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Why Boris is scared of God Religion is the only thing that can penetrate his bluster

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)


December 3, 2021   5 mins

The tree was heavy with baubles, the mulled wine flowed freely, and there was a primary school choir from Enfield singing about Jesus and Rudolph to get us in the party spirit. Copts and Baptists, Catholics and Anglicans — the lot of us were there, at No. 10’s annual party for us Christian God-botherers.

But I wasn’t there to gossip, plot and gripe with my mates; I was on a mission. Would I be able to work out what the Prime Minister really thought about religion? I have long found this a puzzle, not knowing what to make of the multitude of signals that he gives out. Earlier this year he described himself as a “very, very bad Christian”. Asked by Robert Peston whether he was now a Roman Catholic, after his marriage in a Roman Catholic cathedral, he declined to answer. “I don’t discuss these deep issues,” he blustered. Then, spotting an opportunity to have a swipe at the openly atheist Keir Starmer, he added a quote from Psalm 14: “the foolish man has said in his heart there is no God.” Peston played along and simply chuckled.

There was lots of chuckling going on at No.10. Introduced by fellow Etonian, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Boris stood up and threw out some amusing anecdotes. He and Justin Welby go running together round Lambeth Palace gardens. Sometimes they run in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions. It was a metaphor for the relationship between church and state. He then thanked the Church for its Covid response, which delivered on “the clear teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ to ‘be a good neighbour’”. Oh, I thought. Now there is a phrase: “our Lord Jesus Christ”. “Our” is such a strong word of belonging. The evangelicals smiled. It is an “I am one of you” word. Or maybe it was just something he said — something people say.

The problem I have with Boris is that all that Etonian bluster and bullshit is so wall-to-wall you never get the feeling you are seeing the real thing, whatever that is. I long for a flicker of sincerity — something Mrs May did in spades at her Christmas parties — some sense of what he really thinks about things. Yes, what he really believes. But there is a kind of dandyish public-school raconteur for whom the admission of sincerity is some sort of failure, a sign that the great game has broken down, a depressing admission that charm can only go so far. So everything is deflection and misdirection, smiling and ducking, making other people laugh as a strategy of tactical evasion. And as with Peston, it works. Our laughter gives him time to make for the exit. Only then do you feel just a little short-changed.

Now this sort of dandyish bullshitter has to be very careful with religion. Because at some point religion demands precisely the kind of moral seriousness — sincerity of heart — that Boris despises, or is at a loss to know what to do with. Yes, I too avoid the man who will come up to me on Oxford Street, look me straight in the eye and ask me if I believe in Jesus. Everything inside me screams “none of your bloody business”. But this sort of evangelical directness has no time for the social conventions which we often hide behind, and which allow Boris Johnson to be the master of illusion.

But there is a story about Boris being put on the spot like this. And it is quite extraordinary.

Back in 2019, at the time of the September Equinox, a group of new-age religious pilgrims — Extinction Rebellion supporters — were walking the Ridgeway, part of an ancient trail from Salisbury Plain to East Anglia, a route well-known for its springs and holy places. Their plan was to travel barefoot and sing to the Great Spirit Mother as they went. They wanted their prayers to “open the hearts and minds of those in power”.

As they passed Chequers, the weekend retreat of the Prime Minister, they stopped off to visit a nearby farm shop. And — how extraordinary — there he was: Boris Johnson getting his groceries. Just Boris and the cashier in this tiny, enclosed space. And not knowing what to say, this group of women decided to stand around and just sing: “Listen to your heart, listen to your heart. Let love guide you.”

Now I find what happened next really hard to square with what I know of the Prime Minister. The way Tori Lewis, one of the women, describes the scene, Boris Johnson was strangely moved by the experience. “His mouth is just open, he has his hand on his heart, he has tears in his eyes.” Of course, Boris had no idea how to react to this cringey intrusion into his personal space. “I, err, don’t know what
” he apparently blurted out.

