The Messiah has spoken. After announcing his ideas to deliver peace on earth by encouraging tourism in the occupied territories (WTF?) our erstwhile leader and self-styled miracle worker, Tony Blair, tells us that he is, and has been for some time, a man of committed faith. He didn't make much of it when in office, he says, for fear of being branded a 'nutter'. Well, he's got that right. A similarly afflicted colleague of his thinks it's a pity that British politicians can't be more open about their faith, like their counterparts across the pond. That would be excellent, wouldn't it? A further shift towards the empty nihilism of the American electoral system is just what we need to stem the tide of apathy amongst the voting public.
I think it's reasonable to assume, based on some intuitive stabs in the dark, that TB is not a believer in the old Norse gods (perhaps we would be better off if he was) where militarism would be positively encouraged, or an adherent of Shinto, where it would be acceptable. Nor indeed do I think he is a Jihadi - and we all know what their feelings are when it comes to war, don't we? No, by all accounts he is a Christian, and will soon cross the floor, following his wife down the Papal path to salvation. Though it seems that he is holding off on the initiation ceremony for this whilst he is installed in his Middle Eastern envoy role. As ever, alive to the value of the theatrical gesture, maybe he is planning to have this done on December 25th in Bethlehem itself. Although perhaps he should partake in this Luminous Mystery in the River Jordan sometime in January. It might not be easy, however, as the area is currently an Israeli military area, which is closed to the public. Who knows?
I'm not naive, don't get me wrong, but I do have a general issue with many of those who call themselves Christian, based on some rudimentary reading of the gospels. My problem is, really, rank hypocrisy. Here are some examples:
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already.
6:25 “Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep...
...6:27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 6:29 To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either. 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. 6:31 Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you..." (from the Gospel of Luke)
Fine words, no question of that, but I do detect some small differences between these admonishments and the actions of Mr Blair.
Quite apart from that, there's also the issue of intellectual rigour. I mean, if TB wants to be a Catholic, that - I guess - means he wishes to be doctrinally pure and actually swallow (in the literal sense) the trans-substantiation thing, to name but one aspect of the mumbo-jumbo. I'm an easy-going guy when it comes to the Spaghetti Monster stuff, really I am. Whatever gets you through the night. But I do have concerns that the leader of the nation can appear proud of believing in it. Where does that leave him - and us, for that matter - when it comes to abortion rights, stem cell research, archaeology, etc? Of course, we all make moral judgments on complex issues, and there could be said to be no absolute right or wrong in many of them. However, there is a real danger in approaching complex debates dogmatically. Would he support the view of the Holy See against Amnesty International on the question of abortion, for example? Does he view all Iraqi children as eternally damned in any case? Our leaders should be able to at least examine the opposing sides of an argument in a level-headed way. Thanks to the folks at Venganza (linked above) for these fine words from Aristotle:
"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion.
Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they
consider God-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move
against him, wrongly believing that he has the Gods on his side."
One last point. Is the Mighty Blair comfortable with himself for having kept his counsel on this for so long? If his beliefs are so deeply held, why hasn't he come out before?