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Philosophy and Ethics

Philosophy and Ethics (25)

We hope that you are all having a nice, easy weekend, especially those of you who, like ourselves, are in the UK, enjoying the Easter Bank Holiday. As ever there is a lot going on in the world but just a nice, easy post from us today for you all to enjoy. Remember to Like, Tweet and share this article and have an enjoyable and restful weekend - Yamin Zakaria and the Team @ Radical Views

Monica Lewinsky, most of us know her as that woman in the White House who managed to seal a shameful lifetime reputation made with one youthful mistake. And what have been the real, long-term consequences, not simply of her own action but of those embroiled in the culture that created the scandal, and what may we perhaps do about the situation? In her recent TED talk, which has gone viral, Lewinsky frankly discusses her situation and the modern day implications. Listen to what she has to say right here ...

As the date of the UK General Election closes in on us the Conservative Party, fearful of losing out to Labour due to the harsh cuts they have made to public spending, are desperately proclaiming that they will "save" Britain from a suddenly hightened "threat" of non-violent extremism that has somehow cropped up at this convenient moment within the Muslim population. But does this campaign have any greater meaning than William Hague's embarrassing proposal (leading up to the unfortunate election of Tony Blair) to "save" the pound? Certainly, there are cowardly, Islamophobic individuals who attack Muslims, especially the more vulnerable women who dress in a specific manner.

However, since 9/11, curious and open-minded people from different religions and of no religion have come together to engage in public interfaith dialogue with the intention of doing their bit to foster peace, acceptance and understanding. Of course there are those who criticise interfaith dialogue too, but contrary to what the mainstream media and politicians like to tell us, religion, it seems, is no enemy.  Reverend Frank Gelli proposes that in reality, this is a clear-cut battle between good and evil, and here, he provides a sharp reminder of where that evil really is coming from. Enjoy Frank's article and remember to Like, Tweet and share. -Yamin Zakaria and the Team @ Radical Views 



‘Nice people talking to nice people about being nice’. In a rare outburst of veracity Archbishop Welby has damned feeble interfaith chat like that. A stronger brew is needed, he implied. I have a proposal. The Devil. Definitely not a nice guy. But a key interfaith figure OK. The Prince of Darkness would rescue religious dialogue from cosy, bland and boring banalities. The Devil is real, dangerous and real nasty.

The obligatory formula before any recitation of the Qur’an is: ‘I take refuge with God from the accursed Satan.’ A ritual stoning of the Devil also is an important part of the Haj, the Mecca pilgrimage. The Qur’an designates the Devil under two names, Iblis and Shaytan and his first, mega-evil deed is to provoke Adam and his wife to disobey God’s will and taste the forbidden fruit: ‘By deceit he brought about their fall’ says Surah 7. Although Muslim and Christian interpretations of that fatal event differ, Satan’s role is clear: he is God’s opponent and man’s eternal enemy.

Jesus Christ calls the Devil a liar and the father of lies. He is ‘a murderer from the beginning’, who also tries to divert the Messiah from his divine mission. The reason why the Son of God came to earth was ‘to destroy the works of the Devil’, declares the First Letter of St John. And the most lethal of those works was to pervert humanity into disobeying God. Huh! Look about you, about the state of Britain, Europe, the West. Disobedience to the Creator has spread like a plague. How right is Scripture in branding Satan as ‘the ruler of this world’.

Still, the power of the Devil is finite. He is no anti-God but only a creature. Divine providence permits diabolical activity only in conformity to God’s benevolent plan. In that sense, the Devil is a sad being, doomed to never-ending frustration. Goethe’s Faust puts it well with the Devil’s servant, Mephistopheles: ‘That Power I serve that wills forever evil and does for ever good.’ Similarly, consider the daring bronze statue to Satan opened recently in the Vatican Gardens. It shows a handsome, athletic, almost nude Archangel Michael pinning Satan to the ground with his spear. Satan is portrayed as a fallen angel, his wings folded under him, a look of horror and defeat on his twisted face. Allusion to Revelation 19, where Satan is soundly thrashed by Michael and thrown down to earth, along with his evil minions. A bizarre monument to the Devil, yes, but one that depicts him as a tragic loser!