Tori goes on: “Annabel intuitively — she’s a beautiful mother — puts her hand on his shoulder and sees him like a little boy that he is and we keep singing.” Regaining his composure, Boris asks the group where they are from, makes polite conversation, and looks for the exit. “We are healing the world one heart at a time” they sing as he leaves.

If this wasn’t strange enough, one of the group then overheard him talking to his then-girlfriend, Carrie, who was waiting outside: “Where have they come from, it’s like they have emerged from the Earth?” he asked. “Yes” she replied, “and they have a message for you.” And he said, “listen to your heart”.

This, by the way, is the reason evangelical Christians used to get such good results in posh public schools. Here is a group of emotionally damaged children, who have suffered a kind of privileged abandonment, who have learnt to manage the absence of necessary motherly love — though this management is inevitably unstable and difficult to maintain. Suddenly, they are offered a kind of love — a “hand on the shoulder” — that is as emotionally direct and all-embracing as they might imagine motherly love to be. It is a religion of the heart, so to speak, for those whose hearts are a source of pain. Some retreat from this offer, appalled. Others embrace it with huge transformative joy, and it marks them for the rest of their lives. “Why do you need a God if you have a good mother?” my friend, the psychotherapist Adam Phillips, asked me the other day. It’s a very challenging question.

Justin Welby didn’t get converted at Eton. His conversion was at Cambridge, on the evening of 12 October 1975. There is often a single date, for evangelicals, because what happens is a kind of immediate breakthrough. A friend invited Welby to his rooms at Trinity College. Nearing midnight, Nicky Hills pressed Welby, “Jesus died on the cross for you, Justin”. At that moment, Welby says that the penny dropped and, as he later put it, “I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life”. Were Welby on Adam Phillips’ couch, this experience would no doubt be brought into some sort of conversation about his highly dysfunctional parents — both alcoholics, his father turning out not to have been his father after all.

Boris had a dysfunctional home life, too. His mother and father divorced when he was 15. There are stories that his father was abusive towards her. But where Welby embraced the emotional hyper-sincerity of evangelical Christianity, Boris rejects it with every fibre of his being, terrified that it is the one thing that can bring down the “pyramid of piffle” on which the whole Boris act is founded.

In effect, Boris is a polytheist: he worships a great many gods. That’s what allows him to be all things to all people. Yes, he refers to “our Lord Jesus Christ” in front of the Christians, but he’d flirt in the same way with other gods too — as promiscuous with divinity as he is elsewhere in his life.

Boris has a lot in common with his schoolmate, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I can see why they got on. They have similar demons. But they react to them in totally opposite ways, running in different directions.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

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Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

The reason why Boris will still be PM in ten years is precisely because, unlike other politicians, he doesn’t go in for the Californian, heart-on-sleeve stuff.
The British dislike people talking about themselves, except for witty anecdotes. Talking about your feelings is considered particularly suspect.
In times of strife we prefer someone telling a few jokes and giving it the stiff-upper-lip routine.
If he went full-on Meghan Markle and started talking about his faith or about his emotionally tough childhood, he would soon be out on his ear.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

