Wednesday, January 30, 2013

a foaming tankard of meades

As usually happens when I tune in to BBC Four, I happened upon something interesting while cooking dinner last night: Jonathan Meades' new series The Joy Of Essex. Meades (or rather the character "Jonathan Meades" with the black clothes and the shades and the slightly arch deadpan delivery that he adopts for these programmes; I don't suppose he's like that in real life) is always good value, and interesting on the stuff he really cares about, mainly architecture, while being wrong (though always interestingly wrong) pretty much constantly about the stuff that doesn't really interest him, like sport, the natural world, all that stuff.

Pleasingly, Meades is also an enthusiastic supporter of both secularism and humanism - here are a couple of Meades quotes lifted from those links:
If you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden you are deemed fit for the bin. If you believe in transubstantiation, parthenogenesis and the rest of it, you're deemed fit to run the country.
The secularisation of society is vital. That means: quashing faith schools; instituting a uniform and predominantly Anglophone educational system; administering civil laws which do not acknowledge religions’ peculiarities; insisting on the primacy of free expression over the rights of institutionalised superstitions.
Following the BBC Four/atheism theme for a minute, something you may also find interesting is Jonathan Miller's Atheism: A Rough History Of Disbelief. I've mentioned this before, but the whole series is now available on YouTube (in three parts: here, here and here) and is well worth a watch, though one might say the whole thing is a bit wordy and earnest - there is a lengthy discussion in the first programme about what "belief" really means, for instance, which you might want to skip, although it's always good to be clear about these things. One might also argue that Miller is a little bit in love with his own stooping donnish glasses-round-neck polymathic silver fox persona, perhaps to a very slightly grating degree - if so here's an antidote courtesy of Spitting Image.

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