VJMP Reads: The Interregnum: Rethinking New Zealand IX

This reading carries on from here.

The ninth essay in The Interregnum is ‘Religion and the Real World’, by Daniel Kleinsman. It lays out its thematic question in the first paragraph: “does a pope’s ‘apostolic exhortation’ have any weight or relevance in the modern world?”

The scene is set by the usual canards of climate change and inequality. Pope Francis’s recent comments about how the world needs to do its bit to help with such issues is discussed.

Unfortunately, Kleinsman comes across as just another tub-thumper with an agenda. The insight that no relationship exists in isolation is credited to Francis as a “pope’s innovation”, when anyone with even a passing familiarity with comparative religion would know that the interdependence of all things is one of the original insights of the Buddha.

Ironically, even in an essay where Kleinsman has his lips firmly attached to the Pope’s anus, Kleinsman reveals the sham at the heart of Catholicism: the Pope credits evolution with bringing about consciousness, and is therefore a materialist who doesn’t actually understand spirituality.

This essay is poorly-written enough to contradict itself at several major points. The common theme of these contradictions is to demand that the whole world come together in harmony but to also dump all the blame for the condition of the world on a very select group of people.

If we’re all one, what’s the point in promoting this antagonistic dichotomy of “tangata whenua” and “tangata tiriti”, the only possible outcome of which is dividing the population into two opposing groups?

And if we’re all part of an interdependent system, aren’t all of us guilty of upholding and facilitating exploitation – even those being exploited by it?

One wistfully recalls the days when the left stood for solidarity between all people, and when the New Zealand left promoted the idea of Kiwitanga as a way of bridging the gaps between Maori and Pakeha. Now, those who speak the language of unity out of one side of their mouths are seeking to divide the country out of the other by talking about “those who are owed” and “those who owe”.

Kleinsman describes the masculine-oriented language used by Francis as “unhelpful”, but does not mention that the same holy book where Francis is getting all his stories from also commands women to shut up and and be quiet (Timothy 2:12 etc.): “…A woman must learn in quietness and full submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first…”

On that line of reasoning, when are we getting a female Pope?

These are questions that the religious will never answer. Theirs is not to reason or to honestly inquire; theirs is to lecture, admonish, guilt trip and harangue. In that, they have something very powerful in common with Marxists, which perhaps hints at a possible alliance this century.

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