Thursday, 21 December 2017

Season for Change

Singing: “Tis the season to get re-al – Tra-la-la-la-lah!” Except we never quite do. Every year the church seems to be fighting a losing battle against the increasing secularisation of our annual celebration of unfettered consumerism. Neighbours vie to outdo each other with grotesque displays of wasted energy; worshipping a multitude of holy icons in the form of garishly-lit reindeer, sleighs and fat Santas hauling around their bulging sacks. Familial differences are augmented as perceived uneven present distribution pits child against child and couples who barely speak from one day to the next engage in passive-aggressive bouts of competitive gift-buying.

But, for many millions around the world, Christmas is still about celebrating the Christian myth and reinforcing their chosen belief system. Extraordinarily, religion is an exemplar of that very human need for validation. Why are we here? Fuck knows, ergo God. And the very nature of faith is that when challenged by the utter lack of any evidence whatsoever throughout the millennia of recorded human existence, that faith is strengthened in direct defiance of the scientific method. But, they say, you can’t prove he doesn’t exist. But, we say, we don’t care.

And yet we do. It seems that humans are still too frail to survive without superstition and according to Radio 4’s ‘Beyond Belief’ religion is on the rise. No wonder we are doomed as a race if we have to turn away from reason and rely instead on clinging to the dogma of an omnipotent being. It might be acceptable if we could at least agree that there was just the one, all-powerful deity but no, being human we have to make god as complicated as possible because as well as a unifying force we also need him as justification for going to war. Plus ça change...

And talking of change, the BBC came under fire yesterday for a recruitment advertisement: Seeking a ‘Head of Change’, somebody who can “influence the success of the Terms and Conditions programme with far-reaching impacts” and “leverage opportunities for benefits” while they “engage senior stakeholders to understand change impacts” etc, etc and bollocks and anon... The national press mocked them for the nebulous job description and claimed that nobody understood what the job entailed or what its purpose was.

What we used to call coping is now called change management. But the nature of change is that we can never be sure what might have happened had we not managed it. Sure, we can model alternative futures and we can retrospectively imagine alternative routes to the present, but there is no proof. It’s the perfect job – no matter the outcome you can easily present a version of history which shows how we did so much better with you in post than without. And even better, you can justify why your original one-year contract should be extended. After all, we survived until now, but who says that will continue without you? Best be on the safe side and make it a permanent position.

Dear Dad, for Christmas I would like a new job...

Religion could learn much from this approach and should proactively recruit evangelists to spread the word. Forget all that preaching and churchy nonsense – all the churches are being turned into carpet warehouses anyway; the church is changing and this needs to be managed. Wanted Archbishop of Canterbury: The successful candidate will engage blue-sky facilitations to roll out the furtherment of the father in the firmament and leverage credibility opportunities going forward. Utilising the latest faith technology to eulogise the benefits of buying-in, our new change champion will ceaselessly promote the glory of the hereafter. This position is forever and ever. Amen.


  1. As you say we like to complicate religion so as to justify killing one another. As Islam has the answer to that big time as they advocate that non believers should pay up and be enslaved or have their heads cut off then that has to be the one all should embrace. For those of a religious inclination at least and for those who are more secular it should be socialism as it pretty much advocated the same.

    1. Socialism is little more than the 'opium for the masses' which Marx thought religion was. Utterly irony-blind he had no solution, just a substitute