Thursday, 24 December 2009

I need no reason for the season

I checked the Manx Indie yesterday (in case actual news had crept into it – it didn’t) and discovered Johnston Press’s latest attempt at seasonal relevance, an exchange between Sentamu’s Apprentice and an atheist on how to spend Christmas. Read it at if you like.
Me? I glanced at a few words, got the general idea then went back to reading a collection of P.J. O’Rourke classic articles.
Yup, that’s me - shallow hedonist, rather burn out than rust, etc., etc. And as I’m tired of explaining v-e-e-r-r-y s-s-l-l-o-o-o-w-w-l-ly to dullards who seem too dim to get a simple idea through their brick-like bonces, I do not have a spiritual bone in my body. If I did I’d have it surgically removed and replaced with something more useful.
As far as I’m concerned, we don’t need to ‘earn’ pleasure. We don’t need a reason for the season. We need no excuse to be happy or to spread joy. Just do it and be – well, a Christian would say damned but I’d say damned happy.
I am not interested in polite exchanges of greetings with those who bore the backside off me every other day of the year. For once I want to be with the people I love most, doing stuff I like and nothing… N-O-T-H-I-N-G… else. Give me that, stay out of my face for a few days and I will put up with almost anything for a reasonable time on any other day of the year, preferably while being paid to do so.
Forget spirituality: time for some serious fun.
So, let’s just admit it; however well meant, the article was never going to work, because two individuals can never speak for the wide range of supposedly dissimilar views they’re asked to represent.
For one thing, Robert, whatever faults he has, isn’t a bigot and seems to have genuine concerns over social justice. That puts him at loggerheads with many of his flock, and certainly those who call the shots in the Manx synod. Similarly, if Anglicanism is, as the old quip goes, the Tory party at prayer then Muriel is of a humanist tradition somewhere around the Lib Dems having a Moment of Silent Contemplation.
In fact, take away the belief in sky fairies and Robert’s middle of the road Anglicanism and Muriel’s middle of the road Atheism aren’t poles apart.
The main difference between me and Robert Paterson is that I’m prepared to live in a society where we both have an equal chance to vote for someone to represent us in Tynwald or to stand for office ourselves if we don’t like the candidates, and he isn’t. The only significant difference in our view about Christmas is that I don’t care if he spends it on his knees in sackcloth and ashes while talking to the wall or off his head on pony smack while in sexual congress with the consenting adult of his choice. Just as long as he doesn’t bother anyone else, and in particular doesn’t prey on the vulnerable.
Funnily enough I (full out freethinker and libertarian of the O’Rourke/Hunter S. Thompson Gonzo school) and a predecessor of Robert Paterson (high Anglican, ex-navy chaplain, personal friend of Prince Philip and as un-PC as they come) had several long and amicable discussions over rather more alcohol than was good for either of us without coming to blows. So, it goes to show that even the lunatic fringes of apparently opposed worldviews can rub along, providing each starts from a basic belief in humanity.

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