Posts Tagged ‘ religion ’

Book review: ‘Nation’ – Terry Pratchett

Gary Carr as Mau in Mark Ravenhill's adaptation

Terry Pratchett’s Nation takes place in a world not too different to our own – but it’s not the Discworld either. Hence my misgivings about reading it. Being as my exams are over and I am now ostensibly free to read what I want for a few months, I thought I should probably read it (and give it back to the person who loaned it to me in 2008).

Here’s a rough synopsis of the book from , quite literally, the horse’s mouth:

For a fuller version, Waterstones provide this.

Having just finished it, I have to say my doubts were unfounded. While being set some time in Britain’s past when ‘map-makers would run out of red ink’ and therefore in a pseudo-real-world, Nation retains Pratchett’s style, formula, wit and philosophy. Particularly his philosophy on religion. Much of the book focuses on the protagonist Mau’s changing perceptions and understandings of what religion and belief are and why they are necessary.

Pratchett describes his own beliefs here:

A point of criticism is a lack of differentiation between some of the characters in this book compared with those from his others. Case in point is Mrs Gurgle, an old, mysterious and extremely powerful woman who rings loud bells of Mrs Google in Witches Abroad.

Despite this, Pratchett spins a fantastic yarn which satisfies right up to its unusual ending—  unusual for a Pratchett and unusual for many other books. The two protagonists, Mau and the ‘ghost’ (white) girl Daphne (was Ermintrude) part ways. The final chapter of the book is set ‘today’, with the story having been retold to two young children who protest the unfairness of Mau and Daphne’s parting. The teller helps them come to the realisation that Mau and Daphne had acted in the best interests of their people and not of each other or themselves. This kind of moral is not uncommon in a Pratchett tale, but it’s delivery in this instance is.

Perhaps the message is that the desire to sugar-coat the world is childlike, it is time to wake up.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed by the book, though it does not compare to many of the mid-span Discworld novels.


In looking for the sleeve image I came across another review of nation on WordPress here.


Equality Bill beeswax & Pope Benedict

In response to the BBC News article on Pope Benedict’s attack of the UK government over Equality Bill…

Just a few things,

1) “The taxpayer in this country is going to be faced with a bill of some £20m for the visit of the Pope – a visit in which he has already indicated he will attack equal rights and promote discrimination.”

Fantastic! Who agreed to pay for this hate peddler? Do only Catholics have to pay for this visit?

2) Religious leaders have voiced concern that the Equality Bill could force churches to employ sexually active gay people and transsexuals when hiring staff other than priests or ministers.

The question here is why would actively gay people want to be employed by organisations that don’t agree with them?

3) Peter Tatchell said the Pope’s comments were a “coded attack on the legal rights granted to women and gay people… His ill-informed claim that our equality laws undermine religious freedom suggests that he supports the right of churches to discriminate in accordance with their religious ethos… He seems to be defending discrimination by religious institutions and demanding that they should be above the law.”

But Catholic MP Ann Widdecombe said: “This isn’t a debate about homosexuality, this is a debate about religious freedom.”

Now, if this was coming from a Islāmic voice, how would we feel about that?

4) Widdecombe goes on to say  “If a faith teaches, as major faiths do, that something is wrong, then quite clearly you cannot have somebody who believes that it’s right actually occupying a very senior position… That we have accepted as natural justice for a very long time.”

The counter here is threefold:

the first is as above in point 2)

the second is a disagreement with the ‘inclusive ‘we” of her statement (although it’s acknowledged that this may have been taken out of context)

the third is ‘natural justice’ – what is this natural justice? Darwinism? God’s Law? Accepted for a long time? Hmm, the Luddites spring to mind. That said, faith is faith, you believe or you don’t. Surely there are enough fragments and divisions of the church by now to accommodate all – gays included. Perhaps gays shouldn’t attempt to force the ‘anti-gay’ divisions of the church to accept them and find a division that does and the Pope who is “not getting into party politics” –or the running of a(nother) country?– should do as he claims.

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