6 November 2015

The Difficulties of Historiography

In the Ashmolean, among the Arundel Marbles and just to the right of the bust of the greatest of the Greek writers of Comedy, Menander, is a (slightly foxed) statue of the greatest of the Greek Muses, Clio. Unlike the generality of statues, Greek or Roman copies of Greek, which portray women or goddesses, this image shows Clio with crossed legs, knee crossing over knee. I wonder if that is a known convention. And, come to think of it, why did the Victorians regard this particular posture as unwomanly and 'bold'? You might have thought that it could suggest prudishness or even ... er ... unavailability. What a tease the lady is.

And she is teasing us with a mystery now. Several places in the blogosphere seem to suggest that the same idea has simultaneously struck quite a lot of people. (Great, mediocre, and slight minds often do think alike.) The idea is that all this fuss about 'remarried' divorcees and Holy Communion ... is really just a proxy war for the acceptance, as normal, of homosexual sexual relationships. And it's not just Catholics who are wondering this. Last week a prominent Anglican cleric in this University, a Church Historian, was reported to offer exactly that analysis. (In the Church of England, the campaign for the 'Ordination' of women seems similarly to have been fought, at least by some people, as a proxy war for homosexualist clerical activism.)

But how can such an hypothesis be tested? The necessary prosopological research would be both embarrassing and potentially libellous. Because, somehow or other, it would be necessary to survey and analyse how many of those most noisily demanding Mercy for 'remarried' divorcees were people whose own instinctive sympathies inclined them to a Solution of Mercy for active homosexuals. And I can't even invite you to submit data, because that might involve both of us in accusations of libel!

But Stay: is this correct? Recently someone called Elton John, on the Today Programme, was given a very fawning ride by an interviewer whose every word was based upon the assumption of the utter normality of homosexualism and the obvious need for its legalisation in benighted countries where it is still illegal.

Is it still libellous to call a person a homosexual (or for that matter, a heterosexual), whether or not they are? If the condition is by consensus normal and even laudable ...

Oh dear! Is there a barrister in the house?

9 comments:

Patrick Sheridan said...

Why can't all homosexuals be more like Quentin Crisp? Obviously homosexual, but also obviously alone, celibate, even ascetic, and with a healthy disdain for gay liberation.

GOR said...

You are not alone in your hypothesis, Father. Others have made similar observations. In recent decades some clergy, involved in unnatural acts, have sought to justify their behavior as not against the 6th Commandment because they were not engaged upon with females and thus ‘not adultery’...

The mental gymnastics to arrive at such a conclusion might warrant admission to the Olympics as a sport – something akin to synchronized swimming! It must take work to achieve such expertise in mind-boggling assertions, though modern Media seem all too happy to disseminate the lie.

Sin, like misery, does love company - as Lucifer showed in gathering his forces awhile back. He was possibly anticipating Benjamin Franklin’s dictum: “If we do not hang together, by Heavens, we shall hang separately!”

Though my mother – pious woman that she was – when faced with examples of human turpitude, was wont to say: “Hanging’s too good for him!” Maybe she just had millstones in mind…

Banshee said...

Apparently you haven't worn any skirt cut narrowly enough that the pose threatens to expose nether regions, or cut fully enough that the pose creates an unseemly suggestion that one has legs and ankles under the skirt instead of decorous and neutral limbs.

Also, crossed legs don't expose anything, but it's closer to doing so (at least when moving into the pose and out of it). If one doesn't think about how one is moving in skirts, it is possible to flash the world, or at least expose more leg than one intended.

But it's also a Victorian social convention. A lady adopts only certain approved poses of a leisurely nature, whereas a woman of lower social status has to work and move in a less stylized way.

Charlesdawson said...

I have only just googled a photograph of the statue to which you refer. Quite an unusual pose for a statue, I think? Certainly in England, the postures adopted by women seem to have been a legitimate target for comment and prescription. Dr Johnson, for example, observed that "were a woman sitting in company to put out her legs before her as most men do, we should be tempted to kick them in." (Boswell's Life)...I have the greatest admiration for the Sage, but remarks like this shed a light on his domestic persona such as to cause me to feel that it was no wonder Tetty took to drink.)

Thomas said...

I do think there is a wider agenda, but it is not just about homosexuality. The "gay rights" issue is itself a prelude to a bigger revolution. LGBT (add more letters according to taste) campaigners are very clear that it is "gender" as such that they regard an oppressive cultural construct and that must be swept aside. Now that homosexual behaviour is pretty much normalised in the secular arena of the Western world, the focus has moved rapidly on to "transgender" issues. The way this has been raised recently in news items, TV documentaries, soap opera scripts etc. etc. is too co-ordinated to be coincidental. There is still some mopping up to do on the "gay" issue in more backward regions of the world, of course. And the Catholic Church is regarded as one of the most backward of backwaters on moral issues. Hence it would be an important watershed victory if the Vatican did get with the gay programme. So I do think there is a push from within the Church that is focusing on that, using other issues as part of the softening up. However, I think Humanae Vitae is as much a target too. Abortion is probably in the plan in the long run, although I don't think the present Holy Father will prove a willing patsy for that one. But the ultimate target is the whole of human sexuality and sexual behaviour.

Tony V said...

Libellous to call someone a homosexual? Of course it isn't! It's a compliment.

Now, calling someone's horse a homosexual, that's another matter. You can get arrested for that.

Lynda said...

To represent oneself as being sexually attracted to the same sex is a grave offence against God and His Holy Laws.

Bernard Brandt said...

Dear Fr. Hunwicke,

I fear that I have been one of those minds (and most probably mediocre to boot) who have surmised the possible connexion between RC clergy advocating a lessening of the vows of marriage, and causes for those same clergy to seek a lessening of their own vows of celibacy. And whilst I am not a barrister, I have enough knowledge of the law to be concerned with those laws in the Anglo-American jurisdictions regarding libel and slander.

In consequence, I have attempted to present a simple exposition of the mathematics involved, so as to avoid particular accusations. I would invite your review of that exposition:

https://bernardbrandt.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/the-blood-is-the-life-part-iv-or-the-nature-and-extent-of-the-gay-mafia-in-the-rc-church

IanW said...

I didn't hear the interview on the wireless, Fr, but if indeed it was held to be reasonable to suggest homosexual acts between consenting adults should be no business of the law, then that isn't news and nor should it be. This issue is easily distinguished from arguments for legal recognition of gay marriage.