I like your post, but I don’t believe he’ll be PM in ten years’ time.
Being PM isn’t nearly as much fun as he always thought it would be.
Covid? Jolly difficult and going on far too long.
President Biden? Not a best chum at all.
Cross-channel migration? Impossibly difficult. No idea what to do.
Also, he’s not making as much money as he’d like. He’d get more as an ex-PM, and I think that’s what he will do, sooner not later.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Thanks! Obviously it’s anyone’s guess how long he’ll last. But it seems unlikely to me that a PM with an 80-seat majority and an opinion poll lead and who is winning by-elections mid-term in a pandemic is unlikely to quit or lose anytime soon.
On Covid: I’d rather be in Britain than locked-down in many European countries right now.
On Biden: the PM’s job is to get along with POTUS. Plus AUKUS was a result.
The channel: I want action too and think Boris/Priti are more likely to do something than Keir Starmer (who has a shameful record of overturning David Blunkett’s illegal immigration restrictions as a QC) and Yvette ‘#refugeeswelcome’ Cooper who promised – but failed – to put up migrants in one of her and Ed’s houses.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Mr Nemo is right, Johnson is less a leader than a cheerleader. True, he is – marginally – preferable to the odious Labour party in any incarnation; but this is not enough. Taking your three defences in reverse order, then: the channel – “more likely to do something than Starmer” – not much of a claim, is it? It is speculative, it is contradicted by the record to date and it sets a laughably low standard. On Biden – by all means be polite; but why skew the British economy by siding with the hair-shirt greens instead of the pragmatic sponsors of gas and nuclear? On Covid, why did he so pusillanimously U-turn from the original herd immunity approach which has served Sweden so well? Why did he not see the problem coming and prepare from this time two years ago? And why did he flood the care homes with contagious patients? Then there is tax and spend, HS2, the non-appearance in the culture wars – on and on. As a lifelong Tory I move a good deal in grassroots Tory circles and the criticism I advance of this appalling disappointment is widely shared. I suspect that in his heart Johnson shares it, too and will – if he has a last shred of wisdom – step down. Not before time.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

To be replaced by

?

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

A couple of weeks back I drew a lot of downvotes for daring to suggest that we should offer better pay for politicians. So be it.
The present generation are not very high grade, are they? Can you see an obvious successor to Boris?

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

NO!

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

I agree. I’d pay them more, severely curtail 2nd jobs and make expenses etc simpler and clearer with harsher penalties.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

John Redwood.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I also was disappointed that he bowed to peer pressure and didn’t join with Sweden. But I also understand that when you have government experts, the press and all other western nations doing the opposite it is entirely understandable not to want to go against the grain and be accused of deliberately letting the virus rip and murdering old people. Care homes were an issue in all countries including Sweden. Also Sweden has only 10 million quite compliant people – the UK has 6 times more and no-one expected us to be as compliant as we were. To be fair our lockdowns were never as draconian or as heavily policed as on the continent so the ‘herd immunity’ approach was largely achieved but on a quieter level.

JAX AGNESSON
JAX AGNESSON
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

I’ve only just read this post. Gosh, 12 days is a long time in politics!

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

I like Boris but I have to agree. He’s far better in a Mayor of London type role where he can be the attention grabbing, union flag flying showman than in high office where detail, seriousness and strength of resolve is also needed. In that sense Theresa May was a better PM, just a shame she lacked Boris’s bombast to get Brexit done. I hate to say it but Blair had both qualities. He was a smart PM in a lot of ways but his messiah complex was his undoing and if you unpick his legacy outside of Iraq almost all of it unravels though it looked shiny on the surface back in the day. I guess we expect too much of any one person to be all the things we require them to be all the time. Politics just doesn’t encourage the right people or the right behaviours.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

We know you don’t like evangelicals, Giles, but couldn’t you be a little more gracious? After all “There is often a single date, for evangelicals, because what happens is a kind of immediate breakthrough” was true of St Paul on a trip to Damascus; and he just kept going on about it.

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Yes, and he (Paul) is really the father of all modern Evangelicals and their insane theology. I’m always astonished how often Christians quote Paul, who never met Jesus, just had this conversion experience, as opposed to the synoptic gospels, which at least in the case of Mark is probably a first hand account of Jesus and his teachings from possibly Peter. I think people ignore the gospels because they find them so puzzling and confusing and prefer Paul’s rather more simple minded version.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Paul met Him on the road to Damascus if you can believe that.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Some of us enjoy the mystery and the contemplation.

