Friday, February 08, 2013

Off to Melbourne to prepare for the religion of football season ...

(Above: remember, if you can't fit it on a mug, it isn't real).

The pond is off to Melbourne for the weekend, which means business will resume on Monday, the long absent lord and the miracle of flying apartment blocks permitting.

This means the commentariat and politicians will have to get on as best they can by themselves, baying at the moon and doing other useful things which will help Australians stand proud on the footy field and surge up north like a torrent of lemmings.

It also means that angry Anglicans and climate science Pellists will be left to their own devices.

It also means that the pond can safely ignore the big push by scientologists to sell their cult to unsuspecting suckers.

Yes, instead, why not just read mUmBRELLA, and enjoy the frippery and nonsense contained in Church of Scientology plans publicity drive to quash 'misconceptions' about being secretive, controlling and believing in alien ancestry.

Amongst the great lines:

“Scientology is unique in that it does not require or tell anyone to ‘believe’ anything,” said Stewart. “Rather, Scientology believes every individual should think for themselves.”

Provided you don't think you should hang on to your cash. Provided you can pay, and then pay some more, so the church can explain how thinking for yourself is actually code for thinking like L. Ron Hubbard ... as crazy as any average lying, cheating, sci fi scribbling messiah.

Scientology has also been labelled secretive. 
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Stewart. “In fact, we seek freedom for the individual, we are always open and any person is welcome any time to come in and avail themselves of our courses and counselling,” she said.

Provided you remember to bring a bundle of cash with you. What, you think understanding the universe and Thetans should come cheap?

It reminded the pond of an amusing piece by Thomas Meaney in The New York Review of Books a few months ago, The Religion of Science and its High Priest, which used Mary Pickering's Auguste Comte An Intellectual Biography to celebrate Comte's attempt to make a religion out of science - and happily it's outside the paywall.

No-one thinks much about Comte these days - he didn't have the scientological cult's publicity machine, funded by the many Hollywood actors who are bears with little brains but vast up front fees and not too shabby residuals.

But positivism and the certainty that positivists know the truth at the heart of the universe lingers (come on down Milton Friiedman), which makes where Comte ended up either very funny or very sad.

Comte’s formal “Church of Humanity” turned out to be a satire of the Catholicism it was meant to replace. The pious positivist was to pray three times daily, once to each of his household goddesses: his mother, his daughter, and his wife. Women were to strive for Virgin-Mother status, which Comte hoped could soon be accomplished with vials of an artificial fertility stimulant that they could use whenever they chose. With their “vivifying fluid” rendered socially useless, he expected the sexual appetite of men to diminish to the point that their genitalia would wither away through evolution. 
 Comte instructed disciples to tap themselves each day three times on the back of the head, where the impulses of “Good Will,” “Order,” and “Progress” were stored. The positivist calendar dedicated a month of worship to each of the thirteen great men of humanity—Moses, Homer, Aristotle, Archimedes, Julius Caesar, Saint Paul, Charlemagne, Dante, Gutenberg, Shakespeare, Descartes, Frederick the Great, and the French anatomist Bichat. 

Hang on, hang on, Bichat? A proponent of vitalism? Jostling up against Frederick the Great, the man who gave the world the Prussian war machine, and the man, next to Napoleon most favoured in von Clausewitz's On War?

Okay, the pond can fly with that. It can't be worse than blathering on about a man who preached about poverty while wearing a filthy rich rock in an extremely large and lavish cathedral. Do go on ...

There were nine positivist sacraments, beginning with Presentation, in which, as in Baptism, the infant was given two positivist saints drawn from the hundreds of historical figures Comte had selected to preside over each day of the year. 
 When he died, a positivist’s remains were to be interred in a sacred grove surrounding each positivist temple (Notre-Dame was to be requisitioned as the first of these). All dead positivists were to be worshiped by the living on special feast days determined by the Grand Pontiff of Humanity—Comte himself, not surprisingly. “Humanity is made up of more dead than living,” he wrote, “and the dead govern the living more and more.”

There's plenty more, all good fun, and the pond was inspired to discover that an actual Temple of Humanity is still functioning in Paris at this very moment. What on earth do they think about during a service? Are there still services? Is there any cognitive dissonance when the participants step into the street?

Comte only managed a few thousand followers, which just goes to show how hypnotic manipulation has progressed over the past century or so, all the way up to the E-meter.

It's times like these that you realise how ineradicable the religious impulse is, and why there's only one solution, which is to settle back and laugh at the folly of humanity - though perhaps occasionally a dry or hollow laugh in the style of the end of The Treasure of Sierra Madre is handy.

Now here's an old snap of that Paris temple:

And by golly Google shows it's still standing. The long absent lord be praised, and remember this weekend to enjoy your time with the visionary of the north (who makes Shackleton of the south seem like a rank amateur), the angry Anglicans and the posturing, frock-loving Pellists.


  1. All magic waters are predestined for The Pond: .

  2. An excellent link, especially the bit "One dip in the pond has the power to change life forever ..." (we'll overlook the bit about the pond's water being tainted and a murky frothy brown colour ...)


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.