Apparently, all you have to do for people to have deeply-held beliefs now is to make those deeply-held beliefs up for them. No need to worry about intellectual inquiry, living your life honestly and suffering for your ideals, or struggling with challenges to your beliefs - all you have to do is pick up a new, branded, production line faith from the supermarket once your old one has worn out. Is it Thursday? Care for a spot of Scientology this morning then? No thanks, not for me, I'm trying to cut back.
"THE TEN Commandments, one of the most negative documents ever written." With that provocative claim posted high over two city streets, controversial cleric Francis Macnab yesterday launched "a new faith for the 21st century", a faith beyond orthodox Christianity.
- Jesus 'just a Jewish peasant'
- Cleric launches new faith
- Ten Commandments 'too negative'
Dr Macnab says Abraham is probably a concoction, Moses was a mass murderer and Jesus Christ just a Jewish peasant who certainly was not God. In fact, there is no God, in the usual sense of an interventionist deity - what we strive for is a presence both within and beyond us. - The Age
I've got an idea. In this age when every two-bit guru offers some new idea to believe in (but when it becomes harder and harder to believe in the person offering the belief), I could make up a faith of my own. I'll retain some of the aspects of other beliefs. For instance, environmentalists believe the world will be destroyed by global warming. I could choose to believe the world will be destroyed in an event called 'the apocalypse', or 'Armageddon'. Macnabbians believe in the teachings of a Melbourne psychotherapist. I could choose to believe in the teachings of a 2000-year-old person called 'Christ'. I could call our religion 'Christianity'. (I know, this all sounds a bit wild and way out, but think about the advantages of believing a man 2000 years ago, as opposed to a guy who announces a new religion over his morning coffee and croissants. It'd be so much harder to challenge him!) Whereas Scientologists believe that our lives are manipulated, behind the scenes, by sinister intergalactic supervillains, I propose instead a belief in two principal metaphysical figures, one representing the good (known notionally as 'God'), the other representing evil (known hypothetically as 'The Devil').
I'm going out on a limb here, but I'd like to propose some other important aspects of this religion. We could do good deeds to one another (let's call this ethical concept 'doing good deeds'), and exercise compassion and kind to the poor (we could call this 'helping' the 'poor'), and emphasise the importance of humility and truthfulness (in the forthcoming release of this new religion of mine, this will be referred to as 'humility' and 'truthfulness'), as well as courage and self-sacrifice (referred to, in short-hand, as well as long-hand, as 'courage' and 'self-sacrifice').
Obviously I've been a little unoriginal here and stolen some of the ideas from some of the traditional religions - Scientology, environmentalism, and Macnabbianism*. But hey. They sound like good ideas to me.
*I guess it's traditional, since this new faith has been in existence for at least two days now.