Oliver Elphick
Oliver Elphick
2 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

The crucifixion of Jesus marked a change of dispensation (how God relates to mankind) and so there is a significant difference between the gospels, where Jesus is mostly speaking under the dispensation of Moses, and the rest of the NT, which is in the dispensation of grace.
Paul’s teaching is certainly not simple minded! He had an incredibly deep knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures and was given revelation about the church and what it is about. God chose him as the ideal teacher for the new dispensation.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
2 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

People ignore the gospels? Those are the most famous and most-quoted books from the entirety of the Bible! And no, Mark was not a first-hand account, nor was Luke. Matthew is generally regarded as one. John certainly was. And you were saying something about other people not paying attention to the gospels? And come to think on it, Paul’s claim to knowledge was based on what he learned from those early disciples. The Damascene conversion was just what convinced him he needed to learn from them. And the book that relates all this and creates the early claim to Paul’s spiritual authority was written by the same guy who wrote Luke, which is one of those gospels that apparently no one reads and has nothing to do with Paul.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

‘…I too avoid the man who will come up to me on Oxford Street, look me straight in the eye and ask me if I believe in Jesus. Everything inside me screams “none of your bloody business”…’

Absolutely right. This is the proper response for a C-of-E vicar to give to such an impertinent question.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Although you do have to wonder how many C-of-E vicars believe in Jesus. I bet it’s fewer than 100%.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

That’s exactly why the response of the author is the correct one. What on earth should belief in Jesus have to do with being a C-of-E vicar?

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

It must be annoying that the nice old spacious vicarages are being sold off. It’s not going to attract many middle class divorcees looking to move to the country.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Belief in the Great Goddess definitely not optional

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

You mean Gaia, the idol they have erected to represent the earth and nature.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Leave poor Carrie out of this.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

What some of them say with their mouths and actually do are two different things.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

As a Vicar I was once told by a Churchwarden (who really disliked me) that, “at least you believe in God!”

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

Did you correct him ?

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

At least you could find a churchwarden some places are not so fortunate.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I think they believe in Jesus. It’s God that is the problem.

Last edited 2 years ago by Hosias Kermode
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

They’re one and the same.
Unless you’re Unitarian.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

The classic observation came from Alasdair MacIntyre, one reviewer of “Honest to God”, Bishop John Robinson’s unexpected runaway religious bestseller in 1963. “The most immediately striking thing about Dr Robinson is that he is an atheist…..”

http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1011-76012018000100013

Not just C of E ministers. The RCs have more their share. Like the priest in Northern Italy at Christmas Eve Mass in 2017, who told his congregation that they were not going to recite the Creed as he did not believe it.

https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/wayward-italian-priests

Or Father Richard Barton in Gloucestershire…

https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/5119/leaving-the-priesthood-a-personal-story

You might ask if the Pope is a Catholic. Plenty of people, including me, would say, “No way, Jose”.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Murphy
Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

“Of course I do”

James Stangl
James Stangl
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

That goes double for Episcopagan priests on my side of the pond!

Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  James Stangl

I wish I could upvote this twice, once for the pun, once for its lovely dead solid accuracy! Episcopagan. Zowie!! Is that your coinage?

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

I’m not sure about Giles’s analysis of Boris here.
I’ve known a few men who went to public school in my time, even with a stable family life behind them there is a tendency to be evasive and an avoidance of giving themselves away. Surely the aversion to emotional display is common to most British native men from all walks of life, up until recently anyway. The comparison with Theresa May is indicative of that, she’s a woman.
I think boarding schools tend to have certain effects on all the people they produce; self protection is paramount, buffoonery or wit and sarcasm are not uncommon – good ways to maintain popularity.
What is unusual about Boris to my mind, is his innate ability to appeal to all sorts of people at the same time as being clever. That does’nt mean I personally think he is faultless, or that I always agree with what he does or says by any means. But I wish him well.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

It is hard to hate someone you (or him) don’t take seriously.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I don’t hate anyone (except Henry VIII very occasionally).

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Why him?

