(With such a grandiose title this blog post feels far too short. But given I actually want people to read it, this blog post already feels too long…)
Why do so many atheists and agnostics demand rationality of the religious, but not of themselves? Why do they not apply cool logic to their romantic relationships, their proclamations of pop star genius and their sport loyalties?
Sport. And particularly fandom. Here we have something that fits so well with Durkheim’s elementary forms of religious (and, therefore, social) life that I see football fans like myself as inseparable from the dancing naked pagan. An ecstatic, orgiastic ritual. Totemic worship. Blind faith.
Football as the new religion was quite a fashionable line in the 1990s, purely as a hyperbolic catchphrase, something for a twat to blurb out at an advertising meeting (or whatever those shits do). I want to distance myself from that. I think sports were always rich in religiosity, or to give it a truer label, ritualism.
The big difference in Britain is that god has lost its authenticity for most, but sport hasn’t, as the Olympic state of exception we’ll collectively embrace later this year will show.
But the church buggers children senseless… Yes, very true in far too many cases, too much even for my debauched tastes… But in Britain today, based on my harrowing anecdotal experiences of aggressive fantasist football parents screaming in the faces of their children (in public, fuck knows what happens at home), I’d wager more children are abused under the unchallenged umbrella of sporting ‘authenticity’ than in the now-moribund religious sector.
Not that I’m particularly concerned, of course. I don’t actually want you to all necessarily see the (en)light(enment) and fuck off, leaving me the alone in the irrationality arena of the football stadium. The crowd dynamic, the ranting, the screaming, the caring about something not worth caring about – it’s a lot of fun, my head might know it’s meaningless but my viscera certainly don’t feel the same, and it might just be the essence of our social existence.
So why am I writing this? Perhaps I’m compelling you to be like me, embrace the knowingly-comfortable-with-one’s-own-irrationality position. It certainly sounds good doesn’t it? In fact I must sound like a smug self-congratulatory git. No, no, no. The trouble is, once it’s gone, that belief, that faith, it’s never quite the same. I haven’t felt the same about football since that bastard Sport & Society (SOC3052) module started in room 301 of Bastard Building in the Streatham Campus of the University of Exeter. I enjoy football still. Get happy. Get pissed off. But… there’s a gap. Something profound – sublime even – is missing. So don’t do what I’ve done (though obviously I’m playfully risking it, just to spitefully drag you down to my level).
I think what I am saying is… allow the loose-jointed Church of England wankers, at least. All they do is drink tea! (And I find it far more difficult to imagine a CEO of a corporation – a far more ‘rational’ set-up – doing what Giles Fraser did.) Honour killings are bad, viciously awful, but so will be the first under 8s poor performance familial killing when it comes. And it probably will.
(PS: just noticed retired referee and self-styled controversial talking head Jeff Winter has gone bonkers at the Catholic Church, though in more of a UDA manner than an Enlightenment one.)