Herein is perhaps useful interfaith material. The idea is that there is a battle going on, a cosmic, universal jihad between good and evil. In this battle devout, sincere monotheists should be not enemies but allies…

Naturally, the Devil’s crafty schemes include sowing discord and dissension among the good. Thus the Qur’an warns how Satan causes dissension and strife (fitna in Arabic) amongst believers (22:53). The perverse deeds of some Wahhabi and Salafi sectarians in the Middle East might well be an example. Extremists do the Devil’s work when they target innocent people and so besmirch their own professed faith. Note how atheists like the notorious Professor Dawkins and his garrulous brigade espy every opportunity to portray religion as intolerant, fanatical and violent. That surely is Satan’s intention.

The interfaith jihad against Evil is varied and multifaceted, as mirrored by certain satanic symbolism. Some esoterists claim that the fifteen mystery of the Tarot, the Devil as Baphomet, a weird idol with four main aspects, shows that. The idol has a red, goat-like head, meaning fire and animality; black legs, i.e. the lower, inferior world; green scales, i.e. water or dissolution, and blue, bat-like wings, again the fallen angelic nature. Maybe all that is mystical gobbledygook but the meaningful point is that the Devil seeks to lure humanity, God’s creation, into practices of destruction, regression, inversion, disintegration and perversity. Again, if you have eyes to see you will discern the fruits of such deplorable realities all around you.

Rescuing the Devil from the limbo into which rationalists, progressives and liberal theologians have relegated him may not be Archbishop Welby’s favourite interfaith idea (doed he fear the foul Beast would take too much interest in him, I wonder?) but the priest feels it is spiritually imperative. Especially during the holy season of Lent. Leading up to the passion, death and resurrection of Christ at Easter. Lent begins with Satan’s temptation in the wilderness. It may look on Good Friday that it would all end in tears with the horror of the Cross. But St Augustine compares the Cross to a mousetrap. The Devil came, like a mouse, to get his prize, Christ as the bait. Instead, Satan found himself caught! And Christ rose triumphantly from the grave.

One thing I admire about Muslims is how they dare openly to tackle subjects now taboo in the decadent West. The Devil is one of them. Yet he is a thoroughly counter-cultural and topical figure. I look forward to a big interfaith conference on the Devil and his works. And who knows whether his satanic majesty may not deign to appear himself? (There is a story about a play in which a character played the Devil until…one day the real McCoy turned up to play on stage himself.) That would be a bit of a PR scoop, no?

‘It would be good if we were a little more intolerant’, a famous English divine once wrote. Why tolerate the intolerable? For example, why tolerate the fur industry? And fur-wearing persons? Those who kill animals, sentient beings, for the sake of fashion. For the pleasure of wearing their skin. Why put up with that? Top models once forswore wearing the hide of innocent animals.

But a Guardian article observes the gory backlash: ‘fur is back’. On the catwalks of New York, Paris, even London - Kate Moss, no less, was photographed with fur on. 69% of designers include fur into their collections. Although most English women are said to abjure fur, many, too many foreign ladies do not scruple to do the contrary. Take a stroll through the Burlington Arcade in Piccadilly, Mayfair, along Bond Street and…you will witness the sorry, intolerable scene with your own eyes.

The animal rights brigade, where are they? Do they now agree to tolerate cruelty, slaughter, immorality, the truly intolerable? Just for the sake of fashion…Why doesn’t anyone act? Consider the automobile industry, constantly churning out cars. As I look at the houses in my street, at the number of vehicles parked in their drives, I wonder: do they really need so many? Do they need to pollute the environment with their noxious emissions? (Road pollution is more deadly than traffic accident, a study says. Combustion exhaust causes thousands of British deaths.) Clogging up the traffic? Making people’s life a misery? Why don’t their owners take trains, the Tube, buses or even cycle to work, like less selfish, arrogant folks?