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Thanks for asking Cheryl, but my full answer would be long and involved and have nothing to do with the article, so I’ll leave it for another day under a more appropriate article.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

He is clever but, unfortunately, intelligent.

Alastair Herd
Alastair Herd
2 years ago

“Why do you need a God if you have a good mother?” my friend, the psychotherapist Adam Phillips, asked me the other day. It’s a very challenging question.

If you find that a challenging question, you probably believe in Freud’s God and not the Christian one.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

Because God is about the approval of the absent disapproving father, not the mother.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I thought God was about God.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

God is a creation of humans who appear to have a need for a patriarchal figure telling them what to do, rewarding them and punishing them. And that’s only in the Abrahamic versions.

Milos Bingles
Milos Bingles
2 years ago

‘all that Etonian bluster and bullshit’
He’ll say anything to be popular. His God is adulation. That’s what Boris Johnson really worships. He desperately wants to be liked, probably because he was abandoned as a child at boarding school. Deep down his persona is an attempt to win approval. Same as Trump in that respect. Both men fill the hole left by childhood abandonment with power and adulation.
Approval from others is their God and they will do and say anything to receive their God’s love.

Last edited 2 years ago by Milos Bingles
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Milos Bingles

I agree with your assessment.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Milos Bingles

Like Cheryl, I think you’ve nailed it. The problem for the country is that we need leadership and, as was dinned into me and fellow officer cadets in the RN, popularity and leadership are mutually exclusive.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Milos Bingles

I disagree about Trump. He had the courage to do what he thought was right without recourse to public opinion. That’s why they hated him. Boris is different. Farage describes him as a cheerleader. Not far out.

Milos Bingles
Milos Bingles
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

His rallies to his the crowds of red caps were stadiums of adulation. He was addicted to it. I’d argue he was me in need of adulation than Boris. Infact when the plug was pulled he lied about a fraudulent election result. His god was being denied to him.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Trump has a rather admirable degree of bluntness and political incorrectness but his incessant need to portray whatever he does as the biggest and the best ever, as if he needs approval, is rather childishly narcissistic. I never particularly disagreed with his policies it was his style I disliked. Like Boris’s bumbling jokiness can wear thin so does Trump’s use of phrases like tremendous, best ever, biggest ever, never seen numbers like that before etc etc etc.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 years ago
Reply to  Milos Bingles

Or maybe were all like that. Hes just better at it, so he has to be outed.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Oh dear, women walking barefoot along the ancient pathways of Druidic England come across the PM in a shop and sing new age hymns to him. This is true? It means anything?

He’s a chancer. It’s a recognisable type, there are many about. Chancers that surround themselves with competent people can do pretty well, so the jury’s out on whether he’ll be an historic PM.

All this relentless psycho babble about his core beliefs is boring. Write about his tangible achievements and failures.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Maybe he is one who stands or falls by the Cabinet he picks. Some people are not stars but have the leadership to let others shine and reap the rewards. It takes a certain amount of humility to do that.

Charles Savage
Charles Savage
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

And with only two or three exceptions we have been saddled with the “B team”! Crash?

Gerard McGlynn
Gerard McGlynn
2 years ago

In my career as a lawyer of 50 years, I have met many, many Public Schoolboys, and they have many different personas, but many even with that bouncy blustery exterior, have iron in the soul. So look out !
What do they put in the water at these schools ?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Gerard McGlynn

But didn’t they come from the past? People like Churchill and such. Where are the public school people now with iron in their soul. Don’t tell me Cameron.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 years ago
Reply to  Gerard McGlynn

That sounds like French public school.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago

I had a more cynical reaction to Giles Fraser’s farm shop anecdote . It sounds like a set-up by Carrie and her extinction rebellion mother goddess worshipping friends . Wouldn’t be surprising if Carrie had dumped the Pope and modelled herself on the M G .

