Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Polly Toynbee: Defending the indefensible

Polly Toynbee is now beyond parody. Today she stretches what Ches calls 'knuckleheaded partisanship' to well beyond breaking point. How in the name of all that is holy can you defend Jacqui Smith and her expenses? Oh, she tries, she really, really tries.

The article is, hilariously, entitled Jacqui Smith is a victim of the new wave of puritanism

Yes, you read that right, a victim.

But from the uproar, MPs stretching expense rules has been made to look like the pork barrel, backhander and bribery scams that plague other countries.

Well, erm, yeah. Pork barrel does seem an apposite description

Point of information: Polly Toynbee is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and President of the British Humanist Association.

UPDATE: The Guardian has now closed the comments on her piece. 877 comments, >95% of them - by my reckoning - extremely hostile, must be a record.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

By their fruits

The next time you here Madeleine Bunting or Koran Armstrong or some other useful idiot extolling the virtues of political Islam, point them in the direction of this piece about the utter moral vacuity of Islam. It is worth reproducing in full (my emphases are in red):

Sex, drugs and Islam
Political Islam returned to the world stage with Ruhollah Khomeini's 1979 revolution in Iran, which became the most aggressive patron of Muslim radicals outside its borders, including Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Until very recently, an oil-price windfall gave the Iranian state ample resources to pursue its agenda at home and abroad. How, then, should we explain an eruption of social pathologies in Iran such as drug addiction and prostitution, on a scale much worse than anything observed in the West? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that Islamic theocracy promotes rather than represses social decay.

Iran is dying. The collapse of Iran's birth rate during the past 20 years is the fastest recorded in any country, ever. Demographers have sought in vain to explain Iran's population implosion through family planning policies, or through social factors such as the rise of female literacy.

But quantifiable factors do not explain the sudden collapse of fertility. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Popular morale has deteriorated much faster than in the "decadent" West against which the Khomeini revolution was directed.

"Iran is dying for a fight," I wrote in 2007 (Please see Why Iran is dying for a fight, November 13, 2007.) in the literal sense that its decline is so visible that some of its leaders think that they have nothing to lose.

Their efforts to isolate Iran from the cultural degradation of the American "great Satan" have produced social pathologies worse than those in any Western country. With oil at barely one-fifth of its 2008 peak price, they will run out of money some time in late 2009 or early 2010. Game theory would predict that Iran's leaders will gamble on a strategic long shot. That is not a comforting thought for Iran's neighbors.

Two indicators of Iranian morale are worth citing.

First, prostitution has become a career of choice among educated Iranian women. On February 3, the Austrian daily Der Standard published the results of two investigations conducted by the Tehran police, suppressed by the Iranian media.

"More than 90% of Tehran's prostitutes have passed the university entrance exam, according to the results of one study, and more than 30% of them are registered at a university or studying," reports Der Standard. "The study was assigned to the Tehran Police Department and the Ministry of Health, and when the results were tabulated in early January no local newspaper dared to so much as mention them."

The Austrian newspaper added, "Eighty percent of the Tehran sex workers maintained that they pursue this career voluntarily and temporarily. The educated ones are waiting for better jobs. Those with university qualifications intend to study later, and the ones who already are registered at university mention the high tuition [fees] as their motive for prostitution ... they are content with their occupation and do not consider it a sin according to Islamic law."

There is an extensive trade in poor Iranian women who are trafficked to the Gulf states in huge numbers, as well as to Europe and Japan. "A nation is never really beaten until it sells its women," I wrote in a 2006 study of Iranian prostitution, Jihads and whores.

Prostitution as a response to poverty and abuse is one thing, but the results of this new study reflect something quite different. The educated women of Tehran choose prostitution in pursuit of upward mobility, as a way of sharing in the oil-based potlatch that made Tehran the world's hottest real estate market during 2006 and 2007.

