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Sunday, January 23, 2011

People I Admire: Stephen Fry

Among the many people I admire, some are altruists or peacemakers, those whose characters come from a "good heart" and perhaps a religious perspective; Stephen Fry is not among those.

Stephen Fry is a thinker. He is also a writer, an entertainer, a comic and a celebrity. He is not above snobbery when it comes to things he holds as standards and is a shameless name-dropper. But if those are the worst flaws one can find in him, they are laughable ones, for even he laughs at his own silly pompousity. While he can be pompous he's not pretentious. Because that giant brain of his won't tolerate falsehood; he is that rare bird, a moralist from reason alone. And that is why I admire him.

One of my criticisms of the major religions is the attitude from which they frame how humans are supposed to live. This is an attitude of shame, blame, guilt and forbiddance. From this nasty and disfunctional viewpoint we are supposed to be forever begging mercy from the invisible old man in the sky. We are supposed to walk a narrow path of loving like-minded people and work hard to declaim anything but our own love of said angry old invisible man in the sky. Sounds like an abusive relationship. Mr. Fry eruditely explains his stance on religion often and with calm argument, such as in this blasphemy debate with Christopher Hitchens:

Mr. Fry has written a few books, some lively fiction and some autobiographical. He is forthright about who he is; bipolar, homosexual, scholarly, politically unrepresentable. A stubborn traditionalist he is also an advocate of human rights, freedom and innovation. These are a few things I find admirable in the man. But what I most admire is that he shines his speculative light on his own life and behavior with truth and bravery. And he's never a bore.

Fry, Stephen; Laurie, Hugh (1990). A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Mandarin. ISBN 9780749307059.
Fry, Stephen (1991). The Liar. Soho. ISBN 9780939149827.
Fry, Stephen (1994). The Hippopotamus. Soho Press. ISBN 9781569470541.
Fry, Stephen (1997). Making History. Arrow. ISBN 9780099464815.
Fry, Stephen (2000). Moab Is My Washpot: An Autobiography. Soho Press. ISBN 9781569472026.
Fry, Stephen (2000). The Stars' Tennis Balls. Hutchinson. ISBN 9780091801519.
Fry, Stephen (2003). Revenge: A Novel (reprint ed.). Random House. ISBN 9780812968194.
Fry, Stephen (2005). The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within. Hutchinson. ISBN 9780091796617.
Lloyd, John; Fry, Stephen; Mitchinson, John (2006). The Book of General Ignorance. Faber and Faber. ISBN 9780571233687.
Carwardine, Mark; Fry, Stephen (2009). Last Chance to See. HarperCollins Publishers Limited. ISBN 9780007290727.
Fry, Stephen (2010). The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography. Michael Joseph. ISBN 0718154835.

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