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Archive for October, 2011

You know, just as I was beginning to lose patience with that Mr Cameron, he goes ahead and restores all my faith in him. I know I was narked over the whole gay marriage thing and his redefinition not only of marriage, but also conservatism, but I’ve had a bit of a change of heart, as obviously all our Prime Minister wants to do is to make things fairer. Equality is clearly a cause very close to his heart. As a Roman Catholic who cares whether or not he undermines society’s notions of marriage and family? He’s making it all alright again with some very exciting and marvellous news. He’s making the monarchy fair is our Dave! Seriously!

Listen, if Wills and Kate’s first child is a boy and say he mixes in the same social circles as either of my three daughters and fancies an older woman with no family name, trust-fund or indeed any money at all, then the fact of my daughters’ Catholicism will no longer prove an obstacle.

I could be the Queen Mother!!! Just call me Carole, after all, we do have a former occupation in common! Doors to manual is positively de rigour these days and there can be absolutely no denying that any of my children are more than beautiful enough to qualify as a princess. Look, I’m already grooming Felicity at the tender age of 6 months.

Treat me like the Princess that I am

I had been harbouring secret plans to make Felicity a fifth columnist and subvert the British monarchy into a local branch of the Vatican until Will Heaven happened to point out an inconvenient truth, one that I had overlooked in my passion. Catholicism does not force a parent to bring up their children Catholic, it only requires that they do all that is in their power, which is exactly what I promised when I married an Anglican vicar, one who had the privilege of baptising his own daughter, before he converted. Ah well, it’s the thought that counts and, Caroline Farrow, Queen Mother, still has that certain ring to it.

No longer may I feel marginalised or excluded from our British monarchy by virtue of my faith, or my gender. Dave’s gone and made it all alright again.He’s made the monarchy fair and accessible to all. He’s alright is our Dave.

As for the fact that Catholics who refuse to endorse a homosexual lifestyle are not considered suitable as foster carers or adoptive parents, due to their unacceptable views, well that’s just a mere irrelevance, a trivial matter. We can marry the monarch, what more can we ask for?

And the knock on effect to the Church of England, that brings the UK a step closer to disestablishment, which loosens still further our foundations as a Christian country? We’ll try not to worry our little heads about that either. Tis but a minor detail, Dave’s a Christian, I’m sure he’s thought of that and has it covered somehow. He’s alright is our Dave.

I’m off to start planning my outfit. I hear there’s some good designer bargains to be had in Greece. Dave says that the success of the EU is crucial, so in order to ensure that it all stays together, Greek citizens are struggling to survive and all their stuff is dirt cheap. So it makes sense to start stocking up on the Ouzo now so we can all drink a toast to the groom’s great-grandfather on the big day!

He’s alright is our Dave.

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Blaming and shaming

The feminist left-wing blogger, It’s Mother’s Work, wrote a thought-provoking piece about “victim-blaming” in the case of rape, in which she posits the campaign from the Welsh police anti-rape campaign which features this poster, seeks to put the blame for rape upon victims as opposed to perpetrators.

Eamon Holmes inadvertently stumbled into this row this week, with his comments to a rape victim during an interview on yesterday’s This Morning, during which he asked “why were you tempted to walk home”  and concluded with “well I hope you take taxis now”.

There’s now been a flurry of complaints into ITV as a result of Holme’s “misogynistic victim blaming.” This was an interview, therefore Holmes, in common with all interviewers was attempting to empathise with his interviewee. He wasn’t saying the attack was the woman’s fault, but acknowledging the unpleasant and unsavoury fact that, women tend to be more at risk from sexual assault than men. On the whole women are more physically vulnerable than men, I was in the CCF at school, I’ve completed several self-defence courses and yet I know that on a dark night if a man stole up behind me, I wouldn’t stand much of a chance. Generally speaking women are more likely to be the object of sexually related violence from random strangers, than men, which is one of the factors that renders the issue of male rape so taboo and one of the reasons why so many instances of it go unreported.

There can be no justification for rape and Its Mother’s Work is correct when she states that young men need to be educated to respect women and as Alison noted in her post, featured in the Telegraph this week, we need to have a serious think about the effects of pornography upon our young people. Education may only go so far however.  Education is not mooted as a solution for the crime of murder, we know that motivations of murderers are far more complex than a simple unawareness that what they are doing is immoral and that they ought not to be doing it.