A country is beaten when it sells its women, but it is damned when its women sell themselves. The popular image of the Iranian sex trade portrays tearful teenagers abused and cast out by impoverished parents. Such victims doubtless abound, but the majority of Tehran's prostitutes are educated women seeking affluence.

Only in the former Soviet Union after the collapse of communism in 1990 did educated women choose prostitution on a comparable scale, but under very different circumstances. Russians went hungry during the early 1990s as the Soviet economy dissolved and the currency collapsed. Today's Iranians suffer from shortages, but the data suggest that Tehran's prostitutes are not so much pushed into the trade by poverty as pulled into it by wealth.

A year ago I observed that prices for Tehran luxury apartments exceeded those in Paris, as Iran's kleptocracy distributed the oil windfall to tens of thousands of hangers-on of the revolution. $35 billion went missing from state oil funds, opposition newspapers charged at the time. Corruption evidently has made whores of Tehran's educated women. (Please see Worst of times for Iran, June 24, 2008.)

Second, according to a recent report from the US Council on Foreign Relations, "Iran serves as the major transport hub for opiates produced by [Afghanistan], and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that Iran has as many as 1.7 million opiate addicts." That is, 5% of Iran's adult, non-elderly population of 35 million is addicted to opiates. That is an astonishing number, unseen since the peak of Chinese addiction during the 19th century. The closest American equivalent (from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health) found that 119,000 Americans reported using heroin within the prior month, or less than one-tenth of 1% of the non-elderly adult population.

Nineteenth-century China had comparable rates of opium addiction, after the British won two wars for the right to push the drug down China's throat. Post-communist Russia had comparable rates of prostitution, when people actually went hungry. Iran's startling rates of opium addiction and prostitution reflect popular demoralization, the implosion of an ancient culture in its encounter with the modern world. These pathologies arose not from poverty but wealth, or rather a sudden concentration of wealth in the hands of the political class. No other country in modern history has evinced this kind of demoralization.

For the majority of young Iranians, there is no way up, only a way out; 36% of Iran's youth aged 15 to 29 years want to emigrate, according to yet another unpublicized Iranian study, this time by the country's Education Ministry, Der Standard adds. Only 32% find the existing social norms acceptable, while 63% complain about unemployment, the social order or lack of money.

As I reported in the cited essay, the potlatch for the political class is balanced by widespread shortages for ordinary Iranians. This winter, widespread natural gas shortages left tens of thousands of households without heat.

The declining morale of the Iranian population helps make sense of its galloping demographic decline. Academic demographers have tried to explain collapsing fertility as a function of rising female literacy. The problem is that the Iranian regime lies about literacy data, and has admitted as much recently.

In a recent paper entitled "Education and the World's Most Raid Fertility Decline in Iran, American and Iranian demographers observe:
A first analysis of the Iran 2006 census results shows a sensationally low fertility level of 1.9 for the whole country and only 1.5 for the Tehran area (which has about 8 million people) ... A decline in the TFR [total fertility rate] of more than 5.0 in roughly two decades is a world record in fertility decline. This is even more surprising to many observers when one considers that it happened in one of the most Islamic societies. It forces the analyst to reconsider many of the usual stereotypes about religious fertility differentials.
The census points to a continued fall in fertility, even from today's extremely low levels, the paper maintains.

Most remarkable is the collapse of rural fertility in tandem with urban fertility, the paper adds:
The similarity of the transition in both urban and rural areas is one the main features of the fertility transition in Iran. There was a considerable gap between the fertility in rural and urban areas, but the TFR in both rural and urban areas continued to decline by the mid-1990s, and the gap has narrowed substantially. In 1980, the TFR in rural areas was 8.4 while that of urban areas was 5.6. In other words, there was a gap of 2.8 children between rural and urban areas. In 2006, the TFR in rural and urban areas was 2.1 and 1.8, respectively (a difference of only 0.3 children). What the professors hoped to demonstrate is that as rural literacy levels in Iran caught up with urban literacy levels, the corresponding urban and rural fertility rates also converged. That is a perfectly reasonable conjecture whose only flaw is that the data on which it is founded were faked by the Iranian regime.

