A campaign being fronted by the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has rather foolishly let slip the opinion that christians are ‘persecuted’ in contemporary Britain. Victoria Coren, in her column in the Observer last Sunday, was closer to the mark, I think, in her claim that in today’s cultural climate believing in God had become a new kind of guilty secret. Beginning with an amusing anecdote about her speechlessness when introduced to Rowan Williams,who she admires immensely-involving watermelons and Patrick Swayze- she goes on to lament the invisibility of intelligent believers; she could think of none apart from the current Archbishop, Ian Hislop and Frank Skinner !
What about Bill McKibben and Les Murray? One of the world’s most articulate and energetic environmentalists and one of the most acclaimed poets of our time! Both have had plenty of press coverage lately and the former is a sunday school teacher and the latter a devout catholic. McKibbern changed the way people saw the world by proclaiming the End of Nature 20 years ago, whereas Murray continues to generate rich metaphors which celebrate the sacredness of the world. For Murray poetry and religion are both essential:-
…mobile,glancing,we call it poetry
fixed centrally,we call it religion,
and God is the poetry caught in any religion,
caught, not imprisoned.