Rape is equally psychologically complex. The cases of premeditated stranger rape are fortunately rare, but they do happen. There are some psychologically damaged individuals out there, who are determined to perpetrate atrocious crimes, the products of a broken or twisted psyche. For some people it really is a case of being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like it or not, people walking on their own late at night are more vulnerable to attack. Both men and women walking alone are likely to be targeted by those with malign intentions, for a variety of reasons, be they racist, homophobic or sexist. For the attacker who is bent on attacking a person of a different colour, or targeting a homosexual, or raping a woman, there are a variety of factors that will determine whether or not a particular person will be that particular victim, one of which will be how easy it will be for the attacker. A rapist is far less likely to pick on a group of women walking down the street, or a woman accompanied by a friend, than he is a single woman on her own. Her location and the preponderance of passers-by will also play a factor, as will things like street lighting, CCTV and cars passing. It is not blaming a woman who is targeted in this fashion, to note that a woman walking on her own is vulnerable to attack. This is not a new phenomenon, twas always thus. Women in seventeenth century London, frequently dressed up as men when going about their business in the city, not to make any specific point about gender, but because it was safer, they were less likely to be accosted.

Most men who are guilty of rape however,  have not deliberately set out with the intention of having sex with a woman without her consent. Alcohol is usually a factor in cases of rape, the heady and intoxicating nature of alcohol blurs boundaries, renders one less risk averse and makes signals more difficult to interpret and communicate. There is no doubt that being on your own and drunk dramatically increases your vulnerability and thus susceptibility to unwelcome sexual advances, you may not be able to understand what is implicit until it is too late, or perhaps more pertinently you might not be able to adequately physically defend yourself.

In either situation, there is a way to mitigate risk, in the first case, by individuals endeavouring not to walk alone at night, or if they have absolutely no other choice, to put in place various safety measures. In the second case, it is wise for women who don’t want to risk an uninvited sexual encounter to which they can neither consent nor defend themselves, to be prudent about drinking in certain situations.

That is not to say that cases of rape will dramatically decrease, but it certainly will diminish an individual’s risk of attack. The Welsh police campaign was not seeking to cast blame on a woman, its slogan explicitly mentions the word “victim” which is an acknowledgement of that rape is an uninvited crime. It does not seek to blame, but to ask women to take responsibility for their own personal safety. In an ideal world, rape would not exist, along with a whole host of other crimes. In an ideal world, I would be able to leave my house unlocked, or my children fast asleep in bed whilst I popped down the road for a drink, but we don’t live in such a world. We have to engage with the world as it is, instead of how we would like it to be.

Eamon Holmes was trying to get into the psyche of his interviewee, he clearly felt that a woman walking alone at night following a night out was taking a risk and so asked her as to the factors that led to this decision. He wasn’t saying “it was your fault, you deserved it”, just wondering what it was that prompted her to take a risk. No decision in life comes without risk and we can learn lessons from others’ experiences without resorting to blame. Stating “well I hope you take taxis now”, is not blaming the victim for the horrifying assault, but more the statement of a concerned other. There may be an implied “well had you been walking home this may not have happened to you”, but that is not the same as stating that the girl was responsible for or invited her attack. It’s a statement of fact. Had the young woman not been walking home alone, she may not have been attacked in this way. It does not render the attack her fault, nor lessens the severity of it, but is a salutary lesson in safety.

Whilst we shouldn’t be living in a climate of fear and no-one is suggesting that women should neither go out, nor have a drink, it is not unreasonable to state that we all bear a level of individual responsibility. Had the woman not being walking alone, then she would have removed the factor that facilitated the rapist. Of course she should have been able to have been walking alone at whatever time she liked, just as I should be able to leave my house very obviously unlocked, but that’s not the world in which we live.

Rather than getting into a futile war of victimhood and wasting our energies bemoaning the fact we do not live in Utopia, or casting all men into the role of potential rapists and seeing a misogyny, which in this instance is not present, why not take steps to acknowledge that some activities are risky and take steps to neutralise the risk? Eamon Holmes and the Welsh police are not wrong to point out that there are ways of staying safer. There are no guarantees that the taxi-driver won’t turn out to be a rapist, or that staying sober will protect you from sexual attack and neither should women be eying every man up with suspicion, however wisdom and personal responsibility surely have to play their part, as they do in every single situation in life.

A consequence of walking home alone at night means that one is more vulnerable to attack. A consequence of getting drunk means that one might end up being raped, or being accused of rape. Why do women need to be absolved of the responsibility of the potential consequences of their actions more than men? Doesn’t seem very equal to me.

