I received quite a nice 70th birthday present this evening in the form of the publication of an article I wrote for HumanistLife on Howard Jacobson and the Temple of Darwin, and it was only lightly edited. The image used, of A. C. Grayling and Howard Jacobson sitting on the steps below the statue of Charles Darwin was one that I obtained by screen capture from the Channel 4 film.
Earlier in the day, before the article appeared, I had filled in one of the forms on the HumanistLife site asking what the site was for, on the grounds that the headline story hadn't changed for 5 days. Is it intended to be a weekly magazine, a daily newsfeed, a bulletin for BHA staff to inform us of the party line, a blog, or a Humanist forum? I don't think they are clear on this yet. It is also not clear who the editor is, or the editorial staff. I hasten to say that I think it is a good development, but it needs to be more lively.
Since there was sleet here in the morning and snow in the afternoon I spent the day quietly in the warm, and listened to the radio. Start the Week featured Robert Beckford, a theologian, who will be doing The Book of Revelation for the Channel 4 series on the Bible. He interprets it in terms of what he thinks it meant to early christians living at the time of Nero. The trouble is that too many modern christians interpret it as a literal picture of the End of the World, and may be inclined to help the world on its way to Armaggedon.
The History of the World in 100 Objects from the British Museum featured the clay tablet telling the tale of Utnapishtim, the Babylonian equivalent of Noah. What annoyed me about this programme was the inclusion of comments from the Chief Rabbi who has his own peculiar interpretation of the Great Flood story, in which the entire destruction of the human race, apart from Noah and his family, is somehow seen as a supremely moral act. In the afternoon Ernie Rae and other theological guests discussed the Gilgamesh story on Beyond Belief. This is an aptly titled programme as the views of its participants are indeed often unbelievably weird. This time they weren't too weird, but did concentrate overmuch on death and immortality as being the main theme of the story.