Faith and addiction
Sir: How right Damian Thompson is (‘Addict nation’, 26 May), and how shrewd of The Spectator to put the growing human disaster of addiction on its cover. We seem all too obsessed with euro crises and media intrigue to notice the even more ominous changes in our world. We are addicted to satisfying our impulses instantly. Mr Thompson steers clear of the language of religion, perhaps for sensible reasons. But it should be acknowledged that, while our moral collapse is facilitated by technology, the problem is spiritual at root. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and other religions teach self-restraint. Modern life does the opposite.
Sir: Damian Thompson’s article rang true to me. Blackberries and iPhones have turned me into a junkie — I give in to my every whim, buy things I don’t want at the touch of a button, and cannot rest five minutes without reaching for my gadgets. All for the most fleeting dopamine hit. It is actually harming friendships, because nobody can hold my attention for any length of time. I have, as the article said, replaced people with things.
I’m not a hardcore porn addict, I might add, but I do feel a surge of bland satisfaction when my iPhone pings. Indeed, even though I was greatly interested by Mr Thompson’s arguments, I still struggled to finish his piece. My attention span has been shot to pieces by all the incessant googling and (take note, Prime Minister) playing of mindless games such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.
Sent from my iPhone
Sir: Charles Moore’s praise for John Howard (Notes, 26 May) is astonishing. Howard presided over one of the most divisive regimes in Australian politics. He was accused of starving social services and education of funds to build up election war chests, passing harsh labour legislation, politicising illegal immigration, ignoring climate change, interfering in aboriginal life, distorting Australian history and much else. Without hesitation or regret he took Australia into the Iraq conflict. Dissatisfaction with Howard came to a head in 2007 when he suffered the rare ignominy of being bundled out of office and losing his seat. He was narrow, fiercely partisan, pro-big business and short on vision. If his record is the acceptable face of conservatism in government, we have lost our way.
Sir: I see The Spectator has let wishful thinking triumph over reality with its continued trumpeting of shale gas (Leading article, 26 May). ‘Big Oil’ to blame for the world’s struggle with energy shortage? Go out and test the market: UK shale gas is worthless until it comes out of the ground in demonstrably large quantities. Until then, gamble your capital on the eventual outcome. Maybe it is the answer, maybe it isn’t. And if it is then the dreaded Big Oil will buy it up and lock it away, forcing the world to buy expensive conventional oil and gas. Your logic is fantastic, but then so is David Icke’s.
The quality of mercy
Sir: Marilynne Robinson (‘Read more, speak less’, 26 May) speaks a truth when she says religion discredits itself by ‘finding small opportunities to be mean when there are large opportunities to be generous’. But I am not sure that means good Christians should accept gay marriage for fear of being mean-spirited.
Sir: Being an admirer of Clive James’s work (Diary, 26 May) and also receiving regular medical treatment, I suspect that even further success in poesy will be within his grasp. My verse improves immeasurably when feeling low, with speculation on illness and death a reliable earner. This aspect was also confirmed by Andrew Motion a decade ago. He claimed that when he felt ill, an ‘introverted, self-pitying mood’ encouraged him to write better. He found that the ingestion of Lemsip was most lowering and really got his muse going. Sadly for me at the moment, the flexible ethics of some government ministers is doing that in spades.
Sir: In his defence of the BBC (‘Bias, Boris and the Beeb’, 19 May), John Simpson rightly says that ‘the BBC is obliged by its Charter to give a voice to alternative opinions’. So, in the last seven years, how much airtime has the Beeb given to the view that the UK should leave the EU? Just 0.04 per cent of its news-related coverage, and zero elsewhere. Yet some 50 per cent of the British people say they want to get out. And this is also in spite of the BBC’s promise, after the Wilson inquiry found it guilty of Europhile bias in 2005, that it would in future ‘ensure impartiality, by reflecting the widest possible range of voices and viewpoints about EU issues’.
Malcolm Pearson, Ukip
House of Lords
Sir: In his review of James Holland’s book Dam Busters (Books, 26 May), Andro Linklater over-promoted the raid’s leader, Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC, to Group Captain. He remained at the former rank until his death in September 1944.
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