Friday, April 04, 2008

Tony Blair ‘does God’ for his Faith Foundation

With his passion to ‘awaken the world’s conscience’ (what a pity it is that he not awoken his own), Tony Blair has made his first major speech in the UK since leaving Downing Street. He delivered '"The Cardinal’s Lecture’ in Westminster Cathedral - his new legitimate spiritual home (after being instructed by Cardinal Hume to cease his illegitimate participation in masses while he was prime minister). The speech was mainly an exposition of his messianic mission to feed the starving, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and resurrect the the dead the Middle East peace process.

He is promoting the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, though he is not taking a penny for doing so (yet there is no denying that his lucrative tours of speeches and lectures will become even more lucrative as a result of his name being attached to something as prestigious and eminent as a ‘foundation’).

His essential message is that people of faith should reach out to one another. Very nice, that. Good and neighbourly stuff. And he wants to foster a better understanding of the different faiths which is deemed timely due to the ‘increasing fear and misunderstanding of religions around the world, particularly of Islam’.

For Mr Blair, faith can be a ‘progressive force’, helping to advance humanity and end global poverty. One of the key goals of the Foundation will be to bring people of faith together to deliver the UN’s Millennium Development Goals - to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in his bid to be President of Europe, he derides the concept of statehood, noting that the boundaries of culture, identity and nationhood are falling. He preaches a gospel of interdependence, inter-faith action, peaceful co-existence, respect and tolerance.

One wonders why he is not delivering the speech to those groups and nations who need to hear it.

He concedes that faith ‘has to be rescued on the one hand from the extremist and exclusionary tendency within religion today; and on the other from the danger that religious faith is seen as an interesting part of history and tradition but with nothing to say about the contemporary human condition’.

But these are statements of the blindingly obvious, but no strategy for an outcome.

And he paid tribute to the fact that ‘we owe an incalculable debt to the Judaeo-Christian tradition in terms of our concepts of human worth and dignity, law and democracy’.

Ah, yes - that Judaeo-Christian tradition which he has done so much to defend. When Mr Blair speaks of respect for religious belief, his words ring hollow hollow for Christians and pro-life advocates who spent the decade of his premiership fighting the insidious stream of intensely anti-life and anti-Christian policies from his government.

This was not a political speech, but a religious sermon, replete with impressive moments of spiritual rhetoric and prophetic exhortations from the Almighty for those who live in darkness to walk in the light. But it is simplistic and superficial, lacking any real theology or understanding of doctrine, and completely devoid of praxis. He talks about truth, and quotes the qur’anic injunction to acquire knowledge, asserting that this was ‘something which for centuries put Islamic countries not Christian ones at the forefront of scientific advance’.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing, for, as we know, there are known knowns, unknowns knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. And Mr Blair prefers the nebulous regions of the unknown and unknowable unknowns, for that constitutes the realm of fantasy and conjecture where no-one may challenge him.

Revealingly, Mr Blair admits: ‘Since leaving office, I have understood better a phenomenon I understood only partially as Prime Minister.’

Quite so, through a glass darkly, but doubtless there will be no apology.

And finally, there is the injunction to engage with the ‘spiritual dimension’, to find ‘humility before God’ as ‘the Source and Goal of everything’ because he ‘believes profoundly’ that this one-world religion has ‘common values’ and ‘much common purpose’.

It is only a great pity that this is undermined by his ‘profound belief’ in the existence of Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’. Is it possible to believe that this man has a 'profound belief' in the Christian faith when he has voted for every anti-life and anti-family measure put before Parliament, closed down Roman Catholic adoption agencies, persecuted Catholic schools, and removed charitable status from large numbers of Christian charities? Mr Blair’s sincerity is false, his profundity is shallow, and his belief is a delusion.

He says: ‘I am not a religious leader’. And adds that neither now is he a political leader. But he ‘is passionate about the importance of faith to our modern world and about the need for people of faith to reach out to one another’. His Foundation will facilitate this by producing ‘high quality material – books, websites, every means of communication – to educate people better about the different faiths, what they truly believe not what we often mistakenly think they believe’. He will concentrate on the six main faiths: ‘the Abrahamic three and Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism’.

