On the Wayne

Imagine going to Sainsbury’s or Tesco every week for years, handing over fifty quid each time, and those organisation never having what you’re looking for. The problem would only be with the supermarket for a ‘certain’ amount of time before ‘questions could be asked’ about the intelligence of the shopper. So on that note… Continue reading

The Conversion Con

The word ‘conversion’, when it refers to switching religion, is absurd and pretentious. It is absurd because the word connotes the changing of one thing into another via a complicated and technical process – and that is what makes it pretentious. Nothing complicated or technical happens.

I mean to say, take a second to consider the self-importance of this ‘process.’

A person has faith that the universe was created be an all-powerful and benevolent supernatural power: an actual being which exists independent of their mind. This could be a faith they have held for many years and have, perhaps, told other humans they ‘knew in their heart’ that God was real and speaking to them. Their internal, physiological sensations were considered ‘evidence’ of and for this ‘truth.’ Perhaps for many years they attended a particular place of worship and were an active member of their congregation – perhaps working in the community on behalf of their church or mosque.

Then – and the reasons for this choice are irrelevant – they decided to ‘convert’ to another religion. What actually happens? What does the convert actually do?

Well, they need to take ‘instruction’ in their new belief. For example, if an Anglican decides to ‘convert’ to Catholicism he might need to know about the transubstantiation and consubstantiation, for example. There will be differing points of theology to study, maybe, and – generally speaking – there will be certain ‘this is how we do things here’ lessons to learn. In short – the whole process is a piece of outward showmanship and internal self-delusion.

It matters not one jot how much ‘instruction’ the convert accepts, they cannot escape one simple, devastating fact. They have to stop believing in something they previously believed. Quite why this doesn’t seem to bother them I don’t know.

It might be because the absurdity of what they have done is masked by the technical implications in the word ‘conversion.’ They don’t say they have stopped believing in one religion and started believing in another, or that one belief has been dropped and another been taken up. That would suggest the dropping of their original belief was easy to do, that it had not much substance to begin with.

To know how ridiculous the notion of religious ‘conversion’ is, do what most thinking people do when testing an idea. Apply the idea to another situation and see if it looks stupid.

A Newcastle United fan is, for whatever reason, disenchanted by his club. He wishes to ‘convert’ from Newcastle United to Sunderland FC.

Perhaps he might need to visit Sunderland’s sacred ground, learn of the club’s history and its most famous players; the club’s victories and defeats and so on. Perhaps, after showing interest in these things, he is allowed to join the Sunderland supporters club and then is finally accepted into the Sunderland congregation. He has converted – all praise the beautiful game!

Has he ‘converted’? Would he describe himself as a ‘convert’? Would his former comrades in black and white call him a ‘convert’ do you think? He would be called a traitor to his faith, his religion, the cause – or whatever football fans call the emotional, loyalty-based trickery which the corporate clubs use to take their money.

(What I find hilarious is that there is no chance that a NUFC would ever go over to Sunderland. But a Newcastle FC loving Anglican could easily become a Catholic without fuss. Football or God – which is the stronger faith?)

Religious ‘conversion’ – that it happens and is called what it is – is all one needs to know about the tissue-thin ‘faith’ a person purports to have. That they can drop it, that they can take up a different version of it – or swap religions altogether – is absolute proof that many faith-holders are simply deluding themselves about what they believe and about how important it is in their lives. More importantly, that other faiths allow converts to come over means the faiths themselves are doing no more than fighting for market-share.

No doubt many faith-holders would bleat that the process is ‘painful’ or they ‘grappled with their conscience’ – or something similar because they wish to give the impression of an emotional or psychological struggle. Don’t believe a word of it. This sort of language is to give weight to what is no more than a ‘drop one, pick up another’ move. At its root, that is all that happens.

The religious know they are deluding themselves, they know how irrational what they believe is. The ceremonial song and dance routine, wrapped up in technical language like ‘conversion’ and prettified with peacock-feathers and fake struggle – is the way that the rest of us can see their ‘religious conviction’ for what it is.

 

 

This Be The Worst

It might sound odd to say, but one of the problems with the reaction to the performance of the England football team is the hopelessly short memories of England fans. Take the last World Cup as an example. In that tournament England were appalling, and duly left the tournament early.

However, the awful performance was immediately spun as unimportant, because – with many new players thrust into the squad, and the ‘old-guard’ on the way out – the tournament was written off as a training exercise to prepare for the serious business of the European Championship two years later.

Now, we’re kicked out of the Euros, Hodgson has resigned, and his record is to have been rubbish in two tournaments. There is no memory to the reporting or the fans’ reactions?

Every tournament seems to bring with it an absurd ‘fresh-start’ or a ‘maybe-this-time’ mentality. Why don’t we remember just how bad we’ve been in the past and adjust our expectations accordingly? That would help armour us against disappointment.

The English public mind is in a state of denial, because it has an unjustified level of expectation in respect to the England team. If we simply accepted we are no good, the disappointment wouldn’t be felt.

Our tournament results don’t lie. Our refusal to reach honest conclusions, based on those results, is a type of lying: we’re in denial.

Are we stunned by shock, and do we wallow in disapointment, when an Englishman doesn’t win Wimbeldon? No, we don’t expect to win it, because the best English players in our mens’ game are Elton John and Cliff Richard.

If we accepted an ‘underdog mentality’ – like the Welsh have done, and it’s doing them no harm in this tournament – we would see everything as a success, and we’d feel good about the same performances which, while we hold onto the idea we are worthy of winning anything, are making us miserable.

Perspective is everything, and English football lost its perspective years ago.

The Empire’s gone; the country is a province of the European State; and our football team is useless.

The best thing for the FA to do is to disband the national team and accept it’s over. There’s no point in yet another round of boring speculation about who should get the job. What is the point in the FA appointing someone else, claiming he’s the ‘best man for the job’, having this man then go and achieve nothing whatsoever?

What’s the point?