The Iranian government's official data claim literacy percentage levels in the high 90s for urban women and in the high 80s for rural women. That cannot be true, for Iran's Literacy Movement Organization admitted last year (according to an Agence-France Presse report of May 8, 2008) that 9,450,000 Iranians are illiterate of a population of 71 million (or an adult population of about 52 million). This suggests far higher rates of illiteracy than in the official data.

A better explanation of Iran's population implosion is that the country has undergone an existential crisis comparable to encounters of Amazon or Inuit tribes with modernity. Traditional society demands submission to the collective. Once the external constraints are removed, its members can shift from the most extreme forms of modesty to the other extreme of sexual license. Khomeini's revolution attempted to retard the disintegration of Persian society, but it appears to have accelerated the process.

Modernity implies choice, and the efforts of the Iranian mullahs to prolong the strictures of traditional society appear to have backfired. The cause of Iran's collapsing fertility is not literacy as such, but extreme pessimism about the future and an endemic materialism that leads educated Iranian women to turn their own sexuality into a salable commodity.

Theocracy subjects religion to a political test; it is hard for Iranians to repudiate the regime and remain pious, for religious piety and support for political Islam are inseparable, as a recent academic study documented from survey data.

As in the decline of communism, what follows on the breakdown of a state ideology is likely to be nihilism. Iran is a dying country, and it is very difficult to have a rational dialogue with a nation all of whose available choices terminate in oblivion.

Theocracies tend to make bad governments (would you trust a Bishops' Conference with a department of State?). When the theocracy is a death cult founded by a genocidal illiterate with a penchant for young girls it is hardly a wonder Iran is in such bad nick.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Living in a flat on the South Side. With Elvis. And Buddy Holly.

I had a weird experience last week. I swear to goodness I saw Osama Bin Laden's right hand man, Ayman Al-Zawahari driving a white Ford Fiesta up the High Street in Glasgow. I can never take him seriously in Al Qaeda videos, because he always makes me think of Bo' selecta's foul-mouthed Michael Jackson ("Cha'mone - M*****f*****!")

Still it's hardly surprising that Zawahari is in Glasgow when Osama is probably living down Paisley Road West.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Trilogy Meter

This via Dan Meth. Feel free to agree or disagree.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

God Bless Ireland!

Well thanks to Ireland's win and Grand Slam victory, it looks like the Holy Father can breathe easily for another year.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Et Verbum Caro Factum est

This is a day to spend genulflecting at the very thought that God Himself would love us so much, that he would pitch His tent among us.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What the...?

As Land Of My Fathers boomed out across the Millenium Stadium, I spotted this noisome object attached to the ear of a Welsh mascot. Tattoos are one, unnecessary and unpleasant thing on a rugby player but this? There are two possibilities if worn in earnest:
(1) It would take half the face off an opposing player in the ruck or a tackle;
(2) It would facilitate the removal of the boy's ear in any contact.

Those are practical, rugby-based points against the unpleasant piece of ironmongery. There is another point about it.

It's just so wrong.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

What medics say and what they do

There has been much said in the past week about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV infection. I would ask you to consider the following point when weighing up the views of medics and others on the subject.

If treating an HIV positive patient in the UK, in any procedure involving bodily fluids, said medic would don this:

and these:

and possibly this:

All this for one, single exposure.

Yet said medic would expect the partner of an HIV positive person to use one of these alone to protect them.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Der Stürmer Redux

Martin Kelly lacerates The Times for this portrayal of the Holy Father. Philip does likewise.

