Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sept. 30: Sunday morning.

I always check out the faith pages (both of them) in the weekend TandT. And it always reminds me painfully of the business page. That's the one that seems to be thrown together on a daily basis with no focus, no planning, no judgement - just tossing in whatever's handy - rather like throwing fish bits to the sled dogs.

The impression left by the Faith page is that Moncton is largely Protestant, though with rather few Protestant churches represented - two Anglican, six Baptist, five United, and one Presbyterian. It also appears to be pretty cheaply put together with one page (Worship Services) apparently paid advertising, and three-quarters of the other simply announcements of church suppers and yard sales.

There is, it is true, an opinion column as a lead - and it is usually worth reading. And, I suspect, it is a freebie for the paper.

Almost certainly not by coincidence, there is a restaurant ad in the corner directed at seniors (who make up a large proportion of attendance in most churches). That ad, alone, probably pays for both pages.

There are several bothersome things about this section.

For a start, there is no sign of editing or even of purpose to this section. They just print whatever they get for nothing or, sometimes, for a small donation to the TandT. In that sense, it's as sloppy and casual as the business page, NewsToday, and section A.

Then - well - I somehow think there are more churches (and more faiths) than are represented in this section.
I have seen Protestant churches which do not belong to the four brands listed on Faith. I have seen what I am quite sure are Roman Catholic churches. I know I have seen a synagogue. I have seen Moslems in this city; so there must be at least a prayer group for Moslems.

As well, church attendance figures suggest a large number of atheists (also a faith of sorts) and agnostics. All of these represent views about faith. The sports page wouldn't dream of leaving out the complete scores for a sports league in southern California that nobody here will ever see. But the Faith page leaves out well over 90% of all those who might be interested in faith, if not in specific churches.

But there's also a far, far deeper problem.

We live in a world in which the very concepts of right and wrong have pretty much disappeared. A century ago, the world's leading nations held conferences to limit the use of some of the terrible weapons being developed. Then came World War One, and all limits were abandoned. Today, when weapons are a million times more terrible than they were in 1914, the major nations are the leaders in refusing to consider any limitation on what they can use or do.

When the UN was founded, no major nation took it seriously. The veto was placed in its constitution by the major powers to ensure that the UN could never be effective. In the early days, the leading user of the veto was the Soviet Union. I can remember, as a child, hearing jokes about Nyet (no) being the only word the Soviets understood.

The did it because they were so often in a minority position. But things have changed.

The US is now the big user of the veto. (Though I haven't heard any jokes about it in our press - or even much mention of it.) As well, it is some of the most self-righteous Christians in the very Christian United States that most loudly shout for even more killing.

Canada was one of the last to abandon the UN. The abandonment began a long time ago, but was clear when Canadian pms, starting with Martin, accepted NATO as a respectable cover for unrespectable wars. NATO has replaced the UN; and NATO is simply the US thug for its wars - just as the British Empire provided thugs for the Boer War.

War has risen to such a level of savagery and deliberate killing of civilians and and torture and  terrorism (yes, by all sides), that Hitler now seems the outstanding figure of the twentieth century who set the model for our time.

Nor does not the concept of right and wrong exist in our business world. Oh, yes, business will give big cheques to worthy groups; you can see the photos any day in the TandT. But that's just good advertising. The reality is that big business, especially, does not operate according to any principles of right and wrong.

Quite the contrary, It has long about accepted as its only principle that the only good is making a profit, no matter what the damage to humans or the environment they have to live in. There is an open worship of greed. Greed is good. Greed creates ambition. Greed creates prosperity. (Just look around the world, and check out the prosperity in Haiti, Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Britain, the US....and maybe us.)

Look at the corruption in governments. Look at how democracy is becoming a myth. Look at how all those millions were donated to contractors to rebuild Haiti - and now all of it is gone into the pockets of the contractors - with Haitians still living in poverty and filth. Look at the great pharmaceutical companies which insist top retail prices for life-saving drugs sent to third world countries with our tax dollars.

Corporations have become unspeakably corrupt and corrupting, greedy, destructive,even  murderous (ask the Congolese, Libyans, Iraqis and Afghanis about it) - and they see that as normal, sensible business practice.

Incidentally, to see the stupidity in all this, think of the argument given for fracking. Sure, it made do irreparable damage to the environment. But it will create jobs. Yeah. (For a little while. Maybe.) That's a great idea. Building on it, lets nuke Fredericton. It would kill some people; but so do other attacks on the environment - like fracking. And - here's the good part.Nuking Fredericton would create jobs with federal money pouring in to clean up Fredericton. For Pete's sake, grow up. Stop worrying about damage. Think jobs.

I have no intention to beat the drum for any religion in particular. I really don't care whether Jesus was the son of God, or Mary a Virgin. I think the discrimination directed against gays is the product of narrow and self-righteous minds which have missed the whole point of Christianity.

As to faith, I have it. Three cheers for me. But that in no way makes me superior to or even seriously different from many devout people I have known who were Jews, Moslems, Hindus or followers of Confucius.  Or, for that matter, from a great many agnostics and atheists.

But the fact remains that religion has, throughout history, been the source off what sense of right and wrong that we have. Even my favourite atheists have a sense of right and wrong that bears a remarkable resemblance to religious people I have known.

(Yes, I know that some of the worst warhawks and preachers of hatred are religious Christians. I think here of the Protestant chaplain in Afghanistan who assured our troops they were doing an important job. I admit we do face a problem of converting Christians to Christianity.)

We're in trouble. We live in a world that is destroying itself for lack of any sense of right and wrong. We live in a capitalist economy which is destroying itself for lack of any sense of right and wrong. In fact, our capitalism has become no different from Stalin's communism. Like Stalin's communism, it is simply power, corruption, greed concentrated in the hands of a few. And, like Stalin's communism, it is destroying itself - and us with it.

Whether you are religious or not, we are in severe danger from our lack of any sense of right and wrong.

It seems to m the Faith page would be a good place to start considering that - with all the faiths; and, indeed, with all the non-faiths and phony faiths that characterize our big-business and political worlds.

No comments:

Post a Comment