Pope’s visit and “historical ignorance—that great anaesthetic of all debate in England”

We’ve had a few emotive posts on the Pope’s – in the end – fairly quiet and unobtrusive visit to Britain. Ironically, his visit to the British parliament was shunned by both First and deputy First Ministers for different reasons. Brian says it’s because Britain is a civil nation. Well that depends on which way you look at things.

Bagehot’s Notes gets closest to contextualising the terse and downright rude reception given the Pope by some of Britain’s foremost public commentators:

In short, I think Catholicism gets it in the neck in Britain because it is a socially conservative, stern form of religious faith, which believes in sacred mysteries.

He goes on:

Today, I am pretty sure, most English people under 40 simply cannot remember why their grandparents were fussed about Catholicism.

The reasons why are various. My interviewees suggested that a lot of sectarian prejudice was actually snobbery against Irish working class immigrants, who had made up the bulk of England’s Roman Catholic population in the 20th century. Once Britain’s Irish immigrants started going to mainstream schools, became more middle class and even stopped sounding foreign, I was told, English tolerance of Catholics grew. (Scotland and Northern Ireland are slightly different cases).

It mattered that from 1914 onwards, Catholic France was firmly replaced by Prussian-dominated Germany as the major threat to British security, another professor suggested. The Roman Catholic church in England also became less hardline in its own opposition to mixed marriages: until the 1960s, these were condemned as a threat to the faith and outsiders who married Catholics had to sign a pledge to raise their children in the Church of Rome.

Above all, historical ignorance—that great anaesthetic of all debate in England—began to work its magic from the 1960s and 1970s onwards.

It’s worth reading his whole column in this week’s Economist:

Jonathan Powell, a former chief of staff to Tony Blair and prime ministerial envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process, has written that Mr Blair’s “relative ignorance” of Irish history was a peacemaking advantage: his boss had no “historical baggage”. You can take the thought further: a settlement in Northern Ireland was arguably possible only once most English voters ceased to comprehend sectarian hatreds in that province.

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  • HeinzGuderian

    Waste of time…..Waste of money !! Surely the time of religion has passed. Take away the brain washing of young children,and religion will wither and die !!! I,for one,will celebrate that day with great gusto !!! 🙂

  • Big Maggie

    Heinz,

    As will this lady in Washington. It’s a piece well worth reading as it has echoes with Irish upbringing, including my own. Here’s a sample:

    “Catholic childhood religious indoctrination is chillingly effective. Its most powerful weapons are guilt and the fear of a literal hell. When a child is taught that the simple act of doubting or questioning any of the Church’s teachings is a sin, and that even the tiniest of sins can result in an eternity spent in a literal hell, they quickly learn to suppress those doubts and to feel intense shame, guilt, and fear when they fail to do so.

    “Think for a second about how cruel that is. To ensure that the Catholic mind virus is passed down through the generations, the Church is willing to crush children’s curiosity and to stifle or completely destroy their ability to think critically.”

  • Im not sure Bagehot is absolutely correct. In some, quite powerful quarters, in England Catholicism has become very ‘trendy’ almost as a kind of antidote to the extreme liberalism the same people, as for eg. Tony Blair, advocate so strongly for others.

    I thought the Pope got a better reception than he had any right to expect.

  • Alan Maskey

    Mr Guderian: You will not celebrate it as you will be long gone, to oyur eternal reward, as they say.
    Religion is going nowhere. Sunni Islam, in particular, is on the rise and will soon pass the RCs in absolute numbers.
    Maggie: More regurgitating of Dawkin’s simple ideas (sic). Must try harder.
    Mick: Anti Catholicism is an integral part of England. Just glance at all the tomes published in the 19th century.
    The influx of French Royalists and others did change the perspective a little. British Catholicism is now firmly separated from Irish Catholicism and for the Pope, Britian is the bigger prize.

    A major reason for the decline in overt sectarianism is the rise of the motor car and, places like the six occupied counties apart, the lessening of territorialism. The parish, for example, the (Irish) GAA apart, is no longer the socialising force it was.

