Friday, 17 October 2014

Not About The Monk

You might conjecture that there is a certain individual walking the streets of this neighbourhood delivering communications whose content is likely to cause offence, but I couldn't possibly comment.  This is therefore not about him.

However, suppose this were to happen somewhere in a notably tolerant and somewhat alternative suburb of a city in the English Midlands:  Someone who looks like a monk goes door to door delivering leaflets which criticise homosexuality along the lines that it's pathological, sinful, immoral and the work of the Devil.  I have to say I wouldn't entirely agree with him, partly because its incompatible with my belief system as a Christian to look at people in that way.  Having said that, other aspects of his behaviour interest me and have common ground with mine.

In this story, the individual concerned makes no attempt to disguise himself.  His face is clearly visible and identifiable to others when he could easily do something like put a hood up.  I can think of a few reasons why someone might not choose to disguise themselves when doing something controversial and provocative.  Firstly, they might not consider it controversial or provocative so much as just disseminating information which people need to know.  Their behaviour is normal to them and they simply feel no need to hide themselves away.  An allied reason might be that they are highly focussed on a narrow aspect of what they're doing and don't see a bigger picture of possibly placing themselves at risk of disapproval, damage to their reputation or possibly even verbal and physical abuse, the last of which would of course not only be entirely unacceptable in itself but also probably feed any possible sense of self-righteousness and encourage him.  In any case, this would be a narrow focus on the self.

There are also two possible religious reasons I can think of why he might not be disguising himself.  One is that he feels he is doing God's work and therefore that God will protect him from adverse consequences of being easily identifiable to others.  The other reason is that he may be fully aware of possible adverse consequences but feel that they are God's will.

I'm not sure if my imaginary cosmic friend is the same as this guy's imaginary cosmic friend because I can imagine, perhaps unfairly, that his imaginary friend is more hateful than mine, but I might be wrong and I hope I am just imagining it.  It also reminds me of 'Save Ulster From Sodomy', a pressure group whose name doesn't seem to be calculated to win converts from the other, er, camps to the cause so much as be a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived world going to Hell in a handcart and a kind of ostentatious display of self-righteousness.   As  explained previously (I presume it's in there somewhere), I don't have knee-jerk reactions so maybe I just don't understand, but I empathise with that emotionally driven urge to express one's beliefs fervently and forcefully.

Let me describe this fictional character in another way.  This is a person who is walking around dressed and behaving in a distinctive manner which is likely to grab attention and be perceived as non-conformist.  They draw quiet disapproval from some of the people who see them.  Others might see them as brave and admire them for standing up for their inner convictions.  One set of reasons why they might not be interested in doing it quietly, say in the privacy of their own home, includes possible obliviousness to the risks, the perception that what they're doing is normal and the ideas that God will either protect them or that whatever happens to them is God's will.

Does that remind you of anyone?