Sir: Dr Michael Nazir-Ali’s criticism of our report ‘From Lament to Action’ (‘Bad faith’, 1 May) was wide of the mark in its suggestion that Marxist-inspired critical race theory was the ‘intellectual underpinning’ of our approach. Far from it. The source material for our report was three decades of reports on the issue of racial justice from the General Synod of the Church of England. Doubtless there are valid criticisms which can be made of Synod; however, being a hotbed of radical Marxism is not one of them. Our report explicitly rejects any idea that our work should be viewed as a battle in a culture war. Rather we state that ‘our mandate flows not from identity politics but rather from our common identity in Christ’.
Alongside the 25 reports from the General Synod and 161 recommendations which we reviewed, the other source consistently quoted in our report is the Bible, in which our theological approach was firmly rooted. That approach could be summed up by Jesus’s teaching that the call for each of us in the Church is ‘to love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself’.
Sir: Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali was spot on in his analysis regarding the C of E’s obsession with critical race theory and identity politics. Unfortunately, it appears to have escaped the notice of the church hierarchy that the majority of church-going folk couldn’t care less as to the gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation of their vicar, but believe in a simple Christian message of fundamental equal worth for all humanity.
Sir: Henry Mance argues persuasively (‘Fair game’, 1 May) for the moral case on culling red deer to stem their numbers, especially in the Scottish glens. On a recent hill walk in a remote corner of the southern Highlands, I happened upon a small farm where the owner was selling his self-culled venison from a chest freezer. Though a vegetarian of more than 20 years, I had no reticence about buying some produce, which I proceeded to eat that evening — the first meat I had eaten for decades. Red deer numbers are far too high in Scotland, and the moral and ecological case for their culling is beyond question. As I said to my partner when I returned laden with venison: ‘If you’re going to shoot ’em, you might as well eat ’em.’ It was a tremendous meal.
Name of the game
Sir: Roger Alton seems to suggest that the proposed European Super League was a good idea because there are too many uninteresting games in the Premier League (Sport, 1 May). This might be a valid point if football was merely a form of entertainment, but it’s not. Football is a cultural phenomenon and more so in England than anywhere else. England is the only country in the word where you get five-figure crowds watching games in the third tier. In 2019-20 League 1, Sunderland were better supported than Juventus. In 2009, Luton were effectively demoted into non-League football and spent five years there — but are now in the Championship largely because the fans kept going. The sense of loyalty which football fans feel towards their clubs is not about a need to be entertained. By turning football into a made-for-TV entertainment extravaganza, the ESL would have been diminishing the game rather than enhancing it.
How to spend it
Sir: Kate Andrews faces a conundrum over whether, as an American living abroad, she should cash her $1,400 stimulus cheque that was intended to help boost the US economy (‘Biden’s billions’, 24 April). The answer is that she should cash it — and spend the money on bourbon, Levi’s, a Microsoft upgrade, Apple goods or (best of all) some Classic Chevrolet or Jeep parts that are made in the USA. These will all benefit the blue-collar worker in the US.
The lion’s share
Sir: In his review of Katherine Langrish’s book, self-declared Narnia ‘super-fan’ Philip Womack claims Aslan ‘clearly isn’t Jesus Christ, but something else’ (Books, 1 May). Would C.S. Lewis have agreed? In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Aslan tells Edmund and Lucy: ‘In your world, I have another name. You must learn to know me by it. That was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.’ Straight from the lion’s mouth.
Race against time
Sir: Roddy McDougall’s ‘Beaten track’ (1 May) brought a little tear to my eye. Growing up in 1970s High Wycombe, my weekly treat from Dad was our Monday evening visit to Smallmead Stadium, the home of the Reading Racers. Memories include the roar of the engines, the cloying scent of burnt methanol, fish and chip suppers and the incredible courage of the riders. Speedway was 60 seconds of sheer excitement, drama and lunacy — and it was then, and remains today, the most exhilarating sport of them all. My beloved Racers were crowned champions in 1980 with average gates of 8,000. That speedway season remains one of my life’s happiest memories; the later demise of the club, one of my lowest points.
These days I go to the Poole Pirates. Wimborne Road is a lovely venue, but my heart remains with some long-lost shale on the outskirts of a Berkshire town.