Blessed are the peacemakers
Mr Blair has promised to ‘spend the rest of my life’ uniting the world's religions.
Now this is no small undertaking, but Cranmer thinks it will be the rest of his life wasted.
While there is no doubt that faith could be a ‘civilising force in globalisation’, and bring people together 'to solve problems such as malaria and extreme poverty', unity is impossible when one is dealing with infallibles, absolutes, assertions of truth and competing conceptions of the good.
What is evil to one is good to another; what is right for one is wrong to another; what is tragedy for one is just karma to another; and what is terrorism to one is freedom fighting to another. While one side is beating swords into ploughshares, the other is stocking up on depleted uranium; while the lions are lying down with lambs, the kitchen is set for a ritual slaughter and the ovens are already set at 200 degrees.
Mr Blair concedes: "It is a massive undertaking, but how important is it? If all the good tunes are with the extremists... if they're the ones out there with the strong message and those of us who believe that religious faith is about peaceful co-existence are silent we've got a real problem on our hands," he said. “This isn't an incidental or second order issue, this is fundamental to how the world develops."
He believes faith has been hijacked by extremists – ‘from all religions’, he is most careful to say. Faith, he says, needs to be claimed back by those who believe in co-existence.
In short, Tony Blair believes that faith is the new battleground.
And on that matter Cranmer agrees with Mr Blair. He says: ‘Faith is part of our future’, as though this were some new revelation. But faith is part of our future because it is part of our past and part of our present. Faith is intrinsic to being human, which is possibly why the revelation may be new to Mr Blair. Faith is here to stay because the political consequences of religious adherence are inescapable.
Mr Blair said: "If you got churches and mosques and those of the Jewish faith working together to provide the bed nets that are necessary to eliminate malaria, what a fantastic thing that would be. That would show faith in action, it would show the importance of cooperation between faiths, and it would show what faith can do for progress."
For some reason, Mr Blair referred to Christians and Muslims by their buildings (he evidently means ‘church’ in that sense), but perhaps he momentarily forgot that Jews worship in synagogues. And what of the poor gurdwaras, mandirs and viharas?
Mr Blair is not being paid for his work as a Middle East
Having found that it is possible to serve both God and Mammon, perhaps Mr Blair has discovered the ultimate ‘Third Way’.