Comments: Seasonal Greetings

Love the cards! I have to admit, I've been thinking of doing a fun little anti-Christmas themed meal for my family this year.

I spotted a place that sells Reindeer: so, a main-course of braised "Rudolph" anyone? Complete with roasted tomato "red and shinny nose."

A coconut sorbet of "Frosty the snowman" moulded in the shape of a snow-man, with a chocolate "steak" through his heart, rasperry sauce "blood" and a big yellow saffroned honey "dog-marking" stain on one of his legs.

How about a suttee Mrs Claus made from A molded Christmas Plum Pudding - what a sight she'd be as we set her ablaze....

OK, so the little ones might be alarmed. But it was a fun thought while it lasted....

Posted by Paul at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 11:10am GMT

It's f****g beautiful. We really need to be reminded that Christianity and the feast of Christmas is not some sweet, sentimental, sappy, pie-in-the-sky thing. That's the sort of thing that Karl Marx rightfully dubbed an "opiate."

Posted by Ren Aguila at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 11:17am GMT

Perhaps this has caught me in a bad moment but I find this worthless in style, substance and implication. I use expletives, my own humour can be pretty biting, and the world is well known as the Vale of Tears ("Why this is Hell, nor are we out of it"), but discerning the context of the Godhead's purpose for humanity and its liberation in a few lame pseudo-agit-prop-sub-Radio 4-comedic lines capturing some sort of quintessential human 'edginess' is mind-numbing in the extreme. I think this academic (if it is who I think it is) has an overly long autumn term behind him.

Posted by orfanum at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 12:32pm GMT

'God [came] into humanity as we know it with all its edginess'.

Aha, that would be why Jesus's own language was so peppered with such salt. (Not that we are supposed to aim to emulate him in any way as Christians.)

I adore this use of the term 'edgy'. One finds it a lot when the media try to cover their backs. One thing puzzles me, though. How come this supposedly edgy and innovative stuff is indistinguishable from the tired, oft-repeated staple of the more mindless of the male adolescents one will find in any self-respecting playground? Mind you, they will be delighted to hear that they are at the cutting edge, since their English reports tend to beg to differ. (This was behind Sue Townsend's satire on Barry Kent, performance poet in the Adrian Mole chronicles.)

But it's ok guys. If we really want to be cutting edge state of the art, we need to perform the epoch-making achievement of mouthing a certain seven letter word, and boy! our career (and place in history) is assured. Not everyone can mouth this word. It takes true skill, training and...ah! je ne sais quoi.

God forbid we should ever be so uncool, so unfashionable, so 1950s, as to deny any of this. That would be truly unchristian.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 1:07pm GMT

"How come this supposedly edgy and innovative stuff is indistinguishable from the tired, oft-repeated staple of the more mindless of the male adolescents one will find in any self-respecting playground?"

Probably because the message of Christianity is so rebellious that it strikes a chord with mindless adolescent rebelliousness. Of course, the counter culture nature of Christianity is not about one worldly culture being better than another, or one interpretation being better than another, it's about the fact that the Kingdom and its values do not mesh all that well with worldly sociopolitical constructs, and that's where the rebelliousness of Christianity and that of teenagers, as well as that of many lefties, part company. It's not about "You're not the boss of me" which is teenage rebelliousness. But, a religion that says that the powers of the world are wrong and not to be followed ought to be pretty attractive to an adolescent who is furiously engaged in rebelling against a society seen to be hypocritical and all about conformity. Too bad we don't do a better job of interpreting our faith to them. Most of them consider Christianity to be one of the things they must not, under any circumstances, conform to, it being the religious pitprop of the very culture they are rebelling against. But Jesus WAS a rebel, after all, you can't deny that, whatever you might accept or reject His Divinity.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 2:07pm GMT

My best Christmas nativity scene cards sent in the past were "It's a girl" and one with a minaret in the background, giving it that Middle East flavour.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 2:28pm GMT

Sorry, but this is neither edgy, original, nor very funny (although, as a splendid case of arrested development, I do see the snicker value of dropping an F bomb on a Christmas card). Any real edginess in four letter words has already been exploited by the likes of Burroughs, Bruce, and Carlin.

