This essay is adapted from a piece that first appeared in MoreIntelligentLife.com (Jan. 28, 2008), an on-line edition of The Economist. Published with permission.
NOT LONG AGO, at a drinks event at the Oxford and Cambridge Club on Pall Mall, I had the good fortune to chat about Israel with an eminent professor of ecclesiastical history. His family had always been pro-Israel, he assured me, but now, sadly, things are different. So we had the usual dust-up. Champagne in hand, I jumped in headlong and called him an anti-Semite and he (ditto) countered with the speech that begins “You Americans always…” After the skirmish, though, it turned out that we share a skeptical view of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, me for the good Archbishop’s positions on Israel and my ecclesiastical friend for Williams’ support of the Church’s official position on homosexuality. “Rowan,” he said with evident familiarity, or maybe irony, “doesn’t care for my partner.” Aha! “I’d like to ask you something about John Maynard Keynes,” I said. “Keynes kept these sex diaries…” A little more champagne and we were talking about cock sucking.