How many cars enter London every day, competing for a limited number of parking spaces? Despite the congestion charge. Resigned to suffer diabolical traffic wardens and their fines? Why do I tolerate such unsocial, immoral behaviour in my street? Should I not get a sledgehammer and start working those cars over? Smashing up their windscreens? Letting down their tires? Splashing paint over the bodywork? Why not? Why am I not a little less tolerant?

And the tobacco industry? Why is that tolerated? I recall a cartoon showing President G.W. Bush on TV swearing with passion: ‘We shall pursue those criminals, those mass murderers! We shall track them down, arrest them and bring them to justice!’ Two tobacco industry bosses are watching. One looks worried but the other reassures him: ‘Relax. He is talking about Islamist terrorists, not about us!’ A joke that told the truth.

The tobacco industry…those who grow, prepare for sale, ship and actually sell the death sticks. Tobacco manufacturers are global operators, they have 44 cigarette factories in 39 countries – I cull that from their own website. I spare you info about the dire effects of smoking – you know them already. And that lot don’t call themselves merchants of death. Funny that.

Why not a bit more intolerance towards those gentlemen? The poor priest cannot afford to be sued so I won’t say anything more but…you get my drift. And the arms trade? Huh! A deadly business – literally. Especially when it sells arms to tyrannical and oppressive regimes. Such the despotic ruler of the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain. Despite a current popular uprising, the British government supports the cabal in power. Small arms exports to the tune of £ 4.6 million exported to Bahrain in 2012. Don’t need super imagination to figure out what those arms have been used for. CAAT, the campaigns against arms trade, agitates against the intolerable, dirty business but…is that enough? Intolerance to the intolerable should go further, surely.

OK, these seem all impeccable PC, leftish causes but…. what about abortion? The left really loathes talking about it. It is ‘right wing’. Yet, methinks it is still morally right to oppose abortion. Something morally intolerable. Maybe a little less tolerance is required about killing innocent babies in the womb, too?

Why isn’t there a tad less tolerance of the intolerable? I surmise the answer is because doing anything ‘muscular’ might involve taking risks. Breaking the law of the land, for instance. With painful consequences for the activists. To put it plainly: it is down to personal timidity. Lack of courage. Pusillanimity, that’s it. Having the courage not to tolerate the intolerable is not for everybody. That is why righteous, brave militants are always a minority. But a minority if well-guided can quickly become a vanguard. And carry masses ahead with it, towards the goal, like Lenin did in 1917. You don’t like this example? It is the method that I am praising, not the cause, folks!

But…Disregarding the law? Violence? Isn’t that wrong? It depends. When slavery was legal, don’t people admire the slave who rose up and rebelled? Progressive-minded persons never cease to invoke the suffragettes. Women who threw bombs and caused public affrays because they no longer wished to tolerate what they saw as intolerable. Even when the majority of women way back did not give two hoots about voting. The vanguard carried them with it to victory, nevertheless.Therefore, could intolerance in some cases be a virtue? Be praiseworthy? Or be indeed morally imperative? The priest thinks so.

A hundred lashes for fornication – huh! Fancy that! Outrageous, no? But not so in those remote, sun-drenched islands, the Maldives. ‘Fornicate’ many would be able to spell it? It means sexual intercourse outside marriage. From the Latin ‘fornix’, a brothel. In the New Testament it often translates the nasty Greek word ‘porneia’, pornography, geddit?

The sober folks of the Maldives, a posh tourist paradise, don’t like fornication. Thus a girl found guilty of that was sentenced to flogging. It aroused the righteous wrath of Ms Polly Truscott, from Amnesty International. ‘Inhumane’ she called it. Bet most readers of the Metro paper, a free rag available in the London tube, would concur. Pre-marital sex is OK, normal, natural and fun, ain’t it? Those benighted Maldivians must be nuts! Let us pressurise them to allow fornication free rein – they will then join the blessed, civilised and progressive people of the West.

