O Come, All Ye Faithful, Join My New Religion
Guest, Katy, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Most people will be working on their new year's resolutions this week as they frenziedly do all the things they are about to resolve not to do, in the brief but magical late-December window in which there are no such things as calories, and the booze fairies are looking after our livers. I've decided to go one better this time around: I am going to start a religion.
This is not a momentary whim brought on by too much buck's fizz and a particularly inspirational Queen's speech; I have been working on my religion for many years. But now I think that its time has come. Loosely based on paganism (but then, what religion isn't?) and random acts of kindness, my teachings will be vague and deliberately open to interpretation. My followers will be distinguished by their habit of leaving two opened carrier bags ready to use at the checkout, after they have paid.
The problem we have with our existing religions is that they are too susceptible to misinterpretation. It's as if the more specifically an instruction is written down, the more centuries of ecumenical energy will go into bending it until it fits the prevailing orthodoxy (men and rich people in charge; everyone else in the wrong). For instance, Jesus said "Love thy neighbour" and "Judge not, that ye not be judged," and yet whole denominations of Christianity now exist that seem to be devoted to judging their neighbours and hating them. It's what everyone's doing anyway; it's just easier if you believe that God wills it.
Instead of issuing any rules, I will demand that my followers ask themselves what to do. In the absence of instructions and interpretations, they will only have their own consciences to answer to. My hypothesis is that they will be kinder as a result. …