By EVE McADAM
CAN a man be both a Christian and an Agnostic? This was the question asked in ITV's "About Religion" last Sunday.
The equivocation was discussed with utmost seriousness by the founder and two leading members of a new "religious society" calling itself "Christian Agnostics".
These people turned out to be the Rev. Joseph McCulloch. Rector of St. Mary-le-Bow Church, Strand, London; Dr. Donald Soper, Methodist Minister of the West London Mission in Kingsway: and a writer, Katherine Whitehorn, who described herself as a "lapsed Presbyterian married to a Quaker". She writes a fashion column for the woman's page of a Sunday newspaper. What is ode to think of a programme of this kind? It's a gimmick, isn't it?
"A few weeks ago," according to "TV Times", the Rev. Joseph McCulloch founded this society "numbering many famous men and women among its founder members."
Once "founded" the reflex action of the Christian Agnostics seems to have been to get on television as quickly as possible. Since it takes a "few weeks" to schedule any programme on TV, I can only assume that inception and transmission plans must have occurred simultaneously,
In keeping with the gimmicky idea was the introductory music, a nursery rhyme, "Oranges and
Lemons" with voices chanting "I do not know, said the big bell of Bow." According to the hand-out this provided "the inspiration" of the society.
TOM DItIBERG, M.P., acting as interrogator, thought "I do not know" was a strange proclamation for a Church bell to make. Surely it is stranger still that two ministers of religion should air such views and proselytise for them.
This may be a hard thing to say, but what is one to say about such an ill conceived "religious society"? Dr. Soper's remark that he was glad "something was being done about agnosticism," left me stumped.
Surely agnosticism cannot be combatted by forming a society of "Christian Agnostics" which must, inevitably, lend authority to doubt, encourage woolly-mindedness, contradiction and reasoning that is better suited to a Mad Hatter's tea-party than to a serious religious community.
For instance McCulloch and Soper agreed that with Catholic and Protestant alike faith is the heart of the matter.
ALMOST in the same breath, however, one or other questioned the reliability of evidence in the Gospels. "The Bethlehem story is under criticism," said McCulloch, adding. "we've got to he honest, we have over-emphasised our dogma about the metaphysical world."
Throughout, the three speakers expressed doubt and faith.
It did not need a Catholic to tell ITV's new Christian Agnostics that they can't have it both ways. Anyone, from a Zen Buddhist to a seven-year-old Catechist could have pointed out that no one can reconcile doubt and faith : one believes in revealed truth, or one does not. The Catechist might have put an end to the inanities of this week's "About Religion" with a single quotation from St. Paul: "if Christ is not risen our faith is vain."
MR. D. COLLINS of New Southgate. London, N.11. would like to know what kind of TV programme should be kept from young people. The answer was epitomised in a brief flash on BBC's "Tonight" last Tuesday. A decapitated human head was shown on the screen which had been "shrunk" for the tourist trade, An American Lady who had purchased the head told us calmly that she had watched the repugnant process with "complete detachment".
I saw no more but switched off. but not before my son wanted to know if he had really seen the head of a human being, who had shrunk it and why?
I would say that any television programme that distorts, devalues and mocks human life should he kept from young viewers—indeed, why not from all of us, Mr. Michelmore.