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Date: 7 November, 2003
Reviewed by Malcolm Doney
British people don't
talk about God. Or so convention has it. The surefish message boards
tell a different story, of course, but there you'll find a bunch
of unusual people for whom God is very much front of mind.
Kate Adie, John Humphrys, David Owen, Clare Short
and Meera Syal are among the 20 who made the final cut for this
fascinating collection of honest and vulnerable confessions. Not
one of these people would call themselves a believer, yet most display
a remarkable open-ness to the idea that there is more to life than
what is available to our senses.
Nature is a powerful source of the divine for
many. No less than three people (Children's author Philip Pullman,
politician Dennis Healey and Bel Mooney herself) quote Wordsworth's
'Lines' to talk of a presence at the heart of nature: 'something
far more deeply interfused'.
'Why not go to church/synagogue/temple/mosque?'
might be the advice of some. But while there is a kind of nostalgia
for God and the spiritual, for ritual and for sacred spaces, here
there is an equally powerful distrust for religion and its institutions.
Organised religion has, wittingly or unwittingly,
piled up huge spiritual barriers of fundamentalism, judgment and
guilt between God and these people's tender and tentative explorations
Devout Sceptics: Conversations on faith
and doubt, Bel Mooney, published by Hodder & Stoughton, 256pp