I found my way to a few events at the Melbourne Writers' festival over the past week or so. The most interesting, perhaps, was the "politics of atheism" panel yesterday morning, which was advertised as featuring AC Grayling, Humphrey McQueen, and Val Noone. In the event, McQueen dropped out and was replaced by a female academic whose name I didn't catch, unfortunately, since she was very engaging and informative. She'd done some research on the major pentecostal churches in Australia and had some interesting observations about their culture and their obsessions (political and otherwise). I've had enough dealings with such people - though a long time ago - to have recognised some of what she was saying.
Val Noone, a veteran lefty Catholic activist, seemed an unpleasant fellow. He spent his time ranting about the "false gods" of capitalism, technology, and the like, which was all irrelevant to the topic, and attacked Grayling quite personally.
By contrast, Grayling was a class act. I've made a note to myself that I must learn to be as patient with the likes of Noone as he was. Grayling endured the emotive and personal nature of Noone's remarks, while sticking to the issues and appearing quite calm and unruffled. The contrast made Noone appear churlish.