CLASSIC DALRYMPLE: Why religion is good for us (2003)

Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair conducted a debate on religion last month in Toronto. In a discussion on this debate in, of all places, the Huffington Post, someone posted this old Dalrymple piece from the New Statesman. It’s probably the best, most concise summation of Dalrymple’s religious views that he has written:

Over the years, my attitude to religion has changed, without my having recovered any kind of belief in God. The best and most devoted people I have ever met were Catholic nuns. Religious belief is seldom accompanied by the inflamed egotism that is so marked and deeply unattractive a phenomenon in our post-religious society. Although the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are said to have given man a more accurate appreciation of his true place in nature, in fact they have rendered him not so much anthropocentric as individually self-centred.

7 thoughts on “CLASSIC DALRYMPLE: Why religion is good for us (2003)

  1. Seymour Clufley

    I don’t know how else to get in touch with the webmaster, so I’m doing it this way.

    I just want to tell you that there was a Dalrymple piece in the Daily Mail last week, regarding the antics of young Charlie Gilmour.

  2. Clinton

    Hi, Seymour. I assume you are referring to the Daily Express piece? He did post it, but somehow it disappeared from the site. We have added it back. Please look a few posts down on the blog page. And thank you for viewing and commenting on the site! You can reach us in the future at

  3. Seymour Clufley

    Ah, damn it! Yes, I meant the Daily Express. (No wonder I couldn’t find it to give you the URL.)

    And thank you for maintaining the site. It’s one of my favourites. I check it every Saturday to discover what the good Doc’s been up to!

  4. Jay C

    Very well written- and as it’s Christmas season I thought I would post this beautiful Cistercian hymn. I was made aware of them by the film De dieux et hommes, which is about the mass murder of their monks by Islamists in Tibhirine, Algeria. By the way, I am a believer:

    Quand il n’est pas de sûr abri
    Pour le Fils que Dieu s’est choisi,
    La nuit se tisse en une tente
    Un voile pour couver la vie.
    Et une étoile au firmament
    Illumine de paix la nuit.

    Quand il n’est pas d’hôtellerie
    pour Jésus, l’enfant de Marie,
    La nuit s’approche et le protège,
    L’emmaillotant contre le froid.
    Brille la lune au fond du ciel,
    En silence elle crie sa joie.

    Quand il n’est plus pour Jésus-Christ
    qu’une croix pour donner sa vie,
    La nuit se creuse en une tombe
    que Dieu façonne en un berceau.
    Voici l’amour portant le monde,
    pur éclat du matin nouveau.

    (When there was no safe shelter for the son who God had chosen, the night formed itself into a tent, a veil to cover life/ And a star in the sky lit up the night with peace;
    When there was no room in the inn for Jesus, child of Mary/ The night came in and protected the swaddling baby from the cold/ Brilliant is the moon in the depths of Heaven, she cried out her joy;
    When there was no more for Jesus Christ than a cross to give his life, the night hollowed out into a tomb which God had made into a cot/ Here is the Love sustaining the world, pure Light of a new dawn.


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