Sunday 15 January 2012

Bishops and Toads

James Delingpole is one of my favourite journalists. He was in great form last month in the Telegraph, aiming several well-placed shots at the risible Dr Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London and the third most senior clergyman in the Church of England.

Apparently the benighted bish visited the Occupy protestors on Christmas Day, handing out a box of chocolates in his munificence. These are people whose dirty presence (they certainly look dirty to me) has disfigured Saint Paul’s Cathedral for several weeks now, the worst kind of rent-a-mob lowlifes in their ugly little tents, like some kind of gypsy encampment.

The sooner they are off the better, one would have thought; the better for London, the better for Saint Paul’s and the better for the Church. But, no; Chartres has promised them a permanent memorial. With the chocolate came some saccharine: “The canons have been very imaginative and consulting with the protestors about how to leave a legacy of the protests. We are looking for honouring what has been said when the camp moves on.”

Is he married, I wonder? He reminds me of Bishop Thomas Proudie from Barchester Towers, the novel of nineteenth century clerical doings by Anthony Trollope. If so, he really should have a wife as indomitable as Mrs Proudie to put him in place, to draw him away from his embarrassing public absurdities.

Dear James might serve in the role, judging on the basis of his remarks, direct and to the point;

What’s particularly depressing about this episode is that Chartres is supposedly one of the Church’s more traditional senior clerics. If this is the line the Church’s reactionary old school is taking, imagine what insanities its more progressive elements are yearning to impose on us. Presumably they won’t really feel that justice has been done until St Paul’s has been razed to the ground and replaced by a permanent Anti-Capitalist Peace Camp.

Actually, I’m going to change gear completely here. I almost never read the comments that follow articles, written by so many jackals following a lion, petty, snarling and vicious. On this occasion I’m glad I did because there were truly excellent remarks by someone posting as Tayles. His point was quite simple, that the leftists are not opposing capitalist society as it really exists, but a fictionalised version that forms part of a broader narrative;

According to this narrative, the poor and the disadvantaged are victims of oppression and prejudice by the rich and powerful. Capitalism is the economic expression of this travesty, allowing the rich to hoard wealth at the expense of everyone else, who must make do with whatever crumbs the rich deign to brush from their table.

As he quite righty says this is rubbish. I would only add that it’s complete rubbish. Capitalism, unlike socialism, isn’t even a system; it’s freedom, it’s what happens when people are left to their own devices. Condemn economic liberty then one condemns personal liberty.

But the left-wing narrative, the narrative embraced by the Protest crowd, is far more satisfying for some, Tayles proceeds, portraying as a ‘mistake’ the kind of society that evolves when people are free to express their wants and needs. It condemns success as much as pardons failure, all gains, of course, being ill-gotten.

It’s a narrative that would turn the things upside down, granting wealth and power to those who, by their natural incapacity, would be denied these things. It creates, above all, a paradigm of good versus evil: “If you are a clergyman, a control freak, a metropolitan poser, an over-entitled layabout, or an envious toad, the left-wing narrative holds considerable appeal.”

Envious toads – how I love that! Returning to the Bishop I don’t think he envies very much at all; he’s just a trendy doing the trendy thing. Sadly the trendier the C of E gets the less relevant it becomes, less relevant to those who care, and irrelevant to those who don’t, like the happy campers.

However I’m feeling charitable enough in this New Year to offer Chartres and the canons suggestions for the prospective permanent protest memorial. I think a mountain of Starbuck cups might serve, cast in bronze, or an unmade tent in the style of Tracey Emin. I would favour the latter. Perhaps talentless Tracey might even be commissioned for the project? The Bishop might even be charitable enough to extend the principle of memorial to embrace the summer riots. A statue of a hoodie carrying away a TV would be good, a real anti-capitalist statement.


  1. It is hard to think of a more odious parasite upon mankind than organized religion, so it seems natural these fatuous clerics should discover an affinity with the socialist scroungers camped outside St. Paul's. Just wait until they are competing for handouts; that's when their true nature will reveal itself.

  2. The Banksters have gotten too big for their britches and the clergy are to address issues of social injustice are they not?

  3. nice post..keep it up

  4. I think part of the problem is that the clergy don't really believe in what they used to believe in, religiously speaking, and so they find common cause with socialists and others who try to apply what were originally religious ideas and ideals to politics etc.