    The Pope, large sections odf the Toriwes and others will be happy with this visit. It will probably have longer lasting effects than JP2’s poparamas.

    The beatification of an archetypal Brit, Ben’s first, is also noteworthy. So also is the fact that he skipped a great opportunity to see Celtic do Kilmarnock 2-1.

  • I thought Edinburgh was the main focus of the shunning, Mick.

  • Robo

    An insightful piece by Ross Douthat NY Times

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/opinion/20douthat.html?hp

  • Greenflag

    Big maggie,

    ‘Catholic childhood religious indoctrination is chillingly effective. Its most powerful weapons are guilt and the fear of a literal hell.’

    Did’nt Jimmy Joyce make the same point a century or more ago in’ Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ‘

    All religious indoctrination is chillingly effective -some brands more chilling than others . Some of the wackier cults are even worse .

    The RC Church and other churches know only too well that if you don’t get them young you won’t get them at all . If a child grows up not having to learn by rote the ‘mysteries’ of the redemption-the Virgin Mary – being saved by Grace or the Resurrection etc etc and then is asked at the age of 14 to believe in transubstanciation or the immaculate conception -they won’t . Of course there will always be a number of ‘weak minded’ people who are natural prey for the snake oil peddlars of scientology, and other minority cults both christian and non christian .

    Religion in the west is not going nowhere . It’s becoming irrelevant for most people in their daily lives . In the poorer parts of the world Islam is increasing for thats all the poor have i.e their ‘religion’ . It was no different in medieval europe when 95% plus of the population were the hewers of wood and drawers of water and had all the political say and independence of viewpoint as an oak tree .

    That’s NOT to say that the Pope’s visit was a waste of time . Society in the west has gone through a generation of ‘excessive’ materialism and the Golden Calf has collapsed onto a mountain range of derivatives and CDO’s.

    In the vaccuum being left by the emptying of the Church pews humanity will be forced to look at ‘values’ and find a replacement for religion . And not another ‘religion’.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    It is not of course the irst time Catholcism has become trendy…mid 19th century…between the two Worl Wars and the Widdicombe/John Selwyn Gummer types who have left Anglicanism largely because of women priests issues.
    But cradle Catholics in England will be disappointed at the prominence given to Ms Widdicombe by broadcasters as an authentic spokesperson for Catholicism when the best that may be said is that she is spokesperson for a type of Catholicism.
    Rather like patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then Catholicism is incresingly the last refuge of English conservatives worried about Angican “drift” or something called “standards”.
    There is unfortunately for Catholicism a generation of Anglican theology students who have as they put it “returned to Rome”. All much to the chagrin of cradle English Catholics.
    Ive often drawn attention to the fact that English Catholicism is not homogenous. That the Church of the Duke of Norfolk, recusant aristocracy and tradition is a long way from the peasant church traditions from which many of the actual churchgoers have come.
    And historically I have pointed up that anti Catholicism is both religious (the wee Free and even Methodist tradition in North of England) and political (more sophisticated Toynbee, Fry etc) that Catholicism is a threat to civil liberty.

    This strange alliance is probably what doomed or limited the protests. Toynbee had allied herself with “FTP” bands and Fry had allied himself with the saving Ulster from Sodomy types.
    As Ive often pointed out all this is nothing new. It stretches back to 1688 and beyond.
    “Historical ignorance” indeed.
    English kids get a certificate claiming they know History ,,,,,,which is basically a day trip to the Imperial war Museum and a vague notion that Hitler is dead. Alas too many journalists have followed the same route.
    Probably thats not the same for students who went to say English schools named for say John Fisher, Margaret Clitheroe, Thomas More.
    And yet so many integrationist type folks (“we are all in the UK” and/or “let our children learn together”) seem to admire State or integrated education.
    But I am glad that my posts indicating that a study of history is a basic requirement for understanding serious aspects of Life has now made it to the Slugger front page.

  • troot

    Insightful? Or maybe biased.

    Ross Douthat has converted to Catholicism from being a Pentecost. Also, he is opposed to gay marriage and is one of the neo-cons over stateside. So as far as insightfulness goes he’s coming from his own agenda.

  • Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom 2010 – primary source material.

  • Archie Noble

    Speaking to older Irish Catholics living in northern England it was quite clear that they regarded WW2 as the turning point with regard to systematic discrimination and overt prejudice against them. One of the myths so beloved of a certain sort of English commentator is that England never saw the type of overt sectarianism that blighted Scotland. It did and the evidence is irrefutable. It is also the case that the terms Irish and Catholic were for many one and the same and never terms of endearment.

    There are some fine English historians but it has to said the English in general know little about the history of their country, or indeed anywhere else, and will shortly know even less.

  • Alan Maskey

    Good article, And Hibs are third behind Celtic and Rangers, even though they only drew at the weekend,

  • “a lot of sectarian prejudice was actually snobbery against Irish working class immigrants, who had made up the bulk of England’s Roman Catholic population in the 20th century”

    This wasn’t confined to non-catholics either though. One of my early girlfriends introduced me to her parents saying that I was a catholic. I was initially very well received. It turned out that her parents used to be attendees at the same church that I did some Sundays.

    They were a little but confused because they didn’t recognise my surname. When I explained that it was the other half of my family – the ones with a more obviously Irish name – the civility (and eventually, the daughter) was withdrawn.

    Even in the 1970s there was a residual divide in RC congregations in England – in some cases, the Irish were looked on as a rowdy embarrassment.

  • Mick Fealty

    agenda schmenda… Play the ball and not the man…

  • Rory Carr

    The objections of such as Toynbee and Fry and Hitchins to the Catholic Church, on the grounds that it is a threat to civil liberty, really are a bit weak when we we consider that obedience to church law is completely voluntary, if a Catholic falls foul of any commandment or precept of the Church – nothing happens except perhaps if he decides to confess his transgression and seek forgiveness then he is subjected to the terrible fate of being forgiven and told to go in peace. He may of course go to hell if he dies unshriven but that is entirely voluntary as well – it is not a punishment meted out by the Church – the door to grace lies always open.

    If one breaks the laws of their superior civic order however punishment swiftly follows in the form of fines, community service, imprisonment and in the USA, so beloved by Hitchins, if one is poor, even barbaric ritual execution.

    They simply don’t seem to get it that one is not obliged to be a Catholic, but if one so chooses, that the free will of the human soul is the backbone of Catholic philosophy. Or perhaps it is that very concept that would frighten them – that human beings might be guided by an educated conscience to distinguish right from wrong and so act accordingly to do the right things for the right reasons, regardless of fashion or fear of censure, as life’s challenges face them.

    While Toybee et al would deny the right of the Catholic Church to give guidance to its free adherents they would rather impose their own moral dictat upon society and see it impressed upon the willing and unwilling alike by force of punitive civil law. They certainly have not been anaestetised by ignorance of history but rather yearn for the more effective tools of Henry VIII (England’s Pol Pot) and Cromwell in imposing their vision of how society should think, or be made to think.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Evans is of course right.
    A Slugger commenter.perhaps it was me….has reguarly pointed out the difference between English Catholics and Catholicism in England.
    “Irish” and “ethnic priests”are rarely appointed to Westminster Cathedral which of course has the effect of keeping the rowdy embarrassment of Irish out of the most hallowed places in the English Church.
    Indeed in a previous comment I noted Auberon Waughs antiphy to some parts of the services in Westminster Cathedral where he feared being embraced by drunken Irish women.
    And of course many of the churches dotted around central London are specifically creating “ethnic ghettoes” within church buildings such as Quax Road (the Irish) and Leicester Square (French).

  • Greenflag

    ‘the Irish were looked on as a rowdy embarrassment.’

    Sort of like present day English football hooligans ?

    I’m sure in some cases the Irish were/still are a rowdy embarassment . I hope so . In England somebody has to be . If it were’nt for your Irish ‘rowdies’ and malcontents like Fergal O’Connor of the Chartists and many others the English would never have risen from their knees . Prior to the Chartist movement the last time there was a serious ‘peasants’ revolt was back in Wat Tyler’s time . And if you know your English history you’ll know how that revolt ended .

