Giles Fraser once expressed sympathy with the Occupy movement’s inoffensive occupation of the corner of capitalism central for which he was then “responsible”, adjacent to St Pauls.
He was pushed/resigned due to disagreements with the authorities above him, who sided with establishment comfort over people’s justice; smooth capitalism over protest against the continuing theft from the moderately poor by the exceedingly rich. He now writes a weekly column at the foot of the Guardian letters page – and announces with no irony today that his religion, along with Judaism, (presumably just these two because of their old testament link, and excluding all others) are about…
ridding the world of magic…
‘Historian Keith Thomas states: “If magic is defined as the employment of ineffective techniques to allay anxiety when effective ones are not available, then we must recognise that no society will ever be free from it.” That is exactly right. But in an age that prides itself on its rationality, we commonly mask this reality from ourselves’
Amazingly, after stating this, Canon Fraser chooses to define magic not as the magical thinking that underpins every aspect of the Bible, but as the modern day common belief that selfish materialistic “success” will bring happiness. So far so platitudinous. He goes on to say he cannot see how anything outside of his religion… (again, one presumes he excludes all the many others, as he highlights just the two Biblical sky daddy religious groups) can achieve that lack of selfishness, that steering towards humanity as a higher force than individual selfishness.
Let me introduce you to “Humanism” Giles.
Oh yes, I am sure you have heard of it, and must have dismissed it because of some reason or other?
…would that reason be that it does not have institutional status, creeds, rituals and a hierarchy that employs preachers?
…that Humanism cannot bring people together in one pen as the sheepdogs of enforced creeds can?
…that it just isn’t as visible as those churches and cathedrals, attachment to which you clearly enjoy so much?
I say that Humanism’s lack of ego is well represented by thousands of people who do not need your gas & gaiters; no creeds, no ritual reminder of fake certainties, none of that magic that really is comparable with Harry Potter and Merlin, otherwise known as “miracles” that form the centre of the circle of self deceit that is the arrogantly undefended core of Church thinking.
Many great bishops and theologians have discovered through their studies and the realities of life, just how much the whole edifice is built on paper thin sugar glass, rather than the relative solidity of sand. They often continue to serve as priests thinking that to admit to the farcical fabricated nature of religious magic, would be to tear down an edifice that real people depend upon, have built their lives upon…
Daniel Dennett has highlighted this issue and I can agree with him that we should be compassionate when we deal with these lost atheism deniers. Blind preachers on the other hand…
For Giles Fraser to play his own religious roots as an opposite of the magic of consumerist selfishness is beyond ironic. The notion that it is the church that initiated or promotes such things as peace, human decency, one community of humanity and the European charter of human rights, is farcical. The church has adored and expertly maintained the power that materialism brings, and laid its blessings upon war, slavery, genocide, xenophobia and magical thinking – All are central to the Bible, in every translation.
It is an acceptable cliche that we do need to be communal and compassionate in our thinking, but to claim loudly that only the church can achieve this via decrying the magic of capitalism – smells like some macho rugby captain preaching feminism whilst failing to notice that his balls are hanging out of his transvestite costume.