Posted by: aboutalbion | August 28, 2012

DIY religion (7)

The next topic in Colin Morris’ list is the place of expert role models, which he calls saints.  And the question for my case is: “Has a nation state (such as the UK) saints like those normally associated with traditional religious organisations?”

Morris has quite a lot to say about religious saints.  I’m going to pick up on just three points – the general, the creative, and the specific.

“Saints are practical proof that a religion works.” (p74)  “[Saints] do things which wouldn’t occur to the rest of us.  …  They operate not as lawyers – ‘These are the rules!’ – but as artists – ‘Let’s see what we can make of this’.  Inventiveness is the key to their faith; they are never without an initiative in the face of the gloomiest circumstances … .” (p79)  “That is the genius of the saint – he or she thinks it supremely important to do good in minute particulars.” (p82)

When I turn to the UK as a whole, and ask myself if there is anything like a comparable role to that of saints, my mind considers the senior appeal judges of the English Legal System [ELS] that covers England and Wales.  I think a case could be made out that (i) they are proof that “the rule of law” works, (ii) they are creative when faced with a hard appeal case, and (iii) they work with the minute particulars of the case before them.

I think along these lines because I consider that the ELS hosts the wisdom of the English-speaking people of England and Wales.  It is not an exhaustive and complete wisdom, but, to me, the provisions, the laws, the minute particulars of the ELS provide for the resolution of most disputes which arise from the myriad conflicts of interest in our society.  Fresh conflicts of interest will always need to be resolved.  And for this task, the senior judges are the wise ‘saintly’ leaders of the development of the ELS – after ‘the Crown in Parliament’ has legislated on any given matter.

So I find that in the expert role of an appeal judge, a nation state (such as the UK) has in principle saints like those of a religion.

[Morris, Colin (1992) Start Your Own Religion.  London: BBC Books.]


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