A good word for dictators – how perverse! And from a priest, a servant of Christ! Impermissible, surely? Forgive me. Just a little meditation caused by the hideous Egyptian slaughter and mayhem. Not quite Mubarak nostalgia – nobody liked that guy – and yet...

‘Dictator’ was the Latin word for an official appointed in emergencies. In ancient Rome not an arbitrary, despotic figure but a perfectly legal one. His purpose was military, as well as preserving the state from grave dangers. Thus the Senate gave noble Cincinnatus absolute dictatorial powers to fight Rome’s enemies but he stepped down and went back to his farm as soon as the job was done. Indeed, no dictator could serve for more than six months. Only later men like Caesar became dictators in perpetuity.

‘Oh, but that was long ago. Today a dictator is by definition a bad egg!’ Not always so. A statue stands before the Westminster Parliament. A truculent figure holding a sword in his right hand and a book – the Bible – in his left. Oliver Cromwell – him. He won the civil war, executed King Charles I and disbanded a few parliaments. As Lord Protector Cromwell ruled England dictatorially till his death in 1658. Erected in 1899, only Irish MPs objected to the monument – dig why!

Garibaldi, the revered Italian revolutionary hero, conquered the kingdom of Naples with a band of red-shirted volunteers and British support in 1860. On King Victor Emmanuel’s behalf, he proclaimed himself ‘dictator of Sicily’. In Palermo the enthusiastic crowds worshipped the handsome, blond saviour as the Archangel Michael. Fittingly, Lucy Riall calls Garibaldi ‘the first celebrity’. When visiting London in 1864, radical crowds gave him a triumph seldom seen in England’s sober capital. (It must have helped Garibaldi was a great “ladies’ man”...)

‘But...Hitler and aren’t gonna defend them, are you?’ Heaven forbid! Joe Stalin, however, was Britain’s wartime chum. He resisted the invading Germans, combated them ferociously and won. A most ruthless bastard and mega-mass murderer yet...Without him Russia today would be part of a millenarian Nazi Reich and Russians slaves would be on the way to extinction. Fancy that?

‘Huh! What about morality? Aren’t dictators immoral?’ I answer that one way to establish morality is from the consequences of human actions. In the examples given only Kantian absolutists or virtue-ethicists would claim that consequences do not suffice to justify the rulers concerned. Cincinnatus, Cromwell, Garibaldi and Stalin may arouse different emotions in you but I submit that it is rational to affirm that their actions could be on balance vindicated by their results. Hence dictators may have their uses, and are not necessarily always evil.

Under dictator Mubarak Egyptians enjoyed very limited political freedom but, after a fashion, security. Yes, Hosni was corrupt, nepotistic and unpopular (the problem with a tyrant, Aristotle argued, is that he does not care for the well-being of the community but for his own) yet...look at Egypt now. The chaos, the massacres, the economic ruin, the hatred, the insecurity. Better or worse?

I spent a month in Cairo before the ‘Arab Spring’. My language teacher took me to visit several mosques. He got brusquely checked out by the cops while I was immediately waived through. Easy to be a tourist, not so much to be an ordinary Egyptian. It was a police state, no doubt, but at no stage I felt threatened or saw people murdered or rounded up. Ordinary Egyptians are a mild, friendly people, they do not deserve what is now befalling them.

My Egyptian friend Kamal Bayoumi has sent me a long list of Christian churches attacked or looted or burned. In Alexandria, Assiut, Arish, Beni Suef, Cairo, Fayoum, Giza, Gharbiya, Minya, Suez...churches and Christians are targeted. Islamists deliberately take it out on the minority, the defenceless, the people of the Cross. Old hatreds resurface and flare up. Mubarak gave minorities a kind of protection. The fanatical rabble – Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis or whatever – take advantage of the chaos to pick on the innocent. Is that good?