I think the whole thing illustrates a nasty trend in the press in general, Steve Bell of The Guardian being one of the worst culprits. It is now routine to show the Holy Father as a Nazi. But look at the cartoon from this week's Times. Look at the caricature of Pope Benedict. The eyes look vulpine, predatory, rather like the Tory advert showing Tony Blair's eyes as devilish. The ears are vulcan. The mouth sneering. It all adds up to one thing: inhuman. The Holy Father represented as something not human at all.

Of course, representing someone as a monkey would seem to be a great insult. Certainly it would be unacceptable to represent or even seem to represent President Obama or the BBC's George Alagiah as a monkey - an act requiring an immediate and grovelling apology.
I am no groupie for President George W Bush, yet he was routinely represented as a monkey, here by the aforementioned Steve Bell. Ho. Ho.

But you see it isn't really funny when you go into the history of political cartoons over the last century. Needless to say the Catholic Church was always a target of one journal in the 1930s. Pius XII seducing Germany's women or the devil directing Catholic anti-Nazi writings (oh, you didn't realise the Church was anti-Nazi?)

But put it all together, when you start as Der Stürmer did, systematically representing people as not human, as we see with the Pope. Well, use your imagination as to what might happen next.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Satire is dead

Cherie Booth QC, has been hired to sue RBS management for their greed and hubris.

Words fail me.

In other news, Russell Brand has been hired to front a new campaign for The Silver Ring Thing.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

"At this rate the whole parliament will be Muslim"

Listen from about 5:40 in. What do you think Shahid Malik MP would say if an MP looked forward to the day when every MP was a Catholic, inshallah? (or an Anglican or a Hindu?) This was at a conference for Global Peace and Unity. Take a look at the audience - what kind of peace do you think they'd like? What kind of unity?

The flesh creeps.

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The Carnival of Aging Hippies

This article has to be read to be believed. For your own safety and the protection of electrical equipment make sure you aren't drinking coffee at the computer. You have been warned. Here are some highlights:

Dublin Conference

Approximately 300 people attended the conference, most of whom were older women. The largest group came from North America, many from the U.K. and Western Europe. The handful of men who attended were ex-priests, plus a few husbands of delegates. Sadly, there were also two priests in good standing with the diocese who took an active part in the liturgy and events of the conference. We were identifiable as orthodox Catholics, wearing small gold papal keys and pro-life lapel pins. This resulted in angry challenges from some participants, and media interest.

Opening ceremony
The conference was opened with a welcome hopping dance. The participants linked arms and danced in a chain around the hall chanting, "Earth my body, water my blood, fire my spirit.." This went on for some time before the talks began. During the two days of the conference, we sat through one speaker after another seriously distorting the teachings and doctrine of the Church and her history, and expressing anger and sometimes hatred toward the Pope and cardinals, especially Cardinal Ratzinger. We did not engage in their discussions however - until one of the speakers, John Wijngaards, a former priest and "theologian" from the Netherlands, and a frequent contributor to the London Tablet, stated that the Pope was a dictator worse than Hitler because Hitler only killed the body.

The conference liturgy was dominated by New Age and occult practices; many of the delegates wore purple stoles, and some were dressed in full priests' vestments. The most disturbing liturgical practice took place on the Sunday before the conference closed. It was listed as a "eucharist." Our group left the area and returned just as they were finishing this celebration. The room was filled with incense, drums were beating, and each of the participants held an earthenware chalice and paten with the bread that had been displayed on the table, and the grape juice that had been used in the ritual. The two dissident priests from the diocese had taken part in the ceremony......

[emphases mine]

Do read the rest. I would caution pregnant women, people with high blood pressure and those of a nervous disposition to weigh the risks and benefits.

St Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, pray for us!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Probably illegal

The song of Simon Heffer? I suspect this video is probably on a hit list in the Ministry of Community Cohesion or whatever it's called.

It's parodied to perfection here:

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Prize....

...I was going to offer a prize to the reader who could send me the first mention of the words HIV, Pope, condoms and Africa in the same article or report over the next couple of days. Then I checked the BBC website for a link to a story. The BBC got there first.

