27 December 2019

Revisiting Ancient History

What follows was first published on 2 January 2011. At that time, we were just moving up to the establisment of the Ordinariates. My theme ... the bigoted intolerance of the British cultural Establishment towards Catholicism ... is as thoroughly topical today as ever it was. I reprint my earlier post, slightly abbreviated, because of its historical interest!

I listened to the "Sunday" programme at 7.10 a.m. on the Home Service to hear what it had to say about 'Ordinariate' news. It was presented by one Ed Stourton, who, I gather, is descended from an old recusant family but at some point decided that his own sexual mores needed to be more "nuanced" than those of Christ (he followed his nuances by abandoning his wedding vows and shacking up with a BBC cutie). He should have been caned more often at Ampleforth. This morning he used a word "cacaphony", which I can only imagine is a combination of the Latin cacare and the Greek phone and presumably means "the sound one makes while defecating". His programme exemplified his own neologism to perfection.

Among the gurus on his programme, he had one Paul Vallely, who 'advises' the RC bishops of England and Wales and, a few years ago, wrote some 'Report' or other for them. This Vallely writes also for the Indescribably Boring and for Jezebel's Trumpet. You see the sort of individual he is. Needless to say, he calls himself a "cradle Catholic". Asked about the Ordinariate, he referred to the three men and five women who were received into full communion last Saturday as "rather dodgy characters" and said he would "rather they stayed where they were".

This clear message was hammered home by a limerick composed, we were told, by an official, card-carrying, member of the Great and the Good: Terry Waite - a bloke who caused a lot of hassle decades ago by getting himself kidnapped by 'Islamic extremists'. Here is his deathless verse, read over the radio to the sound of approving murmurs from Stourton:

A cleric whose fondness for Rome
Made him leave both his Church and his home.
As he said his farewells
His church rang the bells
But the Romans let out a loud groan.

Somebody should explain to this opinionated bore that 'groan' rhymes neither with 'Rome' nor with 'home'. And someone should point out to this tedious semiliterate that his sentence which begins "A cleric" and then launches into a relative clause ("whose ... home") never gets to be completed but is replaced by the new sentence beginning "As he ...". The exquisite simplicity and stylishness of the limerick form is sabotaged if both rhyme and syntax are treated with such contemptuous disrespect. Waite, like a lot of silly people, seems to think that the limerick is just an adolescent opportunity for being offensive or obscene. It isn't.

Stourton's programme was full of the usual guff about Tolerance. Apparently, we are not allowed to kick anybody nowadays. Except ... of course ... Anglicans who want to accept Pope Benedict's invitation.

It's always Open Season for the sniggering classes to heap cheap and malevolent abuse upon them.


Luke said...

Not long ago I watched a BBC travelogue program of some famous (I assume) British television personality who filmed a walking tour around England. He spoke, at one point, about how the "ancient English Church" was Celtic and later was overcome by the "Roman" Church emissaries sent by the Pope to subdue and conquer the Ancient Celtic Church. He concluded by saying that all the Tudors did was get rid of the Roman domination of the church and restored the separate English Church that derived from that ancient Celtic Church. This was proof to me of the power of Tudor propaganda.

Banshee said...

Oh, man, it is pretty amazing how the Tudor and "Whig interpretation" of history show up everywhere. You get these tv shows and documentaries trying to be all edgy, but they keep going back to their default.

OTOH, in many cases it is really difficult to dig facts out of the standard historical narrative. So I can't blame tv shows too much, even if I do have to talk back to the screen a lot on subjects I know about.

The art history shows (in the UK more than the US, but sometimes in the US) are particularly bad about making jabs at evil, evil Catholicism. "Yes, my favorite artist was a devout Catholic and I have to know all this stuff to understand him, but I promise you that I hate Catholic stuff! Watch me say something nasty!"

William Tighe said...

For a thorough evisceration of the "Whig interpretation" of the English Reformation, read English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors by Christopher Haigh (Oxford University Press, 1993). The author characterizes himself in the book's preface as an Anglican Agnostic, rather bemused by the charge of writing with a Catholic bias brought against him by ignorant reviewers of his oeuvre.

Very cheap copies of the book can usually be found at Abebooks or Amazon, and no doubt elsewhere.

Dan Hayes said...

I suppose the exception which proves the rule is Lord Clark's "Civilisation" art presenations. Clark always went out of his way to give the RC Church its due! BTW, I was surprised to learn that Clark had a fairly strong Irish background.

William Tighe said...

"Clark always went out of his way to give the RC Church its due!"

He became a Catholic on his deathbed in May 1983. His older son, the Tory politician Alan Clark, apparently contemplated conversion on his deathbed in September 1999, but was dissuaded from it by members of his immediate family.