Tony Blair

Preface

As Tony Blair, the Ex-Britain Prime Minister, resigns from his role as “Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia“, I return to some of the things I have read and watched about him.

Wikipeadia

Tony
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Blair

In an interview with Michael Parkinson broadcast on ITV1 on 4 March 2006, Blair referred to the role of his Christian faith in his decision to go to war in Iraq, stating that he had prayed about the issue, and saying that God would judge him for his decision: “I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people … and if you believe in God, it’s made by God as well.”According to Alastair Campbell’s diary, Blair often read the Bible before taking any important decisions. He states that Blair had a “wobble” and considered changing his mind on the eve of the bombing of Iraq in 1998.

A longer exploration of his faith can be found in an interview with Third Way Magazine. There he says that “I was brought up as [a Christian], but I was not in any real sense a practising one until I went to Oxford. There was an Australian priest at the same college as me who got me interested again. In a sense, it was a rediscovery of religion as something living, that was about the world around me rather than some sort of special one-to-one relationship with a remote Being on high. Suddenly I began to see its social relevance. I began to make sense of the world”.

Video

Here is a debate between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens.

Christopher Hitchens Vs Tony Blair Debate
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooFHKt1hl8U 

I think irrespective of whose sides you are on, you will be enriched in listening in.

Here is a transcript of the discussion:

Hitchens VS Blair – Roy Thomson Hall
http://hitchensdebates.blogspot.com/2010/11/hitchens-vs-blair-roy-thomson-hall.html

Writings

Full text of Tony Blair’s speech to the National Prayer Breakfast
http://www.tonyblairoffice.org/speeches/entry/full-text-of-tony-blairs-speech-to-the-national-prayer-breakfast/

  • Religion Under Attack
    • Today, religion is under attack from without and from within. From within, it is corroded by extremists who use their faith as a means of excluding the other. I am what I am in opposition to you. If you do not believe as I believe, you are a lesser human being.
      From without, religious faith is assailed by an increasingly aggressive secularism, which derides faith as contrary to reason and defines faith by conflict. Thus do the extreme believers and the aggressive non-believers come together in unholy alliance.
  • Believers Do
    • And yet, faith will not be so easily cast. For billions of people, faith motivates, galvanises, compels and inspires, not to exclude but to embrace; not to provoke conflict but to try to do good. This is faith in action. You can see it in countless local communities where those from churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, tend the sick, care for the afflicted, work long hours in bad conditions to bring hope to the despairing and salvation to the lost. You can see it in the arousing of the world’s conscience to the plight of Africa.There are a million good deeds done every day by people of faith. These are those for whom, in the parable of the sower, the seed fell on good soil and yielded sixty or a hundredfold.
  • Spiritual Awakening
    • I remember my first spiritual awakening. I was ten years old. That day my father – at the young age of 40 – had suffered a serious stroke. His life hung in the balance. My mother, to keep some sense of normality in the crisis, sent me to school. My teacher knelt and prayed with me. Now my father was a militant atheist. Before we prayed, I thought I should confess this. “I’m afraid my father doesn’t believe in God”. I said. “That doesn’t matter” my teacher replied “God believes in him. He loves him without demanding or needing love in return.”That is what inspires: the unconditional nature of God’s love. A promise perpetually kept. A covenant never broken.
  • What is faith?
    • Faith is not discovered in acting according to ritual but acting according to God’s will and God’s will is love.
    • Rabbi Hillel stood on one leg and said “That which is hateful to you, do it not unto your neighbour. That is the Torah. Everything else is commentary. Go and study it.”
    •  As the Qur’an states: “if anyone saves a person it will be as if he has saved the whole of humanity”.
    •  We might also talk of the Hindu “Living beyond the reach of I and mine”
    • Or the words of the Buddha “after practising enlightenment you must go back to practise compassion”
    • Or the Sikh scripture: “God’s bounties are common to all. It is we who have created divisions.”
    • Each faith has its beliefs. Each is different. Yet at a certain point each is in communion with the other.
  • Guardianship of Faith
    • The 21st Century will be poorer in spirit, meaner in ambition, less disciplined in conscience, if it is not under the guardianship of faith in God.
  • God’s Work
    • Neither do I decry the work of humanists, who give gladly of themselves for others and who can often shame the avowedly religious. Those who do God’s work are God’s people.
    •  I only say that there are limits to humanism and beyond those limits God and only God can work. The phrase “fear of God” conjures up the vengeful God of parts of the Old Testament. But “fear of God” means really obedience to God; humility before God; acceptance through God that there is something bigger, better and more important than you. It is that humbling of man’s vanity, that stirring of conscience through God’s prompting, that recognition of our limitations, that faith alone can bestow.
  • Our and God’s Work
    • We can perform acts of mercy, but only God can lend them dignity.
    • We can forgive, but only God forgives completely in the full knowledge of our sin.
  • Urging to Mr President ( Obama )
    • As you begin your leadership of this great country, Mr President, you are fortunate, as is your nation, that you have already shown in your life, courage in abundance. But should it ever be tested, I hope your faith can sustain you. And your family. The public eye is not always the most congenial.
  • Public Eye
    • I was reminded of this, as I waited in London in the snow to fly to America and made the mistake of reading a British newspaper. It was the very conservative Daily Telegraph. A few days ago I gave an interview in which I remarked how much cleverer my wife was than me. The Telegraph has a famous letters page. In it was a letter from a correspondent that read something like: “Dear Sir, with reference to your headline ‘Blair admits wife more intelligent than him‘, I fail to see why this is news. Most of us have known this for a long time.” As a PS perhaps: “the bar, however, has not been set high“.

