Fear is the secret sauce of religion. Were one to look through the history of religion, one would see quickly, the ways in which failed crops, drought, disease, economic collapse, the loss of battles or the loss of a child would throw a king or queen, bishop or lord into a spiral of fury and fear. It is difficult when one does not feel in control. And so, as a means by which to regain control, religion would step in. A human or bestial sacrifice, a long liturgy, a public trial, and execution, or the invocation of the gods or of God would be used to bring a sense of order, but really, just a feeling of control over the order.
In the days around Christmas, monks and clergy would parade around English farms with chests filled with the bones of saints in order to bless otherwise evil lands and so, bring a good harvest. A good harvest meant money and money meant food for the poorest, and power for the wealthiest. And the wealthiest were the monks, who charged for the service.
Today, things seem rather less evolved than one might have hoped. We still demand a sacrifice when the economy turns down, though the sacrifice is no longer a cow but rather, a media attack. We have not migrated far from the roman colosseum. We still sit in our seats cheering destruction, however now, it is while watching the nightly news, the canceling of someone threatening power or simply the salacious rumor-mongering as vigorous in church as in state. We simply must ACT when we are afraid. It makes us feel powerful. it is also emotionally unintelligent.
But what if we became quiet instead. What if the land is holy and beautiful, and it is some clergy that are diseased and evil? What if repression and judgment are as violent as any bomb? What if the response to fear is better a walk than a sacrifice? What if the response to an economic collapse is better to determine the next steps rather than find blame in sinners and sins?
I used to go to church to feel better about my fears. Now I walk the land. Trees, eagles, seagulls, waves – they never wag a finger or invoke a deity. They live until eaten, burned or broken. Theirs is a better way I think. Let’s sell the relics, crosses, and vestments – let’s use the money to feed the hungry and clothe the cold. Let’s make clergy, at least the creepy ones, find a real job – something productive of a new age of fearlessness.