    The ‘English’ were tamed by the Normans almost a millenium ago in a much more thorough fashion than the Irish or Scots were . But then the topography of England lent itself to such a thorough conquest .

    As for the Irish and Scots ? Perhaps the Romans were wiser than we give them credit for 😉

  • Greenflag

    Rory Carr,

    ‘but rather yearn for the more effective tools of Henry VIII (England’s Pol Pot) ‘

    Not so much a Pol Pot more of a ‘destroyer of the nanny church’ . The monasteries were in effect the last resort of your English peasant fallen into penury through illness or circumstance back in those times. When Henry VIII looted the monasteries and handed over the land , farms to his supporters of the new State he was being nothing less than a prototype for what goes on in the UK of today with the ‘new ‘ government (in Thatcher re run form ) cutting back on ‘nanny’ for the have nots, while transferring more dosh to their deserving supporters and friends in the city 🙁

    Big society my arse . Have we heard those words since the election ? Gone like snow off a ditch in June !

  • Hold on! All this talk of a belligerent, aggressive media, because it was only sections of the media who were abusive, leaves out the reasons for the abuse. A population of sixty million produced all of ten thousand protesters and yet almost every commenter here is congratulating themselves on how typically the English behaved.

    The leader of an institution which condemns homosexuality, demotes women and has, probably, shielded more child abusers than any other institution in the world could hardly expect less than vitriol. The Pope himself was a major force behind the cover up of child abuse.

    All I have to say is he is lucky he did not meet me. I would not have hesitated to tell him where to shove his ‘immaculate conception’.

  • Brian Walker

    I’m glad to see Bagehot took a similar line to mine. Clever lad, Bagehot. The old cliche that the Irish never forget and the English never remember does not always put the English at a disadvantage. A little strategic amnesia can be quite a good thing. The Blair quote is a wonderful example of what? – bad proof reading?

    “To assuage Nationalist opinion and under pressure from the Irish, I also ordered an inquiry into the Bloody Sunday shottings in 1972, when British troops had opened fire in Belfast, killing a number of people.”

    Yet it didn’t stunt his achievement. Irish condescension towards the gaps of the British historical memory is often unwarranted. I agree it’s pity that it didn’t work more in Ireland favour. On the other hand I think it was Brit guilt more than amnesia that distorted their handling of the Troubles at times. On other, greater matters the English historical memory is in great shape. Look at the careful and detailed memorialising of the Battle of Britain.

    Bagehot was writing before the Pope’s visit and recalled the remnants of historical English anti -catholicism. (See also the wonderful evocations in the novels of Evelyn Waugh where old recusant snobbery is directed at the blow-in Irish). But as he recounts, this was already broadly limited to the professional classes by the 1960s.

    The toleration I was referring to was today’s usual liberal kind which deplores the anti-condom, anti gay strain among the higher clergy and is appalled by the clerical abuse scandals. Despite all that, the Pope’s call for an ethical approach to public life was treated with respect. It is Dawkins’ behaviour that jars, much more than his intellectual case. It can be argued that you need as much faith to accept ” science” as ” religion.” Moderate behaviour helps convey the message better than vulgar abuse.

    The arrests of the six Algerians and their subsequent release without charge shows the deep unease about fundamentalism behind the scenes. Yet it’s obvious that Catholics are not included in that very contemporary fear.

    And here’s an associated point that Bagehot didn’t discuss. Secular Britain no longer tars the Catholic Irish with the brush of terrorism. Ask the Irish embassy if you don’t believe me. They have traced the changes in great detail. A lot of work was put into removing that stigma. The English public surely deserve a lot of credit for going along with it. To me that is a great sign of English civility and toleration, whatever you think of their record in the smaller island.

  • Alan Maskey

    “All I have to say is he is lucky he did not meet me. I would not have hesitated to tell him where to shove his ‘immaculate conception’.”

    I am sure the Pope would quake in his pants. Go rob a Communion host like Paisley if you get so worked up aboput it.

    Were the very fit looking security guards around the Pope Vatican, Brit Special Branch or a mixture?

