By Peter Mullen
Areligious newspaper invited its readers to send in their answers to personal questions about the practice of their faith. One of the questions was "Does your pet pray with you?' All cuddly toy devotees, full-time sentimentalists and the company of those who rush out into the street to throw teddy bears at passing hearses will be delighted to learn that 77 per cent replied "yes". But when asked "Do you pray with your pet?" only 51 per cent answered "yes".
Leaving aside the aesthetics of this dubious enterprise, I should admit that mathematics and statistics have never been my strongest suits, and so perhaps I'm missing something. Can anyone explain the numerical discrepancy, please? It took me back to the case of the pompous young prosecutor in a drinkdrive trial. He loftily lectured the Yorkshire judge: "Did you know, My Lord, that 30 per cent of all drivers causing accidents were drunk?"
And the Yorkshire judge replied: "Do you mean to say that 70 per cent of the b s were sober?"
Now the sexual health police are complaining that the morningafter contraceptive pill has not reduced the number of abortions 200100 every year and rising. I suggest this is because women know very well that abortion can be procured so easily "on demand" that they see no reason why they should be so inconvenienced as to have to remember to take a pill the day after sexual intercourse. We know from reading the newspapers about the "lifestyle" of some of those who sleep around that many of them would not be able to remember to take the pill — and some would not even remember whether they had had sexual intercourse because they were drunk at the time.
Certainly, it is shocking to learn that the sexual education police are recommending that the morning-after pill be given to girls as young as 11. A question then: how does this policy square with their often expressed disapproval of paedophilia? How can a responsible adult — a parent, a teacher, a "carer" press the contraceptive pill on a child without noticing that this will be interpreted by the child as licence to fornicate? "Here, take this pill Megan — but don't have sex!" Come off it. The policy of encouraging juvenile contraception is a dereliction of adults' duty to provide moral guidance and support for the young. Equally seriously, it is an incitement for them to break the law.
I was astonished that those prominent people who wrote last week to express their concern that today's children are depressed made no suggestion, as part of the remedy, that children be given moral and spiritual teaching. Perhaps I should not have been astonished? They do, after all, describe themselves as "professionals and academics". These experts thus reveal by their own words that they are as dislocated from reality as the children they are trying to help. The leading ones turn out to be the usual suspects anyhow: Susan Greenfield, the behaviourist neurologist; Philip Pullman, the children's writer and militant atheist; Penelope Leach, the academic expert on children and families at Birkbeck; Jonathan Porritt, Prince Charles's favourite Green, and various other commissioners for bureaucratic do-gooding, mental health experts, psychologists and general secre
taries of "progressive" social policy quangos.
I appreciate their concern for children's welfare — though they seem to have noticed that we have a problem rather late in the day. But if they think they can improve the lives of children without giving them moral and religious guidance, then they are in cloud cuckoo land. This is because morality — objective values grounded in something transcendent — are essential to the successful conduct of human life. Ignore moral and religious values as those academics and professionals have done and you are not really dealing with human beings at all, only with mechanicals: not humans but featherless bipeds acting out their lives according to the sterile principles of materialism.
The Churches Advertising Network has revealed this year's Christmas advert. (This is the naff agency that in the past gave us the Che Guevara image of Christ and the "Bad Hair Day" promotion). Now they are offering a
picture — actually resembling the image on the Turin Shroud — of the face of Jesus in beer froth. Francis Goodwin, the chairman of CAN, said: "We are excited about this year's campaign" — which just shows you how little it takes to get some folk excited.
Given our self-contradictory and oxymoronic social priorities, I suppose it's only a matter of time before some spokesperson for a politically correct watchdog gets up to complain that the image of Jesus on a beer glass will encourage young people to drink.
Last Saturday I went into church to solemnise a wedding and found the best man prowling around the chancel carrying a digital recorder. " 'Ere mate," he asked in the phraseology used for addressing a clergyman these days, "where do I stick this?" By the grace of God, I was able to tell him exactly where to stick it. When the service actually started. there was a chorus of mobile phone ringtones to compete with "Here comes the bride". And ringtones from the mobiles never stopped throughout not even when I was warning the happy couple against carnal lusts and appetites. I'm damned if I'm going to turn into one of those parsons with banana split smiles who gets up and patronises the congregation with baby talk about what's allowed and what isn't. Such performances ruin any vestige of religious atmosphere This just shows that predictions of technological hell on earth tend to come true but not as originally expected. For example, the sci-fi favourite of our being taken over by machines has come true, only there is no plague of flesh-mangling robots — just mobile phones. Public events are not disrupted by Daleks but by the migraine flash of digital cameras. And ubiquitous CCTV is not working for Big Brother but for the Czar of all London, Ken Livingstone, who employs them to secure his nice little earner, the congestion charge.
Weddings are ruined by digital cameras — and there's no need for it nowadays when the official photographer can send his pictures electronically to anyone who wants them. When the bride and groom stand at the altar it's like the paparazzi at a movie premiere in Leicester Square — and the beauty of holiness is slain in a thousand blinks.