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
2 years ago

I find the idea Mrs May ever revealed what she believed in laughable … I think the only thing she believed in was dodging [being responsible for] decisions & blaming everything else on collective responsibility. The worst sort of political robot.
Boris is pure populism, as a journalist you are rarely challenged about an article you wrote in the past – its all about the mood of the moment and what you can milk from the current situation – consistency of philosophy (belief) is unimportant to journalistic comment writing.
We do however expect consistency from our political leaders – we need to know what they believe so we can make rational judgements in our own lives based on an understanding of what we expect government to do.
Tony Blair famously “didn’t do God’ (actually an Alistair Campbell quote) but we did know what he believed … whether we agreed with it or not it was relatively predictable within a framework.
And of course Margret Thatcher had a rock solid set of beliefs that drove her political philosophy, shaped her government and delivered years of success (until it finally lead to her downfall!) And she did do God.
Having a strong political belief system is vital to long term leadership – but these days it doesn’t need to be underpinned by God.

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

Tony Blair is a bad example. I thought he was Tony the Tiger from the Kelloggs Frosties packet but he turned out to be a lying charlatan taking us to war with Iraq on the basis of a pack of lies regarding the witch hunt that was “weapons of mass destruction”.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

It’s a reflection of our society that you don’t need to do God in politics.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tony Conrad
Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago

This beautifully crafted, elegantly written, and profoundly insightful essay (I think Giles Fraser has absolutely nailed the rootless, bullshitting Boris) is precisely why UnHerd is my must have reading.

Mark Vernon
Mark Vernon
2 years ago

“Why do you need a God if you have a good mother?”

It is a poignant question, revealing an alternative to the reductive psychologising Phillips presumably implied. Having no need opens the space freely, undefendedly to know.

George Knight
George Knight
2 years ago

There are many Gods so does the author believe that Boris is scared of his God, some Gods or all Gods!

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  George Knight

When Boris was mayor of London he loudly proclaimed its glorious diversity as making it the best city in the world.
So the answer must be a bold, affirmative cry of ‘All Gods!’

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  George Knight

Believers would say that there is only one God and there is none beside Him.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Although every believer thinks their god is the only one, so some of them must be wrong.

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago

May was an inept PM who betrayed the UK in allowing or actually promoting the idea of “the deal” to flourish along with the attendant danger of a second referendum. At the same time she stated maybe once the truth that only those things which would have to be negotiated should UK leave without a deal would actually be part of the deal but that was only lip service and a “once heard” acknowledgement which should rather have been the entire backdrop and purpose to the 2 years of planning we had before Brexit. It was always, or should always, have been hard Brexit with the 2 years just that opportunity to iron things out. It was a betrayal on the part of May who had no sympathy for Brexit allowing and fostering the no deal/deal madness proliferation. May betrayed the country in a way which Judas Iscariot might have been ashamed of. Boris is one for specific projects and that is enough for me. I am not looking to trip him up by finding out that his opinion on this or that topic does not comply with current goodthink. He got Brexit done but failed on COVID and continues to fail miserably.

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

I agree about May. A bad one to have as a leader, like building our house upon the sand. We must be grateful for Brexit and Boris. His thrust achieved a lot. Maybe these sort of people shine in wartime like Churchill did.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. I don’t think he is a lost cause if he is still struggling within. To come out with scriptures on the spot is surely a reason for hope. We cannot come until we have heard.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago

Giles Fraser is making a category error here, He is speculating on what lies at Johnson’s core rather than if there is something there at all. Sadly there is not.
I find it amusing that, during the Brexit debate and the last general election the common take was to regard Johnson as a “person from somewhere” and Corbyn as a “person from nowhere”. But, in fact they are the reverse. Despite his internationalist perspect in things Corbyn is intensely English. His idea of a holiday is to walk along Hadrian’s wall, he is genuinely comfortable meeting people and at the senataph woujld talk to veterans aftewards. Johnson, by contrast is at his happiest when surrounded by rich international oligarchs in a luxury setting abroad on on a yacht He was born in New York, grew up in Brussels.
I doubt if he anymore believes in God than he believed in Brexit. he sees them both as games to play to his advantage. But we should not blame him for being what he is, we should blame ourselves for being taken in by it. It reminds me of that scene in Fawlty Towers where someone seemingly called Lord something or other is given the run of the hotel clears off with the cash