  • Big Maggie

    Rory,

    “The objections of such as Toynbee and Fry and Hitchins to the Catholic Church, on the grounds that it is a threat to civil liberty, really are a bit weak when we we consider that obedience to church law is completely voluntary”

    Hold on, as Pippakin might say. Let’s not pretend that membership of a Church is voluntary except in the case of converts. I linked earlier today to the Ex-Catholic Girl blog, which focuses on the agony endured by a young girl brainwashed in Catholicism. This is a reprehensible method for an institution to secure members.

    Christian apologists continue to feed young children lies and pretend they’re truths, causing those children unnecessary fear and self-loathing. There is no rational basis to those untruths—but how is a child supposed to know this?

    Secular laws, on the other hand, can be defended on the basis of their rationality. I may not speed in my car because by doing so I’m endangering others; I may not burgle my neighbour’s home because that will cause her hardship and grief. Et cetera.

    Religious law cannot be defended in this way. If you think it can, let’s choose Sharia Law instead of Christian Canon Law. Sharia doesn’t fuck around. It puts women in their place and has no time for those nasty sodomists, a plague on all their saunas.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Fundamentalism and fear of it is not exactly new as any student of History knows.
    Good Muslim boys from Yorkshire going off in semi secret to study at a madras in Pakistan and/or fight a religious war in Afghanistan and hoping for Sharia Law all over the world.
    Acts of terrorism in England and a reaction over reaction (including torture)iby a nervous state and a compliat press.

    Did this not all happen before in the late 16th/early 17th century?
    Well actually it did.
    Good Catholic boys from Yorkshire went off in semi secret to study in France and Flanders, fought religious wars in Netherlands, dreamed of a Catholic world and returned to commit acts of terrorism in England. Guy Fawkes for example.
    At some point journalists should realise theres nothing “new” in the “news”.

  • Archie Noble

    “Let’s not pretend that membership of a Church is voluntary except in the case of converts.”

    The evidence is against you here. The reason for declining church attendence is that people stopped going. Nothing to stop them as it is a voluntary activity. Nor can you safely assume secular laws are rational, sometimes they are not.

    “The old cliche that the Irish never forget and the English never remember does not always put the English at a disadvantage.” No it is undoubtedly a huge advantage except when trying to understand why things are happening or indeed one’s own place in the world. Whenever you see English people looking puzzled or slightly vexed its usualy one or the other.

  • Big Maggie

    Archie,

    “The evidence is against you here. The reason for declining church attendence is that people stopped going. Nothing to stop them as it is a voluntary activity.”

    I was talking about Church membership, not church attendance.

    “Nor can you safely assume secular laws are rational, sometimes they are not.”

  • Big Maggie

    Whoops, should have been:

    “Nor can you safely assume secular laws are rational, sometimes they are not.”

    No kidding. Care to give an example or two?

    The preview function is a great loss on Slugger, among other things.

  • Alias

    “Once Britain’s Irish immigrants started going to mainstream schools, became more middle class and even stopped sounding foreign, I was told, English tolerance of Catholics grew.”

    If anti-Catholicism was a cover for British anti-Irish sentiments then the British media’s coverage of the Pope’s visit should go some way toward a further weakening of anti-Catholic sentiment among the British – there was hardly an Irish accent to be heard or an Irish flag to seen.

  • We flatter ourselves if we think the English gave us a thought, too much self indulgent naval gazing. Why should there be Irish accents on a papal visit to England and Scotland. It is illogical to demand complete independence and then complain because we have become irrelevant.

  • Reader

    Brian Walker: It can be argued that you need as much faith to accept ” science” as ” religion.”
    When I travel between Ireland and England I rely on aerodynamics. I don’t say a prayer and walk across the North Channel

  • Alias

    You flatter yourself if you think your usual asinine reply is other than spuriously related to the post you are replying to.

    Who said that Irish accents should have been more prominent on British media? The point was, in response to Bagehot quoted text, that if Catholicism was unacceptable to the British because it was associated with the unacceptable Irish then the demise of the Irish in the association should make Catholicism less unacceptable to the British.

