Thursday, June 21, 2007

A private matter?

Apparently, Tony Blair is becoming a Catholic. It would be interesting to understand why, given the apparently absolute separation between his public figure and his private religious convictions.

7 comments:

Ciellini said...

I really don't see how you can so pithily judge a man's soul like that. First of all, how do you knwo that his religious convictions haven't guided his judgment in the past? It is perhaps the case that his religious convictions are different from yours. And secondly, the point of this article is that he is going to convert in the near future, i.e., he is about to acquire a new set of religious convictions. I think it's only reasonable to believe that he is acquiring those convictions in order to guide his life. I disagree very much with the tone of this post, and it's not a tone I would take with any friend of mine -- or even mere acquaintance -- who was exploring the Catholic faith, no matter how wrongheaded he or she might be.

And besides all that, Tony Blair is 100 times better than Silvio Berlusconi. Blair will actually read the books that the Pope gives him. Why is it okay to impugn Blair's authentic search but not Berlusconi's contrived religious rhetoric?

Carlo said...

Who impugned anything? And who judged anybody's soul? The post said: I would be curious to know the reasons for this conversion, because there seems to be a extremely well-kept separation between Blair's religious conviction and his public persona. I think this separation is in itself significant of a certain understanding of the relationship between reason and faith, but certainly it has nothing to do with judging Blair's faith and morality, or whatever it is you are whining about.

ciellini said...

Saying this is

a extremely well-kept separation between Blair's religious conviction and his public persona

is judging someone. How do you know this to be true?

I am not whining. But I forgive you.

Carlo said...

Then forgive me again, because I think you are unable to distinguish moral judgements from observations of fact. I know what I said to be true from my observations of Blair's public statements over the last 15 years or so, including some of his most recent political decisions etc. You can easily prove me wrong by showing me a record of occasions in which he brought his Christian religious convictions into the public arena.

ciellini said...

Again, this is my point: you are begging the question, you assume that your premise is already true. Up until now, Blair has been an Anglican. How can you prove that everything Blair has done up til now is not in accord with the dictates of his religion? I mean, the Anglicans are a pretty liberal crowd, especially in England. So it may be the case that Blair has been conforming his actions quite squarely with the dictates of his liberal religion. The charge of dualism does not really stand. And neither does your question: Why would he care to be Catholic, if faith doesn't inform his actions anyway? The premise does not stand.

I am sorry if I sound disingenuous, but I hear so many accusations of "dualism" and "liberalism" and "modernism" being thrown about that sometimes I want to stand back and actually think about what is being said.

And I still like Blair a lot better than Berlusconi, that's for sure.

ciellini said...


You can easily prove me wrong by showing me a record of occasions in which he brought his Christian religious convictions into the public arena.


How would you test for this? Would he have had to explicitly say, "Because I am a Christian, I say..." or "I oppose this, because I am Christian." Or would he not have to be so specific?

Deep Furrows said...

One thing that I like about this blog is the pithiness of the notes. There's a brief indication, but not an exhaustive explanation. There's an invitation to look at something to see what's there.

From the linked article, I learned of the following incident:
[Blair] has kept his personal religious views largely out of his political life. Ostentatious religiosity does not go down well in Britain. He dropped his wish to end a prime ministerial broadcast on the eve of the Iraq invasion with the words: "God bless" on the advice of Alastair Campbell, who famously told him "We don't do God".

This incident reminded me of similar exchange in the Reagan administration (as related by Peggy Noonan). Following the Challenger disaster, one of Reagan's staff advised him to say "reach out and touch someone" instead of "reach out and touch the face of God." Reagan, of course, said the latter.

I also should say that the JFK article was instructive. My preconception of JFK was of someone who distanced his faith from his politics, but reading the article showed me that what happened was more nuanced than received history.

The danger of being pithy is that readers may fill in the gaps with preconceptions so that reading becomes like a Rorschach test.

Fred

PS. I can't seem to find the post that raves about Berlusconi's political accomplishments ...