Happy Mardi Gras!

This is a greeting with a different meaning in Sydney these days, and by that sense I am jumping the gun.

Recently St Miranda has been complaining that people are picking on Tom Cruise.  “What’s wrong with Scientology?” she asks. Well, that’s a paraphrase.

Sure, he belongs to a religion, Scientology, that seems pretty kooky on face value, but that is his right, as in any country that is supposed to respect freedom of religion.


While Scientology certainly appears eccentric, with its talk of extra-terrestrials and “thetans”, so, too, does most New Age claptrap. Many traditional religions have oddball elements, strictly speaking, and among the most bigoted and dogmatic people around are atheists.

I don’t actually see the equivalence between the bigoted and dogmatic nature of some atheists, and the kookiness or otherwise of some religious beliefs. It’s a false comparison.

Nor do I know where this “freedom of religion” thing comes from. Actually, I do know: it’s a US concept. Miranda can’t help that: it comes with the neocon water and she after all was born in the US when her father was working there. As any reasonable neo-con actually ought to know (given their views on human rights) the only freedom of religion in Australia is the freedom from an established religion. The charitable treatment of religion is an indulgence, not a right, albeit that it has also been extended, in Australia, to Scientology.

Perhaps I am bigoted and dogmatic. I am definitely more tolerant towards people who retain the religion of their upbringing or even (at a stretch) cultural heritage (ie, atavistic religion) than I am of people who wilfully convert to some implausible belief.

Despite a quasi-revival in late adolescence/early adulthood, my own religion is entirely vestigial. And the vestiges are getting pretty shaky.

Literally so, in fact. Lazy for doing the washing up and having little other call for flour other than to attract weevils, I bought a shake-in-a-bottle pancake mix. It was a false rush to the past, because the pancakes that the manufacturers had in mind were clearly more the flap-jack variety, whereas my own childhood memories tend to the crêpe. Even that is a trick of perspective. I suspect the crêpe is an innovation at my mother’s generation owing to her allegiance to Elizabeth David. This just shows how low (because close) the horizon of tradition can be.

Even more shakily, as I wandered the supermarket aisles looking for the pancake necessaries, I found myself humming Hot Cross Buns!  Not perhaps such an egregious mistake, given that I spotted my first buns last week and my first easter eggs this week.

As to carne vale, I don’t think I can manage that, but I am going to try to cut back on the vino.  That will be more than enough of a struggle.  Get thee behind me, bartender!

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