David Blackburn

Here but for the Grace of God comes god

Here but for the Grace of God comes god
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Oh dear Lord. According to yesterday’s Londoner’s Diary, Tony Blair is bringing his religious lecture ‘Faith and Globalisation’ to Britain. The former PM ‘does God’ unashamedly these days. His talks have been a huge hit in America and now he will address British universities, starting at Durham.

In what appears to be a re-enactment of the Pilgrimage of Grace, recent Catholic convert Blair will progress south, spreading his word. Who knows, perhaps he will proselytise all the way to Brussels in time for the Lisbon treaty’s ratification?

I image he will talk in halls largely empty of students. When I was at university, the only people who could fill debating clubs and the like were Keira Knightley and Nick Griffen, and their popularity owed more to the opportunity to ogle and abuse respectively than it did to cross-examination. Religious luminaries such as the Archbishop of Canterbury received scant attention, and not even the self-proclaimed Messiah David Icke could fill so much as the odd pew.

Though in many ways Blair echoes Joan of Arc, in that he is alleged to believe God wanted him to go to war to fight evil, he is no religious crank. His talks are worthwhile, encouraging interfaith dialogue that sits comfortably with his role as Middle East peace envoy. In view of the religious, cultural and ethnic tensions that are apparent in our society and across the world, his efforts are admirable - and as ever with Blair, it’s all extremely good PR. I can’t help comparing his largely charmed existence with that of his hapless successor - it almost makes one suspect that God really is on his side. I can’t recall anyone who has married politics and religion quite so effectively for themselves since Alexander Borgia and he became Pope.

Ps. On a different note, will nothing go right for Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson? Having had a plumb LBW shout turned down, his next delivery was hit for four and the ball somehow ended up in a full pint glass. Perhaps God’s deigned we’ll win the Ashes.