Faith and false festivals

  (04 September 10)
  by Greg Spearritt

Finally, some sanity on the “false festival” of Fathers’ Day. Philosopher Damon Young has a thought-provoking take on the issue in today’s SMH:  


The problem inherent in mass modern festivals is irrelevance. In many cases, they're unrelated to the cadence of ordinary life. As a nation, we're not close-knit villagers, united by faith, overcooked mutton and the scent of dung. We don't have common rhythms or rituals.


Festivals like Father's Day become superimposed, abstract ideals, commandeered by retailers. The vacuum left by lost religion or secular intimacy is filled by what now comes naturally at every major event: buying crap.


Does the declining popularity of our once-potent Father in Heaven help explain why we’ve become such dedicated and consummate consumers?





I like your ideas on God, John: I'd agree that dualism (whether Greek or Cartesian) has a lot to answer for. I'd want to extend that idea to the self as well: as Susan Blackmore suggests in her book 'Dying to Live', near-death experience may be as powerful as it is because we come to see that our sense of self is merely a model rather than an essential 'us', and consequently dying is no longer a fearful prospect since we know there is actually no-one here to 'die'.

Posted by Greg Spearritt

Hello Greg, thanks for reading my rant. "no-one here to 'die'" I like that phrase. I suspect this is behind the biblical concept of victory over death. It is not just near death experiences that challenge our most basic identity. Funerals do too. Death in all its glory is a part of life. Funerals are the most intense rituals we have because, no matter what form the ceremony takes, the transient nature of our socially constructed selves is made obvious whether we want to look at it or not. In my opinion, the church has committed a great crime by institutionalising shallow platitude and illusion into the funeral experience when it could and should be the most profound confrontation of raw truth in our lives. religious euphamism ( e.g. "smile, he's gone to heaven") not only disturbs the grieving process, so necessary for healing, but it also disturbs the process of expanding consciousness to incorporate bigger truths beyond egoic ideas, thus dumbing down the human spiritual capacity. I make some comments about the self in the linked essay above - "a Supernatural God" e.g. "When we are in a state of awareness of our true self, we are aware of God. The dividing line between God and ourselves is an egoic thought that presupposes the ego. That point at which we detach from our ego is the point at which our consciousness and god are a unified whole, for without the ego there is no “me” and no “other”. JT

Posted by John T.

"Does the declining popularity of our once-potent Father in Heaven help explain why we’ve become such dedicated and consummate consumers?"

I don't think so.

Consumerism is a construction of capitalism and industrial production that reduces the totality of life into the simple production and consumption of stuff.

Contemporary society consumes more stuff simply because there is more stuff to consume. After the second world war and during the growth of suburbia, alienated workers aspired to material affluence and consumed whatever they could including the beginning of the tidal wave of electronic gadgets and cars. A great many of them went to church too, and many even found Billy Graham style faith as central to this new affluence.

This consumer consciousness existed in times when the "father in heaven" paradigm was dominant in western society and it exists amongst contemporary prosperity preachers today.

The protestant work ethic, thoroughly grounded in the "father in heaven" paradigm is the cultural platform from which modern secular consumerism and wage slavery evolved.

To address questions of consumerism we need to look at cultural conceptions of economy, work, land and power, not just concepts of God.

As for concepts of God, here is something I wrote....

"A Supernatural God?"

Posted by John T.

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