Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Engaged Spirituality

As spiritual people, are we obliged to protest against injustice? CJ Stone examines the case for the spiritual sphere making a political stand. From Kindred Spirit magazine.
Russell Brand in the New Statesman
Russell Brand’s interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight was one of the most watched YouTube clips in the UK last year.
It’s not surprising. Brand is always entertaining, and to see him go head to head with one of the UK’s heavyweight political pundits had something of the air of an intellectual sparring match about it.
Indeed it was billed that way. The BBC’s own YouTube channel calls the interview “Paxman vs. Brand”.
So it was the old guard vs. the new, political commentary vs. anarchic comedy, seriousness vs. facetiousness, democracy vs. revolution, politics vs. spirituality.
I’ve heard a number of opinions about the interview. People are polarised about it. A lot of people don’t like Brand. They think of him as a foppish, over-sexed attention-seeker, only really interested in what goes on in his underpants and his wallet. Why did he do the interview, they ask? Because it was good for his bank-balance..
On the other hand, no one can deny that he raised a lot of issues, and that the kind of views he was airing went global as a consequence.
Brand is a significant figure. He has a major public profile. He could use it to support all sorts of things, instead of which he is talking about the underclass, about the environment, about exploitation and world poverty, while name-checking the Occupy movement along the way.
What makes Brand fairly unique, at least in the mainstream media, is that he attaches the idea of spirituality to these issues. As he says in the New Statesman, in the article which was the stimulus to him being invited onto Newsnight:
  • For me the solution has to be primarily spiritual and secondarily political. This, too, is difficult terrain when the natural tribal leaders of the left are atheists, when Marxism is inveterately Godless… By spiritual I mean the acknowledgement that our connection to one another and the planet must be prioritised.
As the article goes on he refers to paganism, Yogananda, Celtic spirituality and the Nordic tradition, while talking about consciousness. And he has this to say about socialism:
  • Socialism’s historical connection with spiritual principles is deep. Sharing is a spiritual principle, respecting our land is a spiritual principle. May the First, May Day, is a pagan holiday where we acknowledge our essential relationship with our land.
These are not the kind of thoughts you would normally expect to hear aired in that venerable old magazine of the left, the New Statesman.
Read more here.

No comments: