Well, how many should there be?

Stephen Poliakoff says it is ‘striking’ how few Jewish characters are portrayed in British TV dramas

Some 250,000 or so in the population. One in 200. Do we hit that sort of level of representation? In anything where the religion of the character is either im- or ex-plicit?

Actually, the real explanation is this:

Launching his new BBC drama Summer of Rockets,

Gotta say something to get the PR going….

Fair point

The magnificently woke actor George Clooney has demanded we all boycott luxury hotels with links to Brunei because the country has ruled homosexuals must be stoned to death. Happy to help, George — that’s Brunei off my Christmas card list.

There are nine other countries where gay people face the death penalty. They all have something in common. Much like the countries that will put you to death for apostasy. Shall we boycott those, too, as well as countries where gay people are simply imprisoned or lashed? They all have something in common, too.

I wish George would explain what that something was.

Um, what?

The painting is thought to represent the patron saint of lawyers and advocate of the poor. The figure appears to be holding what the gallery describes as “a legal document, which would be appropriate for Saint Ivo”.

Yes, I know, odd mixtures of things that saints are patrons of at times. But really, lawyers and the poor? Is it actually possible to be patron of two things quite as in opposition as that? SPUC and Planned Parenthood perhaps?

This is amusing

Dalia Fleming of KeshetUK, a charity that works with LGBT+ Jews, says people in the Orthodox community faced “an impossible choice” between their sexual or gender identity and their religion.

“There has been a shift,” she said. “There is much more information available now, but there definitely needs to be more support for people who are LGBT+ and want to stay in the Orthodox community.”

Umm, well.

Bit like insisting you want to remain a Catholic priest after getting married*. It’s an either or really. To have come out rather does mean coming out of the community which insists that coming out is an anathema and those who do must be shunned.

*No, you can’t, although you might be able to become a priest already being married.

Well, obviously not, no

Jason Isbell: ‘Jesus would not have voted for Donald Trump’

Well, obviously not, no.

Jesus wasn’t an American, wasn’t alive at the right time and didn’t have the vote anyway. You know, what with living in a Monarchy associated with an Empire and all that.

Very jealous these Christians

Yesterday, as he again returned to the cathedral to read aloud from the Bible, Mr Coote said: ‘I am not hurt or angry, but very surprised that St Paul’s would support the Occupy London people but not support the reading of the Bible.’

The Reverend Peter Simpson, a pastor at the Free Methodist Church in Penn, Buckinghamshire, said he endured a similar experience outside St Paul’s two years ago, when he and a colleague were ordered to leave. ‘We did not say anything inflammatory as far as I can recall,’ he said.

‘We were just preaching from the Bible but were told to move. We did not want to break the law so we moved to the edge of the grounds marked by bollards and preached from there.’

The Barnabas Fund, which campaigns against the persecution of Christians, has launched an online petition urging Parliament to intervene. Dr Martin Parsons, head of research at the charity, said: ‘This illustrates the slippery slope down which the UK is losing its heritage of religious freedom.

‘One of the first aspects of freedom of religion to be established in England was the freedom to read the Bible in public. A Royal decree specifically forbade clergy from stopping anyone reading the Bible in public. Now St Paul’s Cathedral is trying to stop someone reading the Sermon On The Mount in public.’

Well, you know, the Anglicans don’t want the Methodists – people who actually believe in the stuff – poaching their flock to be shorn, do they? As they have been for a few centuries now.

Yes, amusing

London is known as a bastion of liberal values.

But by some measures the capital city is less progressive than you might think.

Findings from the British Social Attitudes survey found that residents were the least likely to say that pre-marital sex and homosexuality were rarely or never wrong.

Just 73 per cent held this view about sex before marriage and 67 per cent about same-sex relationships.

The trend is despite London having the largest proportion of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the country.

Researchers said the regional variations were down to “religious differences” between different areas of the country and Londoners’ social conservatism was “largely driven by religious factors”.

“Controlling for religion, a factor significantly correlated with views towards pre-marital sex, differences between London and other regions became statistically non-significant,” the paper said.

So, what’s the explanation? Which religion and its association with immigration?

Part of it would be Judaism – not that I claim to be an expert but isn’t London home to the only substantial Hassidic or equivalent communities in the UK? But much of the rest of it would be Islam, no?

Tempus Fugit etc etc

Holly Meyer The Tennessean
Published 3:32 p.m. UTC Jun 12, 2018
DALLAS — A Georgia church was expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention on Monday over charges of racism.

Er, no, for being racist.

Still, how times change, eh? It’s taken only 80 years or so to go from compulsory to forbidden.

Noncey boy bollocks

But we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much.

Convenience as we now know it is a product of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when labor-saving devices for the home were invented and marketed.

The rediscovery of Calvinism, hard work is good for you.


Merry Solstice to all

This is a cause for regret to my more devout friends, I know. They feel as though their festival is being not just cheapened and commercialised but taken over by godlessness. Is it any comfort to them to know that this is a reversion, that the opposite happened some centuries ago? Christianity once colonised and usurped a pagan festival.

Indeed, there are signs that we are simply removing some Christian layers from Christmas to reveal its older traditions buried beneath. While the Christmas tree is a German 17th-century addition, the habit of bringing greenery into the house at the time of the winter solstice is almost certainly far older than Christianity and was a Yule tradition of northern Europeans with origins lost in the fog of antiquity. Likewise gift-giving and the lighting of candles to urge the return of light in the darkest time of winter.

This is of course true of near all of the major Christian festivals. No, not to insist that Christianity means nothing nor that it is an invention (hey, make up your own minds).

Rather, that the hegemonic religion of the time spent some centuries noting that people tended to get merry at certain times of the year, three of the four turning points of the year for example. Samhaim became All Souls/All Saints, the arrival of spring Easter and the winter solstice Christmas.

As Matt Ridley notes:

If Christmas is really just a repurposed pagan festival of the solstice, this does not make any of its traditions, Christian or pagan, any more or less worthwhile than others. In particular, let us give the Christians credit for two things: charity and beauty. Had it not been for St Paul and Constantine, we might still be celebrating midwinter with just debauchery, flamingoes and female gladiators, and no acts of kindness, consideration, contemplation and care. And we might never have heard a boy’s treble singing Once in Royal David’s City in the incomparable, soaring splendour of Kings College chapel’s perpendicular architecture.

So have a merry solstice, be good and let’s hope the sun heeds our heathen hopes and starts to return this week.

Whatever your beliefs do have a merry one.

I assume they were all destroyed once sold then, yes?

England’s vicarages and parsonages are almost as iconic as its churches. But campaigners say they may be all but gone after a 70-year process of selling-off which began after the Second World War and has seen thousands of vicars ejected from the historic buildings and moved into private houses.

What’s more, they have raised concerns that many modern priests have no interest in living in the properties – leaving them vulnerable to being sold.

Campaign group Save Our Parsonages estimates that 8,000 such houses have been sold by dioceses since the Second World War, causing the Church of England financial loss because of the growing value of property.

For that’s the only way we should be worried about “saving them” isn’t it?

For non-Brits here, vicars and parsons were people of some substance in Ye Olde Englande, their housing reflecting this. Substantial buildings built for a largish brood plus a clutch of servants. Often the second or third largest house in a village for example.

This is not a requirement for a parish these days, given the size of today’s nuclear families, even among churchmen.

Err, yes, the confessional is sacrosanct

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart has said he’ll risk going to jail rather than report what’s said to him in the sacrament of confession, even if what’s confessed relates to child sexual abuse.

His latest comments, made on ABC radio, were responding to a recommendation from the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse to make reporting child sexual abuse allegations mandatory in institutions including when an allegation is made in religious confession. Failure to report would be a criminal offence.

The recommendation is one of a suite of proposed reforms to improve transparency and reporting of sexual abuse and improve the law’s effectiveness to apprehend sexual abusers and protect children.

Archbishop Hart wouldn’t report something said in confession by a child who’s been abused or by an abuser. Non-Catholics don’t understand confession, he said. Confession is sacrosanct, above the law, which is what makes it different from other forms of telling. It’s communication with God of a higher order.

You can believe it or not, as you wish, but it is what they believe and they’ll be sticking to it.

There is an added piquancy to this particular tale:

When I was 16, I went to confession. I wish the priest had reported what I’d told him


When I was 16, I went to confession for real. I’d been sexually abused by a Catholic high school teacher and her husband. I went to see a priest on the suggestion of one of my abusers, because I was so upset.

The priest I saw gave me absolution which didn’t make me any less upset. I can’t remember what the penance was. He didn’t do anything about what I told him as far as I know. I guess he maintained the seal of confession, the higher order communication with God in Archbishop Hart’s terms. I wish he had done something, reported what I’d told him to my school, parents or the police, because I’d have been far less harmed. What happened to me after that time has had lifelong consequences. I was a child who had a child. The priest let me down badly.

Perhaps reporting it to the police, the headmaster, might have helped a bit?

The Catholic church is not above the law. It’s not above anything. It’s down here on Earth with the rest of us and ought to be more concerned about protecting children than protecting its practices.

No, you’ve really not grasped the internal driver of the Church, have you? Sure, you can believe it or not, as you wish, but they certainly think that they’re dealing with the next world, not this one.

Not just left footers then?

A Jehovah’s Witness charity has been attacked by the Charity Commission for covering up allegations of paedophilia against one of its former leaders.

In a damning report by the charities watchdog, Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses was criticised for failing to report its members claims of sex abuse to the police.

“The inquiry found that the trustees of the charity did not report the allegation of child sexual abuse to the police or to other authorities,” the report said. “Nor did it report the matter as a serious incident to the Commission.”

Well, y’know, there’re traditions and there’re traditions

Donald Trump has not hosted an iftar dinner during Ramadan, breaking a nearly 20-year tradition.

Is two decades a tradition?

And how many such religious festivities should the White House follow? Muslims are some 1% of Americans, Jews 2% (or so). Passover at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? 0.7% Hindu and Buddhist each. By some estimates Eastern Orthodox outnumber Muslims. Jan 6 th celebrations, just where are they?

An interesting continuity

Russia’s Supreme Court has accepted the government’s request to designate Jehovah’s Witnesses as an outlawed religious group, deeming it to be an extremist organisation.

The Tsars rather hammered down on those who didn’t follow their flavour of Russian Orthodox. Old Believers buggered off into Siberia in order to be able to make the sign of the cross their way.

The Soviets rather hammered down on the non-Orthodox religious sects too. Baptists and Jehovah’s W and so on.

Putinism is hammering down on………

There’s more than a soupcon of a hint of truth to the idea of the Deep State, isn’t there? That whatever the political complexion on the top certain policies are going to be roughly the same?

Err, well, yes

However, the hijab doesn’t fit neatly under the bracket of being a “religious symbol”. It’s not the equivalent of a piece of jewellery that displays pride in your faith, and which can easily be concealed to stop people feeling uncomfortable. For its wearers the hijab is a core part of their way of life, linked to the way they choose to practise their faith. It is not up for debate.

By permitting a ban on the hijab, Europe is essentially permitting a ban on Muslim women in the workplace.

Well, oddly enough, the hijab itself isn’t a particularly Muslim thing.

The actual injunction is to dress modestly and different cultures have interpreted this differently. From, roughly speaking, the full burka to just not flashing one’s tits. Hijab refers not to the scarf nor even the head covering, in truth, but to the “modestly”.

I’m actually old enough to recall when it was considered very much not on for a woman to be bare armed in a Catholic Church…..

Now, it might be that the dominant Muslim culture of our times says that the head covering is that necessity for modesty but it’s still not universal. Just as Orthodox Jewish ladies wearing wigs so that only their husbands see their hair is a definitely minority pursuit.

Myself I’m all in favour of this ban upon religious symbols. Yes, this includes the air hostess wearing a crucifix, the Rasta insisting upon dreadlocks and so on, that’s the way the ECJ has written it. Employers are indeed allowed to discriminate among those they would employ. As we’re all allowed to discriminate against employers who do damn fool things. And as Gary Becker pointed out, employers who stupidly do so will lose money. This is a problem best left to the market to solve.

And think what happens if this really is discrimination against Muslim women? Their wages fall I make a fortune by specifically employing only Muslim women. And don’t say it doesn’t happen that way because Dame Stevie Shirley showed outright that it does work.