Radio Leicester Thought for the Day
© John Denney 28 July 2003
There’s a story about a famous novelist who gave a lecture to students on a creative writing course. “The key ingredients of a successful novel,” said the writer, “are religion, nobility, sex and mystery”. Following the lecture, the students were set a task to write a story containing those elements. Within thirty seconds, one student produced her effort. It read: “My God,” said the Duchess, “I’m pregnant. Whodunnit?”
And you have to say that this is very much the pattern to which our newspapers – at least the tabloids – conform. Their staple diet consists of stories about religion, about what they call “toffs”, about crimes that are mysteries until they are cleared up, and above all, about sex. When they can combine two or more of these elements, they are in clover. Look at the acres of newsprint concerning last week’s release from prison of Lord Archer. He’s a toff – of sorts – and he had been imprisoned for creating a mystery about his actions by committing perjury. And if we can extend the definition of “toff” to the modern aristocracy of celebrities, then the papers are full of stories about who is having an affair with whom.
The weekend tabloids were full of a story that combines what they think an unlikely combination. Cameron Stout has won the Big Brother contest on Channel 4. The thing that has astonished the papers is that Cameron Stout is a committed Christian. Somehow, the papers think that this makes him abnormal. They commented on the fact that not only did he take a copy of the Bible into the house as his only permitted reading material, but that he actually read it on a daily basis. And something else. Cameron Stout has kept his chastity, reserving any sexual expression for a future wife. What really exasperates the tabloids is that Cameron hasn’t conformed to their false picture of people as sex-mad, alcohol-fuelled hedonists. Cameron is in fact a normal guy. And in his own words, he isn’t religious: but he has a direct and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Should we be surprised that Cameron is a Christian in the public eye? Well, there are countless other famous people who are Christians too. They’re not abnormal either. In fact, nearly 72% of this country’s population claim to be Christian, according to the recent national census.
So I wish Cameron well. Sometimes nice guys do win.