As an unusual treat I bought myself a Guardian today. I doubt I’ll have another 81st Birthday.
Its Letters page has three splendid pieces by Anglican clergymen demolishing a bigoted
and ignorant piece by Polly Toynbee attacking religion.
I’ve worked, eaten and partied with Jew and Gentile, Hindu,Moslem and shared a flat with
a Parsee, been in the care of doctors, nurses and dentists of all religions and none. When
on holidays in England I have visited Anglican churches, cathedrals and chapels,and have
everywhere been welcomed by knowledgeable guides. The essence of each is charity –
for the poor, the homeless, the lonely. Those churches and chapels are the hub of every
area they serve. The non-conformist chapels are equally enlightened. I once knew a
lay-preacher based in Wales who was half-an hour into his sermon before he realised
he was in England. He had such a beautiful voice I could have happily listened to him for
hours without understanding the words. Such voices must surely come from Heaven.
I’ll say this for Polly Toynbee. She’s ecumenical in her targets. Not like those in the Irish
media who save all their venom for the Catholic Church
I mentioned the late John Mortimer and his memoir “Murderers and Other Friends.” It’s
not that he sought out murderers, but was sought by persons accused of murder, when
he practised as an Advocate in the Courts.
Every Christmas he went to Church. He did not believe in a Deity but recognised that European
culture had been fashioned by Christianity. And that for half a Millennium English language and
literature had been enriched by the Church of England. Mortimer  relished the King James Bible and
rightly, in my view, thought that trendy attempts to improve on it  did not do so.
The Catholic Church, following the same Zeitgeist, abandoned Latin and then jettisoned the Holy
Ghost, whom the replaced with the (Latin) Spirit.
Anyhow Mortimer was involved in the defence of writers accused of blasphemy and sellers of sex toys. Virtually all of the restrictions deplored by Fintan O’Toole in his youth had their source in Westminster. The English-speaking world was generally less relaxed about human sexuality than European countries which stuck with Rome.
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