Alex Massie

Blair’s Appealling Modesty...

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I'd have more respect for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation if it had a different, less egotistical, name. (And, if truth be told, if it were led by a different, less sanctimonious, person). To wit, as he told Time last week:

He can, no question, come across as a bit cocksure in the rightness of his judgments. But he swims in deep waters. He is convinced, he told me, that in the rich world, "without spiritual values, there is an emptiness that cannot be filled by material goods and wealth." He understands that faith is what gives meaning to the lives of billions, and he passionately believes that the world would be a better place if people of faith harnessed their talents together in aid of the common good.

Well, how many people really think that "material goods" replace the consolations of "spiritual values"? Precious few. And why does Blair suppose that these "spiritual values" are somehow necessary for a virtuous, decent life and that those of us who don't troop off to church each week are in some sense deficient? On the other hand, it's by no means an original argument to suggest that billions of people find consolation in "spiritual values" precisely because their temporal circumstances are so miserable. (The United States, of course, is, to some extent anyway, the great exception.) Anyway, does Blair really think Britain would be a happier place if more folk attended church each week? And if so, on what does he base this conviction?

Then again, if Blair is right, then we're doomed:

"Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st Century as political ideology was to the 20th Century."

That's something to look forward to, eh?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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