Utterly predictable.

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Marquis of Queensbury, now

"I'll be going on home now. I'll have the supper ready for you."

Happy St Patrick's Day to all from The Land Of My Fathers (and anyone else).

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Monday, March 16, 2009

The admirable restraint of the British Army

Faced with an obvious target - a group of treacherous Islamist blowhards - it is a testimony to the remarkable restraint of our army that members of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment treated them with lofty disdain and did not, with bayonets fixed, charge the assorted fuzzy-wuzzies up the high street and run them through with cold steel.

The BBC didn’t want you to see this though (on the news there was lots of talk about ‘anti-war protesters’ as though it was Canon Collins or Bruce Kent). These men are not 'anti-war'. They love war - would love a Holy War. They're just, like, a little busy at the moment, er, claiming jobseekers allowance, paintballing and reading the Koran. But they're ready to answer the call of the Prophet. Oh yes.

Looks like the natives are getting restless, though and it is a matter of time before this provocation, if left unchecked, yields its ugly fruit.

Pray the day never comes.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nova et vetera

I know what it needs - a rousing chorus of Eagles' Wings? No?

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Stonewall, Comic Relief and Flouting The Law

I saw a Comic Relief thing today (some celebs climbing Kilimanjaro ). It was quite good. There was a short film about a Ugandan hospital showing the (preventable) suffering of children with malaria. Awful. The poor girl making the film fainted she was so upset. At the end of the film they asked for donations implying that every £5 donation would go to a mosquito net to prevent other children dying of malaria. But it won’t. It could go there. Or some of it will but some of it will go to Stonewall Housing

Stonewall Housing is a recipient of largesse from big cuddly Comic Relief as sponsored by the BBC at your expense.Here’s how they select their tenants:

Selection criteria

To be eligible for housing, applicants must be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and aged between 16 and 25 years at the time of making the application. Applicants must be currently homeless, living in unstable, unsafe or unsuitable accommodation or under serious threat of becoming homeless.

Now I'm no lawyer and correct me if I’m wrong, but the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 outlaws discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities, services, education and public functions on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Somebody call the cops. Failing that just don’t give any money to Comic Relief.
Give it to Mary’s Meals or your local hospice.

Oh, and if this organisation can flout the law so openly, I don’t see any reason why Catholic Adoption Agencies should be so compliant.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Lentfast Diet

Want to lose weight fast? Try the Lent-fast diet! That's right - cutting down on your food intake, especially by cutting your consumption of meat on Wednesdays and Fridays can really help you slim (not that you should be concerned with something as vain and transitory as your earthly appearance, but we'll let that pass). It's so simple:

For Roman Catholics, fasting is the reduction of one's intake of food to one full meal (which may not contain meat during Fridays in Lent) and two small meals (known as collations, taken in the morning and the evening). Eating solid food between meals is not permitted. Fasting is required of the faithful on specified days. Complete abstinence is the avoidance of meat for the entire day. Partial abstinence prescribes that meat be taken only once during the course of the day.

A disappointed Henry T is an object lesson:

"I gave up the Lentfast diet when I stopped being a Catholic and started my own heretic sect. I put on pounds and couldn't keep my marriages together. I kept getting cross and jealous. The mood changes were awful - I started chopping peoples' heads off, in the end it was anyone who disagreed with me or couldn't bear me a son"

Lentfast - you know it makes sense.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Something to chill your blood. This is from Section 2.3 of the Consultation Document on Margo MacDonald's proposed End of Life Choices (Scotland) Bill:

“Patients” who are not terminally ill, suffering from a degenerative condition, or unexpectedly incapacitated but who find their life to be intolerable may request assistance to end it from a suitably qualified and registered attending physician. In this case, the attending physician must seek a second opinion from a suitably qualified consulting health professional.

Did you get that?

