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Australia’s Anti-Intellectual Renaissance

By Pearl Bullivant on May 5, 2013 in Other

Photo: Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Photo: Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Dear Pearl,
As a much-married woman, Pearlie, could you please help me with a dilemma that threatens to become a marriage breaker? My sister-in-law deliberately bought my daughter a book of evangelical Christian literature for Christmas knowing that my husband and I are agnostic. Her hidden agenda is maddening! She insists that we do not blaspheme in front of her children but her son plays violent computer games and has threatened to kill my daughter will his arsenal of toy weaponry, which I find more offensive than invoking the name of God. What should I do, as my husband refuses to confront his sister?
Jenni

Dearest Jenni,

If Fred Nile can trade state-owned electricity utilities for the right to bear arms in National Parks, I can see no reason why your husband’s nephew shouldn’t proudly tote his toy gun while singing Onward Christian Soldiers!

Alas, your sister-in-law is very representative of the conservative phase Australia is going through at the moment. Australia is not a God-fearing nation, but with Tony Abbott at the Opposition’s helm, there’s a conservative force that is conveniently putting religion back onto the political agenda for purely hypocritical purposes.

You might have noticed that Australia, like the US, is undergoing a ‘renaissance’ based on anti-intellectualism, which involves turning the clock back on social advances, green initiatives, workers’ rights, arts and science, and anything that stands in the way of the mega-rich becoming richer. This renaissance is not only evidenced by the number of reality programs on television, but also by the fact that conservative has-beens like Jeff Kennett, Nick Greiner, Sir Joh and Charles Court (whose spirits live on in Campbell Newman and some bloke who runs WA) are being dug up and placed on a pedestal in the same way Ronald Reagan and the crazy right wing autho, Ayn Rand have been resurrected by the Tea Party in the US. This renaissance also involves resurrecting Jesus, who, despite clearly displaying socialist traits, seems to suit the conservative agenda.

With Jesus on your side, religion can be called upon to solve a raft of First World issues. And, of course, ‘lack of faith’ accusations can be hurled at one’s enemies. Want to solve materialism and greed without throwing a spanner in the economy (which in itself is God)? Just tout religion as a source of spiritual comfort that one can turn to in an increasingly uncertain world, much like the way highly-strung bankers turn to meditation and yoga.

Even the SMH had the gall to publish an editorial at Easter time last year calling for Sydneysiders to suspend their disbelief in the resurrection for the good of a society focused on wealth and possessions.

Most importantly, though, religion gives conservative commentators a reason to blame feminism, divorce, single mothers, abortion and gay marriage for the downfall of Western society, rather than pointing the finger at our obsession with economic growth and conspicuous consumption. Religion also gives conservatives the right to ‘science bash’ and question the validity of global warming. We are more than happy to embrace the wonderful benefits science bestows upon us, but as soon as it delivers a message that will jeopardise the fortunes of mining magnates, science becomes circumspect and untrustworthy. No wonder students are shunning science degrees – who wants a career that is destined to be rubbished by shock jocks?

So, to your dilemma: if you want to seal the fate of your marriage, play your sister-in-law at her own game. A reciprocal gift of Darwin’s ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’ will suffice. Just pass it off as a book about Snoopy.

Pearlie xx

2 COMMENTS. SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  1. Hi Pearl, as you’ll no doubt recall Karl Marx once likened religion to a mass opiate. How apt then that power-hungry, materialistic conservatives disguise their true intent with the vernier of sanctity in an attempt to lull the masses into a sense of godliness, and compliance. No worries though. So long as the rich keep getting richer and the natural world order is preserved, just as God intended!

    Posted by: Bonzo | May 20, 2013, 1:28 PM |

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  2. Very good article. Am very concerned with the anti-intellectual path being forged by the Abbott government and LNP. Climate change is denied or trivialised because it hampers economic growth, despite the fact that first world pollution, for example, taints third world ecosystems, where the inhabitants haven’t benefited from said pollution in the form of industrialisation and consumer goodies. Very sad.

    Posted by: Art | November 8, 2013, 9:18 PM |

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