Friday, December 16, 2011

a surreal moment...

...on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme this morning (just prior to the 8am news). The discussion involved Ian McEwan and Dennis McShane lauding the recently deceased Christopher Hitchens. Reference was made of course to the latter's atheism and maverick streak. One of the above then proceeded to quote rather forcefully from a children's Sunday school chorus:

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone,
Dare to have a purpose firm, and
Dare to make it known.

I suppose I shouldn't have been so taken aback, as it has featured strongly with some left wing writers. George Orwell went for the full quotation in his essay "The Prevention of Literature" and Tony Benn used it for the title of his autobiography, revealing how hard it is for such people to get away from their heritage. Perhaps Hitchens, himself would have welcomed it. Does it not seem ironic, however, if you know anything of what Daniel stood for?

And the blasphemy that Christopher Hitchens trademarked was nothing to stand for and in one sense not much to stand against. The New Atheism has often seemed much like the Emperor's New Clothes. I was quite taken aback by the lack of substance in his arguments when he debated his brother on the existence of God. He relied simply upon a rhetoric of vitriolic wit.

Daniel's position was altogether different. 'The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits' (Dan. 11:32).