Of course, Islamists have been slaughtered by the military regime in large numbers. Morsi was incompetent and brought it upon himself but that cannot excuse the horrific butchery. He should have concentrated on improving the daily lives of the people, better healthcare, food, jobs and housing. Then he would have won praise. His doctrinaire Islamist agenda only brought him, his party and his country ruin.

Consequentialism as an ethical position has many difficulties but perhaps the chiefest is how to calculate the respective weights of good and bad results. In some cases, relatively easy: Stalin, the brutal Georgian tyrant, still saved Russians from obliteration and foreign bondage. Later Russian rulers denounced his methods but, had it not for Uncle Joe, they would not have been alive to tell the tale. Other cases are more difficult. Was Ghaddafi’s lunatic domination better than the tribal mess Libya has fallen into now? Is Bashar Assad’s one-party rule a bulwark against the bloody jihadist scenario Syria is succumbing to? Discuss.

Freedom will always be the battle cry of the human spirit. Thus Cato the Younger committed suicide in Utica rather than seeing the destruction of Rome’s ancient freedoms and living under Caesar’s dictatorship. A choice not available to a Christian. Freedom has to be fought for but beware! As St Augustine says, ‘the service of the Lord is perfect freedom’.

The 49-year-old widow of the Apple founder Steve Jobs has moved on, she has found her new partner; already the critics and sceptics are at it. It’s too soon, only two-years have passed by, how could she fall in love with another man so quickly? Does it mean she didn’t really love him? The cycle of speculation and gossip continues. One can understand grounds for criticism in cases where an aging octogenarian tycoon has left a younger beautiful widow, who runs off the next day with his fortune and a young male model, but that, is not applicable here.

In some religious cultures widows do not remarry at all, enduring loneliness until the end of time, whilst a widower is free to continue. For example, In Hinduism the marriage of widow is taboo, it is enforced rigorously by society among some castes; the logic is, if the widow remarried, she can possibly conceive her reincarnated dead husband in her womb, and a husband cannot be a son too, thus prohibition of marriage for widows. I assume they were not willing to take risks with contraception either!

Going beyond the religious and cultural paradigms, some people, especially women, remain single after being widowed; they do it willingly out of their deep love and attachment to their late husband. This tends to be the exception rather than the norm; because the human body and the emotions it generates will continue to make demands. Just ask those celibate priests that are regularly caught out in various sexual scandals.

There is no prescription for how long one must mourn for and wait before remarrying. How can social laws or customs be formulated for such matters, when there are so many variables, and each case will always be unique? Moreover, we live in a free society where individual freedom on personal matters is sacred, yet there is social pressure to conform on these issues. This is the same type of duplicity you see daily: columnists scorning celebrities and politicians for extra-marital relationship when the same traits are clearly present in the masses.

Among all the noise, the key person’s viewpoint is missing - of course the dead can’t talk, but one should ask the question and make reasonable speculation before passing judgement: what would have Steve Jobs wanted for his wife? Would he have wanted her to go on mourning for a year, let alone two? I am sure an intelligent person like Steve Jobs would recognise that if she found a new partner that would help her to heal her pain. And out of love, he would want her to be happy with a new partner, and not continue to live in loneliness and sorrow. How many of us would wait for such a long period before finding a new partner.

Unfortunately there is a stigma associated with marriage of widows and divorcees in some quarters of our society, especially those coming up to the middle-aged bracket. There is an implication that they have ceased their biological requirement. And the jokes and humour go on, about an older male or female remarrying a younger spouse. Despite the equality crusade, it seems that for an older woman to take up a younger man is acceptable, whereas an older man marrying a younger woman is seen in a negative light.

