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Which Watcher? 22 June 2013

Posted by Dr Moose in Faith, Life, Ponderings, Prose, Theology.
Tags: , , , , ,

In the bad old days, before we sold our identities for free service, before swapping promises of loyalty for being true to Ourself, or doing what feels right rather than subscribing to agreement that there really is a right and wrong: before all that there was still a Watcher. A now-unfashionable bogeyman with or without the beard or cloud of popular imagination, all-seeing.

Satisfied with His Irrelevance we grew up, each our own master or mistress, or so we liked to think. Prophets of Doom warned of a change of Oversight, of Big Brother; which always happens Somewhere Else, surely?

And now in our Corporately-sponsored, State-monitored, social-networked atomism, home-working, Cloud-sharing, crowd-sourcing virtual Wonderland we rejoice in our Freedom.



1. Jane Williams - 22 June 2013

I think I see the point you’re making here, but if I do, it’s an unusually oversimplified and trivial one for you. My answer to what may well be a straw man would be that if there is a Watcher, whether he she or it has a beard, a cloud, a lightning bolt, a tree to sit under in the lotus position, or just consists of “public opinion”, it’s our responsibility as adults to listen to what they say and judge whether or not it’s right before taking action. If what they appear to be saying is “hate people, harm people” then that isn’t a message to act on, and all too often, those who delegate their responsibility of judgement to their own version of the Watcher use such messages as an excuse for really appalling behaviour. We’re adults. Blind obedience to a possibly-misunderstood message is no defence, and before making any promise of loyalty, we need to be extremely sure who or what we’re making it to.

2. tim ellis - 22 June 2013

it is an interesting point. People who feel unthreatened by whatever the watcher proposes say things to the effect of “If you don’t do anything wrong then you’ve nothing to fear” – Which of course is true for certain values of “wrong” and “fear”. (equally true whether your “punishment” is eternal damnation in the afterlife, civil or criminal proceedings in the courts or badly targeted intrusive adverts in your social media…

3. Dr Moose - 23 June 2013

I’m not sure whether Jane is over-analysing (English Graduate?), or whether I was simply not fully awake! At it’s simplest I’m just indulging in a little ironic reflection on our public shock and horror in being told that espionage agencies are actually spying…. More theologically I have a second part written, but not published, that points to Jesus Christ as a true Big Brother (in a positive interpretation rather than an Orwellian one) as well as the one paying the price for freedom, (in classic Christian terms of redemption) but decided it was too preachy/clunky to include!

Jane Williams - 23 June 2013

I’m probably over-analysing (I often do), but my degree is in physics turned computer science. Formal study of English stopped when I was 16. This may be why my reaction to the news that information stored on computers can be retrieved and analysed is slight puzzlement that anyone would ever have imagined otherwise. I’ve been making a living out of doing just that for twenty years or so, after all. The idea that any of my friends would think of things in any other way isn’t one that would occur to me, either. Clearly I need more practice in other viewpoints.
What I saw there was the old deist v humanist argument of “if you don’t get your ethics imposed by a Higher Power, where do you get them from, and what constitutes a Higher Power anyway?” Which is a difficult question, and one where I’d expect your answer to differ from mine. I think we agree, though, that judging a question of ethics by the number of Facebook Likes you can get is not the answer!

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