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We are funny.

We’ve spent thousands of years navigating the theologically and intellectually boulder strewn path from the pagan arts and necromancy of the darker older world through proscribed religions to finally arrive at a what we think is a mostly enlightened secular state unfettered from the domain of Church and the blind abstractions of the Faiths they vaunt.

And in doing so we have notionally put most other faiths in the same hell-bound handcart on which we dumped our own spirituality.  This is not necessarily always a disrespectful or dismissive pursuit, though the “My Books better, older and more profound than your Book/Scroll/Tablet” sociopathic bullshit of the more bellicose monotheistic religions might make it seem otherwise.

We tend to quite favour religions other than the one’s we are born into. Vast quantities of westerners raised as goodly Christian and Jewish children have embraced other faiths. We’ve had a good old roll in the karmic hay with all forms of Buddhism recently, and plundered some rather shiny variations on an existing religious theme – Kabbalah for instance – courtesy of Madge and a few A Listers.

But certainly in the predominantly Christianity rooted West, bar the odd few tens of thousands of God fearing Commie hunting, Koran burning, Gay baiting, Abortion stoning, Feminist damning, 21st Century hating, gun totin’ rootin’ tootin’ yihaws; some fiery Baptists; and a clutch of die-hard papal purple purists with a fist full of dollars and an incense ball and chain keeping the dream alive in most of Middle and South America, western religion is broadly redundant intellectually speaking other than as a point of plane to pivot and lever off. 

It has become a vestigial spiritual tail – a divine obsolescence from our millennia in the metaphysically charged dark forests and the last three thousand years under the auspices of ‘pick an Abrahamic Faith, any Abrahamic Faith.’

But in doing so, we never really think through the contingency and legacy planning. Mostly we lean on Science as the replacement – the thing that will fill the void left by what has gone. Bt that is to assume that everyone responds in a non metaphysical left brain attenuated manner in times of distress and duress.

So where do we look to these days when all the dark truths of our humanity hove into view? Where do we cast our eyes when our profligate destruction of the beauty of the planet we inhabit overwhelm us and the darker recesses of our human psyche demonstrate themselves in brutality, cruelty, rape, torture, murder, genocide and war?

Morgan Freeman.

Yes. Morgan Freeman.

In the absence of God, many multiple thousands of us look in reverence and seek reassurance from the 81 year old son of a teacher and America actor and star of Shawshank Redemption fame.

OK. To be fair, the substitute religious reverence things is a little muddy here. Morgan has ‘played God’ which might confuse many – and in a far less destructive way than most of his species and more importantly his gender.  But there is something more about him than his Oscar and nominations and  loose, white, open shirted God performances might predict.

Morgan Freeman’s voice alone can salve the most anxious heart and fevered brow. 

Something I called the Morgan Freeman Effect, when discussing how one might make a film that helps patients to relax and perhaps focus of take in information in the midst of being told some very distressing, complex and frightening news rooted in genetic science. Bring Morgan Freeman into the room and into that moment to pop the bubble:

Morgan: Hey…

Patient: hey…

Morgan: Now…you’re not really listening to what that smart doctor lady’s saying are you?

Patient: No

Morgan: Kind of confused and scared?

Patient: I’m really scared.

Morgan: What say you and me take a walk and just talk – about anything – your favourite John Denver song – favourite Toy Story Character? I don’t care. Anythings fine with me.

Patient: OK then.

And with that, most of us would mostly probably get up out of our chair in that Medical Consultant Specialists room and take a walk with Morgan. With no rational reason for doing so.

His calming modulated tones and open expressive and gentle face are a modern human phenomena.  It is a form of gift – one that is hard to explain in our hard edged data fuelled rationally obsessed world.

There is the sense of everything is going to be OK while Morgan is in the world.

In that way he is remarkable. In that way he is no different to the Unicorns of myth, whom some believe to be a sign of the world being in balance – and their death or absence being indicative of the world tipping toward the dark.

And in Unicorn terms I am most assuredly referring to the horsey single horn mythological creature type as opposed to the over blown silicon valley algorithmically charged frothy Investment stock type of the new digital world order.

Granted – Unicorns can make many people respond with anything from a bluster to an outright screech of derision, and, if the following answer to the question Are Unicorns real? posted on answers.com were to be taken at face value no-one would want to be identified as a believer in any kind of Unicorn:

Actually if you are christian you should know that they did exist well the story begins back with the story of Noah’s ark see the animals were going on the ship but the unicorns just stayed there and played and Noah couldn’t get them aboard so he had to leave them to drown. but many people think (including me) that the unicorn still lives somewhere possibly on an island because unicorns are magical nothing will stop them.

But saying that [and someone really did], lets take this in the spirit in which it is meant. AKA just go with me on this for a minute.

Unicorns represent a sacred creature to whom the prospect, balance and spiritual well being of the world are inextricably attached. Unicorns merely by their presence predict good things – even the briefest glimpse of them augurs a world where good prevails.

On that basis, Morgan Freeman is a Unicorn for millions of people – in that his presence in the world offers us a sense of salve and reassurance. But thankfully for him, he is not alone.

Another of our Unicorns is David Attenborough. One of the most remarkable creatures we share this planet with. His one man crusade to bring the truths and beauty of the natural world to bear across millions of screens in millions of homes is a staggering act of will and craft.

That he creates such compelling and mesmeric filmic storytelling without the sickly sweet confection of Anthropomorphism favoured by Disney et al is even more remarkable. 

Unlike Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough carries the added hindrance to his fantastical mythical Unicorn status of being a die-hard sharp-cornered scientist rooted wholly in the rational world. There isn’t even a whiff of the spiritual about Mr Attenborough. [Even if there was, I sense it would be a be of the swift-5-minutes-of-High-Church-C-of-E-chapel variety, with a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the sacristy to smooth out the God wrinkles in it all.]

But none the less, there he is: the voice of such superior human vantage, such purview, creature insight, expansive understanding and natural intimacy that grown men and women almost weep when they hear him, and people clamour to be near him in much the same way they would pilgrimage to touch the sleeve of their most revered prophets sages and saintly personae.  

Now, is this a male dominated domain, like some throw back to a paternalistic misogynist church or medieval men and their power lusts?

Nope. Oprah is right up there for me on the runway to Unicorn. And Michele Obama [though sadly not the next POTUS – but how we pray!!] is also a Unicorn in waiting.

And death will not silence the Unicorn, however sad its coming. Maya Angelou, though gone from this mortal coil has [and I use the present tense knowingly] a similar effect – her words and recordings chiming the zenith of our humanity and the depth of our feeling in such a way as to give people succour and support and bolster them for what life may bring. She is alive in, with and through them. 

Equally I cite the saintly phenomena that was Mother Theresa, even with all of her subsequently revealed peculiarities and sharpness [who wouldn’t be consumed and sharpened by witnessing and carrying so much suffering].  

So I’d like to give a small ‘praise be‘ on this Easter Sunday, and say, in the increasing absence of any kind of faith in advanced cultures, let alone Abrahamic ones, and in the face of the staggering circus act of hubris currently being demonstrated by left brain reasoning and a blind faith in science knowing all, thank deity for Unicorns in all of their wondrous being.

Something tells me that, as more fires and floods ravage, as more religious fundamentalists scour and murder, and as the pillaging self interest of corporatism supported by the likes of the straw haired idiot to the West continue to thrive, we’ll need as many of them as we can get.