" anyway? Especially in this context? It seems to mean "freedom to think what we tell you to think."

I still don't know if there's been an upsurge of bishops and cardinals trying to assert their positions in society or if there's just more being written about it, but even though nothing's likely to come of it, it still drives me absolutely fucking nuts. Why is this news, and why are people listening? Why does it seem like such a threat to me? Don't answer that; I know the reason. In strict hard-line Christian parlance, I am both low and scary and need to have my rights taken away (I am a young Pagan feminist who cherishes her reproductive freedom despite having pretty conservative personal sexual values which means she can't just be dismissed as a slapper, and they have to go back to 'dangerous heretic' which isn't as belittling as they might like).

Note this:

"He is one of three Church of England bishops to back an initiative by a traditionalist Anglican to commit the Church to work explicitly for the conversion of Muslims."

Yup, conversion of Muslims. Assimilation is the goal here. We must not forget.

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