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No doubt, Christians will be accused once again of playing the pity game, but can it really be argued that we have true freedom of speech in this country?

For those who might claim that Mr Smith is not being persecuted for his beliefs in the same way as someone like Pastor Nadarkhani, although his life might not be literally in the balance, this case is extremely chilling. What can be more disempowering or de-humanising than to restrict someone’s ability to work and earn money? Mr Smith is being punished, not because he has done anything wrong; he has broken no law, he has not engaged in bullying, he has simply expressed a point of view, one that he is perfectly entitled to hold.

To some extent, Mr Smith’s Christianity is an irrelevance. He should be perfectly able to express whatever views he likes, no matter how offensive other people might find them, and frankly, you’d have to be pushing it to take issue at his words. They are perfectly logical and contain no malice. Mr Smith was not attacking individuals, he was not extending hate, he was simply expressing an opinion about how the law should be applied. He has broken no law and yet his employers are seeking to punish him for having a point of view which a thin-skinned colleague found offensive.

Earlier this week, I was musing whether or not certain internet ‘personalities’ with thousands of followers bear an additional responsibility in terms of what they express on the internet. The answer was ‘no’. Even though they may write the most irresponsible and offensive garbage, which often gets picked up and repeated verbatim en masse by sheep-like followers who believe that someone’s status automatically lends them an air of authority, we cannot be held responsible for other people’s reactions to our words, so long as we are not inciting criminal acts.

Literary theorists will be familiar with Barthes’ convention of “death of the author”. Whenever something is committed to writing, there is an extent to which authorial intention has no impact upon how that text will be interpreted. We cannot be responsible for every single possible interpretation of our words, and though it might be prudent to avoid causing deliberate offence in work or social situations, we cannot be so frightened that our views may be the cause of undue offence and thus our undoing, that we stay silent.

My husband tells me that he refuses to talk about any moral issues at work for the very reason he is too scared that if he were to engage on any of these issues, it could lose him his job. Though its perfectly legitimate for a ‘professional’ religious person, like a priest or vicar to discuss moral issues in the course of their work or ministry, heaven help anyone else who might have a view.

Having a job now means that not only must one avoiding discussing these topics at the workplace, but what is far more sinister, you can no longer express them publicly from the comfort of your own home. An employer not only has a duty to ensure that their employees are capable and qualified to do the work for which they are paid, but that they must also conform to the norms of “right thinking” and never say anything that might offend anybody; even when they are not on company time or premises or acting for their employer in any way.

Whilst Christians are not being persecuted for their faith, it is the nature of our beliefs that is causing us to come into increasing conflict with the militant secularist agenda. Not wishing to endorse a certain lifestyle does not indicate a desire to persecute those who follow that lifestyle, which is what people on all sides seem to be having difficulty getting to grips with. Sometimes people say things with which you will disagree or find offensive. That is your right, just as it is your right to express annoyance or irritation at perceived injustices or sleights. Just because someone might find something that you have said offensive, doesn’t mean that you have no right to say it, or should be prevented from doing so, as long as you refrain from defamation or slander that can cause palpable damage.

I wonder whether or not Mr Smith would still have faced a disciplinary had he stated “Fat people should go on a diet or face more tax”?  What was so offensive or wrong about his particular statement  vis a vis gay marriage, that meant that he and his family should be punished?

When a personal view, whatever that might be, particularly one that has been politely and inoffensively expressed, jeopardises someone’s job, causes them to be demoted and lose a sizeable chunk of their income, we should all start to worry.

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In the beginning

This is truly awesome (h/t Liz Barber-Lilley).

I defy any one not to be blown away. Proof that science and theology are not mutually exclusive. I see the hand of the Creator, the breath of the Divine. Not simply mere chance, but purpose.

Enjoy the ride.

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Following last night’s documentary on BBC2: This World, Spain’s Stolen Babies, the obligatory anti-Catholic meme is spreading like wildfire across the net, perpetuated with glee by Richard Dawkins on his website.

Here’s the gist – under Franco, the Catholic Church formulated a plan in which the aim was to make as much money as possible by stealing newborn babies from unmarried couples, pretending to mothers that their newborn babies had died whilst secretly selling them on to suitable couples. The Catholic Church can now add this to its charge-sheet of heinous crimes. Further proof that we are wicked evil and corrupt organisation, far removed from the teachings of Christ and an organisation that must be stripped of any remaining credence and power. Don’t believe those evil Catholics, look, they are BABY TRAFFICKERS and this was obviously all sanctioned and secretly hidden by Pope Benedict himself.