    But even serious lefties see through this occupy nonsense.

  5. Anthony, it really depends how you define social justice. This turbulent priest wasn't really addressing anything in particular.

  6. Mark, alas the Church of England is a lost sheep: it lost a role and cannot find a home. :-)

  7. It would appear that many have been hoodwinked Ana.

    What these liberal lefties appear to unconsciously espouse is a Marxist viewpoint. According to Karl Marx all the important things in history are rooted in an economic motive.

    In other words, history is the 'science of the search for food'. Let's read what GK Chesterton says on this subject:

    "This would certainly be true of the cow, which is why 'the cow has no history'. But saying that human actions are based on economic considerations is like saying that human actions 'have depended on having two legs'.

  8. Michael Henchard's Will.

    'That Elizabeth-Jane be not told of my death, or made to grieve on account of me.'

    '& that I be not bury'd in consecrated ground.

    '& that no sexton be asked to see my dead body.

    '& that nobody is wished to see my dead body.

    '& that no mourners walk behind me at my funeral.

    '& that no flours be planted on my grave.

    '& that no man remember me.

    'To this I put my name.

    'Michael Henchard.'

    (Thomas Hardy. The Mayor of Casterbridge,. 1886).

    The maternal tenacity of Hardy's mother on his life was so severe as to hamper and shadow everything in his first marriage. His biographer Michael Millgate writes that it marred him for life and was to answer for his noted immaturity. He describes himself as:

    A child till he was sixteen, a youth till he was five-and-twenty, and a young man till he was nearly fifty.

    (Thomas Hardy. The Life & Work of Thomas Hardy. Palgrave Macmillan, 1984. 24).

    Hardy told William Archer:

    The town-bred boy will often appreciate nature more than the country boy, but he does not know it in the same sense. He will rush to pick a flower which the country boy does not seem to notice. But it is part of the country boy's life. It grows in his soul - he does not want it in his buttonhole.

    (William Archer. Real Conversations. 1904. 32).

    His wife Emma once wrote to a female friend:

    He understands only the women he invents - The others not at all - & he only writes for art, though ethics shows up.

    (Letters of Emma & Florence Hardy. Edited by Michael Millgate. Oxford University Press, 1996. 6).

    Hardy was in on what has been dubbed the biggest cover-up of all time:

    That terrible, dogmatic, ecclesiasticism - Christianity so called but really Paulinism plus idolatory.

    (Thomas Hardy. The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Edited by Richard Little Purdy & Michael Millgate. Oxford University Press. Vol ii, 143).

    In fact all forms of organised religion are consistently hostile to morality, the natural progress of mankind (both physical, mental and spiritual) and as such, to religion itself because it is always far removed from the original tenets of that faith. This is an ongoing theme in Hardy's novels: his distrust of and the hypocrisy of the established church and its denizens. It is a theme, also, in Dickens. It is also a literary device in Persian and Urdu literature in the figure of the Shaykh:

    The Shaikh is to Mir what the Holy Willies and the ‘Unco Guid’ are to his spiritual brother and younger contemporary, Robert Burns: and like Burns, he attacks them with ridicule, bawdy, and invective.

    (Ralph Russell. Three Mughal Poets. Oxford University Press, 1991. 200).

    One of my favourite verses of Mir Taqi Mir in this regard is:

    If the Shaykh comes naked to the mosque it is because he spent the night in the tavern
    And in drunkenness gave off his expensive gown, his shirt, and his cap

    William Walsham How, Bishop of Wakefield burnt a copy of Jude the Obscure (Betjeman knew all about him and mentioned him in his Sweet songs of Zion radio broadcasts which have now, recently, been compiled and published) and boasted about it in a letter to the Yorkshire Post:

    The only sad feature in the matter to Hardy was that if the bishop could have known him as he was, he would have found a man whose personal conduct, views of morality, and of the vital facts of religion, hardly differed from his own.

    (Thomas Hardy. The Life & Work of Thomas Hardy. Palgrave Macmillan, 1984. 295).

  9. Nobby, thanks. I shall remember that Chesterton quote. :-)

  10. Rehan, my, how you know your man! I will be twenty-six this summer but I'm determined to be a young woman until I am fifty. :-)