Letter: Challenges to faith and atheism on the streets of the Holy City

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The Independent Online
Letter: Challenges to faith and atheism on the streets of the Holy City

Sir: A less snobbish and sectarian liberal than Polly Toynbee might rejoice in the strange richness of humanity in the Holy City as she describes it. A man in a floral shirt (how common) with a wife in a luminous pink cap (even worse) and a mobile phone (disaster) carries a cross down the Via Dolorosa. There are "crow-like" Jews in 18th-century East-European dress, spared by the Holocaust; Franciscans selling Virgin's milk; the cross on which so many Roman slaves were crucified transformed into a symbol of salvation.

Why do the heathen so furiously rage? What strange experience of sin and suffering, what odd incomprehension, make your author so angry with God and the godly?

SHERIDAN GILLEY

Department of Theology

University of Durham

Sir: Instead of tolerance of difference Polly Toynbee seems to be implying that some action must be taken against fundamentalists. What action does she suggest and would it be her who decided what, or who, was fundamentalist?

If it was her I would be slightly worried especially as she seems to consider the symbolic act of hauling a cross along the Via Dolorosa as a sign of intolerance. Surely the ultimate test of liberalism is tolerance of illiberal doctrines. Otherwise what is the value of liberalism?

GRAHAM RICHARDS

London EC2

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