Sunday, May 02, 2010

Hustings High Finance The Reformation and Greek Orthodoxy

The final of the three broadcasts now known as the prime ministerial debates, made for as intriguing TV as the previous two. I cannot recall a UK Parliamentary election as interesting as the current one. Even the run up to 1964 election where Harold Wilson's Labour party won with a tiny 4 seat majority, was a dull affair compared with the current hustings. Essentially substituting the old format staged party political TV broadcasts with the new format of live debates between the 3 main party leaders, has breathed much new life into the whole process and whichever party wins the real winner will be democracy in the UK.
It will be interesting to compare the percentage of the electorate turning out to vote this Thursday with percentages in previous polls.

Despite the high quality of the new debate format, the questions of how when and where the inevitable cuts in public spending and increases in taxation were sidestepped and not answered - the 3 leaders doubtless anticipate, alas rightly in my view, that the electorate is as unlikely to vote for a party leader's transparency in this area, as turkeys would vote for Christmas.

As to the points discussed; the difference between the Conservatives and Labour parties whch intrigues me most at present, is Gordon Browns's strongly held view that we should not impose cuts until next year to avoid nipping the nascent economic revival (which he discerns - I must say I don't) in the bud whereas David Cameron says
the nation needs to act like small businesses and families have to and stop spending now money we haven't got.

Mr Cameron's view is orthodox Mr Brown's view is interesting.

Logically I'm with David Cameron on his view but instinct tells me that Gordon Brown's point might be good.

As to finances more generally; the Greek tragedy is still playing out but apart from drawing the conclusion that the more the delay in national financial belt tightening the greater the hardship, that the UK was fortunate to stay out of the Eurozone seems clearer now than before.

One point about the Greeks' financial troubles which only seems to be mentioned in religious affairs broadcasting, concerns the position of the Greek Orthodox Church. It seems that over 90% of the Greek population adheres to that Church so perhaps for that reason it also appears that its priests are essentially salaried by the Greek State, that it is exempt from taxation and that it has built up very large financial reserves.

In the UK, Churches along with other charities attract tax reliefs though interestingly, the catholic enclosed Carmelite orders whose works exclusively comprise praying for the salvation of rest of us, do not generally qualify for charitable status or tax reliefs as the courts have held that you cannot prove that pure prayer has a public benefit - that is you cannot prove that pure prayer works. Mostly though clergy in the UK are funded by their faithful and not by the State

Reverting to the Greek Orthodox Church; if my understandings that their priests are salaried by the Greek state and that they have built up large financial reserves are correct, then there would be a striking parallel in my view, between the positions of the Orthodox church in Greece today and the position of the catholic church in England just before the reformation in the C15 + C16 when the clergy by their wealth were pereceived too far removed from the position of the Faithful.
The dissolution of the monasteries followed not only because of the marriage problems of King Henry VIII.

The UK now has large financial problems as well and for all its faults the church today cannot fairly be said to be part of the cause though hopefully it may yet be part of the solution...

1 comment:

  1. With grateful acknowledgement to Share crazy's Ian Pollard of Athens when he posted:

    "That's a deep one MT, for this time of night. I know very little about the legal relationship between Greek and state except that it is very close and very corrupt, as are most things at that level...

    It does decide that there is a very clear formal establishment of the Greek Church. However it is different to the C of E in the UK. For example, politicians have no say over church appointments.

    The Othodox Church in Greece is enormously powerful and extremely wealthy and appears to be a law unto itself. It owns a lot of Greece. Its hold over the people is more reminiscent of mediaeval times than 21st Century Europe - albeit without the mediaeval sanctions.

    Blasphemy is still a criminal offence.

    It is also a very corrupt church and there have been several instances over the past few years of serious fraud at high levels, especially over land deals.

    Senior clergy can become very wealthy, without any apparant explanation, even if they have come from a humble island background.

    It is a church which is hand in glove with the establishment but not controlled by it.

    It is one of the reasons why the present mood in Greece is one of extreme anger."

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