Hello! Here in Smolensk butcher shop we wonder today if Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Walter Kasper right. Is UK secular, atheistical and idolatrous, and also a Third World country?
It is always very important to listen to Vatican leaders. They represent highest form of government, to which Russian “managed democracy” and UK Big Society model can only aspire. By abolish many opposition parties and monopolise political coverage, Putin and Medvedev ensure election results in Russia known in advance. But Church of Rome have no elections at all. (Except token one described in my old Encyclopedia Sovietica as “rare selection by unelected senate of earthly plenipotentiary, exercising absolute and unquestionable authority on behalf of invisible Universal Despot, where voting patterns are dictated by backroom gerrymandering of mysterious operator, Mr H. Ghost”.) Putin can only dream of such autocratic power! Like Russia, UK also move towards post-democratic state. Merger of liberal and conservative forces restrict real political choice, with ruling class now comprising interchangeable elite-school educated clones. This oligarchy exist far removed from world where most people lead their lives. Oligarchs have material security and emotional detachment needed for great fellow-feeling with and decision-making over masses they govern. (They’re all in this together because they’re not in this at all.) But church again is far superior. Already it is One Party State ruled by senior bureaucrats who educated in same way, dress the same, live in other worldly splendour of Vatican, and even avoid widespread practices like carnal relations – at least all consensual ones. They thus have perfected necessary detachment from normal life needed to pronounce on politics, personal morality, sexual relations, evils of Stewart Lee plays and to warn of the special quarters in hell reserved for Alan Carr, Clare Balding and Peter Tatchell.
So are Benny and Wally right about UK? Evidence for secular society in Britain mixed. Unlike US model of government, where church and state separate, bishops are given a bash in House of Lords. State funded faith schools teach kids scepticism about evolution and preach that global dominions of Antichrist Simon Cowell show imminence of Rapture. Tony Blair famously repudiate evidence based policy making and use faith, feelings, prayer – essentially the voices in his head – to justify humanitarian mission in Iraq. (This is more spiritual approach than underpin Pope Urban II decision to launch First Crusade. Urban used religious language to mask old-fashioned geopolitical calculation. By contrast, Iraq policy so disastrous on surface, it could only be justified by reference to opaque and as yet hidden Providential purposes understood only by prophets like Blair and Bush.) Blair also surround self with Cabinet members who use faith to inform policy making, including David Blunkett, Hilary Armstrong, and Ruth Kelly (who was member of secret Catholic sect, Opus Winfrey).
LibCon Coalition potentially even more explicit about this erosion of state/church separations that have exist in civilised world since Pope Gregory gave Emperor Henry IV big telling off at Canossa in 1077. Baronness Warsi clearly look forward to day when Big Society ideas so advanced that burden on public spend be reduced by Salvation Army performing triple bypass surgery, Quakers manufacturing Trident replacement, and Methodists running Docklands Light Railway. (Indeed local egghead Student Arkady find plenty evidence of pro-Christian bias in British media coverage of Warsi. On UK Newsnight she unchallenged when say Census show over 80% of people in UK religious. Figure is 76% and nearly ten years old. She also cite study which say more religious people volunteer than godless. Actual difference in study is statistically insignificant 1%. Study also show more atheists volunteer than practitioners of some religions, while alternative National Council of Voluntary Organisations study completely dismiss notion that religious people volunteer more than non-religious for work in UK charities – two thirds of which are secular. However Smolensk reactionary eccentric Mad Dmitri – who dress like Hussar and live in park – say we must forgive Warsi. Like Kay Burley she exactly sort of woman he want in public life: pretty, right-wing and dim.)
So there plenty evidence that UK still do God. Indeed, in interview this morning on Volga TV, David Cameron signal he will bring state and church even closer together by asking Pope to investigate Hackgate allegations against Downing Street Communications Director Andy Coulson. “I know Pope Benedict will apply the same rigour, great forensic skills and relentless pursuit of truth he used in previous enquiries.” The Pope will report on Coulson in 2019. And Coalition government is to consider radical Big Society policies suggested by evangelical advisers, including curing illnesses such as cancer, brain tumours and homosexuality using prayer.
