I made my way to the pulpit and as I strode along between the pews I fixed a steely eye upon any who dared raise their eyes to meet mine; each and every shivered and returned to their most penitent position. With powerful, determined steps I sent my robes swinging as I swung up and into the pulpit and lowering my heavy brows cast my eyes over my apprehensive flock.
Sucking in a great, audible lungful of air I intoned “Who among you is without sin?” I let the air settle for a moment, then even louder and more thunderous than before “Who among you believes they can justify to God their sins?” I allowed the words to sink in… contemplate these tidings my children… “You may well persuade the stranger, perhaps you may also persuade your brother, and if your self-delusions are complete enough you may well convince even the mirror, but do you really think God cannot cut away the veil of pretence you surround yourself, you clothe yourself; smother yourself in?”
There were tinges of panic throughout the room; nervous eyes flickered here and there as if seeking escape, shoulders hunched lower – partly to avoid attention, and partly because I had just laid such a heavy weight upon them…
“He will see past all your obstructions, he will cut a path through all your barriers, and he will read the darkest secrets of your innermost soul as if they were illuminated against the night sky!” There were moans of despair escaping the most honest of my congregation; here and there I spied a tear tearing its way clear of blinking eyes, and one poor woman was reeling as if in a swoon.
“Redemption is within your grasp; those with strength and courage shall reach out and take what is freely, lovingly offered, but the price is high… You must forsake these lies, these crimes, this harm you visit upon your neighbour in the service of self-satisfaction. Only then might you be spared the ravenous flames hungry for your pitiable flesh; flames never to be extinguished, never to relent or release, flames that survive by using your eternally sinful flesh as fuel.” There was uttering of praise for God, there were sobs and quiet wails for pity, there was a hunger in their eyes, a desperate hunger for salvation from those flames…
“Do as to others what you would have them do unto you…! Each and every man and woman is your brother and sister; there are no strangers under the gaze of the Lord! Love thy neighbour and forgive him his trespass, and above all love the Lord as your saviour, and He will reward you your charity, your compassion and your devotion!”
I felt the words flow through me… I felt an instrument rather than instigator… I saw their adoration and knew I was nothing but a vessel that they might find focus for their love. I swung down from the pulpit and returned to my spartan quarters that I might meditate on the wonders God rained down upon those with eyes to see and ears to hear…
Dave: What’ll you have?
Danny: I’ll have a bitter. You’re pretty flush tonight?
Dave: Yea; just finished that paint job in Essex Road; bloke paid me cash.
Danny: Nice – up yours Mr taxman!
Dave: Not only that, when the prat paid me he gave me an extra hundred by mistake. I saw it at once, so didn’t count it in front of him…
Danny (with a smirk): What you don’t know can’t hurt you!
Dave: Well, that God’s own truth. You been working this week?
Danny (looking a bit glum): Nope; did my back in on some brick work last Tuesday, had to take it easy all week.
Dave: You go to the doctor?
Danny: Went to A&E; three hours they kept me waiting, if you can believe it, and when I finally got to see a bloody doctor he was from somewhere I’ve never heard; I could hardly understand a word he said!
Dave: What’s it coming to, eh!
Danny: He told me I’d torn a something or other, to take it easy for a week or two, and to take some bloody pills. Like he has to worry about where the next pay check comes from…
Dave: I tell you the NHS slide further down into the toilet every year!
Danny: I went to the chemist to get the pills… £8.50 for ten in a sheet… TEN! Bloody highway robbery!
Dave: The whole country is going the same way; my little girl has to share books at school, the roads are falling to pieces, and I took the underground three stops the other day and paid £9.60 for the pleasure standing in a dirty, old carriage…
Danny: I blame the bloody immigrants, come over here and take great handouts from a hard working, taxpaying man!
Dave: God’s own truth, mate!
There is no morality in the state of nature; there is only familial relations, and strength. Morality is a condition imposed by man upon our world. Whether it has developed through religion, thus through mysticism and ignorance, or whether it has developed as a utilitarian conclusion, matters very little.
Without morality we are free to do as we will; only the threat of punishment holds sway over our actions. Actions change from should/shouldn’t I do a thing to will I get caught, and is it worth the risk.
Religion no longer holds the sway it did before the refinement of science, before science decided God had died, before immoralists found their excuses; it is no longer capable of controlling actions through the threat/reward of immortality.
Our punishments, especially in the more… liberal… of countries, are hardly a deterrent, rather the remnants of morality, half-remembered, passed-down, super-egos, and a certain cultural pressure, combined with a general lack of fortitude (a recent tangent the race seems to be taking), is all that’s keeping the majority (those without practice in committing immoral acts – the poor), on the ‘straight and narrow’.
Education form a young age is the obvious solution; call it conditioning if you please, at least it will be conditioning of our own making, rather than the random hypnotism which now occurs. Education, based on a set of principles built on an agreed imperative. An axiom which seems to be widely agreed upon, found in both positive and negative forms in a great many times and place… ‘Don’t do to other what you don’t want them to do to you’ (the negative is passive and without real intention; the positive is far more conducive to a fruitful morality…), ‘do for others what you would want them to do for you’. It takes into account the Twainian argument against the possibility of altruism and does not struggle under the yoke of utilitarianism, compelling proactive actions in favour of oneself through the support of others.
A society, but better yet a world, conditioned from birth, on such a principle, would have very little difficulty retaining in the face of atheism, and any who still believe should have no great difficulty surrendering to what is already known as ‘the golden rule’. If people do attempt (and are busily preventing right now) to prevent such a solution we must wonder at their reasons… but that is work for another time…