It is perplexing as to why society expects individuals to continue to demonstrate loyalty to their deceased partner for beyond a short period, when such loyalties are scarce among the living. Whatever ideological spectrum one comes from, be it religious, secular or agnostic, everyone concurs that love implies loyalty to some degree between the two partners. However is the ‘loyalty’ absolute in that it excludes the formation of any other bonds concurrently. Well there is an argument that such bonds between two partners should not exclude bonds with other partners, because they are similar to business contracts, and on a daily basis we have multiple commercial contracts in our life. Even if we examine it from an emotional perspective, we can draw an analogy to children; multiple bonds are formed and there is never an allegation that loving one child is a betrayal of the love for the other child. Therefore, why can’t an individual love two or more people concurrently? Why is there a demand for 100% possession? Is this in reality a reflection of our self-centred materialistic society, coupled with the domination of primitive emotions of jealousy?

Yes this is venturing into polygamy using the rational argument, and that is for next time.

Yamin Zakaria (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Published on 10th August 2013
London, UK,

Six years ago little Maddie McCann was abducted from her holiday home in Portugal. Her parents’ agony was indescribable. The local cops found nothing. Worldwide search led nowhere. The child is still missing and Scotland Yard is now conducting a renewed investigation. Will she ever turn up alive?

Praying for Maddie is what I do, day and night. But... a puzzle torments me. Does it make sense? The girl is either dead or alive. Fine if it is the latter but what if she is not? What if the beast who took her extinguished her young life? Could you pray a prayer like this: ‘O God, please, make it so that little Maddie may not have died?’ That what has happened may not have happened? Could God undo the past, in other words?

‘Of course! God is omnipotent. He has the power to do everything. Otherwise he would not be God, would he?’ Yes. God’s omnipotence is part of his definition. But that all-powerfulness is not unqualified. There are things God cannot do, St Thomas Aquinas held. He cannot fail or forget. He cannot commit sins or make himself not exist, nor can he make a triangle not have three sides. Why not? Because such actions would be logically self-contradictory. It may at first look as if that God’s omnipotence was questioned but it is not. The idea of a four-sided triangle is logically incoherent. Such an object could not possibly exist. Hence there is nothing there for God to do and his omnipotence is logically safe. QED. (Well, sort of. It is complicated...)

What about changing the past? Assuming – God forbid – that little Maddie had been killed. Could God make it so that her death never took place? That she may still be alive? Could he make what once happened unhappen? So that she may one day be reunited with her distraught parents?

Aquinas denied that possibility. He taught that the idea of undoing the past is senseless. Incoherent. Because it entails a logical contradiction, like the case of triangle not having three sides. As even God cannot do the logically impossible he cannot undo Maddie’s death, if it did actually take place. Hence no point in praying for that, alas.

A contrary theological view was advance by St Peter Damian, an Italian hermit and reformer. He once wrote a story about a soldier, a certain Deodatus, who had dishonoured himself in battle against the barbarians by committed a cowardly act. Filled with shame and remorse the soldier falls to his knees and prays with all his heart: ‘O Lord, make me go back in time, so that I can wipe out my cowardice!’ God hears Deodatus’ prayer and fulfils it. The soldier returns to the battlefield and, this time, acts bravely. In fact, he is killed fighting the barbarous Goths but he dies happy. Is praying for a past deed to be undone all right, then?

I imagine plump St Thomas in Heaven smiling seraphically, addressing his fellow saint: ‘A charming story, Peter Damian, but it is only that – a story. You might as well have narrated about a mad mathematician praying for two plus two not to make four. Absurd. Could God grant that? Surely not. God’s omnipotence does not extend to the logically impossible, you should know that...Similarly, he could not make poor Deodatus alter his past shame. I am sorry.’