If Johann Hari was not currently enjoying his rehabilitation, he would be spasming in paroxysms of outrage and sympathy. “Walking through the backstreets of Madrid, the repression of Catholicism still hangs heavily in the air, the spires of cathedral dominating the skyline. I meet Maria, the cares of the past fifty years and the pain of loss etched into every deep furrow on her face. One minute she was in the confessional, the next her baby had disappeared through an invisible trapdoor, never to be seen again. She grips my hand tightly, draws heavily on her cigarette and directs the power of her soulful dark gaze upon me.” One can only imagine the write-by-numbers Hari verbiage.

Of course, I do not mean to detract from, or make fun of the genuine loss and pain of the women who had their babies taken from them. There are no words adequate to convey my sympathy or express consolation and if this was done in the name of the Catholic Church or in the name of Christ, I am truly sorry. I would like to note a few thoughts, I am hoping that a historian or apologist of gravitas investigates this further, but here’s what occurs to me.

Katya Adler, the BBC reporter, has form when it comes to religious bias, equating Jeruslaem’s rabbis with Islamic Jihadi fanatics and orthodox Judaism as extreme, right-wing and aggressive. Secondly, this is not a new story. Both Time magazine and the New York Times ran the story back in March and July, which gave some interesting history/background that seemed to indicate that the numbers, whilst shocking, did not amount to 300,000 which is sensationalised speculation. A Business Insider report from a few weeks ago states that the current number is in its thousands, not hundreds of thousands, as estimated by the programme. If you do the maths, 300,000 babies stolen over 50 years, amounts to over 100 a week, which requires a stretch of the imagination. If the practice was as common as this, surely it would have come to light sooner?

“Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpido announced on June 18 that 849 cases were being examined, adding that 162 could already be classified as criminal proceedings because of evidence pointing to abudctions”.

Whether one baby or thousands of babies, it is nonetheless shocking and painful and not a practice anyone would seek to defend, however it is important to consider the period in history in which this occurred. We tend to judge the culture of previous times, by today’s social mores; what needs to be remembered is that the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath was a time of social upheaval and repression. Single mothers were socially unacceptable in the same way that they were throughout the rest of European society in the post-war era, and no social welfare would have been available. Inconceivable though it is, by today’s standards, those responsible for removing the babies and placing them with “suitable couples” may well have believed that they were doing a work of great charity or mercy. The mothers were told that their baby had died, presumably those involved thought it was kinder to let the mother think that her child had died, rather than live with the pain of separation and genuinely thought that it was in the baby’s best interests to be be placed with those in a better position to be able to bring up a baby. The children were not, as under some regimes, forcibly aborted.

Whilst not defending those actions, it was commensurate with the spirit of the age and a feature of society following a period of military upheaval. Argentina is facing a similar glut of claims. Where Catholicism comes into the mix is that Franco’s brand of ultra right wing nationalism relied heavily upon “traditional” Spanish or family values, which dovetailed with the Catholic teachings on family. In Franco’s mind Catholicism was an essential part of his vision, therefore the local Catholic church in Spain often became an unofficial arm of Franco’s state. That’s not to say that all of the Catholic Church in Spain supported Franco, on the contrary, some members of the priesthood did make a stand against fascism, but they didn’t stand much of a chance against the state and were in a minority. If nothing else, salutary lessons may be learned from what happens in a society where Church and State are too close, in Franco’s Spain, the relationship was distinctly too close for comfort and unhealthy in nature.

The truth is, as ever, somewhat more nuanced than the sensationalist headlines suggest. The Vatican was not complicit in a great conspiracy to profit from baby trading, or baby snatching. Any money that was raised from this practice, in all likelihood would have gone back into various social causes, or supporting a fund directed towards the welfare of the mothers and the adoptees, as opposed to being siphoned off into some secret slush fund. It’s likely that this practice was localised as opposed to a nationwide conspiracy, and had as much to do with Franco’s regime as some secret Vatican plan.

As the New York Times notes: a few nuns have confessed to selling children, but without suggesting that they were part of a criminal network.

Though I am a Catholic, I am something of a natural sceptic, in common with Dawkins. As a sceptic, I thought the point was to focus on proven details, not sensationalised beliefs in the possible. The notion that the Catholic Church deliberately stole and profited from the sale of 300,000 babies is certainly the later.

