Tag Archives: christianophobia

Who is closer to the heart of the nation – Bowie or God?

Brian Eno and Nick Clegg with da yootI find these so-called Clegg gaffes rather perplexing. I’m not a great believer in either Bowie or God, although I do at least respect the former.

It’s interesting to see that as far as the Telegraph is concerned, the Bowie and Pogues gaffes were far more serious than admitting to atheism, which only goes to show how times change (note also that while the Telegraph feels the need to point out who Nick Clegg is in the caption accompanying their photo, they take it for granted that everyone knows what Brian Eno looks like, even though he is rather less hirsute than he used to be).

I have to admit – I’m human – that I find it rather odd for the fan of a recording artist to list a greatest hits compilation as their favourite album or for a non-Martian to have never heard Fairytale in New York. The latter provoked an immediate reaction from one of my friends listening to him on the radio who texted me immediately (while I was sitting next to Clegg in fact, and I was planning to ask him about it if he had stuck around for a bit longer).

What’s most confusing though, is that painting Clegg as a young fogey simply won’t do. Young fogeys don’t set fire to cacti collections, drive around America with a Fistful of Theroux or hang out with Christopher Hitchens dressed as circus freaks. It just strikes me as odd that he wouldn’t have been able to answer those questions without trouble. My personal theory is that it was down to stress.

But casting Eno as a “youth” adviser? I’m not sure about the efficacy of having a youth adviser at all, but getting a man six months off from his sixtieth birthday strikes me as particularly odd. Eno strikes me as a pretty positive spokesperson for his own generation, the boomers who are slowly waking up to the fact that mortality applies to even them. Why not make him an adviser for that generation?

On God, I have to say Clegg’s first answer was better than his second. In this respect, it is a moot point whether we have made progress from Ming Campbell, who always seemed to get his answers correct on the second attempt.

His first answer, on Five Live, was a straight “no”. The follow up, a statement coming from his office, gushed about his agnosticism and emphasised that his children we being brought up Catholic. Without the clarification, this story would have had far fewer legs. With the clarification it makes him look like the epitome of the vacillating, anything-you-want-guv career politician. It would seem that Clegg’s instincts remain sharper than his office’s. The same office that nearly plucked defeat from the jaws of victory earlier this week (it’s called a P45 Nick).

It does put all this Christianophobia guff into perspective. Why should a politician feel the need to bend their knee to the pope in this way if we live in such an anti-religious society?

Another MP, who shall remain nameless, sent me their Christmas card. The front of it is a perfectly charming nativity scene. On the back, there is a still more endearing and funny picture of a polar bear which came runner up. I can’t help but feel that this polar bear lost out purely due to political correctness rather than any artistic merit, but where are the likes of Mark Pritchard denouncing it?

I’m a political Christian!

I realise I offended some Christians last week with my pledge and many people felt that I “crossed the line”. I don’t accept that and would argue that my target in such things are people who wallow in the politics of identity (on which long time readers will appreciate I am an equal opportunities offender) not Christianity itself.

In light of the fact that Richard Dawkins has today outed himself as a “cultural Christian” allow me to go one step further: I’m a political Christian. Or more precisely, I’m a Jesusite.

Speaking personally, I find the historical figure of Jesus compelling. He was a true radical and deserves to be recognised as such. My reading of the Gospels is that his mission was primarily political, not religious (although since even Mark was written at least 30 years after his death, things got given a religious twist later), and his main target was hypocrisy. You won’t hear a peep of criticism from me for his turfing the money changers out of the temple, which is ironic given the fact that most Christians seem to have far more trouble with his opposition to usury than I have.

The narrative I see in the Gospels is of a man who strongly opposed the pharisaism and exhorted as an alternative a way of life based on values and core principles rather than rules. His was a liberation theology. The problem was that after his death, others including Paul – a pharisee – turned his message into the founding stone of a religious cult and in turn reinstated the rotes of laws that Jesus spent his life attacking.

This is of course a massive oversimplification and ultimately little more than speculation. But it is this tension between the liberators and the legislators that been the source behind much of the struggles within the Christian church and Western society in general. I happen to think that secularists ought to reclaim Jesus the politician as one of their own. Much of my contempt for Christianity is directed at those who see it as little more than bells, smells and conspicuous piety, and this contempt is shared by many believers.

Complaining about Christianity being taken out of Christmas is a case in point. It is ultimately a pagan ritual and Christmas was an attempt to subvert this (although to what extent Christianity subverted paganism and paganism subverted Christianity is a moot point). There is very little to be proud of here, and all the foot stamping demanding that we remember Christianity at this time of year is frankly insulting. If the Church and the religious are so keen for us to remember Christianity at this time of year how about spending it talking about its message and reaching out to people from where they are are rather than denouncing us as all politically correct secular extremists? That is how Jesus would have dealt with the situation and I suspect he would have resented what has fast become an annual finger wagging ritual being done in his name at this time of year.

At the heart of this Graeco-Roman death and genitalia obsessed sun god cult there is a powerful message which has resonated almost in spite of the vessel that has carried it for 2000 years. All too often I get the sense that so-called Christians would be happy if we forgot this fact so long as we kept up the nativity plays.

Richard Dawkins loves the Baby Jesus!

Well, he might do:

Scientist Richard Dawkins, an atheist known worldwide for arguing against the existence of God, has described himself as a “cultural Christian”.

He told the BBC’s Have Your Say that he did not want to “purge” the UK of its Christian heritage.