Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Friday, 17 September 2010

Church and State

The visit to Great Britain by his Holiness, the Pope, has prompted the question of how much religion should interfere with the running of the State.

Forgetting for a moment that religious belief is primarily about the recognition and worship of a supreme creator, it is also one of the gateways to mankind's spiritual, emotional side. Although there are other ways to engage with man's spiritual side, for instance yoga and meditation, the Church has from earliest times, laid claim to the province of souls and set out a code of conduct for the way humans behave. It was the cornerstone of man's early attempts at moving away from the law of the jungle behaviour and towards becoming 'civilized'.

Nowadays we see that punishments handed down by the Church for non-compliance with its dicta is nothing more than blackmail. Behave or go to eternal hell and damnation, is the message. Besides, although much of the world lives its life under the auspices of Sharia Law, we, in the so called Christian countries, have introduced a secular legal system to regulate our behaviour, thereby eroding some of the power of the Church.
More and more people are questioning whether or not there is a supreme creator but very few are advocating anarchy. If there is no religion, human beings will still need answers to the age old questions of where do we come from and is there eternal life after death. What is love and why do we appreciate works of art?  Who is going to take responsibilty for these metaphysical questions?

Imagine the scene at the Cenotaph if there was no Church involvement. Notwithstanding the presence of her Majesty the Queen, there would be no one to lead the tributes to the fallen. Would it be the same if the Nation's respects were paid by a high ranking official from the Ministry of Morality.
What about the Coronation? The Queen is crowned sovereign in the eyes of God. How would this work if there was no pomp and ceremony and some jobsworth from the Ministry simply handed over the crown, saying that: 'I now pronounce you Queen. You may kiss the consort.'

Can you imagine how state occasions such as the funeral of Winston Churchill would be if there was no National tribute in the St. Paul's. The whole event could be hollow, devoid of any emotional gravitas or real ceremony. We don't want mystery but the Church's involvement ought to give the occasion a richness, an approbation that we have done the right thing by a much loved leader.

What can we do? I say, don't do away with the Church altogether; just do away with all this God business. By all means tell the stories of Jesus and Mohamed as examples of 'good' people, but take away all references to superhuman creators with the ability to make the heavens and earth but unable to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents in a tsunami or Pakistan floodwaters. A God, so powerful he cannot stop priests buggering little choirboys under his roof and ruining their lives. A God so powerful, he relies on self appointed Imams and Ayotullahs to mete out barbaric punishments on his behalf.

In what name should the Church hold its mandate. Why, in the name of Mankind, of course. To the Glory of Man, because all that we have introduced to the earth, all that is due to the creativity and design of man- from the building of magnificent edifices and the development of microscopic nanotechnology, to the conception of a God and the panoply of mythological beings- is testimony to the enterprise and ingenuity of us that make up our special species.
We (well almost all of us) are magnificent. We humans are the real story. Life is the miracle and we must take our opportunity to live it to the full and allow others to do the same.

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