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Sunday, 1 November 2009

Protestant Atheists

I read somewhere that there has been a "debate" or two lately ,(more likely, a "face-off,") between Christians and Professing Atheists, (or do I mean "professional atheists?").
Even devout believers in the former class feel their representatives were bested in the verbal battles, and some have called on the Holy Spirit for the rise of a paladin along the lines of G K Chesterton.

Clearly Father Hunwicke is the man for the job, erudite and posessed of a wit with which you could slice tomatoes, a killer instinct, and a stand-up's contempt for hecklers.

Some have seen in the most vocal of the professional atheists a reflection of the character Sandra Bullock or Reese Witherspoon, (or Doris Day, for that matter,) play(ed) in most of their comedies, that is the adult version of the second-grader who throws rocks at a boy in her class with such energy and persistence, that it is clear the emotion driving it is love.

So, will Richard Dawkins end up in a clinch with Rock Hudson... oops, I mean, the OHCAC by the last reel?

Fr Hunwicke takes a less romantic view:
Dawkins represents all that is most traditionally and quintessentially English. Other cultures have their atheists, but we are the only race, the only culture (if American readers try to horn in on my proud boast by claiming that they do to, I shall delete the comments) that has Protestant atheists.

In 1928, during the Prayer Book Revision Crisis, two Communist MPs, proud Marxists, consistently voted against the Proposed Book. When asked why it was a matter of such concern to atheists whether or not Anglican priests had the Blessed Sacrament reserved upon their Altars, the two replied that they were of course
Protestant atheists.

(Stuart specialists will recall also the delightful vignette of Dear Nell leaning out of her carriage and crying to the rioting mob "Peace, Good People: I am the
Protestant Whore".)

Protestantism is the ultimate, the fall-back superstition of the English; what really lies at the pulsating heart of our national identity. Atheism, like Theism for that matter, is only superficial; something that a Dawkins only wears to go to Church or for Encaenia; the tie you put on when your girl-friend invites you home to meet Daddy.

Deep down, we English couldn't care less whether God exists or not. That's just an arid question for philosophers and intellectuals. Dawkins himself thinks that "the Anglican Church", although it believes in God, is actually rather a nice organisation with "Christ-like compassion" and with a "saintly" Archbishop. No; what we English really hate - and hate with every fibre of our being - is

[A footnote in the field of textual criticism, which I am proud to have learned at the feet of the great George Kilpatrick, Dean Ireland Professor in this University: in the superb passage " that disgusting institution, the Roman Catholic Church, is dragging its flowing skirts in the dirt and touting for business like a common pimp", "pimp" is clearly a scribal corruption because pimps, as every feminist knows, are exploitative males, and males do not wear flowing skirts [we clergy do, but as we mince along in our homophobic yet pederastic quest of Altar Boys we always make sure that our soutanes never trail in the mud]. And the traditional topoi of the Scarlet Woman and the Whore of Babylon are clearly echoed here. Clearly one should emend to either "tart" or "whore". Since the passage is faintly archaic in its rhetoric and imagery, I prefer to conjecture "whore". At the very least, critical texts should obelise "pimp".]

I suppose I should have looked up "obelise" BEFORE I posted, but there you have it -- I am a rebel.
I might do something really out there today.
Like squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle.

Oh yes, I'm bad.

1 comment:

Charles said...

I love his musings, G! Caught that one just before you posted. I did note the cross-reference, re. "pimp" misappropriation, for which I'm not proud and ascribe to being quintessentially both American, modernist and raised in Oakland.
But as regards Hunwicke v. Dawkins (pay per view: priceless)- I'm sure it would be a hoot in the classic British sendup sense. But I wonder if Fr. Rutler would deconsctruct and disembowel Dawkins with a more dour yet savory efficiency.
Besides, I like my atheists to be somewhat self-effacing, like Hitchens.