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 2:43pm GMT

"Probably because the message of Christianity is so rebellious that it strikes a chord with mindless adolescent rebelliousness" (Ford Elms)

This is why I play the third blog anthem on Mad Priest's website so often. I'm so busy cleaning up the rough edges of the Christian message to be palatable, I have to remind myself from time to time what the real gospel message is, and that the kind of language in that song sung by The Gena Rowlands Band has far more integrity, far more genuine than my polite mush, as much as the people I serve love that mush.

One Sunday, years ago, I sang a song by Toni Amos as the sermon, "I'm lookin' for a savior in these dirty streets..." Check it out - again, true, genuine theology with integrity.

I enjoy your flirtation with the Christmas cards, Simon. Thanks for the guts to post this.

Posted by Rev. Lois Keen at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 3:08pm GMT

I'd like to write a more considered response to this later, but, for the time being, please can Christopher Shell tell me how you can pepper something with salt?

Posted by toby forward at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 4:05pm GMT

"My best Christmas nativity scene cards sent in the past were "It's a girl" and one with a minaret in the background, giving it that Middle East flavour."

I saw one a few years ago that was actually far more 'orthodox' than it's creators probably understood. It was a view from the foot of an elaborate Crucifixion scene, complete with weeping women at the foot of the Cross, and in Gothic Font at the top "Merry Christmas".

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 4:28pm GMT

Hm, I see that I have at any rate prompted a response - though for me an unexpected one. That may of course be my 'arrested development'. But I do wonder why the strong response by some here; I don't mean responses from people disagreeing with me, or even disagreeing with the appropriateness of the material - I am more curious about the desire of some to frame their responses in a particularly insulting way. That doesn't hurt me or cause me distress, but I do find it curious.

Can I also just say, gently, to Lois that this wasn't written by Simon - I don't want to have him blamed for it!

Happy Christmas to all!

Posted by Ferdinand von Prondzynski at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 4:38pm GMT

Hi Ford-
Your profound analysis of what is after all nothing but a perfectly conventional and unimaginative use of a very common swear-word is montypythonesque. But the serious point is that yes Jesus was certainly a rebel; but there are many different kinds of rebels - he was not *that* particular kind of (actually rather conformist) rebel, but *another* kind. When he said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (e.g. foul language) in Mk 7, then he was saying something that presumably he believed, and also something which fits in with the basic truth of what you sow you reap / what goes in must come out. (I have heard this less beautifully described as 'rubbish in: rubbish out.') Both his own words, common sense, and observation support these principles. Horrible words do not come from the Mother Teresas of this world. These are obvious and basic facts.

Hi Toby-
I suppose it is called deliberate wordplay, though not of the highly skilled or literary variety.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 6:23pm GMT

I'd like some of those cards to send to the bishop who locked us out of our church last week.

On the other hand, I'd really rather send one that says "go f*** yourself instead of us" because the bishop's God is money and power NOT the baby born in Bethlehem.

Saint Andrew's-on-the-Mount in exile
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, USA

Posted by Kate Conant at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 7:38pm GMT

Sorry, Ferdinand, if I'd read the byline once in awhile I would have noticed! I still appreciate what you wrote.

And it was Tori Amos (not Toni Amos) whose song I sang years ago. (Preview could be my friend if I would use it.)

Posted by Rev. Lois Keen at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 8:04pm GMT

But what else does one expect from a 13-year-old girl? (Sorry, readers: in-joke.)

A blessed Christmas to you, Ferdinand.

Molly

Posted by Molly Wolf at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 8:28pm GMT

Ah, how nice to 'see' some old friends - good to hear from you, Kate and Molly. And yes of course, the comment about my 'arrested development' is totally true!

Posted by Ferdinand von Prondzynski at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 11:43pm GMT

I have to say that I do think, on this one occasion: of a rather offensive escursion into the realm of 'satire', our dear web-master may have got it wrong - vis-a-vis the subject matter being published on a site given the title *Thinking Anglicans*. What was Ferdinand thinking about when he submitted this eather strange reflection just before the Feast of the Nativity of O.L.J.C.?

Real satire (which David Virtue often claims for his own mis-conceived writings on his own site - and that should worry us a little) I can usually smile at. This effort fails to amuse.

Sorry, Simon and Ferdinand, but I just think the article unworthy of this site and the Season, and for the first time I find myself mostly in agreement with Christopher Shell (on Friday).

Having said all of that; I do know that God has better material to offer on things that really matter about Christ, his Church and the world - that really engages the thought processes of most of your readers - and look forward to further quality input.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 4:55am GMT

Ferdinand,

Perhaps you were thinking of my post, perhaps not but I'd say in response - you appear to have deliberately pre-empted any sense that such language is inappropriate or plain adolescent on the part of those who may find it scandalous, yet now you feel some of the reaction is 'insulting'. Go figure.

