Friday, January 04, 2008

You don't often hear it stated this baldly

Conservatives often accuse liberals and leftists of being closet (or not-so-closet) secular bigots who only find religion tolerable if isn't taken seriously.

Most opponents' descriptions of the other side should be taken with a grain of salt, of course. But this one might not ... from the "Catholic Church in Britain" files:
'A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be useful to call representatives of the Catholic church in front of the committee to find out what is going on,' [Barry Sheerman, chairman of the parliamentary cross-party committee on children, schools and families] said. 'It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked. It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers' money after all.'
Now of course, it's bad enough that Britain is apparently considering making Catholic bishops explain themselves before an official tribunal (regardless of its consequences) for the sin of actually believing Catholicism is true and that schools that are supposed to be Catholic should act as if it were. These schools are supposed to be Catholic even though they are state-funded; the notion of "church-state separation," whatever its merits, is an American one that has never been the practice in Europe. And Sheerman repeats one of my pet peeves of liberal-secularist insularity -- common vulgar misuse of the worst f-word in the language (that would be "fundamentalist"¹)

But did you catch that part ... "It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith." How does one parody such unthinking ... unthinkingness.

I will acknowledge that this was a sinus-clearing quote. You could cut this MP's contempt with a knife (and if he were to speak that way about Islam, some people would be cutting more than that). But, to quote myself, "you don't often hear it stated this baldly." British blogger Cranmer, who calls the whole shameful thing an "inquisition" put it best:
Well, Mr Sheerman, Cranmer has news for you. People who are 'not serious about their faith' do not possess a faith. And faith schools which are 'not serious about their faith' are not faith schools. Does Parliament 'work all right' if politicians are not that serious about politics?
Hey, it's not as if religion or one's eternal fate² is something worth being serious about? What's eternity sub specie aeternitatis? What doth it profit a man if he take his soul seriously but lose the world?
¹ Any use of that word to refer to anything other than a strain of mostly Anglo-American Protestantism since the early 20th century either proves the user's ignorance or mendacity.
² Or the lack thereof. If there is no God or next life, that'd be just as much a fact and just as serious a matter as their existence.


Anonymous said...

Are we living in penal times? i think so..

James H said...

Good Grief. Politicans do say the darndest things even in the UK it seems