On the news of Prince Philip’s death, my thoughts go out not just to the British Royal Family, but also to the members of the Prince Philip Movement in Vanuatu. This movement, a very small religious group, believe that Prince Philip is the son of a local mountain god who traveled overseas and married a powerful woman. The group has been described as a cargo cult, and there’s even a suggestion that Philip was John Frum’s brother - John Frum is a mythical American military man, around which a cargo cult religion started in the late 1930s.
It seems that the members of this movement are taking the news of the death of their deity fairly well. They plan to dance, drink kava and roast pigs for the next few weeks.
I have a friend who, maybe because he was brought up as a Christian Scientist, likes to remind me that these small, fringe religions are no weirder in their beliefs than the mainstream Abrahamic religion we’re accustomed to - Christianity. It’s just that we’ve grown up with Christianity, so its strange ideas have become normalised to us. But, when looked at objectively, the idea of Jesus’ second coming isn’t all that different to a mountain god’s son travelling to a distant land with the promise that he will one day return.