Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Off the buses

Some years ago I remember seeing on a billboard outside a church this slogan: “Why pray when you can worry and take drugs?” I like that slogan. It is short and pithy and, more to the point, it offers something. Compare to this weeks’s much heralded atheist advert: “There probably isn’t a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. And make it sharpish, you weasely inadequate, because the non-God squad will be knocking on doors, making sure that you aren’t worrying, or non-God forbid, praying.” Maybe its just me but “now stop worrying and enjoy your life” seems to be the sort of thing a stern matron says to you, just before she dunks you in a freezing bath.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just that I first heard about this campaign when it was bathed in approval by Polly Toynbee, who strikes me as the classic prescriptivist liberal, going around telling people what they must do to be as self-satisfied as she is. Maybe it’s just that telling people to be stop worrying and be happy, maybe, just maybe, isn’t as helpful, considerate or constructive as it may appear, God or not.