The Right Coast
December 31, 2005
Blood and Fire
By Maimon Schwarzschild
Roy Hattersley was a Labour Party politician in England from the late 1940s until he retired in the 1990s. He wasn't, perhaps, the world's most inspiring politician, but he has blossomed as a writer in the past few years. He has written a biography of William and Catherine Booth, the founders of the Salvation Army, and although Hattersley is a socialist and an atheist, he is impressed by the Army. Writing for the left-wing Guardian, he points out that "the unpleasant tasks that relieve the pain and anguish of the old, the sick and the homeless [are] the tasks in which the Salvation Army specialise", that in fact almost all the groups doing this kind of work "have a religious origin and character", and that when it comes to practical help for the people who need it most -- well:
Notable by their absence are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers' clubs and atheists' associations - the sort of people who not only scoff at religion's intellectual absurdity but also regard it as a positive force for evil.Hattersley's reflections might be worth keeping in mind when considering whether Christian ideas -- or ideas with even the slightest whiff of having been inspired by Christianity -- are so uniquely toxic that they (alone of all ideas that you might think silly or uneducational) should be hunted down and extirpated by judicial decree from the public schools.
As a Labour politician, by the way, Roy Hattersley used to be on the receiving end of British political satire, which takes few prisoners. Wikipedia's shrewd bio of Hattersley reports that, having "a slight problem with sibilants", Hattersley was was routinely "portrayed on the satirical television puppet programme Spitting Image as someone who showered his audience with saliva each time he spoke".
Hattersley was also attacked by the satirical television programme Have I Got News For You in 1993. He was booked several times to appear on the show, but after his repeated failures to honour the booking his place was taken by a tub of lard, to which the other participants addressed comments and questions as though it were Hattersley himself.Christian charity is one possible response to that sort of thing.