It’s said that every culture has a cult at the centre of it. A form of worship that forms what happens around about it. So New Zealand’s national religion is it’s rugby. The whole country (apart from a few miscreants who prefer football/soccer) is mad about a game that it absolutely dominates. The ‘cult’ of the All Blacks produces a culture where the work of cultivating success is unprecedented. They are one of the highest achieving sporting teams ever having won over 75% of their games since 1903! The point: what you worship gives you what you are.
When it comes to the military one can see in the Special Forces that there is also a certain cult – a fulcrum around which various groups of men live their lives. Here the cult is that of ‘being the best’, with a certain bravado thrown in. And there is no doubt about it – the men in these groups have a culture that sets them apart from Joe Bloggs. Their religion (their culture) is closed to the uninitiated, and it (their cult) binds them together in a remarkable way. Unfortunately, their creed is often bought by the highest bidders.
Another example of worship (cult) and results (culture) is that of contemporary modern science. Today many people basically live from, live off, and live with the cult of scientific results. The popular cultural line that highlights this is: ‘They say that….’ They say that it’s good for you; they say that it’s because of…; they say that they’ll soon have…. Like most religions, this doesn’t feed the hunger in man for the Infinite, but society goes by the way of it’s cult. The latest sermon from today’s religion: ‘They say that you’ll soon be able to get a head transplant.’ Now, does that mean you get ahead; or you’ll get someone else’s head? If you get someone else’s head then whose head will it be? Or does it mean that science now officially recognises that people are loosing their heads?
Back to the point. What you worship is what you get around about you. Today’s religion seems now to be promising headless chickens waiting patiently to be recapitated (yes, I know that’s a neologism but don’t worry, I won’t copyright it!). How much will it cost?
Another manifestation of the dominant religion flowing from science’s success is that of artificial communication – typified in the social media sites. The arguments for and against Facebook are interesting to a point but the obvious effects are what most of the Facebook faithful are missing: there is no real communication. There is no flesh and bloody directly involved in it. It is artificial. For all people know, it could simply be a super-computer pumping out more ones and zeroes. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. Rather, it is simply a something that man has made, and which man could actually live without. Someday it will, like its founder, pass away no matter how many heads it manages to sow on. It is not God – despite its omnipresence. Neither is it omnipotent – as the purveyors of Google try to be. Instead, it is a lifeless thing. It can neither smell, nor taste; neither can it eat or drink. If you sowed it in the ground it would not sprout little Facebooks come the Spring time. These basic signs of life are absent from it. It cannot smile. It is, indeed, not headless, but Faceless no matter how hard one tries to cultivate it.
How then has it come to be at the centre of many peoples’ religion today? How come even someone as stubborn and brutal as myself decided to sell my soul to it? Why have I changed my religion? In a word or two: its easy. Facebook means face-me; look at me; me promoting me; my face stuck in your face. When it’s good it works fine – helping people stay in touch; giving people opportunities to organise things. It’s used to bring a smile to someone’s face. Hats off to Facebook. It’s easy. It’s easy to get hundreds of people asking to be your ‘friend’ in 24hrs – easy but…questionable.
Yes, it’s easy when everything is going my way. When everyone can see me at my best. When the chips are down, however, and life starts to break at the edges – or already be completely smashed up – then is when it’s deified and becomes a god more powerful than Frodo’s ring. It becomes, ‘my Precious’. And God help anyone who tries to stop me from being with ‘my Precious’! Yes, it seems to drag one in; it seems to consume everything; it seems to determine ones whole life. What else do you expect? After all, it’s a cult – the centre of a religion – and that’s what everyone has at the centre of one’s life. Yes, it consumes souls that do not have the true cult and do not have the true religion, the ancient Faith, to protect them against it. There are after all, only two kinds of souls – those in friendship with God, and those who are not. Who’s who? St. Joan of Arc implicitly gave the answer when asked where she stood: ‘If I am not in the state of grace [i.e. friendship with God], may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.’
Sold your soul to Facebook? If you have, may God get you out of there; and if you haven’t – I’ll see you where your hopefully facing East in true worship!