Paid work as an incarnated deity increasingly hard to find (The Funny Side)
I once had a boss who said: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” I told her that wearing a skirt and crucifying people was against my religion.
I soon moved on from that job and indeed believed that my dream job did not exist — until recently, when a reader sent me a link to a report about a paid post of “hermit” being offered by the Swiss authorities.
Hermits live on mountains and think about the meaning of life. The downside is that they traditionally receive no pay and no company car. Yet this particular hermit was offered a salary, free housing and paid holidays. Later, I saw a picture of the man who got the job, and he was balding with a long white beard — this seems a crucial requirement for the job, but was not specified in the advertisement, probably to avoid accusations of sexism, this “look” being harder for the fairer sex to achieve.
Yet the Swiss town of Solothurn’s original hermit, Saint Verena, was female. She lived in a cave circa AD 270, so the level of perks has definitely gone up and in theory could eventually involve a corporate credit card.
Paid, high-level spiritual jobs are becoming depressingly rare. Nepal still has a post of Incarnated Deity in the temples of the Kathmandu valley but applicants need to be female and under 13.
I mentioned this at work and a colleague pointed out that one can act in a high-minded, spiritual way even in mundane jobs. She sent me a link to a report about a police traffic monitor in the US who spotted a driver running a red light on a recorded surveillance video. He realised it was him. Officer Tim Glover hit himself with a hefty fine, and became a hero for his moral uprightness.
Any Asian examples of jobs with a moral angle? A different colleague told me that in China, professional “mistress dispellers” are being paid by married women to track down their husbands’ mistresses and persuade them to decamp quietly. But it doesn’t sound very moral. Apparently the line that works best is, “He’s not as rich as you think.”
Meanwhile, a reader wrote in with a story about possibly the least moral job of the year. Most matchmakers offer to find “that special someone” for single people, but Azad Chaiwala’s firm offers to find that “second special someone” for men who come from cultures that allow multiple wives. It’s a bit risky, since he works from the UK, where polygamy is illegal.
Chaiwala claims to be a moralist, arguing that polygamy is more moral than having love affairs. This is a bit like saying robbing old people is okay because robbing children is worse.
I guess in truth, it is harder to be moralistic now than it used to be. If sexting US politician Anthony Weiner lived in 1600, he would have had to commission fine artists to do oil portraits of him in his underpants and then have footmen hand-carry them to the fathers of girls he liked. All too much like hard work. Much better to live on a mountain and think about the meaning of life, right?
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)