Guest blogger, The Rev’d Humphrey Blytherington is Vicar of St Hilda’s, Little Snoring with All Saints, Great Snoring. He is a graduate of Plymouth University. He completed his studies for the ministry at Latimer Hall, Durham. He is married to Daphne and enjoys home brewing, model railroading and is an avid member of the Great Snoring Morris Dancers
You know Nigel, that’s a very good question, a very good question indeed. Why should an atheist have a go on Thought for the Day? I realize most of you fellows listen to pop music on the wireless as you go in to work each morning, but some of us enjoy listening to Radio 4 while we’re having our breakfast, and one of the highlights of the morning news is the ‘God Slot’ a great English tradition in which one of our religious leaders shares a few thoughts to inspire us and help us start the day.
Why just last week our own Bishop was on the wireless telling us about a wonderful new initative in the diocese called ‘Beers for Queers’. I must say it was a bit odd hearing Bishop Bracket speak in such terms in public, but he said it we shouldn’t be ashamed of names like that, and that it was a name chosen by the fellows who are like that themselves. Seems he has a special ‘advisory group’ for that sort of thing, and they’ve come up with this novel idea of a special Sunday when men who are that way would be offered free beer if they came to Church. He said it was a good chance for them and their partners to meet other families, and that perhaps they would join the church, get involved with the Boys Brigade and all that sort of thing.
What’s that? You thought they only drank cocktails? Now, now, we’ve got to be a bit more open minded don’t you think? After all, they’re just ordinary chaps like us– only different.
I can’t see that Bishop Bracket’s idea can do any harm. Goodness knows we can use all the help we can get at the moment. And that brings me round to the idea that an atheist should be invited to do Thought for the Day from time to time. At first I was opposed to it, and then I tried to listen to the other side and that Birt fellow who used to run the BBC assures us that atheists are, for the most part, very nice people with good manners and more often than not a top notch education. I mean to say, I hadn’t quite seen it like that before, and I can’t myself see what harm there could be in it if a good natured atheist had the soapbox from time to time. It might help us to see that they are ordinary fellows just like us who try to do our best, enjoy walking the dog on a fine day, don’t mind the odd lager shandy and giving a bob to the BBC Children in Need Appeal.I was discussing the matter with Lavinia and Georgie the other evening when they came over with a casserole. No, Alan, Mrs Vicar hasn’t left me. She’s simply gone to visit her cousin in the Midlands for a time. Anyway, Georgie was rather forceful about the whole matter and said it would be a jolly good thing for that Dawkins fellow to have a say. She thought it would help sharpen up all our arguments. I have to admit that I’m a bit rusty on that sort of thing and I can see what she means. Why just the other day I was puzzling over the creation of the world and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the Good Lord created the world at all. I remember old Canon Farnsworth at theological college dismissed it as a foolish question, but I’ve never been able to sort it out. Maybe these atheists could help me figure it out.
Lavinia said she didn’t see the problem. She said there are plenty of Church of England clergy who don’t believe in the ‘big good sky fairy’ kind of God. Said when she was up at Waddesdon Hall none of the theology faculty believed in God, and they didn’t see why that should stop them being clergy in the Church of England.
Anyway lads, atheists on the God Slot? I’m all for it. We have to look at the positive side of things. After all, everybody has a point of view don’t they, and who am I to say that my opinion is any more right than another fellow’s?
You know Nigel, I think I will have another drink, and tell you what– I think I’ll be very naughty and follow this one with just the tiniest whisky. I’ve got a bit of a chest cold coming on, and it helps. Could you manage that? Good. There’s a good lad. Thanks ever so.