April 19, 2007


Gordon Brown's new book teaches us, if nothing else, that we are to have another pious Christian for PM (Catherine Bennett, April 19, 2007, The Guardian)

Whoever wrote Courage by Gordon Brown, he, she or they are to be congratulated. I have not read anything so thoroughly improving since the Reverend Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, in which the reader must endure the protracted, watery afflictions of young Tom, ploughing on, right to the last pages, before the author finally asks, "And now, my dear little man, what should we learn from this parable?"

In his eight portraits of "men and women of courage", on the other hand, the Reverend Brown's moral purpose confronts us from the first: "Their stories live on and inspire us," he begins his chapters on Edith Cavell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Raoul Wallenberg, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Cicely Saunders and Aung San Suu Kyi. "They were prepared to endure great sacrifices and persist, some of them for many years, against the odds and in the face of the greatest adversity."

And what else, my dear little man, should we learn from the chancellor's book, when it appears in June? Why, in the first place, that, in this largely secular and sceptical country, we are to have another pious Christian for a prime minister. In the past, Brown's spiritual life has been so mercifully private, in comparison to the lenten homilies and mantilla-draped devotions of the Blairs, that the question of his faith could generally be overlooked. In his 2004 biography of Brown, Tom Bower wrote: "Neither in public nor in private would he ever express thanks to God or refer to Christianity as an influence, guide or support for his life."

No longer. The new book, in which five of Brown's eight peerless individuals are guided and sustained by a profound Christian faith (a characteristic that might make them elusive role models for non-believers), amounts, surely, to a declaration of faith.

The Brits want so badly to remain Anglospheric.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 19, 2007 6:03 AM

Poor Brits can't even do snark well any more....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 19, 2007 7:03 AM

The new book, in which five of Brown's eight peerless individuals are guided and sustained by a profound Christian faith...

Can Brown help it if five of the peerless individuals are Christians? Should he cite some peerless Islamists who sent others to "martyr" themselves? Should he cite godless communists who didn't care to murder millions to advance their causes? The problem is not Brown, the problem is so few non-Christians chose to sacrifice themselves to save others. Take that back, at least 3 had done that.

Posted by: ic at April 19, 2007 1:45 PM