… his son, brother, uncle, nephew, manservant and brethren alike…
Browsing through my archives, now some 2,300 posts strong, I came across something I wrote in September 2010: The Danger Of Religious Zealotry.
It starts with this quote from the Guardian columnist Polly Toybee: wherever the institutions of religion wield real power, they prove a force for cruelty and hypocrisy.
She was writing about the exposure of seemingly rampant paedophilia by Catholic priests, but what she has to say applies just as well to the crazies wreaking terror worldwide in the name of their distorted version of Islam.
Sex lies at the poisoned heart of all that is wrong with just about every faith. Eve is the cause of all temptation in Abrahamic faiths (and) women’s bodies are the common battleground, symbols of all religions’ authority and identity. Cover them up with veil or burka, keep them from the altar, shave their heads, give them ritual baths, make them walk a step behind, subject them to men’s authority, keep priests celibately free of women, unclean and unworthy.
Trying to deny the primal life force has led to centuries of persecution, suffering, secrecy and breathtaking hypocrisy. Wherever male cultural leaders hold absolute and unscrutinised power, women and children will be abused.
On paper, I’m a Muslim. I had to be; it’s the law of this land that a man and woman cannot be married if they have different faiths. My wife is a Muslim, on paper. As she says, if a person has a good heart, then it should not matter what faith s/he professes or, indeed if s/he professes none.
Polly Toynbee suggests that the human imagination is all we need to hold in awe. I disagree somewhat. Yes, there are some instances of creativity which can reduce me to a quivering wreck; the majestic Adagio from Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, for example. At other times I’m gobsmacked, as Our Lad and I were at the mid-season conclusion of the Walking Dead.
But there is one almighty power which we are all beholden to, and she is Mother Nature.
She cannot be ‘tamed’ and bent to humanity’s will. Devastate all the forests, plunder the ‘natural resources’ which until a few centuries ago lay undisturbed for tens of millions of years, pollute the atmosphere, and she won’t care.
Some call her Gaia, mais elle est Charlotte aussi, and she will survive long after humanity is forgotten.
Memo to male suicide bombers
The 72 virgins to be found in Paradise are all octogenarian Catholic nuns.