Religion

Spare a thought for philosophy: An interview with A.C. Grayling

“As Bertrand Russell said, ‘Most people would rather die than think; most people do’,” quips A.C. Grayling, leaning forward as though offering me a truffle of wisdom for my delectation.  Philosophy is a rather strange business in the modern world of consumerism and commerce, I suppose.  We’re so used to being force-fed ideas these days that we rarely, if ever, dare to stop and think for ourselves.  And that’s where Grayling bucks the trend. Author of over twenty books including a secular bible (‘The Good Book’) as well as countless newspaper and magazine columns, Grayling has been a paradigm of humanism for many years: Vice President of the British Humanist Association, patron of Dignity in Dying, Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society… the list goes on.  And yet, had I anticipated some sort of stuffy Socratic dialogue with a kooky academic or a living, breathing replica of Rodin’s Thinker …

Hatemongering in the name of God

“Viva il Papa!” the crowd cheered rapturously, as Pope Benedict XVI clambered back onto two feet. The pinnacle of the Catholic religion, and one of the most powerful and influential men in the world, had been sent to the ground by a woman dressed in a red sweater just a few hours before delivering his Christmas Day message. Having burst through barriers guarded by stern-faced Vaticanites, Susanna Maiolo had pounced on His Holiness, and was subsequently dispatched to a psychiatric centre to seek help. It’s an astonishing act of iconoclasm, albeit from a mentally unstable woman. But irrespective of Maiolo’s intentions, there is something undeniably powerful about the image of a toppling pontiff. It reminds us that he is a man after all, and not just an icon. Even so, people are still afraid to speak out against his more objectionable ideas. My question is simple: why should Joseph Ratzinger …