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Friday, 26 February 2016

"I am Thomas" - Thomas Aikenhead Unitarian Martyr


"I am Thomas - a brutal comedy with songs", created by "Told by an Idiot", the composer Iain Johnstone and poet Simon Armitage is now on tour.

It tells the tale of Thomas Aikenhead - the last person to be executed in Britain for blasphemy.

Amongst other statements overheard, he denied the Trinity and was reported, tried, sentenced to death and publicly hanged. He is remembered as one of the Unitarian martyrs.

It provides a salutary tale when freedom of speech is still challenged in so many parts of the world and blasphemy remains a crime.

I have not seen it yet but hope to do so when it comes to London in late April at Wilton's Music Hall.



Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Unitarians "the awkward squad"

Screen shot of me asking a question to the Panel
The British Academy, the UK's premier body for humanities and the social sciences has been promoting consideration of the role of "Faith" and last week held a debate on the intriguing question "Who cares if Britain is not a Christian country?". It actually turned into a discussion of the role of the Church of England as the Established Church in England (but not of course in Scotland where the Church of Scotland is established nor in Wales or Northern Ireland which disestablished their Anglican churches).

Professor Iain McLean in his discussion of marriage law indicated that the Unitarians succeeded the Quakers as the "awkward squad" in the late 1700's. Unitarians were thought to be much more dangerous; they dressed like everyone else! (see from 58:50)

I managed to get called to ask the final question which asked about whether the Church of England would be willing to include multi-faith elements if it becomes more of a sect as speakers had suggested. This prompted the usual pithy and slightly humorous responses to the final question. This is found at 1:23:46.