    And as regards “complete independence” …err, you’re still ruled by a nation and its sovereign state that, according to Mr Bagehot, holds the indigenous nation in utter contempt. Tough love, eh?

  • Rory Carr

    Maggie,

    I suspected that you might come back with a reference to the link you posted earlier from the woman who tells us she was brainwashed and terrorised into Church obeisance by fear of Hell. The problem is that she clearly wasn’t so brainwashed or so terrified as her present stance on the Church clearly indicates – she criticises it freely and openly and presumably no longer partakes of all those sacraments she was ‘brainwashed’ into believing she must for fear of damnation.

    I suspect the real reason for her abandonment was much like my own and most others that I know who simply abandoned the Church because, to put no fine a point on it, it was cramping our lifestyle, particularly in sexual matters and other hedonistic pursuits. On a variant of how old Marx had it – the material circumstances determine the conciousness – the pseudo-intellectual abandonment that we affected was preceded by the decison to slake our physical desires without any awkward limitations of conscience or rein on our licence to act as we would. Not very edifying really but the reckless young have a habit of justifying all their wants as rights and all restrictions thereof as ‘nazi persecution’ or similar.

    It seems in fact that is now who have left the Church for their own reasons, exercising the free-will which the Catholic Church at least has always insisted was part of their God-given nature (not so sure about the predeterminist Calvinists) who are hellbent on stigmatising those who remained faithful in order to further justify their own reasons for abandonment. Which always makes me somewaht suspicious. If they simply don’t believe anymore where’s the need to attempt to destroy the beliefs that gives comfort to others? Why are such people forever in thrall to the need to eradicate what they once held dear?

    I mean everyone has some crappy albums from their youth among their collection that they might be embarassed to admit publicly to a liking for but they still won’t let them go and some nights, when alone, with a bottle of wine and a spliff you might hear, if you listen closely, the strains of the Thompson Twins or Bonnie Tyler or somesuch echoing from their domain. It’s only those without a personality of their own who smash up their old favourites and publicly denounce them to their trendy friends for fear of losing acceptance. They need help, poor souls, not encouragement.

  • Nunoftheabove

    No stranger to pant quaking is my information.

    Fit security guards you say Alan ? Nice big strong strapping fellas, were they ? That’s nice for you.

  • Alias

    Venomous but, thankfully, shorter than your usual drivel.

    In the forty odd years I spent in England I found no anti Irish sentiment, which considering my parents and family are Irish I might have been expected to come across. Nor, oddly enough did I find any anti catholics.

    I did find the English completely indifferent to nationality. The occasional bomb going off roused them to anger but I never found it directed at me or my family personally.

    Am I ruled by a sovereign. Did someone ‘promote’ Mary McAleese and forget to tell me.

  • Brian Walker

    Reader, You take aerodynamics on trust becuase you have the evidence of experience – unless of course you really do understand them. But for theories in the abstract you either need to be educated to the level of understanding them,or have faith in the priests of peer group review and the world of learning.

  • joeCanuck

    ..glance at all the tomes published in the 19th century..

    For crying out loud! Can’t you and MV and Alias stop harkening back to the 19th century and earlier as if the past has some great relevance to the future. As the insurance companies are required to remind you when trying to sell you mutual funds, past performance is no guarantee of future success. The opposite is true also.

  • Reader

    Brian Walker: Reader, You take aerodynamics on trust becuase you have the evidence of experience
    Repeated experience. And on a good day I do understand aerodynamics. And aerodynamics is comprehensible with an adequate grounding in related subjects. And there is a vast body of theoretical and experimental study of the subject – peer reviewed and reproducible.
    In fact, far from science placing any demands on my faith, I think I would have to be a bloody minded contrarian to doubt the process, the principle or the practice. Mind you – I don’t have to regard science as complete, or scientists as infallible. But, compared with Transubstantiation, Creationism, the Assumption, Predestination or Intercession, science looks sensible to me.