“Patients” who are not terminally ill, suffering from a degenerative condition, or unexpectedly incapacitated but who find their life to be intolerable may request assistance to end it

They are planning to allow the State to kill people who have nothing wrong with them but find life 'intolerable'

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When exactly do you mean?

Ches has posted a video of The Mozfather. First time I've seen that from a Catholic blogger.

Hope he enjoys this, then. Have a nice time in Paris. Safe home.


Pub Quiz Answers #4

Everton FC run out to the theme from Z Cars.

It sounds as though it should be played by an Orange Flute Band. Odd as Everton was traditionally the 'Catholic' team in Liverpool but not to the same extent as the Rangers/Celtic thing.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Pub Quiz Answers #3

Chelsea run out to Liquidator by the Harry J All Stars

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Malcolm and a Quick Pint

It was a great joy to meet another Catholic blogger last week. Malcolm of Cally's Kitchen was in Edinburgh and was going to the Scotland vs Italy game at Murrayfield. I managed to get a message via his blog and we arranged to meet at the War Memorial at half time.

Alas, he thought the clock was the War Memorial (or at least he was badly advised by Scots up to their knavish tricks, tripping up an innocent Englishman abroad).

Thankfully, because I have new specs (and because Malcolm is so very tall and the Scotslady's coat was so salmon pink) I could make them out across the assorted drunks. We had a very nice pint of Belhaven and an all to brief chat. There was a chance however to toast Fr Finigan and even express a few words of Christian sympathy for the poor, luckless Ms Curti (is she back at work yet?)

All too brief the stands beckoned for the second half. I hope young Malcolm had a good time in Auld Reekie.

Scotland won, 26-6, by the way.

Here's to the next meeting. I have a conference to attend later in the year in central London.

Anyone fancy a pint?

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Blogroll updates

I'm going to update blogroll soon. If you'd like on there or you think there is a good, orthodox Catholic website (or just something interesting) that should be there let me know.


Pub Quiz Answers #2

Brendan Allen is partly right. Charlton do run out to When The Red-Red-Robin Goes Bob-Bob-Bobbin'Along:

But I mentioned specifically Russ Conway's version - and that's Bristol City. I couldn't find Russ Conway's version, so here's Sidesaddle (I think he had a number 1 with it). It's from The Wheeltappers and Shunters' Social Club. Remember that?

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Pub quiz answers #1

Dunfermline Athletic run out to the Bluebell Polka (Sir Jimmy Shand was a Fifer)

Sunderland AFC run out to The Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Not getting it

Some talking head was on Radio 5 on Tuesday talking about some Pelagianist scheme to prefect human beings through school admission criteria. You can listen HERE: it's about 1 hour 25 minutes in. She thought schools should not ask whether parents were married to each other if they were religious schools.

Nicky Campbell asked why a faith school shouldn't ask if parents are married as part of the admissions process - marriage being a central tenet of religious practice to most religions.

Talking Head:
Pupils aren't admitted to schools on the basis of their parents' marital status...

Nicky Campbell:
But they are admitted on the basis of their faith

Talking Head
In that case the faith needs to be tested on the basis of baptismal certificates, for example. I don't think you can make a case for parents' marital status or where they live as being criteria...

So there you have it. There are plenty of Catholics abandoned by their spouses, it is true, but as a general rule whether parents are married to each is some indication as to how seriously they take their faith. Is that information not pertinent? Why does a (secular) professor of education get to tell religious organisations what does and does not constitute reasonable evidence of taking faith seriously enough to want to put a child into a religious school.

Are we headed to a 21st century Civil Constitution of the Clergy? Given the rampant Jacobinism of this government, I wouldn't bet against it.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Gordy!

Here's Gordy extolling the virtues of Ramadan:

and he just LUUUUUUURVES Diwali:

I searched the Number 10 website using the terms Lent, Easter, Advent, Septuagesima, Christmas, Pentecost, Corpus Christi but nothing.

Do you think he's trying to tell us something?

