It Works on Many Levels
Artists for Gaia

The Privileges of Piety

From the Telegraph:

Faith groups are to be given a central role in shaping government policies, a senior minister has vowed. John Denham, the communities secretary revealed that a new panel of religious experts has been set up to advise the Government on making public policy decisions. Mr Denham argued that Christians and Muslims can contribute significant insights on key issues, such as the economy, parenting and tackling climate change.

Oh happy day. Islam and Gaia, together at last.

The minister said that the Government needed to be educated by faith groups on “how to inform the rest of society about these issues.”

Perhaps someone could explain why it is we even have a “communities secretary,” and why this one is so eager to defer to “experts” whose, um, expertise lies not in parenting, economics or climatology, but in affairs of an altogether more elevated nature. Sadly, Mr Denham doesn’t reveal which particular “significant insights” will be brought to bear by the aforementioned “faith groups”. Nor is it terribly obvious how being Muslim or Christian might bestow a parental or economic wisdom unavailable to less pious human beings.

Which leads us to another item featuring one of those “experts” - Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury - self-described “hairy lefty,” palace-dweller, figure of ridicule, apologist for terrorism and chief executive of a failing religious enterprise. Dr Williams’ latest musings on mortal affairs are also aired in the Telegraph, where we learn “higher taxes would be good for society”:

Dr Rowan Williams said that taxation should not be seen as a way of stifling business or redistributing wealth but helping to make the world a better place in which to live.

You may want those sunglasses. It’s dazzling stuff.

He called for new levies to be introduced on financial transactions and carbon emissions, and an end to the idea that unlimited economic growth is desirable... “Taxation builds a habitat - already, quite properly, through state welfare provision, but potentially in other less familiar ways.”

Whatever Dr Williams chooses to believe, higher taxation and “new levies” are a very good way of stifling business, and base commerce is ultimately how we pay for all of those good deeds the Most Revered One likes to bang on about. And if the implied individual belt-tightening is so “good for society” – that’s you, dear reader - why isn’t it good for government too? Or should the state become larger and more righteously engorged, “making the world a better place” with publicly funded diversity policy officers, tobacco control officers, undercover waste bin spies and other consciousness-raising efforts? As, for instance, when the Arts Council saw fit to spend £150,000 of your taxes on sending Jarvis Cocker to the Arctic for “inspiration,” along with Marcus Brigstocke, Kathy Barber, Julian Stair and Beatboxer Shlomo:

The ambition of the expedition was to inspire the creative team to respond to climate change... It was an amazing journey; 10 days of artistic inspiration, debate, discussion and exploration.

I’m sure it was a hoot. And when it comes to “artistic responses to climate change” you just need to include a third-rate leftwing comedian, a “billboard hijacker” and a maker of ceramics.

And while higher taxes will apparently be “good for society,” there will, obviously, be some special dispensations. Some free rides must always be available to those deemed deserving. The Church of England is of course a recipient of tax breaks, including a 100% VAT refund for the renovation of religious buildings. Places of worship, including those overseen by Dr Williams, are eligible for complete business rate exemption and Ministers of Religion are entitled either to significant discounts or full exemption from paying council tax. Which is nice.

The insight continues: 

The archbishop also claimed reality television gives us “alarming glimpses” of what the world would look like were everyone to be governed by self-interest.

Let’s pause for a moment and ponder a small but pertinent question. What kind of worldview sees self-interest not in its most obvious, everyday, prosaic terms – say, as what motivates the local butcher to open on cold mornings - but instead as defined by a tiny self-selecting group of televised narcissists? Apparently, self-interest isn’t about the millions of humdrum but useful transactions that take place today and every other day. For Dr Williams, it means something else entirely. It means Celebrity Big Brother. Just how naïve, how cartoonish, does that worldview sound to you?

Clearly, more input of this calibre is needed.

Comments

Anna

"self-described "hairy lefty," palace-dweller..."

