This morning’s Guardian gave me plenty to think about:
- Justin Cartwright writes about the meaning of life or, rather, its meaninglessness. Religious belief he sees as somewhere between pathetic and pernicious. What strikes me? I think its the tone of the piece: it sounds like its pointing out the obvious to those who should know better. It’s another sign of the intellectual marginalisation of belief in the UK — for which people of faith must bear the responsibility. The measure of the shift underway (or almost over?) is that the non-theistic perspective of belief is no longer seen as belief at all but as background knowledge.
- Maybe that why I winced especially at the report on the collection of religious jokes being assembled to test proposed anti-hate speech legislation. I think the legislation is misguided but couldn’t help feeling profoundly saddened by the implicit view of my profession. Bring back Dave Allen!
- I was moved, in contrast, by an article about the testimony of emergency workers in New York on September 11. Firefighter Maureen McArdle-Schulman in particular struck me:
“Somebody yelled something was falling. We didn’t know if it was desks coming out. It turned out it was people coming out, and they started coming out one after the other … we saw the jumpers coming. We didn’t know what it was at first, but then the first body hit and then we knew what it was. And they were just like constant … I was getting sick. I felt like I was intruding on a sacrament. They were choosing to die and I was watching them and shouldn’t have been. So me and another guy turned away and looked at a wall and we could still hear them hit.”