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pakistan - basket case state

Is it any wonder Islamist gunmen launch audacious, potentially murderous attacks on Sri Lankan cricketers in broad daylight when the city in which they attack has a stadium named after Colonel Gaddafi? Why? He gave a speech favouring Pakistan having nuclear weapons, God help us.

Why do we deal with these people? Why would we want anything to do with them?

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Recession - 80's-stylee

Grim. Up North.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Och aye!

Or how aboot this?

OK and now a quiz:

Which football team run out to the Bluebell Polka?
Which team run out to Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet?
Which team run out to Russ Conway's When the Red-Red-Robin Goes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along?
Which team runs out to Liquidator by Harry J and the All Stars?
Which team runs out to the theme from Z Cars?


Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Article You Will Never Read In The Tablet

St Hildelitha and Cuthberga's Catholic Church is a suburban parish in the heart of middle England. Yet there are rumbles under the surface redolent of the disquiet Catholic parishoners felt at the so-called Reformation as described in Eamonn Duffy's seminal Stripping Of The Altars.

Each Sunday at 10.05 (the Mass is listed for 10am) Fr Kevin Heresy ambles onto the sanctuary with a cotery of female altar servers and a variety of laypeople in various states of dress as a bunch of aging musicians strum out on their guitars, pipe up their flutes or warble what approximates to a hymn. This week it started with "Here I am Lord" (with no discernable connection to the readings for this Sunday's Mass)

Fr Heresy is in a vanguard of priests determined to undermine Catholic teaching and especially in areas of personal morality, but nowhere is Fr Kevin so zealous in his opposition to the Pope as on the issue of the liturgy. Step-by-step he wants to bury the past. 1965 was Year Zero as far as Fr Heresy is concerned.

There has been a steady decline in attendance at "H'n'C's" as the Parish Consultative Council would like the Parish to be known. "I don't bother counting" says Fr Kevin, "Who cares if a few old stiffs go down the road to Canon O'Reilly or even if they leave the Church altogether. Good riddance. This is progress, this is the future."

It was once a fairly typical parish with a number of priests in the presbytery working together to serve the needs of the different areas of the parish. There was a strong presence of the clergy in the school, the sodalities and regular visits to the housebound. Now Fr Kevin is much more likely to be found on a demo or chairing a committee. The usual service offered in the week is a communion service planned and led by a small, carefully picked group of late-middle aged women (mostly former teachers and social workers). The choir which was led by an accomplished musician was disbanded a few years ago "Man, those motets were torture! All that Latin! I couldn't understand a word." says the self-styled "team-leader" and Fr Kevin's right-hand woman, Joyce (formerly Sr Brigid). Altar rails have been stripped out and thrown in a skip, a modern altar made entirely of glass has been set up in the middle of the nave and the pews thrown out in favour of a circular arrangement of chairs.

But Fr Heresy’s critics fear that their parish is gradually becoming a flagship for the dissent.“Nobody asked us if we wanted this dog-and-pony show. We liked the Mass when it was celebrated here with reverence and dignity. Now all we get is dancing girls on the altar and Kum-Ba-Yah from the “folk group”. We had a choir once that sang the Mass beautifully. Not any more. The Mass isn’t the same from one week’s end to the next.” said one parishioner who did not wish to be named.

“The thing is, we are loyal to the Church” said Maureen, another parishioner. “We have trusted our priests and bishops – we have a respect for the clergy and we don’t go complaining to them but the sacrilege that goes on here is a penance. Dissenters and hippies are always complaining to priests and bishops and that’s how they get their way. Those of us who are loyal, we don’t complain and they ride roughshod over us.”