But of course this spiritual health needs to be weighed against evidence of secularism. And there is plenty, including obvious stuff like materialism. This exemplified by bewildering consumerism: there are now 472 L’Oreal products per square centimetre of human face; this week sees new Supersizing All You Can Eat Plus Free Angioplasty offer at KFC; and Apple have promised that next generation i-Fad will be able to teleport its users to a Sci-Fi convention of their choice. And there is also obvious militant atheism of lunatic godless terrorists like Stephen Fry. Not only does Fry blow up places of worship – Volga News alleges – but he also use extremely violent passive aggressive tactics like logic, dignity, good manners, humour and sensitivity to get dated post-Enlightenment secular pluralist ideas across.
But what also worries Pope is idolatrous worshipping of false gods. Idolatry thrives where people are ignorant of teachings of church. In UK, 64% of people in recent survey said that Transubstantiation was alternative name for Crossrail, 83% that Virgin Birth is midwifery service run by Richard Branson, and 94% that Wedding at Cana was spin off from Bridezillas. This have terrible consequences: horoscopes, crystals, aromatherapy, Derek Ancorah, Carol Caplin, Glenn Hoddle, the teachings of Daily Express about divinity of Diana Princess of Wales, the Jonestown-like suicide pacts caused by worship of Middlesbrough FC, and widespread view of amongst middle aged women that Turin Shroud must be fake as face looks nothing like Sir Cliff Richard. (We got this problem of ignorance and idolatry in Russia too. When I ask my youngest son little Pavel about Benedict XVI, he ask if it was sequel to “Ben 10”. My assistant Yuri is convinced that Dan Brown wrote the Bible and my regular customer Babushka Vanka believes you can wash souls clean of sin using great Western innovation, Cillit Bang.)
Perhaps it is idolatry that cause Cardinal Kasper to say UK is Third World country. Initially we puzzle by his statement and later clarifications. When he say multiculturalism and racial diversity at London airports remind him of Third World, this strange. Most Third World countries got comparative racial and ethnic uniformity (often accompanied by residual presence of tiny and economically dominant ex-colonial class). This uniformity often hallmark of poor economic development. And UK not only got ethnic richness, but also outward signs of advanced society, like mixed economy and developed system of welfare. Surely it cannot have been thoughtless casual racism that lead benign and wise old Kasper to make these remarks.
But wait! Volga News today publish transcripts of journalist’s notes from Cardinal Kasper’s Focus interview. And we see that what he said was that UK is “Third World country IN THE MAKING”. And here he surely right. As Coalition place cap on immigration, benign ethnic diversification, crucially linked to economic development, will be reversed. Plans to slash public spending at time of low consumer and business confidence and non-existent bank lending, will produce double and triple and quadruple dip recession, plunging UK economy back to Neolithic conditions. Levels of idolatry will increase still further as services collapse and new Big Society models emerge. DEFRA will be scrapped and replaced by annual Spring fertility rite of virgin sacrifice. Druids will run NHS, prescribing trepanning for depression, exposure to the Sun God for skin ailments and rocks up the jumper for breast enlargement.
And many will simply give into existential doubts and despair. And here we understand Pope’s warnings about militant atheism. He not describe present. Now in UK eternal conflict between believers armed with fire, racks, thumbscrews, bombs, dogma and zealous intolerance, and non-believers armed with reason, logic, evidence (and a few dogmas of their own, as Student Arkady point out, among minority who consider science a religion, last thing it should aspire to be) is finely balanced. Benedict is talking about future, when forces of unbelief will be rampant. As Coalition cuts bite, and already existing disparities between wealthy ruling class and enslaved underclass reach Third World levels, former faithful will see existence of benign God as inconsistent with existence of George Osborne. They will despair and turn to unbelief.
And this explain why Cardinal Kasper delay his visit to UK. Smug self-regarding atheism of secular society is, from church viewpoint, bad for business. But despairing atheism, combined with idolatry and economic conditions of Sub-Saharan Africa, is perfect target for new missionary adventures. As UK reach new levels of poverty and misery under LibCon Coalition, wave upon wave of Jesuits, Benedictines, Franciscans and Dominicans will flood the land, reclaiming souls for Jesus and Britain for Rome. Tony Blair will show people how combined power of prayer and violence can get rid of their enemies. Christine O’Donnell will help people driven by despair to extreme addiction to the solitary vice. (This essential in Third World country like UK. As people unable to afford washing powder, increasingly adolescent male underwear and sheets will snap, break and crumble like Jacobs Crackers, unless they follow teachings of O’Donnell sect: If thy hand abuse thee, cut it off.) And, Student Arkady point out, with many impoverished children and orphans taking to streets, there be plenty of new educational and other opportunities for the benign order of Christian Brothers to exploit, ad maiorem dei gloriam.