29 Jul

Prescribing the disease as the antidote

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

I’ve been reading about pop music again. To make matters worse, I have compounded my fault by reading a BBC preview about tonight’s “Bowie Celebration Prom.” Here is what it said:

“How to turn a David Bowie tribute from an evening of cover versions into something better? The key seems to be the Berlin collective Stargaze, a young group of post-jazz players who will be the backdrop against which a sequence of guest singers (including Marc Almond and John Cale) will perform Bowie classics. Earlier (7.30pm), veteran maestro Bernard Haitink conducts Mahler’s Third Symphony.”

I am having difficulties with some of the wording in that preview.

What is “post jazz”?

How can the word “classic” appear next to the word “Bowie”?

Blasphemously, the providers of this rubbish describe Bowie as a rock “icon.” In truth, he was an overblown representative of the trashy mass culture industry, which is not about music of any sort, but about advertising and money.

Remember H.L. Mencken: “Nobody ever lost money by underestimating public taste.”

I don’t mind – big of me, eh? – if those deprived of a decent education by generations of lousy state schooling and the dumbed down mass media want to get together to listen to trash.

But I do mind when the trash is imported into the realm of what formerly stood for quality. Classical music concerts are the antidote to the banal noises of pop music.

The devotees of pop music have hundreds of TV and radio stations which broadcast nothing but pop and rock.

Is it so unreasonable to ask that one station might remain clear of this disease?

(That review reveals very clearly the Beeb’s order of values: “Veteran maestro Bernard Haitink conducts Mahler’s Third Symphony” is appended as an afterthought.)

Furthermore, Father, I confess to being an elitist. But what’s the alternative – to be a mediocratist?

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29 Jul

The Religion of Peace and Love: Overseas Branch

The European mass media has devoted hundreds of hours and thousands of pages to the murder of an elderly priest in Normandy.

Understandable, because this occurred in our own backyard. But let’s put this atrocity into perspective.

David Curry, president and CEO of Christian Watchdog Group Open Doors, has reported that in 2015, more than 2,000 churches in Africa were attacked by Muslim arsonists and murderers and more than 7,000 Christians were killed. Muslim terrorist organisations such as Islamic State, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram are particularly keen to perpetrate wholesale slaughter inside Christian places of worship.

Mr Curry added, “In Nigeria, an average of five churches are attacked every Sunday.”

Similar figures are reported for the persecution of Christians by Muslims in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

Syria and Iraq were home to populous and flourishing Christian communities for two thousand years.

But Christianity has been almost completely wiped out in those countries.

The same goes for all the North African nations, as well as for Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In the face of these massacres, genocide by any other name, taking place across three continents, I don’t want you to be disheartened.

Instead you should turn for reassurance to the people in authority, and to those who really know what’s going on: The BBC, The Guardian, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope.

These luminaries constantly give you all the reassurance you could possibly need. they are unanimous in saying:

“THESE ATROCITIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM!”

There now, that feels better, doesn’t it?

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28 Jul

Defiling the stars

Evil communications corrupt good manners.

The brilliantly successful programme to land a spacecraft on a comet has come to an end. Contact has been lost with the module and there is no possibility of its being re-established.

So – the ineffably fatuous BBC Radio Four programme Inside Science, presented by Adam Rutherford, mourned this moment of loss, said how touching and evocative the whole experience had been

So – how does the BBC do “touching” and “evocative”?

By saying  goodbye to the spacecraft by means of five or six extracts of rock music

I thought; O music of the circling spheres, accept this audible filth, our only tribute

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27 Jul

Is it weak to keep your trap shut?

Prince Harry says: “It is OK to suffer, but as long as you talk about it, It is not a weakness.”

I sympathise. He has had a an emotionally tough start in life since his mother was killed in a car crash when he was only twelve. I’m sure that sometimes it is helpful to talk about one’s sufferings, though I’m suspicious when it comes to the various “talking therapies.” I was once in a drinks reception in a livery hall in the City of London and found myself in conversation with a Freudian psychiatrist. He asked me what it was like to be a priest and I answered as honestly as i could. I said, “But it must be difficult to be a psychiatrist and have to sit there listening to someone’s outpourings for hours.”

He replied, “Who listens!”

It’s good to talk, they say. And perhaps the buttoned-up heart and the stiff upper lip are not always the best responses to our troubles. But over these last few decades we have swung so far in the other direction with our armies of agony aunts and counsellors. There’s something sickening about all this emoting, letting it all hang out.

I remember an accidentally hilarious, and very telling incident, from 1994. A posse of journalists was taken across to Normandy to report on the commemorations of the D-Day landings of fifty years earlier. The commemorations included some re-enactment of the battle. Upon their return, the journalists were offered counselling.

An eighty-year-old veteran commented: “I was there for the real thing in 1944, and we weren’t offered any bloody counselling! We’d have told ‘em where to stick it!”

I cannot stand the way we medicalise human pain and misery.

Actually, I try to take my guidance from a quite different source:

“He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

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