Posted by: aboutalbion | June 5, 2012

Temple of Albion (3)

A third anthropological criterion for identifying a religion might be expressed as a bias and inclination towards salvation from the ordinary conditions of human existence.

I think an anthropologist in the United Kingdom would encounter a widespread belief that anything that separates men from the toil of producing the food their families need to survive, and anything that diminishes the pain of childbirth for women, makes a contribution to their salvation.  The United Kingdom has been closely associated with developments in technology and medical science over recent centuries, and this has resulted in the overwhelming majority of people living today in urban settlements and dormitory villages, and with no direct relationship with food production.

I think an anthropologist in the United Kingdom would pay attention to the central role of ‘the welfare state’ in public discourse and in public action, and would note the frequency with which the trinity of godlike powers (the Crown, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons) claim that ‘the welfare state’ has improved health, schools, and social security.

Security ‘from the cradle to the grave’ was a saying that justified the introduction of compulsory national insurance payments, which were the special form of taxation to fund the emerging ‘the welfare state’.  And the trinity of godlike powers imply that ‘the welfare state’ has saved the people from the five ‘giant evils’ identified in the 1942 Beveridge report – squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease.  These ‘giant evils’ are widely believed to be present in many parts of the rest of world today.

In so far as access to unearned income can be construed as a form of salvation, then it would be clear to an anthropologist that a proportion of the people of the United Kingdom can experience the comfort of this consolation through the legal mechanisms of rent, interest, and profits.  Other people are likely to say that they dream of access to unearned income if only they could win the National Lottery and receive the required capital to make suitable investments.

In addition, I think an anthropologist in the United Kingdom would encounter a widespread belief that anything that can offer a person relief from innocent and undeserved ‘suffering’ – perhaps understood as anything that violates a person’s will – is regarded as a contribution to salvation.

To my mind, these matters are some evidence that the search for salvation is active among the people of the United Kingdom.

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