Friday, March 16, 2012

they melvynned me

Here's something at once grindingly disappointing and compellingly bizarre: Melvyn Bragg having a pop at "militant atheism" (translation: atheists who talk about it anywhere other than really quietly, in the dark, in a cupboard) and, inevitably, Richard Dawkins in particular. It's very hard to pull out a point from his disjointed ramblings but it seems to be the usual one regarding "respect", i.e. that there are certain fact claims about the universe that are deemed arbitrarily to be off-limits to investigation or criticism or, heaven forbid, ridicule.

While it is fascinating to see the effects of the cultural brainwashing that makes people enthuse about old religious texts, traditions and beliefs without ever thinking to engage with the basic question "yes, but is any of it true?", one would have hoped that Melvyn might have been one of those who had shaken themselves free of it. I do have just a suspicion that, like AC Grayling, Melv is occasionally guilty of being distracted by the leonine magnificence of his own hair. Also: watch it, Melv, you're starting to sound a bit shrill and strident there.

This particular bout of bile was filmed as part of Sky TV's The Book Show, and Melv does bang on incomprehensibly about the King James Bible a couple of minutes in, so I wonder whether this was prompted by his having written a book about the cultural and literary influence of the KJV a few months back.

This is all a great pity, because I am a devoted fan of Bragg's Radio 4 show In Our Time which is a fascinating programme about proper heavyweight intellectual matters which I often hear the first 15 minutes or so of on a Thursday morning and then have to go and catch up with later on iPlayer.

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