||[21 Mar 2009|06:57pm]
I find it particularly telling that, in his supposed "nostalgia" for "the old humanism" (i.e. the "humanism" of the good old days when people who didn't believe in God knew their place and didn't go so far as to mention it or deviate from the behaviour of their Christian neighbours in any way), he says this:
But the bus adverts [paid for by the British Humanist Association, reading "There probably is no God; so stop worrying and enjoy life"] fit the spirit of modern Britain, and not even the Muslims complain about them. "The Muslims." Nice. By the way, Scruton's problem with the ads is not that they deny the existence of God (which of course they actually don't, because apparently the Ad Council refused to permit them until they added the word "probably"), but that they condone "enjoyment" (a "hedonistic message" to which Scruton reckons those Good Old Humanists of yesteryear would have respeonded with "disgust.") This goes against Scruton's view, which he assumes to be universal among right-thinking (i.e. Christian and "Old Humanist") people, that life is about "restraint" and "sacrifice," and pleasure is by definition sinful and wrong. According to Scruton, the pleasure one derives from art or music is only acceptable insofar as one thinks of these things "not simply as pleasures, but as sources of spiritual strength." If you don't happen to feel that you need spiritual strengthening from Chaucer or Bach or Picasso or whoever, but derive pleasure from their works anyway, YOR DOIN IT WRONG. You can, I suppose, have ice cream for dessert, but only if (1) you believe in God, or (2) you compensate for your lack of belief in God by evincing disgust at every bite.
The comments are, as ever, even more depressing. Commenter ccd fights the good fight, but is swamped with Christian dittobots straw-manning him with Paris Hilton (has anyone actually asked Paris whether she believes in God? Because if I were a betting man I'd wager that in fact she does), triumphantly quoting Scripture at him (really only a winning strategy if you're arguing with someone who shares your belief that the Bible is inerrant), and generally engaging in all the sorts of behaviour that radicalized Richard Dawkins to the point of buying ads on buses in the first place. Not helpful.
For the Christians on my flist, I make haste to specify that "Christian dittobots" refers narrowly to the kind of person who refuses to believe that it is possible for a non-adherent of Christianity to live a moral life or have values. I am more than happy to live (as I have all my life) alongside believing Christians and respect the practice of their religion. However, I do demand that a similar respect be accorded to those of all faiths, including those with no faith at all, and I don't think anyone has the right to go through life without hearing any dissent around their beliefs.
Bah, this has already wasted too much of my time and attention.
In happier news, HURRAY Ireland won the Grand Slam in the Six Nations rugby! I am particularly pleased about this (despite not, as it were, actually having a horse in the race) inasmuch as I watched the match with an Irish friend at an Irish pub. So it would have been rather a sad occasion had Wales won (as it looked for about 70% of the match like they would!). Two nice things about the experience of watching it, in the "sporting event as great unifier of humanity" vein: first of all, the girl standing next to me who was Indian-American, thus neither genetically nor environmentally conditioned to give a crap about rugby, but was cheering for Ireland with all her might (her boyfriend, from his accent, was Irish) -- sort of a "today, we are all Irish" moment. I like the way that cheering for a team can bring together people from a lot of different backgrounds under one umbrella, even when it's an ethnic umbrella -- if that makes any sense. And secondly, there were actually a couple of guys in red Wales jerseys at the bar, and whenever someone shouted "Come on, Ireland!" they would shout "Come on, Wales!!" and someone else would shout back "Screw Wales!" -- a totally good-natured exchange, and the fact that the two Welsh supporters felt perfectly safe wearing their red gear and openly cheering for Wales, in a bar full of increasingly sozzled and very emotionally-invested Irishmen, well, it speaks well of rugby as a sport and of that sports rivalry in particular, I think. (Though I remember being far too petrified to do anything that would've identified me as a New Zealander when my brother and I went to Cafe Oz one year to watch the Bledisloe Cup match [against Australia, for those not in the know].) Hard to imagine a similar atmosphere of good-natured ribbing (as opposed to murderous violence) in the event of a couple of Man City supporters walking into a United bar....
And now it is on to the final of the Women's World Cup (cricket) in Sydney. I'm supporting New Zealand, of course, though I expect England to win it without too much trouble -- they just seem very in form.