Parliamentary Sketch : Heaven v hell: Score draw

Posted on: 31st May 2012

As usual I’m cycling to work this week.  Not through the pot-holed, bendy-bussed traffic mecca of London, but the windswept and toxic road edges of West Cornwall.

I arrive from Hayle on the cycle track between Penzance rail and sewage pumping stations; where dog owners make sure I’m greeted by the customary multitudinous steaming piles of freshly deposited noxiousness.  I feign calmness as I hope that at least the dogs’ consciences are still clear!

Last week I pondered the relationship between intolerance and belief.  Whether and why Christian, Islamic or even Atheist fundamentalists/extremists seem to have little tolerance for those who don’t/can’t share their world view?

Bang on cue this week a Court ruled that prayers during formal Council meetings was unlawful.  This has successfully set the most righteous defenders of Christian and Atheist belief (who seem to thrive on dispute) the very justification they seem to crave to advance their case.  Few seem to have noticed that the House of Commons commences each sitting day with a prayer.

MPs who wish to ‘book their seat’ (especially for Prime Minister’s Questions) have to get themselves in the Chamber before the Speaker’s Procession and his Chaplain arrive to recite the Parliamentary prayer.

“God be merciful unto us, and bless us: and shew us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us….”  

A few members conspicuously sit to demonstrate their devout calling to humanism/atheism/anti-religion.  The rest stand for this rare moment of shared tranquillity.

“…grant our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit….”

The torrent of poetically crafted and timely words come crashing across our ears.

“…may they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals….”

Some words may actually penetrate even the most hard-bitten and cynical of politicians (?).

“…but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your Kingdom come and your name be hallowed…”

Perhaps the sentiments register with even the most confused and failed agnostics who, like (I imagine) most politicians, are beyond ‘salvation’.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting a change to this well-established tradition.

But if we were looking for miracles then the only faith that appears to produce any these days is football.  Good ol’ Harry Rednapp seems to have gone from ‘zero’ to ‘hero’ in a matter of days.  But I don’t think even he will be able to work miracles with the mediocre squad he might inherit.

14th February 2012