Monday, December 29, 2008

Against pontificating priests

I'm generally uninterested in the theological opinions of politicians and in the political opinions of theologians because apart from a general view on my part that religion and the state should be kept separate - both of these are generally characterised by an ignorance of the matters on which they speak.

But what with the Anglican church being our oldest nationalised industry, I suppose a certain overlap is inevitable. In these circumstances, I know who's opinion I'd rather hear. Gordon Brown knows more about their subject than these pontificating priests know about his. You'd think they might recognise this and hold their counsel but - and I'm sure I'm not alone in noticing this - Christians, by and large, don't do humility anymore.

Clerics in Germany, or one of them at least, blamed the banks - or one of them at least. Ours, on the other hand, blamed individuals and by extension the government for failing to restrain the greedy plebs:
"The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, the Church's Bishop for Urban Life and Faith, said he feared Britain would simply return to a "financial system based on indebtedness" after the current crisis.

"The government isn't telling people who are already deep in debt to stop overextending themselves, but instead is urging us to spend more," he said.

"That is morally suspect and morally feeble. It is unfair and irresponsible of the government to put pressure on the public to spend in order to revive the economy.""
A financial system based on indebtedness, eh? How does he think banks make their money? And how does he think most of us who don't get houses with our jobs manage to get a roof over our heads, if not by borrowing? It should go without saying that this particular cleric has yet to graduate to the kindergarten of economic history.

They could, I suppose, have made more circumscribed criticism of the government - because for this there is, I would concede, plenty of scope. But there's one reason why they couldn't; it would deprive them of the room they need for moral posturing - which is, after all, their stock in trade. And there's anther reason why they shouldn't; it would be inappropriate, taking sides in party politics. But they've already done this...
"The Rt Rev Graham Dow, the Bishop of Carlisle, said: "I agree with the Conservatives that the breakdown of the family is a crucial element in the difficulties of our present society."
It's perhaps unfair to suggest that the partisan comments of the Rev Dow are representative of all of our seasonal preaching pontiffs but in general I really have to laugh when people try and suggest that the church ever attacks the government from the left. They attack this government, any government, from the standpoint of the past - something that should be remembered by anyone finding anything 'progressive' about the pronouncements of pontificating priests.

Update: Seems the Rev Dow has form. From Don in the comments I learn he's not merely a meddling reactionary - but a bat-shit crazy meddling reactionary. He thinks Gordon Brown's government is the incarnation of the anti-Christ and that floods are a judgment from God for tolerating homosexuals.

The latter view is surprisingly popular amongst fundamentalists clerics of all hues but it doesn't stand up to much scrutiny, does it? Because if that were the case, Brighton would be like Atlantis by now.*

*Stolen from here.

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