A Pilgrimage To Hendon

Almost every age has harboured an immense reverence for “spiritual” personalities, books and paraphernalia of the distant past, none more than our own; and few indeed are the modern voices suggesting that it was just as easy to be a religious grifter in the Egypt of the Pharaohs as in modern California. Perhaps even easier, as the scams were all new back then. Being a priest or mystic or shaman was, as Terry Pratchett has it, indoor work with no heavy lifting. Better still, you could announce that the gods were ordering the people to bring lots of tasty food to the temple. Oh, and attractive young women, for a ritual that would make the crops grow. It was this kind of operator who wrote the Books of the Dead and so forth that the youngsters of the Sixties thought were such a “spiritual” alternative to their parents’ boring bourgeois churches.

It works the same way with geography; distance lends spiritual enchantment to the view. Our chronic romanticisation of distant places means that we readily believe that true wisdom is to be found in Tibet rather than Taunton, in the deserts of Sonora rather than the streets of Sioux City. One wonders whether the actual inhabitants of these – to us – remote and magical locations may find them actually rather mundane, and dream instead of the enlightenment to be found in Holy Hendon.

Posted on July 13, 2011 at 10:54 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, From Rationalism to New Age

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