  • Brian Walker

    Reader – Me too.. I’m simply saying that with much of science I rely on other people. I’m Ok with that. But it is a kind of faith…

  • Archie Noble

    Big Maggie I think the original PTA, a short term measure you will recall, and all it successors decades later are fine examples. The intention was to combat terrorism the effect is to add to the alienation that caused terrorism in the first place. Study after study proved beyond doubt how ineffective this legislation was in actually preventing acts of terrorism and how much it generated support for the terrorists. Yet successive Governments extended the remit of the Act. Relentlessly undermining their own stated objective and strengthening their opponents in an utterly irrational way.

    You might also consider it is not unknown for two bits of legislation enacted by the same Government to respectively work against each other. Those behind it know this but don’t care because they got ‘their’ legislation through.

  • Brian Walker

    Archie, have Irish superior ” understandings ” always produced better results? I’m not arguing for ignorance, Only against ” the curse of tumultuous pedantry” in Castlereagh’s words ( ref courtesy, Arthur Aughey).

  • Big Maggie

    Archie,

    Don’t you think that your explanation of the rationale behind PTA confirms its rational underpinning, notwithstanding that it turned out to be a dud when put to the test?

    Similarly the respective proponents of two pieces of mutually contradictory legislation can each provide a coherent rationale.

    But I challenge anybody to explain, say, why the sabbath should be kept holy.

  • Archie Noble

    “notwithstanding that it turned out to be a dud when put to the test?” and was therefore renewed annualy for, was it 20 years, abolished and re enacted. You get my point I’m sure.

    “Similarly the respective proponents of two pieces of mutually contradictory legislation can each provide a coherent rationale.” But enacting both in that knowledge is not rational.

    Well its a tricky one but here is my guess, the poor workers needed a day off? Benthamite efficency from an early priesthood?

  • HeadTheBall

    Rory,

    Bit disingenuous, I think.

    How, for example, would a rape victim in Catholic Ireland set about securing an abortion in order to avoid bearing her rapist’s child?

    I think what some people fear about the RC Church is not that they might be forced to join it, but that they might be forced to live, willy nilly, by its doctrinal imperatives in their personal lives.

  • Alias

    It was shorter in due deference to your attention span.

    In regard to anti-Irish sentiment in England: the topic is Bagehot’s essay quoted by Mr Fealty, and not some old doddery biddy from Mayo’s chirpy anecdotes (thankfully not quoted by Mr Fealty):

    “My interviewees suggested that a lot of sectarian prejudice was actually snobbery against Irish working class immigrants, who had made up the bulk of England’s Roman Catholic population in the 20th century. Once Britain’s Irish immigrants started going to mainstream schools, became more middle class and even stopped sounding foreign, I was told, English tolerance of Catholics grew.”

  • Nunoftheabove

    Brian Walker

    That’s slippery work. Yes, there is a degree of faith but it’s more normally a reasoned aassumption based on soemthing depedably proven and statistically unlikely not to be true. There simply isn’t any equivalence – whatsoever – between that and biblical fairytales and sinister tooth fairy fantasies for which there is absolutely not one word of truth in or evidence for.

  • Pippakin

    Alias

    Almost the entire thread is reading like the Irish indulging their favourite pastime of ‘bash the English, all done in the knowledge that the English are unlikely to bother to repudiate it. Much like, in fact exactly like, no one bothering to read through your mile and a half tomes on the off chance they might contain anything of relevance.

    Take a glance at the numbers! England always had more Catholics than Ireland and they would have been among every catholic congregation in every RC church.

    You need to take your head out of the nineteenth century and at least have a look at the twentieth before with any luck moving on to the twenty first. I went to Catholic church in London. How could an Irish person not?

    The idea that catholicism became more acceptable as Irish accents became English is, to say the least, arrogant.

  • Big Maggie

    “notwithstanding that it turned out to be a dud when put to the test?” and was therefore renewed annualy for, was it 20 years, abolished and re enacted. You get my point I’m sure.
    Certainly and I hope you get mine: the legislation was debated (fairly) rationally when mooted and continued to be so debated. Not so religious law, which is imposed for no rational reason. A garment of two fabrics anyone?
    “Similarly the respective proponents of two pieces of mutually contradictory legislation can each provide a coherent rationale.” But enacting both in that knowledge is not rational.

