Friday, November 06, 2009

Muslims and Christians: get used to being a minority


Jonathan Sacks has said some good things and some rather silly things in a lecture to the think-tank Theos (I haven't read the full lecture, just the report in the Times).

The Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth said one thing I think is very sensible: that Christians and Muslims need to learn from the experience of Jews in being a religious minority. Most Christians and Muslims for most of history have lived in "Christian countries" and "Muslims countires" whereas now in Europe both need to learn to live as minorities. As a Christian I would add that Jesus was always someone operating at the margins, so this is a place that Christians should be comfortable, but we have got used to the comfort of Christendom for too long. But the "separation of religion and power" is politically and theologically wise.

But he then goes on to criticise "secularism" (which I've always understand to mean the separation of religion and power). Sacks says secularism is causing the "death" or Europe by making people too selfish to breed (yeah, really). This seems to me to be frankly bizzare. It also doesn't pay attention to the fact that in the context of an ecological crisis, a falling population is a damn good thing. I don't think we're in danger of human extinction yet, right? In fact we're in danger of a hell of a lot of other things going extinct cos there's too many of us. Reproducing a little less is a very responsible thing to do in the twenty-first century.