Still, I am sorry that you feel that but I also do hope you will have emphatically understood that what has underligned the response is not a mindless, concerted defence of the twee and saccharine, nor the desire to push on folks a two-dimensional Jesus, hobbled by a overly sweet sanctimoniousness. I do not buy in to that whole 'offensive' speech debate either (rather taking the hurly-burly of response and counter-response as something natural).

I certainly believe that in effect Jesus was without doubt telling the world, its tyrants, oppressors, exploiters, the mean and uncaring rich and the religious hypocrites where to go (Hell, quite often, actually), and that whenever I have the strength of will and chutzpah to do the same by inverting the rule of the day, I am also giving the finger to the man. And I also love the bit where he says he brings not peace but a sword (ahem, metaphorically, that is).

Someone else has mentioned him and I have read almost everything that Burroughs has written, including his own view that the first language used by humans was very probably something similar to f*ck. Burroughs doesn't in the main have anything good to say about Christianity (joke) but he has a whole lot of valid stuff to say about how language is used to condition humans, and bind them to real political and social evils. This is a message I understand, and appreciate.

All the same, using the word f*ck is not to offer the Peace, seeing it as essential to our adult cognizance of Christ's message is misplaced, and revelling in its utterance for its surface effect is to be less than inspired - to my mind, at least.

Posted by orfanum at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 7:58am GMT

I don't understand all the negative comments. The f*** card says nothing about a Christian Christmas, but everything about the spirit with which many in our secular age approach the mass festival of X-mas.

And when I realise that despite all the planning I have left someone off my Christmas card list who would definitely be most perturbed that ceremonies hadn't been adhered to, I would certainly giggle at a card like that on my rushed emergency shopping trip.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 10:05am GMT

It is interesting that some readers thought I was going for satire here - I wasn't. I was simply pointing out something I saw, and finding something less offensive in it than I myself might have anticipated in the abstract.

We are in the culture we're in. I spend a lot of my time arguing that Christianity cannot successfully occupy a position of cultural superiority in the face of popular trends: if we wanted to take that line, then we might as well agree with David Virtue and Abp Akinola regarding their particular obsessions. We need to engage with a society that on the whole believes we have very little of use to say and who believe that our main pre-occupation is to wrap ourselves in a world of Victorian values.

Clearly, as indeed I said, we don't need to become coarse or cynical to meet that objective. But equally we don't do much good sitting on the margins tut-tutting.

The two things that have struck me in the responses are the following. First, some who didn't like what I wrote seemed to think it was reasonable to explain that with some personal insults hurled at me: 'arrested development', 'worthless', that kind of thing. It struck me as telling me 'I disapprove of your adolescent use of words, so I'm going to respond with some playground name-calling' - which for me rather takes away from the intended counter-argument. There is actually a much better and interesting argument against my post than the initial responses would suggest.

Secondly, those who clearly object to the use on this site of four letter words don't really seem to be able to explain why. With respect and apologies, Father Ron's comment above is an illustration. He doesn't like it, but appears to me to be struggling to find a reason that he can articulate. Orfanum's initial response was, to me, not really much more than two fingers; his subsequent more detailed comment is more interesting, but also curiously incomplete. What shines through is instinctive dislike of the words used, but no very clear reasoning. And where on earth did I (or anyone, ever) say that 'using the word f**k is to offer the Peace'? Indeed, what would that even mean? And who on earth ever said that this word is 'essential'?

For the record (and some people who are regular readers here know me quite well) I never use obscenities or profanities in my normal speech. There are people who have known me for decades and will literally never have heard me use a four-letter word. But it is there, in the world around me, and I ought to engage with it.

Since some of you have rather thrown stuff at me, let me say that so far the responses to what I have written have (with exceptions) been less than intellectually satisfying, and in some cases not much more than name-calling. I suspect that there is a better debate that could be had around this, and I'd love to engage in it.

Posted by Ferdinand von Prondzynski at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 11:27am GMT

"he was not *that* particular kind of (actually rather conformist) rebel, but *another* kind."