    I don’t see why not. There are at least two sides to ever question of a secular/rational nature.

    Well its a tricky one but here is my guess, the poor workers needed a day off? Benthamite efficency from an early priesthood?

    I chose it more or less at random. But you’re forgetting that it was imposed via Moses, who needed no rationale other than it came from Jehovah. So okay, let’s keep the sabbath “holy”. Will that be your sabbath or mine? Tell you what, let’s go for Monday. That will piss off the hairdressers up and down the land :^)

  • Archie Noble

    After the initial PTA hysterical debate it was reviewed annualy on the nod. Barely a harumph, hear, hear or shame! to be heard.

    “Not so religious law, which is imposed for no rational reason” Most of the dietry ones originate for very practical reasons in times before refrigderation.So outmoded rather than irrational.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “A garment of two fabrics anyone?”

    Linen is a cellulose fiber. Wool is an animal protein fiber. They knew the difference. Pity that you and some others do not. For more on your continuing education:

    Moisture easily passes through the fibers of linen, causing the material to undergo dimensional and weight changes as well as changes in the overall strength.

    Wool fibers absorb more moisture and accept dyes better than vegetable fibers. Wool is not a strong fiber and weakens considerably when wet.

    Linen. Highly absorbent; Durable & strong; Stronger when wet than dry.

    These fibres can usually be washed in water, though linen may shrink. Dry-cleaning is not advised.

    These fibres are best professionally cleaned, though they can be hand-washed in water with extreme care. If using a clothes washer, select a delicate cycle using cold water, or water at max. 30°C/85°F. Silk and wool require special care when drying and ironing. If the right equipment is not available, have them professionally cleaned. High temperatures and vigorous spinning can seriously damage products made from fibres such as these.

    All natural fibres shrink after being washed in water. The percentage of shrinkage varies from 3 to 10%. The amount of shrinkage depends on the fibre and on the washing temperature. The colder the wash water, the better it is for your household linen. Wool is particularly subject to shrinkage when washed.

    Cotton, linen and rayon will shrink more in the lengthwise dimension, whereas wool will shrink both ways.

    Sort your household linen by fibre (cotton, linen, silk, wool), colour (whites, light colours, dark colours) and type of item (sheets, towels, tablecloths).

    That being said, have fun with your linen and wool garment. We’ll see how it looks after a few wears and washes.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Having accompanied the Mrs – though I said I wouldn’t – on the protest march in London on Saturday, it was interesting that it was predominantly the gay community who turned out (and the turn-out for the march was impressively large, about 10,000 I’m told). Compare that to the pro-PR demo I went to a few months ago in Parliament Sq, just after the election – there were only a few hundred.

    Worth going just for the Father Ted-inspired banners a few people had: “Down with this sort of thing” and “Careful now”. Really good atmosphere there despite the awful emotional issues involved – that’s how to do a parade. But 100 times more disparaging towards the Pope than any Orange parade I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few). If only the Orange Order would embrace the gay community, it could transform the marching season for the better …

  • abucs

    Interesting research from non religious Humanists on the likely future rise of Religion in Europe and around the globe.

    http://www.sneps.net/RD/uploads/1-Shall%20the%20Religious%20Inherit%20the%20Earth.pdf

  • Greenflag

    ‘If only the Orange Order would embrace the gay community’

    The OO is already famously adept at giving itself one up the rear end without outside assistance .

    Our esteemed President Mrs McAleese has turned down an invitation from the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade committee to be the Grand Marshall of said parade on it’s 250th anniversary .

    And why ?

    Irish gays are allowed to march in the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin but our American cousins are somewhat less tolerant . There are no gay Irish Americans and if there are they don’t exist at least not on St Patrick’s Day .

    Good woman our Mary all the same !

    .

  • Golden Aviator

    The two paragraphs quoted are at odds with my own upbringing (as a Catholic in Dublin) – perhaps the strictness of peoples’ upbringing varied in place as well as time.

    Certainly Hell was played down a lot when I had religious education as a child and I’m no spring chicken.