Australia has nearly five million Catholics and about 300 billion bogans. On Sunday, October 17, 2010, however, Australia had approximately 300,005,000,000 Catholics. Because, on that momentous day, a woman who has been dead for decades was appointed by the Catholic Church that excommunicated her as Australia’s very first Saint.
At first glance, the bogan may give the impression that it is quite the student of religion. It is capable of analysing the Qu’ran, it has an extensive collection of Buddhist iconography in its home, and it has enjoyed a brief period of purchasing from the merchandising juggernaut that is the Hillsong Church. To scratch the surface of this claim, however, is to uncover pure, 24 carat bullshit. The bogan has little genuine interest in things religious beyond the prospect of receiving the occasional solicited miracle, and the capacity to take solace from the idea that, come the bitter end, it can merely apologise profusely to a conceptual entity it paid scant attention to for decades. Consequently, its time as a recidivist reprobate will be forgiven, and paradise awaits, with no effort or sacrifice required. But faced with the prospect of simultaneously supporting a 19th century nun and Australia’s clear superiority over the rest of the world, the bogan giddily embraces an excuse to don its flag cape three months out from Australia Day.
A belief in miracles dovetails neatly with the bogan’s core existential belief. The belief that it will, despite having no redeeming features or particular talents, be offered, unsolicited, a spot on X Factor Australia, to be fawned over by the unholy triumvirate of Imbruglia, Keating and Sandilands. Much like bogan theologian Dan Brown, the work of popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI exhibits an increasingly sophisticated knowledge of how to run a PR campaign to charm the bogan. During his papacy, John Paul II canonised more saints than the the combined efforts of centuries of popes before him, rocking along at a clip of 3.5 new saints per year. Benedict XVI has utilised German efficiency to achieve an unprecedented velocity of 6.8 saints per year, satisfying the needs of the bogan and its international brethren for constant media events, arbitrary miracles, victory dances, and hoopla.
Years of watching Today Tonight and A Current Affair had left the bogan haplessly addicted to that deep, resonating comfort that only comes from being told exactly what to think. While not coming in neat 30-minute capsules at dinner time on weeknights, Catholicism, to the bogan, offers the same direction and guidance as Tracy Grimshaw and Matthew White combined. Most important, though, is that after being canonised, Mary MacKillop is now max celeb, with a galaxy of merchandise options. The bogan is surely only a step behind, having spent all winter doing hammer curls, trying to get ‘cannonised’. Conditioned from years of mimicking celebrity behaviour, the bogan will briefly find abstinence and abstemiousness cool. Until it is horny or thirsty.
Then, come next Sunday, faced with the prospect of rising early to attend mass for what now seems like hair of the dog, and with the kneeling and rising, and the good behaviour, and the newly-found inability to make paedophile jokes, the bogan hits snooze, and rolls over.