Sunday 13th December - A Television-induced Rant

Watching a programme where Tony Blair was interviewed infuriated me. It just goes to show how many people think having faith can be dichotomised between living a religious life and a social life.

A part of me empathises with Blair when people ask silly questions like 'do you pray together? Is that how you made your decision to go to war on Iraq?' as if the questions are not ploys to catch him out; make religion seem like a deluded mentality so detached from the world. Like in many other religions prayer is a form of communication; it's a form of contemplation where one as for guidance and give thanks. It's not like a Q&A session with Paxman for God's sake. Get a grip. I'm sick of these childish, naïve narrow views of religion.

Not all Catholics are driven by a religious zeal to promote the views of the Old Testament. Slavery is wrong and swine with split hooves that don't chew the cud are eaten. Wake up Britain. One will never understand why people of faith do what they do if one is not open to really trying to understand.

It's the bloody taboo in this country that makes speaking about having a faith feel like you've just admitted to hearing voices. Britain needs to grow up and learn that having faith is not always a conscious choice. Yes, some convert to Catholicism, but to have faith is to be blessed with the Spirit; it is a gift provided by God that opens our eyes to the person of Jesus Christ and it is a gift some are yet to receive.

About the war in Iraq, I don't agree with Blair's decision to invade but his decision to do so (as he said so himself) was not solely based on his belief in God. Just like any other ethical decision a person makes, it's never as black and white as one may think. 'Thou shall not kill' means what it says, but it does not mean that in every possible situation it will be the case. It's just not how the world is. And just like a person of no faith, a Catholic still adopts the method of reasoning between pros and cons. Blair's right in saying that one's faith is not a flawless compass directing one towards the right or wrong choice. One can never be 100% sure about a decision they make. It's choosing what you think is right and it is faith in God that strengthens this decision.

For Blair, religion and politics cannot be separated. Then again, religion and politics are not mutually exclusive anyway. In an essay I wrote last year I argued that for Archbishop Óscar Romero to detach his religious views from the political situation in El Salvador was impossible.

... He [Romero] stresses the point that the Church and state are distinct, although not necessarily unrelated.[1] They may have been two different institutions but that did not mean that the current rule of state, in this case General Romero's dictatorship, would not affect what the Church would have to say about it ... In this sense, religion became a way of addressing life for him, and in turn a means of reacting to the disorder that surrounded him. His reaction therefore was one inspired by scripture, and is clearly seen in the way that the gospel and the sayings of Jesus are central to his sermons.

And here's the concluding point:

... To say that religion has no place in politics is to be mistaken. To say to a priest that he cannot have a say in the way the state is run, or that if he does he must leave his religious beliefs at the door is similar to asking him to close his eyes to the reality before him. For Christian believers religion and politics cannot be separate in the sense that engaging in politics demands a response....

Faith should be seen as part of the solution to the troubles of the world and not part of the problem. If only more people would realise this.

[1] Aguilar, M. Current Issues on Theology and Religion in Lating America and Africa, (New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2002), 33.

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