Spectator-Sport Religion

The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson tastefully chooses Easter to launch a political attack against the BBC in the name of religion. Tasteful, if obviously rushed and off-the shelf.

The more I find out about the history and practice of religion, partly through the BBC’s coverage, the more irreligious I become. There is no ‘Blind-spot’. The channel which produced the first British mainstream documentary on the history of Islam has nothing to be ashamed of. Not even its Olympic commentators failing to explain what a prayer is, which particularly annoyed Fraser Nelson –  apparently, American commentators had to.
What the reactionaries of the Spectator can’t understand is that Progress produces progressive, tolerant  Thoughts for the Day. And there is nothing they can do about it except rail impotently like the insane Lear at the world’s disobedience, while continuing their constant attempt to peddle selfishness as a spiritual virtue.
The saddest part about the protest is not its blatant advertising for Sky, or even its pathetically limp tone, but that like modern religion itself, it simply does not ring true as an expression of faith. It is just another desperate assertion of identity by a species which knows it is facing extinction, an attention-seeking exhibition psychologically identical to fundamentalist Jihad, another reactionary protest-too-much. Like all professions of belief in the incredible. ‘Which go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire’, as it says in the play.
The truth about both religion and Fraser Nelson come out eventually when confronted with Thought For The Day, when religious figureheads go off-script for a few minutes. The problem is simply a lack of  enough good old-time reactionary religion on the BBC. What Nelson really wants is religious political ‘balance’  Fox News style, presumably.

The speakers are described as being ‘from across the world’s major faiths,’ but almost always from the political left. Their ‘thought’ can often be summed up as: ‘Jesus was left-wing, too.’

For someone claiming to represent religion, Nelson is sadly lacking in scriptural knowledge. Especially concerning the Sermon on the Mount, surely Christ’s definitive political statement. His attitude to private property, for instance, is perfectly clear.

‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ (Matthew 6:29)

And is clarified even further by Orwell, a master of clarification often used as a smokescreen by the Spectator:

“It could be claimed, for example, that the most important part of Marx’s theory is contained in the saying:
‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’
But before Marx developed it, what force had that saying had? Who had paid any attention to it? Who had inferred from it — what it certainly implies — that laws, religions and moral codes are all a superstructure built over existing property relations? It was Christ, according to the Gospel, who uttered the text, but it was Marx who brought it to life. And ever since he did so the motives of politicians, priests, judges, moralists and millionaires have been under the deepest suspicion — which, of course, is why they hate him so much.” Tribune 1944

The thought of Christ and Marx working together to drive history away from selfishness, property-worship and competition and towards co-operation and community must be a constant terror for the reactionaries of the Spectator. So much so that they choose the holiest time of the Christian calendar to launch a political attack. Their political appetite side-lining their spiritual needs. But not their needs for a nice Easter break in the West Country, in Nelson’s case. I trust he will enjoy the intense spiritual rebirth every true Christian experiences at Easter, in whatever church he chooses. But I doubt it. Such a thing probably hasn’t happened in Britain for 100 years. Other more desperate societies may be different, but even in the most feudal degradation of the extreme past, religious belief was always a matter of constant enforcement and mutual doubt, as the existence of ancient Eygptian grave-robbers and the means used to deter them both prove. If grave-goods really did travel with the departed, there wouldn’t be anything to rob. Both poachers and gamekeepers knew the truth. Five thousand years later, blinded by its obedient middle-class intellectualism, The Spectator is still trying to catch up with what every thief and pope has know since before Moses.

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