Another parishioner afraid to speak to the radical priest for fear of “the usual brushoff” complained of a lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament “The Blessed Sacrament and respect for it used to be a marker of Catholics and the Catholic Church. First the Tabernacle was shunted off to a side-chapel and there is little chance to venerate the Sacrament there. Fr Kevin dismisses Benediction as “mumbo-jumbo” and did away with the Corpus Christi procession. Now he encourages parishioners to chat away in the nave both before and after Mass – often laughing raucously when people are trying to make their devotions. This is no longer a House of Prayer. There’s a perfectly adequate hall next door where people can talk after Mass and enjoy a cup of Fairtrade coffee. Before Mass they should be preparing to receive Our Lord.”

Many had said their children were uniterested in the Church now. “There’s no sense of awe or wonder, no sense of belief in anything beyond a vague idea of being nice or a taste for left-wing politics. ” said one parishioner, a student in her early 20s “ The hymns are a put-off: unchallenging sentimental pap. They supposedly aim the liturgy at the youth, but the hymns are badly written 60s and 70s dirges. Badly performed and embarrassing to hear”. What was alienating parishioners, too, was the notion of lay involvement that merely involved a highly vocal set of Fr Heresy’s close supporters “prancing about on the altar or being appointed to self-important little committees – like the Liturgy Committee that scrapped the choir” said Bernard, a retired bricklayer and lifelong parishioner.

More troubling is the doctrinal content of Fr Kevin’s liturgies. According to Bernadette, a teacher and mother of four in her 30s: “I’ve not heard a solid Catholic sermon in this Church for years. It’s all about how some unoppressed minority (gays, women) are opppressed or about how wonderful Islam or Buddhism are. He genuinely seems either not to get or not to like the Catholic faith. There’s always a sneer when the Holy Father is mentioned or a gibe about Panzers, if he’s mentioned at all”

Others complain about parish retreats. “We used tohave a wonderful retreat each year to the Carmelites nearby - peaceful and prayerful - but Fr Kevin stopped that. I went on one of his to a ‘spiritual centre’ run by two plainclothes nuns. Never again. It was all enneagrams and Mass with no vestments sitting around an ethnic table.”

There is disquiet too about the causes Fr Heresy supports. “Every week there are collections for Palestinians, for non-Catholic NGOs, for charities that conflict with Catholic teaching. What about the missions? What about feeding the poor? Fr Kevin doesn’t seem to like that. It’s always the latest faddy charidee. I have no idea where some of this money goes. 4x4s for dictators, probably” said Paddy O’Byrne a lifelong parishioner.

On the subject of money, some parishioners are said to be disturbed by the use Fr Kevin makes of funds. “Mgr O’Hanrahan who was here before had the same cassock for decades and dressed simply in clericals when out and about. Fr Heresy is never in the same outfit twice. He wears designer this and designer that. I can’t afford clothes like that but he can. You’d never know he was a priest if you saw him in the street.” Other parishioners point to the new vestments Fr Heresy has bought. According to Margaret who cleans the Church despite Fr Kevin’s misrule “I know for a fact there are beautiful sets of vestments that are in that sacristy. I know because my family paid for them along with other families in this parish. Yet every week he wears some polyester multicoloured abomination that’s so badly made it frays in six months. The old vestments are beautiful and so well-made they were in good nick the last time I saw them used but that was years ago. They’ll be mouldering away in the cupboard if he hasn’t sold them or brunt them. Those vestments were paid for by the pennies of the poor – we should be using them.”

Older Catholics fear this uber-liberal parish is a beacon for others. Most have a sense of loyaly to a building and a community that has harboured and succoured their faith for generations and are angered and bemused by the changes. What is to be done? Thankfully there is a generation of good, loyal priests coming out of the seminaries who may see off Fr Kevin. Hopefully by applying the principles of the Benedictine reforms, Fr Kevin and his ilk will see sense and turn. Then, as Jon Snow said recently in another context, will the nightmare be over.

[This may be a satire on Elena Curti's piece but consider this: it is actually a distillation of comments I have heard from good Catholics in the dozen or so parishes I have lived in during my adult life (junior doctors have to move about a bit and the Church is sometimes the only place we get to call home)]

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