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When I’m Queen of the Universe, I will issue a decree making incorrect use of language a criminal offence. It goes without saying that erroneous use of the terms

homophobia and bigot will carry the largest penalties.

We’ve done the homophobia one countless times, but just to recap for those hard of understanding, homophobia is defined by the OED as “an extreme and irrational aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people”.

Whilst I am undoubtedly guilty of what Mark Simpson would term the fetishisation of marriage, that doesn’t stem from any aversion, let alone of an extreme or irrational nature. It’s fascinating that in order to qualify as a bona fide homophobe, one’s aversion must be “extreme or irrational”. Common or garden “homosexual sex is a bit ick” wouldn’t seem to cut it according to the OED. I don’t think that there is anything inherently “homophobic” about being averse to sexual acts between same gendered partners. Several friends with same sex attraction have confessed to me that the idea of sex with a differently gendered person revolts or turns them off, the concept being utterly unthinkable. It’s not an irrational feeling in their eyes, it’s simply “the way they are” therefore it is entirely logical that people may well be repelled by the idea of same gendered sex in a similar vein, without necessarily being “homophobic”.

As I’ve said right since the inception of this blog, homophobia or homophobic is simply a perjorative smear, designed to discredit and close down any sensible debate. Much easier to infer that someone is an unpleasant or unsavoury character who should not be given any credence rather than engage directly with the issue. The word has been used so often that it’s now meaningless.

I’ve deliberately avoided discussing the gay marriage issue in theological terms for a few reasons. Firstly, most Christian readers don’t need them explained and secondly, given that for some inexplicable reason I seem to have picked up quite a large following of non-Christians, I don’t think that the Church (Roman Catholic or Anglican) has the monopoly on marriage. I’ve wanted to steer away from the whole “well Christians can have their version and we can have ours” line.

The point is this. Marriage is a public institution that transcends and pre-dates Church and State, neither of whom have the monopoly on it or the power to change it. As marriage is a public institution, proposals that could negatively affect or harm it should be given the same kind of objective analysis as any other issue of public policy. It’s not simply a matter of “fairness” or “forcing religious dogma down people’s throats”. This is why I’ve discussed the issue in broad terms, redefining marriage will have a huge impact upon society.

I was therefore disappointed to note the following comment directed at me on Facebook. “For G-d’s sake, people aren’t still losing sleep about gay marriage are they? Stop rattling your beads in my face. Your backward views should be kept to yourself”. It goes without saying that it garnered several “likes”, no doubt validating the author’s sense of worth and popularity amongst her peers.

I am often accused of homophobia, and “hiding behind the dictionary definition” of the word if I can be bothered to refute it. Apparently it’s quite “lame”. To me the dictionary is important as it defines the common consensus and meaning of a word. Otherwise we all become like Humpty Dumpty and language loses its potency as has indeed happened with homophobia. What is lame is giving someone a perjorative label based on an incorrect and lazy character assumption, or a generalisation. You don’t want gay marriage, it must be because you either hate gays, you are stupid and most definitely because you are religious.

As invective goes it wasn’t particularly powerful, but there are slightly sinister undertones of “anyone who disagrees with me is irrational and stupid and has no right to speak, they must be silent”. I enjoyed the wild imaginings, at no stage were beads rattled in anyone’s faces – bead rattling seems to be becoming quite a common conceit. I can’t say it bothers me really, although I don’t so much rattle the beads, it’s more of a thoughtful fingering, a rolling between one’s thumb and forefinger, but I suspect the subtleties of the rosary are of little interest and not as evocative of the image of a fervent believer in the throes of religious ecstasy feverishly thrusting a rosary into someone’s face.

The delicious irony is that as Cranmer’s Law testifies, people who believe themselves to be of a liberal or permissive bent, love to bandy the word bigot about, when clearly they have absolutely no idea what it means.

I’ll clarify.

“an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others”.

Well most of us tend to have some sort of belief that our moral code is the right one, even if that moral code leans towards relativism.

A prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others? How would that be manifested? Presumably by telling others that they should keep their opinions to themselves? Or calling other’s opinions nasty and stupid? Of course those sentiments may be thought to be justified, but the irony is that by telling someone that they should either shut up, or are a “nasty stupid bigot”, betrays a bigotry all of its very own.

All human beings are bigots but some bigotry is better than others.

