Monday, August 18, 2008
Buddha, Jesus and the Church of Latter Day Bank Clerks
I'm an English Buddhist sitting in an internet cafe in Northampton run by Muslims in the next chair along from two American Mormons. Think of it. They're wearing those short-sleeved white shirts and black trousers, the tie, the name badge. An image which is supposed to look respectable and break down the barriers of fear and suspicion, I suppose. But to me they look much more peculiar and intimidating and sinister than the Muslim woman sitting behind the desk in her burkha. I know there's a strong argument against the subjection of women in Islam and that the burkha represents that (is it subjection if a woman of intelligence, as she clearly is, wears it voluntarily?) but it's still a nice outfit, at least according to my prejudices. And with burkhas there are a hundred different colours and designs for women (I presume) to choose from. It's an unfair reaction, but when I see the Mormons coming all dressed exactly alike in the same styles and colours I have an instinctive fear that somebody is brainwashing them in a basement somewhere and sending them out onto the streets to take away all our individuality and freedom under the cover of preaching about Jesus. Which I think is partly because the costume that has been chosen for them makes them look like bank clerks or middle managers in burger chains. It seems so far removed from how Jesus would have presented himself while travelling through Judea (or wherever it was) telling everybody that they had to give up all their notions of earthly status and respectability if they wanted to get into Heaven.