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

If Corbyn is intensely English then I am a foreignor.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

then I suggest you check your passport.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

me too

anna.draycott
anna.draycott
2 years ago

Listen to the Intelligence Squared Debate on you tube in which Boris defends, with humour but also with deep conviction and knowledge, the civilisation of Greece.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  anna.draycott

That’s what he’s brilliant at. I think he’d have made a great Uni lecturer

Charles Mimoun
Charles Mimoun
2 years ago

It’s a good idea for a clergyman to write about politics. It’s always interesting.

Alastair Herd
Alastair Herd
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Mimoun

To be honest, I always think Giles writes better about politics than faith.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

History shows the texts underlying Christianity are so vague and self -contradictory that they are compatible with just about any political position .

However the contemporary Cof E has definitely been taken over by the woke left . So may Boris long continue to run in opposite direction to Justin Welby

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

I agree. May he meet real Christians and not the official state representation of Christians.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

I am actually a cleric, with a poliics degree and find a deal of challenge, and enjoyment from both. I have have also spent much of my working life in the Criminal Justice system and conclude that living in hope of better times, is the only survival strategy that works.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Mimoun

Most of them appear as lefties to me.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago

Lordy, what a cynical man. I see how you ended up in journalism.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
2 years ago

Giles, you have nearly got it. Of course, Boris is a polytheist. He is drenched in the cultures of Greece and Rome, and both are tied to Christianity. Beyond that, I agree with Matt M.

Daniel Smallwood
Daniel Smallwood
2 years ago

Thank you for the charming anecdote about Boris and the earth-women; the one about Justin Welby, however, makes me grateful I haven’t eaten anything this morning. I think it would help Boris’s function as Prime Minister if he wasn’t also scared of his erstwhile chums in the news media.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

He has been in number 10 too long for any good he has done.He should depart.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

I will never understand how otherwise intelligent people, can believe in such guff. I honestly think a lot of it is because they think it’s of benefit to us plebs and they’re like the messiah ‘leading the sheep to salvation’ or something. Catholicism I find particularly odd with its pomp and Popes and guilt. Although to be fair I prefer tea and scones C of E and lapsed toothless Catholicism to the kind of religiosity we see elsewhere that is not quite so toothless.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

In Britain, Lord Jesus Christ, son of The Earl of Heaven, educated at Eden, and a former officer in The Household Calvary, is, of course, a proper toff, unlike Boris, who is a fake who probably has “666” tatooed somewhere underneath that unkempt clowns mop…..

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

“…There is often a single date… because what happens is a kind of immediate breakthrough. A friend invited Welby to his rooms at Trinity College. Nearing midnight, Nicky Hills pressed Welby,…”

… they looked out the window and saw a bright object in the sky. At his insistence they went and looked at the object through a pair of binoculars. The object was a spacecraft with a set of double windows through which they could clearly see at least half a dozen living beings, wearing uniforms and looking straight at them. They were terrified. The couple heard a series of loud beeps, and then each felt “an odd tingling drowsiness come over them,” followed by “a sort of haze.” When they next regained consciousness, they were 35 miles down the highway on the M11. Groggily, they continued home. At first there were only a few oddities. Both of them were a little rumpled—Hill’s shoes were scuffed and his binocular strap had broken. He had a feeling that something had happened to his body and went into the bathroom to examine himself. They tried to shake it off, but a few days later, Welby began having nightmares. Welby told a friend that his feeling was “one of a person who saw something he doesn’t want to remember.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

My conversion was more about planting my feet on solid ground. Nothing like you are describing you cinic.