I trust you enjoyed that Christopher Hart piece in the Times. I liked it so much I thought I would revisit a few of the highlights, just for the pleasure of it.
The difficulty is rather that all the religions on offer are so patently preposterous, if not downright unpleasant. Judaism tells us in its most sacred text, the Torah, that a donkey once turned round and started an argument with its master (Numbers, chapter 22); and that the supreme creator took time out to instruct his chosen people not to carry dead badgers, pelicans, hoopoes or bats (Leviticus, chapter 11). Christianity, while accepting these texts as sacred, further believes that God manifested himself on earth in the form of an excitable and frequently ill-tempered 1st-century Jewish rabbi called Joshua (“Jesus” in Greek) who disowned his family and believed that the world was soon going to end. How do we know Jesus was Jewish? Because he lived at home until he was 30 and his mother thought he was God.
Excitable and ill-tempered – well of course he was, on account of not being allowed to carry dead hoopoes or badgers around. Wouldn’t you be? We are a luckier people in a happier time – we get to bring blue teddy bears and bunches of flowers and cards with messages to an alley where someone found a bit of premature chicken. Thus are religions born.
Enter new Labour with shining morning face, like some eager perfectibilian schoolboy, believing that with a few waves of its legislative wand it can banish cultural frictions and religious disagreements from the earth…If the bill is passed then the kind of things I have written at the start of this article – to my mind, perfectly reasonable, evidentiary and legitimately discomforting things – could well land me in Wormwood Scrubs. It is astonishing that any modern democratic government should be even considering such a law…This is a blundering bluebottle of a bill, inanely buzzing around our heads, a colossal nuisance with no sign of intelligence behind it whatsoever.
Yeah. Always beware of eager perfectabilians with shining morning faces – little bastards.