The Church of England's Road to Davos moment.
How disappointing that just as I have a Road to Damascus moment I find that the Church of England has had a Road to Davos moment.
I decided to go to church more after writing A State of Fear and Free Your Mind. The first book was preoccupied with the deliberate intention to frighten and manipulate people into compliance. The second with how to resist all forms of manipulation. The government and societal response to Covid caused me a mini existential crisis. What do you do when you realise how flawed human beings are? And how vulnerable we are to the herd instinct and to manipulation?
Carl Jung lived through the destructive collective movements of the World Wars and the Cold War. In his book, The Undiscovered Self, he offered advice about how to minimise the risks to the individual and to society from mass hysteria and mental contagions. The most important thing we can do to resist the lure of the crowd and mass movements is to self-individuate. ‘Resistance to the organised mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organised in his individuality as the mass itself,’ he wrote. Jung believed you can self-individuate in different ways, through meaningful values, work, community, faith and religion.
In my own experience, work, close family and friends and faith have held me quite safe, but I found myself wanting more. Aside from regularity of spiritual nourishment for the individual, religion can give meaning and purpose to life and promote social stability. So, I decided to walk the talk and go to church regularly. If I think it can help other people, I should try too.
But the Church of England has a Net Zero obsession. In fact, it’s debatable from its website whether it worships God or Zero. Zero takes off in the public imagination because it is a godlike number, or rather non-number. It is a picture of eternity, a circle like the universe. It is mystery, nothingness, the void, unquantifiable. The ultimate emptiness is zero. Should humans ever strive towards zero?
Pol Pot’s Year Zero was supposed to signify starting from scratch, a rebirth of Cambodian history. This could only be achieved by purging the old, literally consigning Cambodian society up until that point to history. In essence, it meant destruction and oblivion. Zero is the mathematical equivalent of moral values flatlining. It is dangerous when a movement, cult or religion clutches to zero zealotry, for to turn something into nothing you must inevitably reduce, destroy, annihilate. Beware not just Pol Pot’s Year Zero, but Zero Covid and Net Zero.
An article on the Church of England website asks why Christians might consider cutting down meat on Fridays or during Lent. The answer it offers is that reducing meat consumption is ‘a great way for anyone to respond to the Climate Emergency’. While the purpose of the abstinence was once to respect Jesus’s sacrifice and follow his footsteps when he went into the desert for 40 days, it is now a ‘practical way to tread more lightly on the earth’.
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