Peter Damian’s turn to smirk: ‘Dear Thomas, you have triangles on your brain. You rationalist thinkers always take your examples from geometry or maths. Very convenient. Deodatus isn’t a triangle or a circle. He is a human being of flesh and blood, not a lifeless conceptual abstraction. He is part of God’s created nature. And Holy Scripture shows you plenty of cases of the Author of nature intervening in his creation. Didn’t Jesus bring Lazarus back from the dead? Did not Christ turn water into wine? Did he not walk on water? Foretell the future? Did not the Father make the Virgin Mary conceive the Saviour? Are you going to say it is logically impossible to know what has not yet happened? But these are miracles. Extraordinary events. By your lights, we should disbelieve them, because of being ‘logically impossible’. What a nonsense! See where your dialectics leads to? I advise you not to contradict the Bible. Or else...’ (A real threat, as St Peter Damian was no wishy-washy liberal: he wrote that those who denied divine omnipotence should be spat upon and branded.)

Aquinas could have replied that God foreknows future events through his knowledge of their causes here and now. Still, there would be a problem with genuinely free human actions, which are not meant to be ‘caused’. Anyway, what is at stake is really the status of the revered principle of non-contradiction: the philosophers’ top sacred cow. Peter Damian seems right when he argues that the Deity’s actions on the physical, created order are not the same kind as his making a round square, which clearly entails an absurdity in thought. He argued, for instance, that it is no logical self-contradiction to say that God could restore a virgin’s lost virginity. The Creator of all human flesh can repair, if he so wills, any damage done to the flesh. No matter how many evil men a virgin has been raped by, God can make it so that she is back to her intact condition. It is a miracle, what else?

A fine online paper by Toivo Holopainen delves further into this murky stuff but...back to poor little Maddie. Why pray for her? Because prayer expresses your concern for others. Because you can never know in what ways prayer may benefit those for whom you pray, even the dead. Because prayer is never wasted and because God always – I say always – hears your prayers and always answers them. He does – though not always in the ways you would necessarily expect.
Because God knows something you don’t know.

Editor's comments - For decades, the Capitalist west criticised the Soviet Communist block for enforcing atheism, and eradicating religion from public life. Now the West that is doing the same at every level, ironically, in the name of freedom they are enforcing the Atheist agenda as opposed to give people a choice. If they want to have a parallel institution without the inclusion of God they are free to do so, likewise if the Homosexuals want get married according to their values or some sacred scripture then they are free to do so. However, to compel the existing institutions to adopt values that run contrary to it is the exact opposite of freedom of choice, such conduct is no different from fascist. Moreover, it is also bizarre, after invoking that religion should be kept out of politics in justifying homosexuality for decades, now they want the Church or the Mosque to bless it, which is like demanding that religious institution should start to bless sin (adultery, theft, consuming intoxicants etc) because it is a fad.

‘My son, women are more spiritual than men’ my mum used to assure me. Bless her soul, was she wrong? English girl guides – half a million of them – won’t love God. No longer will they promise that. Verily, a harbinger of a brave new world!

Third millennium British girls don’t love God. It makes sense. Perfectly logical. To love the Source of your being you have first to love, to value, to respect yourself. Judging by the behaviour of girls in city centres at week-ends, it does not look as if self-respect is their top priority. Squabbling, drunken females puking on the pavement, geddit? Not nice. With his own eyes has the priest seen them, groan...

An often-quoted passage in the Qur’an interests the priest:

‘He who kills a man it is as if he killed all humanity.’ (5:32)

A commendable sentiment and one which I share. The statement is not absolute, however. ‘Unless it be for murder or for spreading corruption on earth’, the Book adds. That too finds me in agreement, yes.

Hate is somewhat blown upon at the moment. The horrific murder, nay, the vile butchery of innocent soldier Lee Rigby in a London street tells its own tale. Were hate preachers responsible? Should the British government ban them? As a professional preacher, I declare an interest. I have listened to hundreds of Christian sermons and I tell you that 95% of them were utterly and totally dull. Wishy-washy, insipid waffling. Unmemorable bilge. They first made you yawn, then they put you to sleep. Occasionally, snoring was heard. And that by putative followers of Jesus of Nazareth, a fiery Jew who made people so angry that they put him on a cross and crucified him. Scandalous!

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