Okay, not at all what he said, but Crown Casino in Australia has a resident Chaplain and Father James Grant is concerned about all those gamblers putting their faith in luck.
Speaking yesterday at an event to raise awareness around problem gambling, Father Grant said the lack of individual responsibility was alarming. ”An increasing number of patrons believe that luck is on their side,” he said. ”In our society luck has become a new secular deity.
What’s with the “new” business? Lady Luck has been a gambler’s sweet dream for a long, long time. In fact, she’s always been a deity.
She started out as Tyche, the Greek Goddess responsible for the fortunes of the cities (known as Fortuna to the Romans).
Tyche was the personification of Hope, Luck and Wealth. She was a labile, yet virtuous spirit, mediating between gods and mortals and leading human lives. She was therefore extraordinarily worshipped by the ancient Greeks.
The main symbol of goddess Tyche was a huge horn, inside of which she was keeping all wealth and richness; the horn once belonged to Amalthea, the goat who fostered Greek god Zeus during his infacy. Tyche was carrying the horn with her constantly, occasionaly turning it upside down to spread all its goods to anyone who would meet her on his way.
And according to Wikipedia, she was a favoured explanation for catastrophes as well. The Greek historian Polybius credited her for all manner of floods, droughts and other bad turns of fortune that didn’t have a recognizable cause. Fickle, she is.
She’s also one of the gods who held on the longest in the face of Christianity gaining a foothold over paganism. Could debate whether that’s been lucky or catastrophic, too. Could say she’s been here all along, biding her time…
”We are people who believe that it is possible to get something for nothing, that our lives are in the grip of fate … rather than our own responsibility. None of this is Crown’s doing.
”Rather I would argue that Crown is actually moving into a framework that is going in exactly the opposite direction.”
Grant’s part of a group called Chaplains Without Borders and gives around 20 hours a week to Crown, helping counsel at their gaming support centre. I guess I can agree with him, that it’s not the fault of one casino for why so many people are willing to drop money into it, even if they know odds are slim for winning. It’s a people problem in general and one I’d argue is not made better by the existence of religion. The whole point of that is to pray to no thing that can be seen and expect something to result from that ritual, the belief of being in the grip of God. How is that any different from rubbing a rabbit’s foot, wearing green and caressing an unthinking machine counterclockwise before tapping its button?
Maybe it’s because people don’t approach religion like it’s a gambling addiction, too. The rewards are just as ethereal and the ludicrous stories of those few who do “win” access to the other side and “come back” to tell about it are just like those “I put a quarter in and won a million!” tales that bolster the hearts of every gamer out there. It’s out there. It’s possible. I just need more faith. I just need more belief. I just need more ritual and the reward will be mine.
The odds really are against it, but it won’t stop believers from trying.
”It’s very easy to bash Crown without really understanding what efforts it does go to,” he said. ”I don’t think Crown gets any credit for what it’s doing in terms of trying to encourage individuals to take more responsibility for their life.”
Maybe it’d work better if more Chaplains would encourage that, too, but in order to do it, they’d have to stop telling people that God’s the one gamble worth putting their money on.
Figure out the chance of that happening. Long odds there, too, I think. So long as belief systems insist that people relinquish responsibility and leave everything in God’s hands – from their love lives to money woes to health to whatever – they may never learn how to take responsibility for the choices they’re up against.