Did you ever have a Badedas bath? The advert suggested that you were given a bathrobe, a sea view apartment and a young man waving to you from a yacht. It seemed a good bargain for the price of a packet of bath salts.
I asked my mother if she would enjoy seeing a young man coming towards her on a yacht. She said she was satisfied with my father coming home from work on a bike.
I asked her what the advertisement intended. Advertising sells dreams, she said. People might enjoy closing their eyes and imagining they were the woman in the picture. They knew it was only a fantasy, a dream, but women were imaginative and romantic and might enjoy the pretend dream.
Advertising sells dreams. Bad religion sells dreams and worse religion sells nightmares.
Richard Holloway, former Anglican bishop of Edinburgh, wrote a study of religions, showing how similar they were: essentially, follow the way and you could dream of great rewards, a whole variety of heavens; but if you did not follow the way you faced the nightmare of being dammed and punished.
They all did it! They all had their hells and they all had their heavens: fantasy heavens and nightmare hells – so similar. Does the human psyche need to dream, be frightened?
I thought of our classroom of 6-year-olds, top infants. Next year we would be seven, said teacher, the age of reason and be able to commit mortal sin. At six we were only capable of venial sin. We wondered at mortal sin. She told us missing mass on Sundays and eating meat on Friday meant we would have to go to confession. What about murder, someone asked. That was another mortal sin, she said, and we would have to go to confession. We were 6 years old. My friend is still angry, over seventy years later. Six! When he heard at ten that only baptised people went to heaven, he gave up.
Read the Gospel. Never mind what you think you remember of what you were taught in primary school. Read what Jesus said and did, willing to suffer and die for teaching God’s love and challenging the man-made commandments of the religious authorities.
God bless us in love,
(11th February 2018)