Cranmer can hardly wait, for this will not be concerned with religious orthodoxy or a doctrine of God, or even with understanding notions of 'truth', but will have a multi-faith ecumenical agenda that must be inoffensive pap for all – ‘promoting the idea of faith itself as something dynamic, modern and full of present relevance’.

Richard Dawkins must laughing his socks off.

But this One World Religion will be as nebulous and meaningless as his ‘Third Way’, and as damaging to tradition, culture and identity as his entire political agenda has been. And Cranmer prophesies that it will fail for a number of reasons: firstly, the whole agenda rests solely upon his charisma and personality; secondly, Mr Blair is no messiah, however much he may be persuaded of his salvific egocentricity; and thirdly, the only one who could succeed in this endeavour – the Prince of Peace - was not mentioned once in the entire speech.


Anonymous Serf said...

So we get more definition of various religious beliefs from those who do not hold them.

Not going to add much to the debate is it.

4 April 2008 at 11:47  
Blogger Dave said...

That man must love the sound of his own voice. Just who is he talking to? or at?
This comes from a man who in the aftermath of 9/11 walked around holding the Koran.
He is a triumph of style over substance. I suppose we got what we deserved when we fell for it.

4 April 2008 at 13:53  
Anonymous Vincent said...

Your Grace, you have put things into real perspective and I am extremely grateful. Everybody who cares should read these words. The acid test for all is basically, "you shall know them by their fruits".

4 April 2008 at 14:24  
Anonymous Martin said...

Cranmer, I was at last night’s lecture and though not a fan of Mr Blair’s I must take issue with one or two points that you make here. From his speech, it is clear that Blair is not promoting a “One World Religion” as you put it. In fact, he stressed that respect for others does not mean losing or diluting one’s own religious faith. Neither was it a “religious sermon” as you suggest. It was a call for recognition that religion does and should have a part to play in society. Yes, of course some of Blair’s policies while in government have done Christianity no favours. But while Blair’s speech might fall well below your high intellectual expectations, it was certainly above the usual dross that passes for religious debate in this country.

Oh, and also, Cardinal Hume did not instruct Blair “to cease his illegitimate participation in masses while he was prime minister.” Everybody is welcome to Mass, even you. The Cardinal instead asked Blair not to receive Holy Communion.

4 April 2008 at 15:24  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Martin,

Everyone is welcome to attend Mass (even, as you say, His Grace, and he has): everyone is not welcome to participate in the Mass (ie receive the elements, and he therefore has not).

The distinction is clear, and His Grace was quite specific.

And on religious diversification, there is little point in promoting respect for the differences if this 'respect' glosses over the irreconcilables.

4 April 2008 at 15:40  
Anonymous Martin said...

Your Grace, let me assure you that one can participate in the Mass without receiving Holy Communion. Many people do and you should remember this next time you go.

4 April 2008 at 16:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently, here's what the "new agers" [The good cop wing of the NWO movement] are expecting to help bring forth the "new world order" [the bad cop wing of the NWO movement exposed by "conspiracy" theorists]


The true history - tells us both sides are always played and this appears no different. The establishment of a one world Draconian government with a single "new age" religion is the agenda.

Perhaps that "old Serpent", the "Prince of the Air" or the "Great Architect of the Universe" will actually manifest this "World Teacher" for ALL to witness?

Perhaps this new "hero" will set a severe example and hold some of these so-called "righteous men" accountable for their crimes against humanity?

After all, these puppets will have served their purpose well, towards "the Great Commission" and should be fully aware of who they are actually serving and the ultimate price?

