A Times columnist says he believes God would “enfold” broadcaster, author and actor Stephen Fry “in his arms”, despite the affirmed atheist’s controversial remarks on television last week.
The QI presenter whipped up a storm of controversy when, in the course of an interview with Gay Byrne on RTE, he asserted that a god who allowed child cancer and other such misery was “an utterly, utterly evil maniac”.
Larne Times Churches Page columnist Adam Harbinson wrote this week that the god he believes in is “big enough” to take the insults and would “want to enfold Stephen Fry in his arms”.
Here is Adam’s column:
The sun and the wind had an argument one day, as they watched an old man stroll along a country road, enjoying the peace and serenity of the countryside. He wore a heavy overcoat, just in case it might rain.
‘Which of us could remove that old man’s overcoat?’ asked the sun with a touch of mischief.
‘Why me, of course,’ said the wind.
‘Well,’ urged the sun, ‘have a go.’
The old man’s coat hung loosely around his legs, but he felt a sudden blast of wind that made him quicken his step and tighten his grip on his coat. The wind blew harder and the old man began to button up his coat as he struggled to maintain his pace. The wind was blowing a gale. And harder still blew the wind and tighter and tighter did the old man grip onto his coat.
Before long the wind knew he was beaten.‘Now you do your best,” he challenged the sun. “But don’t expect to succeed where I have failed.’
The old man stopped to sit on a park bench, relieved that the storm was over.
The sun began to gently bathe the land with his warm and gentle rays. And warmer and warmer grew the day until the old man began to relax his tight grip on his coat, one by one undoing the buttons. Soon the coat was folded and laid on the seat. The sun had won.
The moral of the story is obvious you’re more likely to have success in persuading people to see things as you do by avoiding confrontation. It was with this in mind that I read about Gay Byrne’s interview with the redoubtable Stephen Fry. The veteran broadcaster asked his guest, an atheist, what he would say if he came face-to-face with God?
‘I would say: “How dare you?” I would say: “Bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you create a world where there is such misery that’s not our fault? It’s utterly, utterly evil.”’
Fry asked: ‘Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain? The god who created this universe, if he created this universe, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our lives on our knees thanking him. What kind of god would do that?’
Byrne appeared be stumped for words, for he asked what he must see now as a pretty silly question: After such an outburst did Mr Fry think he would get into heaven. Perhaps predictably, the reply was: ‘I wouldn’t want to get in on his terms.’
To be honest I found that outburst offensive, and I’m not sure what I would say or how I would react, but if I wanted to introduce him to the God of love that I know, it might not be too helpful if I were to tell him that for seeing him as ‘an utterly, utterly evil maniac’ he might just reserve for him the hottest place in Hell.
Apart from the fact that I don’t believe that, I think I would want him to know that our God is big enough to take his insults and that in spite of his anger and bitterness, our God would want to enfold Stephen Fry in his arms. How do I know? Because what is at the core of the gospel.