Faith isn’t strong enough to stop crotch rot?

Posted: 10 October 2015 in On the Pilgrim's Road, Understanding Others
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Ranulph Fiennes Launches Winter Antarctic Crossing Expedition

Ranulph Fiennes in Antarctica

“Although I have this faith, it isn’t enough to fight crotch rot.” Really?  That’s what ace explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, said at the recent Cheltenham Literary Festival.  Should we be disappointed?  Crotch Rot, and other manifestations of Ringworm are not hazards that I face at work, but it is in his line of business.  And he says that faith is a key factor in his success as an explorer, and explorers in general.  In extreme circumstances, such as when he fell into a crevasse, religion may give people a sense of purpose. “Knowing that fate, according to the Bible, is what you make, I knew I must survive”.

To be fair the Fiennes, he also referenced Jo Simpson, an atheist mountaineer.  When Simpson also falling into a crevasse and crawled to safety with a broken leg.  He said he would have died if he had believed in God.  “I feel actually, if I had believed that, I just would’ve stopped and waited for it, and I would have died. And so in a way, that’s why that loneliness, I think, came in.  There’s no afterlife, there’s no paradise, there’s no heaven.  It’s just dead.  And I really didn’t want to lose that.”  It was his fear of death that propelled him on – the utter silence and nothingness beckoned for him.  For the believer, life as such can be beautiful, but it is not an end in itself.  I might well have lay there and said to God, “OK, time to say goodbye to all this and hallo to the new.”

Indeed, as a believer myself, my greatest physical emergencies I have faced have been when I’ve stuck my head out and worked abroad for the benefit of others.  For instance – malaria, near-miss kidnap and robbery, vehicle accident involving fatality, poisonous snakes in the loo, attack by a rhino, an earthquake and landslides.  Worse is common.  A volunteer doctor was killed recently close to where I used to work in Uganda.  And in dear old safe UK, recently a clergy friend working in a tough location was held and threatened by a disturbed member of his parish.

Faith is important, but is too often seen by non-believers as religious folk waving a magic wands to get out of tight corners.  However, Fiennes was realistic saying that though faith helped him deal with the threat of wanting to give up, “when you’re out there, your fillings fall out in the cold, you get gangrene, crotch rot.  Although I have this faith, it isn’t enough to fight crotch rot.”



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