For a comprehensive account of the history and concept of "darkness into the light" - Google Juri Lina author of "The Architects of Deception"

Dr. Stanley Monteith has a good movie on Google called the "Brotherhood of Darkness"

What does a man profit, if he gains the whole world, and yet loses his soul. Matthew 16:26

4 April 2008 at 16:32  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Martin, anyone can recite the same words and sing the same hymns, but what does participation mean if you're barred from communion? I agree with Cranmer - it's not participation when it's not full and equal. You're specifically excluded from participation in the CENTRAL point of the event. I went to a friend's funeral recently (full requiem mass) and felt a part of it until I was specifically excluded from communion. How can that be called participation? It is exclusion.

4 April 2008 at 16:43  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Martin,

The koinonia is imperfect and the participation incomplete unless the bread and the wine are shared as the Lord intended all believers should.

If the elements are reserved for some, and others are specifically barred, that is not active participation but passive observation: it is them and us; the qualified and the unqualified; the sanctified church and the unsanctified ecclesial community.

As Mr Blair wrote to the Cardinal, 'What would Jesus say?'

4 April 2008 at 16:48  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
a rather marauding straffing of mr blairs speech !!
i have come across those who see a more general light than a specific one and they can make a copelling case. Indeed i have met a few british muslim families , who for all intents seemed like practicisning anglicans until you enquired.

This "crossover" view and reducing religion to a warm feeling , may be as a result of the age or maybe some sort of conspiracy to make it fit the new world.

some want to classify devotion as some sort of "frequency of light" a sort of scientific meaning that has been previously obscured to us. it is difficult to dispute that god existed before the christ did , the christ is supposed to have made the blurred image of god in all mankind just that little bit sharper.

however god has clearly given us/allowed us language and communication , there then follows the problem of education as well as how god is manifest without it "knowing in ones noah".

mr blair may well be gripped that mans failings are due to the communication aspects , radical islam wishes to communicate death to those that disagree , and they quote from the manual as to what the prophet mohammad said to do with those who disagree.

if there is to be day when the worlds great islamic teachers/leaders, take about reviewing if mohamads teachings are missing some vital aspects of understanding , I must welcome it.

quite how islam will review its 1400 yr old texts , for now is beyond me , even to suggest it is some form of herisey , as it would be for the christian to un believe that christ was greatest and last example . even to suggest christ was gods only son is enough for permanent disagreement.

i think mr blair may provide a useful conduit , but then we may well be bound by some sort of sameness that can be ruled over better by politicians and the a sort of athiest supremacy may occure.

I am reminded of lobster pots which are baited with a tastey morsel of compromising flesh , the lobster tastes and senses its meal , it can see it but crawls all over to gain entry , it then finds the hole in which it clambers through ,and tucks in heartily to its easy won feast only to find when hungary again it cannot escape !!

4 April 2008 at 17:51  
Blogger Jomo said...

In 2000, Cardinal Biffi told a Bologna conference that the Antichrist was alive, a prominent philanthropist promoting the ideas of ecumenism, vegetarianism, and pacifism, although he declined to name an individual.

Watch Blair's next moves

5 April 2008 at 00:17  
Anonymous Martin said...


I wouldn't presume to know or second-guess what Jesus would say and neither should you.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not about what you, or any other individual for that matter, want. And as you must be aware, in the Catholic Church Holy Communion is much more than simply sharing bread and wine.

With all due respect, your definition of participation is quite reductive and possibly utilitarian. Have you not heard of spiritual communion? It IS possible to participate without receiving communion. Catholics are not always in a state to receive communion yet they can participate fully at Mass.

I am sorry that you and Oiznop take this as a personal slant and feel excluded. Perhaps a less subjective reading of the situation is called for here.

Alas, I shall be unable to read your response as I will be abroad tomorrow.

5 April 2008 at 02:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

Why don't you come back to the church of our Lord and Savior. Then you can have communion with us Catholics.

5 April 2008 at 03:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For my part I have occasionally taken the Host at Catholic services according to the wise counsel of Elizabeth I

"The Word it was that spake it
He took the bread and brake it
And what his Word does make it
That I believe and take it"

Now THERE was a wise and inclusive example of leadership with rather more to show in terms of defending the sovreignty of the Kingdom and laying the foundation of peace within a divided nation according to sound Christian doctrine.

