I am half way through a rather charming The Fry Chronicles, a sort of a sequel to an even more charming Moab Is My Washpot, both by that superbly charming Stephen Fry (and no, I am not gay).
So, you may (rightly) ask, what does that have to do with religion? After all, Stephen is not known for his religiosity - to put it ever so mildly. How could a very gay, very much Jewish of origin English public school and Cambridge educated man, steeped very deeply indeed into the Christian tradition be in any way connected to religion? Unless it is to renounce it, of course. And, make no mistake, renounce it he does. What I wanted to share here is a view of a particular religious nonsense that something I read in The Fry Chronicles made me realise we share. Indeed, after the first sentence (the one with Aaron in it) I already started composing a little post to elaborate on it in my own words. But as you do, I kept reading. And having kept reading I found Stephen expanding on it, and so much better than I ever could. Therefore, I decided not to bother, and hoping it falls within fair use rights, treat you to the whole thing, straight from the book. Verbatim, as it were. So, with greatest of thanks to Stephen, and apologies if I'm trampling on his intellectual property rights, here goes:
In the story of the Ten Commandments I was always on the side of Aaron. I liked his golden calf. Biblical colour plates for children showed it garlanded with flowers, revelling idolaters dancing happily around it, clashing cymbals and embracing each other with wild, abandoned joy. The music and the hugs were clinching proof (especially the cymbals) in the minds of Victorian illustrators that Aaron's followers were debauched, degenerate, decadent and doomed to eternal damnation. With the party in full swing, Moses returns with those fatuous tablets tucked under his arm, dashes them petulantly to the ground, melts the golden calf and grinds it to powder, which he mixes into a drink that he forces all the Israelites to swallow. Next, being such a holy man of God, he slays 3,000 men before hauling his vengeful arse back up Mount Sinai to get a second batch of commandments. I think we can celebrate the fact that we now live in a culture, flawed or not, that instantly sees that, while Aaron may be a weak voluptuary, his brother is dangerous fanatic. The gilt bull beats the guilty bullshit any way you choose to look at it. We humans are naturally disposed to worship gods and heroes, to build our pantheons and valhallas. I would rather see that impulse directed into the adoration of daft singers, thicko footballers and air-headed screen actors than into the veneration of dogmatic zealots, fanatical preachers, militant politicians and rabid cultural commentators.You'll find this at position 3959 in the Kindle edition of the book.
So, there you have it. Oh, and I almost titled this post: X Factor Beats God Hands Down...
Apologies for a long post. I will consider moving/copying it to Grey Noughts. With the proper title, too. Heck, I'll do it NOW. I'll just make sure you see it here first.