Brooke Fraser is on C4 for about the 750 gazzillionth time today. (Such are the joys of spam in the popular music media, but don’t even get me started.) “That’s an awfully short skirt she’s wearing,” one of the energetically Anglican youths that seems to virtually live in my lounge comments, “for a Christian.”
But, before I get into the details of the extensive frustration this comment caused me, spare me some time for a little disclaimer. I must emphasise that don’t profess to be any authority on religion whatsoever. There are countless important matters on which I wish I could be fierce and forthright in expressing my own opinion instead of wallowing in some apologetic stage of indecision. But religion is not one of them. I will always, always attempt to be as open minded as possible about religion. In fact I change my views on religion like I change my underwear, which, I reassure you, is regularly. So the following is just a reflection of my recent train of thought regarding that forever contentious topic. You may disagree, you may want to yell at me for being so senselessly stupid, in fact I’m not entirely convinced that I agree with myself. You may find my argument flawed, hypocritical, or utterly ignorant, in which case I would be delighted for you to show me the error of my ways.
But as I’ve already bolted dangerously along the road of my idealistic circular argument, I won’t repent now. My potentially brash assumption is that it is perfectly possible live charitably, act kindly, love unreservedly, and forgive wholeheartedly without adhering to any specific religious guidelines. There are thousands of different theologies in the world, and yet the majority of them, while certainly allowing for variation, seem to follow one basic principal. While I am very nervous about suggesting such a notion as “universal values,” I do believe that there is one basic, fundamental human value that, however cheesily, supersedes religion, political loyalty, culture and ethnicity- Love. It is perfectly possible, I maintain, for an atheist to live a wholesome life that benefits and brings joy to others. There is nothing, whatsoever to suggest that a person with no religious conviction is unable to contribute to the world a saint-like virtuosity.
Certainly I think that a large number of religious doctrines are well grounded and entirely sensible. But something instinctively suggests to me that we don’t need to be walking embodiments of Christianity, Islam or any other religion to know that it is wrong to kill, or to hurt others. (Or maybe I feel this way because my upbringing in a Western, liberally Christian society has instilled such values into me, but I’m not convinced by this, and I’m already ranting too much to get into chicken and egg arguments).