Russia is reeling from the suicide bombings in Moscow, bringing back awful memories of the attacks on London on 7 July 2005. This puts into fresh perspective some of the other nonsense going on in the world and claiming our attention. Interesting to see that tonight’s online Pravda puts this story alongside the problems going on in Gaza and Obama’s nightime visit to Afghanistan. The juxtaposition itself is interesting, but it also says that the local has to be understood in the context of the global – however powerful the local story, it isn’t the only important one. And no mention (at least that I could see) of the ‘chancellors debate’ on UK telly this evening…
I wonder if such debates do anything to change people’s minds ahead of an election. Or is it just another beauty parade in which the ‘star quality’ outweighs argument? I wonder if people listen to the arguments or take their steer from the interpretations offered by the observers online, in broadcast media or in newspapers.
What I did find interesting today was Charles Moore’s review in the Daily Telegraph of Peter Hitchens’ new book about God and his brother (Christopher). In The Rage Against God he takes issue with his brother’s loud atheism and particularly the assumption that to be religious you must be stupid – a mistake made by many of the new atheists. I just thought Moore’s piece was measured, wise and interesting – which is why I thought it welcomed a discussion that generated light rather than heat. Take this, for example:
Surely any dispassionate observation would suggest that utterly brilliant people can be believers, as they can be agnostics or atheists. The Church has not proved the most durable of all the institutions in the history of the world by being stupid. But it is also a key part of Christian understanding that truth is not necessarily discerned by an intellectual elite alone. Christianity’s radical and paradoxical message is that weakness is strength, poverty is wealth, giving is receiving, dying brings life. In the story of the Passion, commemorated this week, the most intelligent person, apart from Jesus himself, is Pontius Pilate. His brain power does not lead him to make the right decisions.
Peter Hitchens’s case is that militant atheists dimly sense this truth, and this is what makes them so angry. If God does not exist, after all, why the rage against him? God’s really unforgivable characteristic is that he is alive and well and quite impervious to the assaults even of people as brilliant as Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
(But, as I read after posting this, read George Pitcher for more light on a ‘cross’ issue.)