 

Christopher Hitchens

  • Real Estate
    • No one’s going to deny, are they, that there are awards of real estate made in the Bible by none other than Jehovah himself, that land is promised to human primates over other human primates, in response to a divine covenant.
    • No, that can’t be denied. When David Ben-Gurion was Prime Minister of what he still called a secular state he called in Yigael Yadin and Finkelstein and the other Israeli archaeologists, professional guys, and said, “Go out into the desert and dig up the title deeds to our state. You’ll find our legitimate”—that was instruction to the department of archaeology. They went, after they conquered Sinai and West Bank. They went even further afield looking for some evidence Moses had ever been there. They didn’t find any because there never has been and there never will be any. But you cannot say that the foundational cause, casus belli in this region, the idea that God intervenes in real estate and territorial disputes, isn’t inscribed in the text itself.
    • And not only in the Jewish text but thanks to a foolish decision taken in the early Christian centuries where it was decided not to dump the New Testament and to start again just with the Nazarene story—great Christian theologians like Marcian were in favor of that. Why do we want to bring the darkness and tyranny and terror and death and blood and cultism of the first books along with us? Surely we should start again? No, we’re saddling ourselves with all that. So this is a responsibility for the Christian world too.
    • And need I add that there is no good Muslim who does not say that Allah tells us we can never give up an inch of Muslim land and that once our mosques are built there can be no retreat. It would be a betrayal, it would lead you straight to hell.
    • In other words, yes, yes, they gibber and jabber, all of them, the three religions. Yeah, yeah, you’re quite right, God awards land, it’s just you’ve got the wrong title. No. This is what I mean when I say religion is a real danger to the survival of civilization, and that it makes this banal regional and national dispute which, if reduced to its real proportions, is a nothingness, if it makes that, not just lethally insoluble, but is drawing in other contending parties who really wish, openly wish, for an apocalyptic conclusion to it, as also bodied forth in the same scriptural texts, in other words that it will be the death of us all, the end of humanity, the end of the world, the end of the whole suffering veil of tears, which is what they secretly want. This is a failure of the parties of God and it’s not something that happens because people misinterpret the texts, it’s because they believe in them, that’s the problem. Thank you.

 

Follow Up

Tony Blair’s foundation actively blogs at http://tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/

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