The Next Great Depression

Everything seems to be functioning as normal. People going to work, seeing their families, eating and sleeping. I am anxious though: cracks that appeared in the world economy in 2008 are not healing, they are getting worse.

I am a child of a recession in the 1990s, so I feel like I should know better than to cry that the end times are upon us. We will probably be fine. They can print some more money and we will most likely pull ourselves from the brink.

In Denmark, it is all going wrong. Once a Scandinavian Socialist Paradise, it is now a place of high income tax and medium-to-low-to-none corporate tax with poor public services. The workers are being asked to put in more hours for the same pay. Some workplaces are relocating to cheaper countries. The heavily state subsidised public services are undergoing massive cuts which leads to a major reduction in quality.

In the UK, a civil servant leaked the plan to transfer the state’s debt into the personal accounts of everyone in the country. The way they would do it: reduce services so that individuals must make up the shortfall. Hey Presto! Debt dissolves into the bank balances of everyone else. It was leaked and almost no one cared because hardly anyone understood.

In the US, massive tax breaks have been awarded to the richest whilst debt is being redistributed to those with middle incomes.

Capitalists continue to crash economies like Greece’s with sleight of hand and bad faith.

Some people are getting incredibly rich and the people in charge are too greedy or too whipped to do anything about it.

I have read and seen several great arguments for what to do, including several pleas from the rich to be taxed more fairly, in line with everyone else.

Does no one know their history? Imperialism and income inequality never goes very well for those on top. Peasant revolts, guerrilla warfare, revolutions and uprisings. If the rich do not sort themselves out, it will end very badly for them.

This is an occupation, the people at the top do not belong to our countries. They do not pay our taxes. We pay tribute to them. We keep them there on top out of fear and habit.

There are probably hundreds of potential Che Guevaras out there, ready to take up the cause and it is going to be a blood bath if even one of them gets hold of the popular imagination. It is so avoidable.

There have also been leaders who suggested pacifist solutions to such problems. One such leader still has many adherents, people who say they believe in peace and follow his message of sharing. Despite his failure to overthrow his occupation, they say they believe that his message was true and worth following thousands of years later.

The Church’s abject failure to address the financial crisis is stark evidence of its corruption. All they want to talk about is who is having sex with whom. Jesus’ only message about sexual conduct was ordering hypocrites to put down their rocks and stop the execution of an adulteress. What did Jesus do when he saw people unfairly making money from financial transactions? He fucked some shit up, is what he did.

The fact that the Church does not occupy the banks shows how far they have come from the original message and how little they have learned. It’s not just the Christian churches to blame, all the established religions are twisting the messages of their prophets and leaders for the same end. They rely on the supernatural, freaky-deaky stuff because you can baffle the most people with it. They ignore the very basic messages of courtesy, equality and respect. They even ignore some of the excellent economic advice.

If there were a God, surely we have lost our novelty. Certainly our charm.

In many nations, the “religious” are tightening their grip around everyone’s reproductive organs whilst allowing the transnational imperial forces to take what they want. The personal consequences for me are less and lighter than in other countries but it is the same bait and switch. Attack our reproductive rights whilst taking wealth away from us. And to have the gall to blame it on Mohammed or Jesus or whoever! How fucking dare they?

So, this is what will happen. A leader will emerge. (We just love waiting for someone else to come and free us.) Maybe they will be a guerrilla like Che or maybe they will be peaceful like Gandhi if we are so very lucky. And they will help us out of our fix and then they will be killed. And then we will forget everything they had to say and go back to focusing on who is having sex with whom. We are the worst.

Separation of Church and State

My country has an official religion. The head of state is also the head of the state religion. When I went to school, we had to pray every day and sing hymns. We also got a lot of Bible stories. The state television channel also had religious programming but only really on Sunday and it was easily avoided.

English: Recording Songs of Praise The BBC rec...
Thora Hird preserve us!

Becoming a Catholic at age 10 was stressful because I was in a Church of England school and there was a bit of a prayer I would leave off and I would have to bless myself (Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch) before I started. This seemed like a way bigger deal than it was. I was NOT conforming. I was NOT doing what everyone else was doing! The teachers might tell me off! As an adult now,  I can see that was ridiculous. What adult would tell a Catholic off for being Catholic? NONE! (Maybe Queen Elizabeth I, amirite?)

Then becoming an atheist at age 11 and a half was even more stressful. This was because I was in a Catholic school. Not only was I missing off ‘For Thine is the kingdom..’ but I was missing off the whole bloody Lord’s Prayer. Now, instead of furtively blessing myself, I was sitting horrifically still while everyone else blessed themselves.

