Rachel Sylvester, wrote in the Times that “There’s a god-shaped hole in Westminster” I assumed this meant that Thor had crash landed outside the House of Commons or, at the least, that artistic roadworkers had scooped out a reverse statue of Pan from the pavements of the Royal Borough.

Disappointingly, not so. Rachel Sylvester just thinks that our politicians are too godless.

Certainly, politicians find it easier to “come out” as atheists than to profess that they have a religious faith. Nick Clegg, David Miliband and George Osborne have all said recently that they do not believe in God – something that would be unthinkable in the United States, where presidential candidates compete to win over religious voters……
……. the favourite book for politicians on holiday last year was The God Delusion.

Well, yes, of course they find it easier to say they are atheists, rather than to call their own credulity and mental health into question, by claiming to believe in an imaginary friend. They want us to vote for them surely.

(I am distracted again by exactly how Rachel Sylvester knows what politicians’ favourite holiday reading was. I mean, I’d like to believe that it was the God Delusion but I fear that falls into the category of “made-up stuff”.)

The creeping secularisation of politics was one of the factors that pushed Ruth Kelly, a devout Roman Catholic, into resigning her Cabinet position. …….
She was also disturbed by the way in which her membership of Opus Dei was seen as something weird and even rather dangerous; and she disliked the way in which Mr Blair’s Christianity was mocked during the war in Iraq.

“Creeping secularisation” suggests some stealthy process in which the religious underpinnings of British government are being progressively undermined. Nonsense. Religion plays a bigger part in public discourse now than it has before in my lifetime. If anything, Blair let ideas of “religion” and “faith” intrude into UK politics in ways that were relatively novel.

Ruth Kelly’s membership of Opus Dei may indeed have been seen as something weird. Because it is.

(Although I doubt anyone had heard of her before she resigned, let alone knew that she was member of of Opus Dei, a Catholic society not normally associated with the politics of the Labour Party, old or new.)

Blair’s Christianity “mocked during the war in Iraq”. What? What on earth are you talking about? Blair was unpopular because of the war, true enough. What did his avowed Christianity have to do with that war? Or did he think he was secretly acting for Rowan Williams or the Pope? I can’t believe that either of them would thank him for it.

He was mocked for his commitment to “faith”, fair enough. Indeed, his commitment to his “faith” was so great that he pretended to be an Anglican until he left power, then immediately “converted” to Catholicism. It’s quite hard to see this as a deep and abiding commitment to anything.

Plus, if he was indeed mocked, it must have only been in the House of Commons, which boosts my faltering trust in the judgment of MPs. Most British voters are not interested in a politician’s religion, even though Ms Sylvester seems to think that we need politicians to proclaim imaginary solutions to give us the optimism to deal with crises:

It is ironic that politicians in this country have abandoned belief – at the very moment that the people need hope.

What? This rhetoric is bilge. Have politicians all abandoned belief? No such luck. All of a sudden? No. Do people need “hope” now particularly, as opposed to any other time? Obviously not. Do people get “hope” as a result of politicians believing in sky fairies? Too silly to answer.

4 thoughts on “Holiness

  1. I assumed that most people knew who Ruth Kelly was already. You know, because I knew and I tend to assume that I don’t have any special sources that other folk don’t have. Maybe I do, though.

    I really doubt I’d have remembered about Opus Dei, I’m pretty sure I’d read that she was a member before she resigned.

  2. MPs declare what they’re reading on holiday annually for some survey or other http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/after-blair-labour-mps-opt-for-god-delusion-460474.html Obviously this relies on the assumption that MPs are being honest.

    I am pleased to hear that religion has something to say about human-animal hybrid embryos that it’s just uninformed bigotry dressed in piety. I didn’t realise they were in the bible. I assume that’s in Revelations.(and sure enough the first search result for human animal embryo bible is indeed an appeal to Revelations. 🙂 )

  3. It used to be said that there was a god-shaped hole in the heart (or soul) of every atheist. I’m glad the thing has moved out of my life and gone somewhere else. Too bad it landed in the UK, though.

  4. chaplain
    I wonder what shape that hole is. It would make life so much easier for religious artists
    But surely MPs are always honest, so it must be true… I will now have to google for human animal embryo bible.
    Here’s Wikipedia on Ruth Kelly
    Ruth_Kelly Now there is no excuse for anyone not knowing all about her.

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