I agree, but do you expect an adolescent to make that distinction? And I wasn't making an "analysis" of anyone's use of a swear word. I was pointing out that rebellion against worldly authority is an aspect of Christianity, that this should be far more attractive to young people than Christianity is, largely because the loudest voices in Christianity preach a message of conformity to the status quo, and, what's worse, some try to claim that such behaviour is "countercultural". As to "foul language", I'm not making an argument for it altogether, but it is far more than a defect in linguistic ability, for starters, it can be used effectively. St. Paul did so at least once in the pages of Scripture.

"Horrible words do not come from the Mother Teresas of this world"

Words aren't horrible, Christopher, ideas can be. It's not that someone uses a word you or your granny might find offensive, it's about the emotion expressed. Jesus, after all, didn't say much about using indelicate terms for sexual acts or body parts in fits of anger, but He was quite clear about calling one's neighbour a fool.

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 2:47pm GMT

Two points, which I suppose were not made very clear in my comment. (A) The "arrested development" crack was aimed at myself, not at you, Ferdinand. I am the most stunning case of arrested development that I know; luckily, I have been able to turn it into a paying job by working with middle school students*. And, being so immature, I snickered at the cards. (B) My comments were meant to be directed at the Christmas cards themselves. It's *them* that I didn't think were " edgy, original, nor very funny."

I am sorry that I wrote with such imprecision as to give you the impression that you, or your post, were the subjects of my post. That was not the case. Please accept my apologies, and have a happy Christmas.

*In order to prove my bona fides to the charge of arrested development, I am quite ready to tell a long string of adolescent jokes picked up from 12 - 14 year olds, not all of which rely on bodily functions for the punch line (but most do)

Posted by BillyD at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 2:56pm GMT

"We need to engage with a society that on the whole believes we have very little of use to say and who believe that our main pre-occupation is to wrap ourselves in a world of Victorian values."

They have good reason to believe that, though. I mean, Conservatives seem, by and large, to exist in a world of fear and threat. The message of the Gospel gets lost on times in a sea of "The world is going to Hell on a handbar! Everybody panic, the evil Liberals are trying to destroy all that is good and holy." You can't really expect a society whose individuals enjoy far more social freedom than their parents and grandparents to find that attractive, unless, of course, they are just as terrified of change as the conservatives preaching the message. And I don't have the "OOOH, those are BAD WORDS!" kind of attitude to swearing. Societal attitudes to swearing, like to many linguistic phenomena are emotionally and socially based, then justified with pseudoscience. An example: those who swear have poor vocabulary and language skills. The opposite is usually the case, actually, and the "proper" use of profanity, in those areas of the culture where it is acceptable, even advisable, is a matter of some skill, and those who do a good job are respected for the ability.

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 4:01pm GMT

It's been rather depressing to see the knee-jerk negative responses to this piece. Why is it that sites like this one and Fulcrum, which aim to attract a more open, intelligent community of people, also attract so many narrow and unthinking ones? The more fundamentalist sites tend to censor contributions from liberals, to keep themselves pure, but the more liberal sites allow contributions from hard-liners, who want to put down anything which they find less than orthodox in their own terms. I don't want to censor out the unthinking posts which fail to understand and appreciate Ferdinand's piece, but I wish that fewer of them bothered to voice their narrow reflections here. For myself, I differ from Ferdinand. I rejoice in the more earthy and obscene words, and use them as often as I can get away with in my everyday speech. If they were good enough for Chaucer they're certainly good enough for me.

Posted by toby forward at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 5:58pm GMT

The opposite is usually the case, actually, and the "proper" use of profanity, in those areas of the culture where it is acceptable, even advisable, is a matter of some skill, and those who do a good job are respected for the ability....

Abso-bloody-lutely!

Posted by Kennedy at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 7:44pm GMT

"Father Ron's comment above is an illustration. He doesn't like it, but appears to me to be struggling to find a reason that he can articulate." - Ferdinand -

Dear Ferdinand,

Having just got back from my early morning Mass with the Sisters of the Sacred Name here in Christchurch, New Zealand, I have read your response to my response to your article.

I suppose, in reaction to your thought that my reaction to the article was a bit over the top, and maybe unrealistic - given the culture of the world around us - I might just offer the following in part explanation.

My early beginnings were spend in difficult circumstances in the UK before and during the second world war - wherein some pretty tough epithets were thrown around will-nilly. I also served an engineering apprenticeship, and a period in the RAF, where one was constantly bombarded with language of a highly-questionable toxicity - especially from Cockney drill sergeants. So I do know what I am talking about.

