Overheard: March 2016


“OK,” [the Messiah] whispered. “I admit it. I never realised this before, but, I guess, the truth is, I’m a little bit . . . racist.”

“I came to save mankind,” He said. “But, in the end, mankind saved me. . . . My goal [now] is just to resolve my personal issues. I obviously have a lot of hatred inside me, which I was completely unaware of. Hopefully, though, with the help of therapy, I can unpack my white privilege and inspire others to do the same.”

Simon Rich, American humorist, novelist and screenwriter, imagining what might transpire in the mind of Jesus during His second coming.—The New Yorker (US)

“I suppose I’m getting over my anger now but I’m angry at the fact that my little moment in the spotlight when I won the Margaret Mahy prize was effectively ruined by a small Christian splinter group and their unrelenting and vindictive attempts to discredit the book and to minimalise it. . . . Watching a video, just throw the thing in, push the go button and you’re there, or one click on internet pornography. So there’s a huge difference in terms of accessibility. So I feel that the people who are worried about community standards should be focusing their attention in that area, not basically trying to undo the work of very hard-working and sincere novel-writers in New Zealand.”

Author Ted Dawe’s reaction when his novel, Into the River, received an interim ban after lobbying by Christian group, Family First. The novel won Book of the Year at the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Family First objected to the book’s sex scenes, offensive language and references to drug-taking. Into the River was later allowed back on the shelves with no rating.—Radio New Zealand National (New Zealand)

“We acknowledge that Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations.”

Part of a seven paragraph statement signed by 28 Orthodox rabbis that was released in December last year.—The Christian Century (US)

“Over the course of many centuries, Christianity has done its work. While its religious attributes have declined, it has achieved, beginning in the [W]est, a universal humanism. We may no longer be a religious culture, but we are certainly one that, as never before in history, is hypersensitive to the plight of victims—the descendants of our primitive scapegoats, and of our Christ. The abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, social programs, cultural pluralism, and, yes, even gay rights are all the fruits of a society that has understood the victim mechanism and has actively confronted it. Our ability to expend energy apart from the preoccupations of any religion, primitive or modern, is what is behind the forward movement of humanity in science and technology, politics, the arts, economics, and so on.”

Alger Libby, on why Christianity is the strong foundation for today’s secular humanism.
—Edmonton Journal (Canada)

“And it’s not just that so few Australians benefit from promoting religion. Many faith groups act in ways which are contrary to the public interest, and antithetical to the ideals of charity.”

Hugh Harris, member of the Rationalist Society of Australia, on why faith groups should not be able to obtain tax-exempt status and also avoid paying many state taxes, stamp duties and local government charges for the purpose of “advancing religion.”
—New Matilda (Australia)

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