Rushing to Judgement – Enright on the McCanns

So this is what a society without God is going to be like? We may have got a glimpse of it last in the newspaper coverage of Man Booker prize-winner Anne Enright’s  highly publicised judgements on the parents of Madeline McCann, in which she declared herself among the participants in that international sport – her term, – disliking the McCanns. It made grim reading and left one wondering how we got here. A family is in the throes of a tragedy – a child is lost. Yes, that is all we can be certain about just now. Everything else is surmise and suspicion. But what has happened now is that these parents who have suffered this loss are being set upon and every Tom, Dick and Harry is constructing scenarios of what happened without a thought given to the agony the parents are going through. Judges and juries are ten-a-penny and presumptions of innocence are worthless. That is surely a far remove from the Christian basis on which our rule of law was originally founded. This, inevitably, is what happens when God is jettisoned. But even more frightening was the ad hominemjudgement mooted by Anne Enright. She left aside the question of presumed innocence or guilt and just ploughed into the personalities of Kate and Gerry McCann in a manner which one could only say was deeply disturbing. Ms. Enright is a novelist and those who like her grim fiction are entitled to inflict her pain on themselves if that is what they want to do. Fiction is a great human device for exploring and helping us understand the human condition. In it we create situations and characters who mirror reality. Then we offer a kind of judgement, mete out justice and punishment or rewards appropriately. When a novelist, however, takes two living and anguished human beings and does the same to them it is a totally different matter and is specifically what God in the person of Jesus Christ asked us not to do to each other. Man’s necessary but often sad efforts to mete out justice to his fellow man is but a mere shadow of what the final judgement will be. A recent Daily Telegraph headline was a stark reminder of theis: “Over 30 years after an innocent man was wrongly jailed for killing 11-year-old Lesley, ‘the real abductor’ faces court”. The chilling realisation which came while reading this Anne Enright’s exercise in semi-creative writing was that this is the product of a vision in which no other judgement but ours matters. God is nowhere. This, one thought, is what the world will be like if Richard Dawkins, Philip Pullman and Christopher Hitchens – and all the other high-priests of atheism have their way. 

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