5 April 2008 at 10:14  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Martin,

His Grace did not 'presume' to know what Jesus would say; he merely quoted Mr Blair's question to Cardinal Hume which has been widely reported. May one now not quote what others have said?

But when it comes to discerning the mind of the Lord, there is Scripture and the Holy Spirit. These may not instruct you, but they most certainly instruct His Grace. You may not be remotely concerned to apply the principles of the Lord's teachings to the modern context, but His Grace most certainly is. You may be content to let one man do that on your behalf; His Grace is not.

The Eucharist is about fellowship in unity. The bread and the wine are central. To assert that one may spiritualise participation - ie imagine the koinonia - is to negate its very foundational purpose. The Lord prayed that believers should be one. They should physically eat and drink together in remembrance as an outward symbol of their communion; not imagine in their minds eye how nice it would be to be doing so.

5 April 2008 at 12:39  
Blogger Dick said...

Gentile and Jewish Christians in the early church shared a belief in Jesus as Messiah, and respected the Jewish moral teaching of the Torah, but as far as the apostle Paul was concerned the Gentiles could fully participate in the fellowship meals without having to submit to the injunctions (being insisted on by the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem) to be circumcised and eat kosher.

As far as Paul was concerned that inclusion *was* the gospel, and he advised those who were insisting on circumcision to go and castrate themselves (Gal 5:12).

The exclusion of non-Catholic Christians from the 'fellowship meal' - Christians whose baptism is officially recognised but who are deemed not to be confirmed - is therefore a scandalous distortion, at least of Paul's version of the Gospel.

5 April 2008 at 14:20  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Your Grace - Lex orandi, lex credendi

Holy Communion in the RCC is not simply about fellowship in unity, it is much, much more than that, it is the very body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ that Jesus spoke of and promised. We believe what Jesus said literally:

John 6:53 – 58
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.
For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

Jesus said this in the synagogue, in Capharnaum to a full house and we know many of his disciples left him at hearing these words saying ‘This saying is hard; and who can hear it?’ But what did Jesus say? did he say the Jews had misunderstood him, he never tried to stop them nor did he say ‘Stop, What I meant to say was…’ he knew what he had said John 6:62 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? And he let them go because they could not accept his words in truth and in trust.

He asked if the rest of the disciples were also to leave him. Peter and the rest were no wiser than the Jews who had left, the though of cannibalism revolted them as it does us today, they didn’t understand what he meant but they stayed with him in faith that transcends knowledge, isn’t that what we all do. John 6:69 And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. Therefore eating the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is the way to eternal life.

So for us the Eucharist is not bread and wine that is what precedes transubstantiation, a concept by the way that is a complete mystery to me. When a Priest says “The Body of Christ” and the communicant says “Amen” he means every word of it, literally. To take the body of Christ and believe it only to be a symbol is a sacrilegious act.

We all know 1 Cor 11:23-26, but what of 1 Cor 11:27-29, how can partaking in a symbol bring down such a disastrous judgement on us, only desecration of a sacrament surely can result in such error.

11:27 Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. 11:28 But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice.
11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

So when we Catholics request that our fellow Christians abstain from taking communion it is not pride or superiority it is an act of love, if you take Holy Communion and don’t believe it is the real presence it will kill you, we don’t want that, we are saving your life.


Finally as to Symbolism I cannot put it better than Flannery O'Connor in a letter dated December 16, 1955 to Elizabeth Hester

"Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mary McCarthy said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the 'most portable' person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, 'Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.' That was all the defence I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the centre of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable."

“If it's a symbol, to hell with it.”

5 April 2008 at 22:43  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

All part of Blairs pitch to become the EU president and nothing more. Makes you feel sick.

6 April 2008 at 07:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the recusant, thanks for a wonderful clarification.


7 April 2008 at 04:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And also

7 April 2008 at 11:02  
Blogger Armando said...

"...thirdly, the only one who could succeed in this endeavour – the Prince of Peace - was not mentioned once in the entire speech"

Amen and amen and amen

7 April 2008 at 12:09  

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