My mother told me “DO NOT TELL THEM YOU ARE ATHEIST YOU WILL BE EXPELLED” and this may or may not have been true. I did refuse to show up for confirmation classes which got a lot of “Ahhhhhhms!” from my contemporaries. I was able to really examine Catholicism as an outsider while being treated as an insider. I was really able to deconstruct what we were going through, what we were being asked to believe and the basis of the catechism. A believer is often too awestruck by/comfortable in their spiritual experience to want to dig too deeply and a believer of another religion is often too respectful to try to unpick it (or else they go the other way and do not bother to examine anything because it’s all blasphemous rubbish anyway).

In the end, the experience forged me into an adult who reads holy books, does not rag on the religious but nevertheless has no personal relationship with God. I am living with an atheist who has gone the Way of the Dawkins and it boils my piss. What’s the POINT of disproving God’s existence? What’s the POINT of mocking the spiritual? As if MY beliefs and views are unassailable and pure just because they are based in rationalism! Rationalism is lovely (I would say that), but it is based on my sensory input which is interpreted by some fairly faulty cognitive gear. My blind spots are just as stupid and ridiculous as any religious person’s, or another atheist’s for that matter. Why do people have to be such wankers?

Anyway. The Danish state also has a state religion. In schools, there is not much in the way of praying or even hymn singing. At Christmas, there is a month long worksheet-a-thon which celebrates the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with colouring and cutting out. But believe me, that is less “religious” as it is “self-preservation”. Children do NOT want to learn how to read when they are thinking about getting a bunch of new toys. All they want to do is make pynt and hygge themselves. This I know for certain.

That said, the Danish Church is massively involved in the lives of every motherfucker on this collection of islands (and peninsular) . If you die, your death MUST be reported to the Church so they can cross you off the list. If you are born, you birth MUST be reported to the Church so they can approve your name. Marriage must be reported to them.  This is not just for their members. They are up in everyone’s business.

If you want to be buried in a graveyard, the only graveyards available are in churchyards. There are NO municipal graveyards. If you do not want to be in a church yard, tough luck, go get buried at sea.

If you are weak, unreligious and 14 (and who the fuck isn’t at that age?), you will probably go through a religious ceremony to enroll you to pay taxes to the church. The ceremony results in an important party, lots of presents, permission to have sex and drink. It is a major deal. I have to teach this age group and it is about this time of year that they become “unteachable” (for the same reason they are difficult at Christmas: they are fantasising about new toys). They get a few hours off every week to be educated by the priest. They get a day off in order to nurse their hangovers after the rite.

There are some non-religious teens who go through more or less the same ceremony without the priest in order to get a metric shittonne of presents. There are some who are genuinely Christian who do this. The majority just “go with the flow” even though they do not accept Jesus as their saviour. Very few do not go through with it at all.

The Church promotes something called “mini-confirmation” where 9 year olds get to have a rehearsal, replete with balloons and cake. (The whole POINT of holding off until 14, is that the Church decided that is when a child could make up their mind properly. Pro-Jesus or heathen? Which will it be? Nine was judged to be “too young” by them and yet, they are now pushing for a temporary commitment from that age group. Very interesting. If it was just a way of allowing God’s grace into the lives of his children, why would it necessarily involve bribery? Why don’t they have faith in their own message to be convincing enough?)

If you just had a baby or want to get married, you will probably use the Church as the venue to celebrate.

The schools do not teach religion, they teach “Christendom” but to be fair, some year plans do not have any mention of Christianity, it’s all Beginners Islam or Beginners Norse Mythology etc.

The national broadcaster “promotes” Christianity. All taxpayers pay towards the upkeep of the national Church, not just the enrolled members.

I have mixed feelings. I feel like, you know, religion is a private matter and the love of God does not need to be rammed down anyone’s throat. Knowing about religious matters and the faith of others is useful. Otherwise idiots can tell you nonsense about your own or another’s religion and you end up believing it because you do not know any better. A separation of Church and State might be good, then it is totally in the realm of the private. People can believe what they want and no one gets hurt.

But then again. The buildings are very nice and part of the heritage of the country they are in. If they need financial support for upkeep, I think it is good to help them out with tax.

But then again. Just because one belief system has a long cultural influence on a country doesn’t mean it should be favoured. All views on these matters are equally valid and while respect is important, deference is unnecessary.

But then again. I like being able to play “The animals came in two-by-two” to teach vocabulary about animals without worrying about an atheist parent calling me after work and accusing me of indoctrination.

But then again. I dislike children being indoctrinated into beliefs without being taught how to check them for themselves.

But then again. I like the unselfconscious way people enjoy their seasonal holidays.

But then again. I do not want to get buried in some CHURCH yard! And I do not want to have to tell a priest I had a baby. And I do not want the DANISH CHURCH to be in charge of deleting my account from the Danish state.

So, it is difficult. I am not anti-religious. I am not pro-religious. And it seems to me that the Danish state is set up in a very pro-evangelical Lutherian mode of thinking.

Maybe it would be good to devolve some of the church functions to the secular state.