Friday, September 17, 2010

The Pope again

I admit that I'm finding the Pope's visit to Britain quite disturbing. I'm reminded that I may be an atheist but (to use Christopher Hitchen's terminology), I'm a protestant atheist. I learned Latimer's words to Ridley at the stake by heart when I was at school, and somewhere deep in my brain, all that early indoctrination must have stuck.

I wish the Pope didn't have such a cloth ear for history and culture. For a Pope to visit England and then make references to Sir Thomas More is not tactful. I can almost hear my puritan Congregationalist ancestors turning in their graves. It makes me want to go out and lay a great big flowery wreath at one of the memorials to Protestant Martyrs.

On the other hand, as a humanist and a secularist, I find the people purporting to speak on my behalf almost equally annoying, and none more so than Polly Toynbee. Her astonishingly shallow statement in today's Guardian that the great moral question of our time is how to share the nation's wealth, almost makes the Pope look like a profound thinker, rather than the intellectually sclerotic old man he really is.

So thank whatever isn't up there, for Julian Baggini's article in today's Guardian. In my opinion he's spot on.

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