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god and nick clegg - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2007-12-22 17:03
Subject: god and nick clegg
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:calmcalm
Music:rush
I forgot to tell you, didn't I. The new leader of the Lib-Dems is Nick Clegg. The election was a close-run thing - Clegg won by about 500 votes - and I suspect what really swung it is that, at 40 compared with Chris Huhne's 53, he was the younger man, it being fashionable these days to have young leaders. Presumably in the not-too-distant future we'll have a situation like in Black Adder The Third, where the Prime Minister has to ask his housemaster at Eton for permission to appear in the House.
Clegg announced his new frontbench team a couple of days ago, and he left Vince Cable in the job he was doing before Ming resigned - ie Treasury spokesman and deputy leader. This is good news, because when Clegg's away we'll still be able to enjoy the sight of Vince standing in at PMQs and sticking it to Gordon.
Clegg has also said that he doesn't believe in God.
Now, as far as I'm concerned Nick Clegg's belief in God, or lack of it, is really none of my business, but what has surprised me is that it's provoked so much comment. Unlike the United States, not having a religious belief usually isn't much of an issue in politics here. If Hillary or Rudy suddenly announced they were faithless, that would pretty much mortally wound their campaigns, but here it doesn't seem to matter so much. I believe Neil Kinnock was an atheist, and it was never an issue, and according to Edwina Currie's diaries John Major once confessed to an agnosticism, although he kept it quiet.
Things do seem to be changing, though. I remember all the fuss a few years ago about Ruth Kelly's membership of Opus Dei, Gordon seems to have embraced the values of his clergyman father, and of course there was the long-running will-he-or-won't-he debate over Blair's intention to convert to Catholicism - which he has just done.
There's an episode in the last season of The West Wing which revolves around the religious beliefs of the Presidential candidates and how it's a real issue. Towards the end Alan Alda, who plays one of the candidates, goes to see Martin Sheen's President Bartlett and tells him that after the death of his wife he lost his faith. I can't understand how that episode ended, but it highlighted just how important religion is in American politics, in spite of the separation of Church and State, and I personally would feel rather uncomfortable if the same situation became the norm here.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-12-22 18:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Blairs converted to Catholicism? When did that happen? Nobody mentioned it. Does that mean his value as a middle east peace bringer (Isnt that what he iss upposed to be doing?) increased or decreased?

As for religion and politicians, I have no problem with politicians being religious, but if they then try and force their beliefs onto the rest of us, that is wrong. Fortunately Gordon is busy forcing lots more beliefs onto us, such as war is peace, freedom is giving him the keys to your life, and the PPP is a wonderful invention.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-22 18:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
They announced it earlier today, I think. He made the great leap yesterday. It's all over the news.

As I said, it's none of my business whether somebody's religious or not, even if they are a politician. It's a different matter, as you say, when they start proselytising.

Edited at 2007-12-22 09:19 pm (UTC)
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RealThog: 'Ronica
User: realthog
Date: 2007-12-22 22:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:'Ronica
"Blairs converted to Catholicism?"

Yes, despite last-ditch efforts by the Pope to stop him for fear of plummeting Church membership.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2007-12-22 21:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, I think I do have problems with politicians who have religious convictions. Things are bad enough without handing the running of the asylum to lunatics.

If someone were bats enough to shout in public places that the moon was made of green cheese and anyone who disbelieved this was going to spend the rest of eternity being tortured by guys with tails, horns and pitchforks, you'd lock them up for their own good. Yet their gorgonzola-moon belief is no more irrational than belief in the god myth.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-22 21:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Or indeed The Flying Spaghetti Monster.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2007-12-22 22:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, hutch0, we've all heard about the FSM. I was deliberately avoiding reference to it, as it's a distraction from what I was pitifully trying to say.

Rather than discuss the imbecility of the belief, I was making a somewhat different point: do we really want imbeciles running what are matters of life and death to most of us?

And, in the US, are we happy that said imbecility is regarded as an essential quality if anyone wants to get elected?

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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-22 22:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Okay, I'll grant you that; I was being facetious.
I'm in a somewhat unusual position in that I agree with you about the imbecility of the belief, but I'm fairly cool about people believing it. Lots of people who believe in some kind of God are not imbeciles. There are lots of reasons why I would disbar some people from holding office, but believing in God isn't one of them.
Having said that, I once read somewhere that Ronald Reagan believed in the literal truth of the Apocalypse, which did give me pause.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2007-12-22 22:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"I once read somewhere that Ronald Reagan believed in the literal truth of the Apocalypse, which did give me pause."

Your pal Il Buce has said much the same. I mean, if I were him I'd be shit-scared of the Second Coming, on the basis that I was due to get pitchforked but good, but he seems to think the Big Guy is going to pat him on the head for all his lies and mass murders.

"Lots of people who believe in some kind of God are not imbeciles."

As noted, I'd say they're no more imbecilic than those who believe the moon's made of green cheese. And I'm being that charitable about it because this is after all the Season of Goodwill.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-22 22:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
He's not my pal. Will you stop saying that? You'll get me in trouble.

I do wonder how much of an avowed belief in God by American politicians is real, and how much is political expediency. As I said earlier, you'd have an uphill struggle to become President if you announced you were an atheist. For one thing, the Religious Right would just slap you all over the place. Only Bush, deep down in his black little heart, knows what he really believes.

Once again, I agree that the belief itself is not rational, but I don't think that makes people imbeciles. It's an irrational belief which our society sanctions, which is not the case with the green-cheese moon.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2007-12-22 23:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"It's an irrational belief which our society sanctions"

Which is to say, we are all imbeciles.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-23 00:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, not all of us, obviously...
I've been starting to think of religion the way Gibson described cyberspace - as a sort of consensual hallucination. When it turns sour, the way it has with a lot of right-wing commentators over there, I'd say there was cause to do something about it. But for a huge number of people it remains a comforting myth, and I can't knock that.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2007-12-24 01:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Well, not all of us, obviously..."

'Scuse me! We permit these nutters to take over most of the reins of society and we're not all imbeciles?
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2007-12-23 14:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Towards the end Alan Alda, who plays one of the candidates, goes to see Martin Sheen's President Bartlett and tells him that after the death of his wife he lost his faith."

Y'know, the more I think about it, the more I realize this wasn't a bold move on the part of the scriptwriters but, rather, a cop-out: faith is seen as something you can "lose" through tragedy -- as you might lose your mind or your reason. Faith is, in other words, seen as the desirable default state, which is generally how it's regarded over here. The writers, or their producers, didn't have the courage to depict rationalism as the desirable state and faith as an irrational burden.

Or perhaps, because over here the assumption is that faith is A Good Thing and everyone has it or should have it, the possibility of rationalism being a desirable state simply never crossed the minds of the writers and producers, even if they themselves were atheist/agnostic.

This is a land, remember, where it's regarded as being a courageous act for someone to "confess" openly to atheism -- not just those in public life but academics and, indeed, anyone. There are groups whose main raison d'etre is helping rationalists to "come out" by bringing them together with other rationalists so they can feed off each other's courage and find strength in numbers. There is even an organized movement to rename rationalists "Brights" as a PR tactic to make disbelievers more acceptable/less frightening; imagine the social climate that makes this not a piece of idiocy but actually quite a good idea. No, I am not writing from Iran . . .
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-23 21:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm not sure I agree with you about it being a cop-out. I thought they pitched it about right; dramatically the episode wouldn't have worked as well if Vinnick had simply worked out for himself that there was no God.
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