There is a dispute about opposition to a proposed airport to be built in the Thames estuary. A local council has earmarked £35,000 as a “fighting fund”. Most people in Medway, possibly, are opposed to the building of the airport, but some people have called for a referendum to test the extent of the opposition, and to see whether £35,000 would be spent according to local will. The Deputy Leader of Medway Council (Conservative led), Alan Jarrett, doesn’t see the point of a referendum. First of all, it would cost too much (he says): anything up to £250,000. Second of all, and most impressively:
The assumption which we are correctly making is the vast majority of people are in favour of what we are doing.1
Read that again… ”The assumption which we are correctly making is the vast majority of people are in favour of what we are doing.”
I am really, really impressed, that the satire of Bertolt Brecht is alive and well and living in Tory-run Medway Council
With nothing shared beyond a commitment to the self, which turns out to be a commitment to nothing, the individual lacks essential resources for flourishing in ordinary times and for solace in periods of great need. The anything goes mentality of niche marketing prevails, driving what qualifies as reading and thinking downward to new lows.
Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn, “Introduction (2006),” in Triumph of the Therapeutic: uses of faith after Freud, by Philip Rieff, 40th Anniversary Edition. (ISI Books, 2006), vii–xxvi.
Here at the Beaker Folk, we are very keen to embrace people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious”. I find they tend to have very high discretionary spending levels, on things like self-help books, rosaries, tea lights and aromatherapy oils. Importantly, they aren’t often involved in regular standing-orders to religious organisations – which can be so tedious to transfer across – especially without asking them.
Bearing in the mind the article in The Observer today, in which we are told that although numbers of self-identified Christians are down, the popularity of nativity plays is ever increasing, because “We quest and explore and we assemble spiritual packages that we find personally meaningful”1, it is instructive, of course, to see what that marvellous flat-packed spirituality of the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley says.
That’s why I set up the Beaker Folk, of course. We needed something more authentic. … I know a few hair-splitters will point out that the Beaker Folk were before Jesus as well. True, but we believe they glimpsed through a campfire, dimly, the Truth that was to come… Of course, this could all be rubbish. But it works for us. And that’s the main thing, isn’t it?
Which makes me, once more, sympathetic to David Mitchell’s Bad Vicar:
Merry Pagan Solstice Greetings to all the vicars out there who will be parrying people’s internet-assembled musings on religion over the next two days, before we fall into the stupor of St Stephen’s Day, and don’t have to think about life or death or eternity or meaning until the next festival of SBNR / CBNI!
an incredible idea that a school nativity play is an assembled spiritual package that is personally meaningful?! I mean, more incredible that the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation in and of itself! [↩]