Mee-oww. :D

Kellie Strøm

Faith groups? Why not musical groups? Folkdancing groups? Or culinary groups? How did community and culture become reduced to religion?

dw

If we shut down the Arts Council that's half a billion saved every year. Jarvis fucking Cocker can walk to the Arctic.

R. Sherman

I'm always amazed when people call my Christianity into question because I happen to think that higher taxes are not a good thing. Non-Christians toss out a "feed the poor" bromide and accuse me of hypocrisy. What such benevolent souls fail to see is that I cannot discharge my personal obligation to take care of the less fortunate by voting that someone else pay the bill.

Regards.

mlrosty

A left wing archbishop who pays no council tax, lives in a palace and has servants wants to make the world a better place by making me poorer.

George

"How did community and culture become reduced to religion?"

Not any old religion either, but the hairshirt, self-flagellating variety of the Archbish or the My-God-Is-Best of the Islamic supremacists. The latter will eventually win and abolish (or significantly curtail) all forms of communal and cultural activity not directly connected with the worship of Allah.

David

mlrosty,

“A left wing archbishop who pays no council tax, lives in a palace and has servants wants to make the world a better place by making me poorer.”

That’s the gist of it, yes. It’s for your own good. You see, this is the same penetrating mind that sees you as a victim of consumerism, and sees “every transaction in the developed world” as “an act of aggression” against the world’s poor. Our palace-dwelling socialist also sees jihadists as arguably having “serious moral goals” and regards the term “evil” as just “bombast,” even when it’s used to describe fanatics whose piety entails the slaughter of random children. We must “understand” such people, says he. But only in certain, dishonest ways. And don’t forget Dr Williams is accustomed to others picking up his tab. In 1985 he was arrested for protesting at Lakenheath air base in Suffolk. Due to his piety, the fine was paid by his college. Thus, for such a prick, his life is remarkably free of consequences. By almost any measure, Williams is the archetypal bien-pensant hypocrite – a wretched specimen.

Anna

"By almost any measure, Williams is the archetypal bien-pensant hypocrite"

And the Guardian's favourite holy man. Sorry, favourite *non-Muslim* holy man.

randian

Nor is it terribly obvious how being Muslim or Christian might bestow a parental or economic wisdom unavailable to less pious human beings.

I thought it fairly obvious that Christians won't be who the communities secretary listens to. This is stealth imposition of Muslim values, I guarantee it.

Gaw

I've no objection to clerics wanting us all to be poorer, even if they do live in palaces. It's what they do, to quote the Bishop of Stepney. It's just the desire to make the state richer - I've never seen that as part of the deal. Shouldn't Caesar eff off and mind his own business?

Horace Dunn

I always preferred Dr Williams before he became a Christian...

http://www.trashfiction.co.uk/catweazle_back.jpg

David

It’s actually quite difficult to convey just how disgusting Williams is. He’s an absurdity; a bejewelled grotesque. He blathers at length about our “undermining” of “Islamic integrity” and our “diminishing of other cultures” – all in the same woolly, fact-free, self-loathing tone. (He’s forever using the paranormal “we” and ascribing to others his own facile assumptions.)

In his post-9/11 booklet “Writing in the Dust,” he claimed – based on nothing – that the jihadist hijackers had *no choice* but to murder 3000 random strangers: “We have something of the freedom to consider whether or not we turn to violence and so, in virtue of that very fact, are rather different from those who experience their world as leaving no other option.” His readiness to assert – based on nothing – that the terrorists had “no other option” is frivolous and nauseating, but entirely typical.

He’s an obfuscator, a hypocrite, an apologist for terrorism and a fellator of evil. Just the kind of guy to give moral instruction.

Stevegle

I can imagine that there are lots of church congregations and mosque-goers who have burning (sorry, make that intense) opinions on all the matters outlined so persuasively by Mr Denham. But what of Sikhs and Buddhists and Jews? Don't they count?

Oh, just a moment, weren't some of the greatest discoveries in the world made by Jewish people? Never mind. Maybe things like that don't count any more in our brave new world of opinions...

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