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Hypothetically speaking…

Imagine, hypothetically speaking, that you were studying Shakespeare’s problem play, Measure for Measure, and attempting to historically contextualise it. You attend a lecture that sets out a brief history of the 16th Century politico-religious situation, starting with Henry VIII’s break with Rome which explains the various political, physical and religious tensions and undercurrents that were simmering in London of 1604. Fears of an imminent Spanish invasion and return to Catholicism were rife, James VI, the great Protestant hope had acceded the throne, immediately signed the Treaty of London, ending the hostility between Spain and England and was making moves to marry his son to a Catholic Spanish princess.

Shakespeare writes an enigmatic play, in which it is widely agreed that  two of the major characters, Angelo and the Duke, represent Puritanism and Catholicism respectively. The lecturer repeatedly refers to these as two extremes, which is correct in a historical context. James VI was keen to be seen as a moderate, to steer the via media between Puritanism and Catholicism. The lecturer also explains the Elizabethan dramatic traditions of staging plays involving members of religious orders (associated with physical and moral corruption and portrayed with the manifestations of venereal disease) in order to contextualise the role of the Duke, who spends the vast majority of the play in disguise as a Friar, listening to confessions. Measure for Measure is littered with allusions and puns concerning syphilis.

What the lecturer fails to communicate, in the opinion of the hypothetical listener, is that Catholicism is not considered to be an extreme religion in today’s contemporary society, perhaps assuming that when repeatedly mentioning “the extremes of Papism” and the “extremes of Catholicism” as opposed to Puritanism, that the listener would understand that “extreme” was meant in a historical context and that the play is concerned with portraying polar opposites. It could, in fact, be viewed as a play that portrays Catholicism in a very positive light, however therein lies a whole other narrative.

Whilst feeling a little bit uncomfortable with the constant references to “extremes of Popery”, the listener senses that they are perhaps being a little over-sensitive. The listener remembers the lecture  as being identical to the previous year, which fell immediately after the Papal visit and in the light of the negative press from the likes of Master Hari, so decides that it is just their own bias and sensitivities.

The lecture moves on, with the listener thinking that they really must read more about the practices of Renaissance Catholicism to see whether or not it might be justified as being viewed in an “extremist” light, before realising that they read need to tackle the core reading in front of them, instead of day-dreaming of Eamon Duffy and the like. The lecturer then begins to examine the hypocrisy prevalent in the character of Angelo, the Puritan. They then go on to say that of course religious hypocrisy, the tensions between the outer manifestations of piety and the innate desires of the individual are still apparent and causes problems in Catholicism today, something that is illustrated by the child abuse scandals.

Perhaps a more accurate and balanced turn of phrase would be to note that many religions struggle in terms of religious leaders being perceived as hypocrites, or that many politicians experience similar problems. The listener was left with the impression that a room full of first year undergraduates were given the impression that Catholicism is an extreme religion with hypocrite priests as shown by the scandal of clerical abuse. The listener felt that the lecturer lacked nuance and though students are blessed with the ability to think for themselves, a lecturer describing Catholicism as extreme and stating that it still has difficulties with hypocrisy today (when in fact it was the hypocrisy of the Puritan that is manifest in the play) constituted a subtle form of indoctrination.

Of course all religions have their hypocrites, but I wonder how many students were able to identify the undercurrents and how many have now come away with the impression that Catholicism is extreme. Many people would not have a problem with the situation as described, however were a student to be in a lecture which subtly endorsed a Christian or Catholic perspective, one suspects that there would be an outcry.

It illustrates that education can never be wholly impartial, education will always consist of more than a simple delivery of facts, a teacher or lecturer can never be wholly objective or impartial.

Had the listener had time, then hypothetically they would have liked to have discussed this further with the lecturer. They are also inclined to see if they can have a word or send an email to the lecturer, advising them that though they greatly enjoyed the content of the lecture having now listened to it twice, they found the allusion to the contemporary child abuse scandal rather unnecessary and offering comment which could well have been interpreted as being definitive knowledge.

The listener doesn’t wish to gain a reputation for being a trouble-maker early on and sometimes wishes that they were possessed with the ability to keep their head down, their mouth closed and their opinion to themselves, but is nonetheless troubled and disturbed by what they perceive as an example of institutional and cultural bias. Would silence constitute an acquiescence or passive acceptance? Would speaking out change anything or would silence be an implicit collaboration in calumny?

Passion is sometimes a very mixed blessing, particularly when one has not been blessed with an equal measure of sagacity.

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