Wednesday, June 25, 2008

letters from the new ussr

I’ve not written much lately on the religious turn, but believe me, I’ve not stopped reflecting on it. The other day I stopped in at Borders bookshop and gravitated naturally to the philosophy/religion section. I took from the shelves a new Australian title by a lawyer who, he said, had never been much of a religious person until he married a catholic [I think – anyway, someone devout]. He’d gone to Sunday School as a kid [as I did], but it didn’t have much impact – he said. He’d gone onto university, and obtained his law degree, and then, at some stage had suddenly or gradually realized that the Christian revelation was true. I sat and read the preface to this personal/intellectual story [rifling through the rest, I noticed much argument on ID and much mention of Michael Behe and Richard Dawkins] and found the fellow gentle, polite, likeable and a bit sad – as I tend to find all well-meaning religious liberals – but I also found much, just in this preface, that was plainly absurd. The back page blurb said that the book refutes Dawkins and makes a convincing case for Christianity, etc etc, but only a few pages of reading were enough to show how hollow such a claim was. At the same time, the recommendation by Gideon Haigh [a sportswriter, and a very good one, but the Christian name in more ways than one gives the game away] that ‘this book cannot fail to move the reader’, struck me as largely true. The sincerity and apparent humility of the writer made me feel almost as much a desire to defend him as to attack him. Almost.

So I half-formulated there and then to blog-write a series of sincere, humble and polite letters, like Dear Terry [Eagleton], Dear John [Polkinghorne], and even Dear Saint [Augustine, Paul, Jerome, etc], to address in a kind-hearted manner their unfortunate and untenable views. A sort of P Z Myers with a charm transplant approach.

The first letter should be to this lawyer-writer I was reading in Borders, but sadly I no longer remember his name or the name of his book, so half-hearted I am in my commitments. So will anything come of this? We shall have to wait and see. I’m trying to think of some amusing secular play on The Screwtape Letters. I’ll sleep on it.



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