When travelling on the buses nowadays, I am often shocked at the freedom with which young people - girls as well as boys - use your favourite Anglo-Saxon word with almost catatonic frequency. I find this particularly offensive - especially when this is so flagrantly done to offer insult to the adults within their hearing.

I also find the expletives of Billy Connolly and Gordon Ramsay on Television programmes to be completely unnecessary, and after a time quite unfunny, and used as a substitute for real humour. So I suppose I am what you might call 'Uncool'. However, I would not want to be called uncouth. I prefer to use my expletives only in places and on occasions where I am actually wanting to express real disgust with the subject I am disgusted about. Does that sound at all reasonable?

Anyway, Ferdie, do have a lovely Christmas, with whatever sort of Greeting you might prefer - but from me just this - A Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 8:33pm GMT

All sorts of souls respect and affirm Jesus. Some of them are souls who are quite adept a coarse language. Some might be offended that such souls can be called brothers and sisters in Christ, but that is irrelevant. Grace comes from God, not men, so men have no right to reject others' grace.

Isaiah 44:3-5 "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, ‘I belong to the LORD’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD'S,’and will take the name Israel."

A few months ago a work colleague exclaimed "Jesus Christ!" and then apologised for blaspheming. My comment at the time was that Jesus was not offended that he was called for help when someone was distressed. I later discovered that this man attended Sunday School nearly every Sunday until he was 18. If I been dismissive or been ruffled by his coarse language, I would never have found out about his honor and integrity, or faith in God.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 9:07pm GMT

"....but I wish that fewer of them bothered to voice their narrow reflections here."

But, but, but, that's what makes this FUN!

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 10:29pm GMT

Hi Ford-
So far as I can make out, Jesus said just as much about 'filthy talk' as about calling one's neighbour a fool - both of which are jolly unpleasant and ugly. One is in Mark 7 (and parallels), one in Matthew 5 (and parallel?). Total: one saying each. More sayings needed? Probably no need for Him to make the same point twice.

When you say that words are not horrible whereas ideas are, I'm not sure I get the point. There is a huge overlap between a word and the idea it conveys. Surely it is inaccurate to speak as though words and ideas were two entirely separate things.

Where is your evidence that swearers are usually educated, articulate people? That is quite a generalisation, and it seems impossible for any one of us to know whether it is true or not - unless research has been done. Is this what you wish to be true, or is it based on someone's research?

I'm surprised that you say that the loudest voices in Christianity preach conformity. Among Brits, this does not apply to the Archbishop, or to John Sentamu, or to Tom Wright, or to Steve Chalke, or to Stephen Green. They all seem opposed to the government on many issues.

A central point is *why* the offending word is bad in public context. 2 good reasons: (1) Look at Kenneth Tynan and remember 'By their fruits'. (2) Users of this word are regularly confused and self-contradictory since on the one hand they claim to consider sex to be a good thing and yet on the other hand they use the word as though sex were an extremely bad thing, as in the exquisite poetic phrases 'completely ******-up', '**** you', '**** off' and so on. The word is actually intimate, naughty and delicious. Publicise it and you debase it. Which is precisely the story of the sexual revolution. Gold turned to brass.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 1:29pm GMT

"The word is actually intimate, naughty and delicious. Publicise it and you debase it. Which is precisely the story of the sexual revolution. Gold turned to brass."

Maybe this is diverting the conversation a little, but I find that comment appalling. Do you really think that the old sexual oppression of women was 'gold'?


Posted by Ferdinand von Prondzynski at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 4:04pm GMT

Christopher Shell makes the thing too simple by half. May I point readers to the following article?

http://www.booksforkeeps.co.uk/issues/58/28589

Posted by toby forward at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 5:22pm GMT

CS: "Which is precisely the story of the sexual revolution. Gold turned to brass. "

Hm. Read Chad Varah's autobiography "Before I die again" (which also contains a good description of our garden!). There we see a less gilded memory of the Good Old Days. Remember the Samaritans arose out of the suicide of a teenage girl who, born in those Enid Blyton times, did not know that menstruation was not a symptom of some terrible disease. And every parish priest has a log-book of pastoral horror stories dating from those roseate pre-lapsarian times.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 12:19pm GMT

Hi Toby-

I am a great fan of Iona Opie's work on playground oral tradition, and around the time you wrote your article, or slightly earlier, I was entertaining her to dinner and talking of such matters. But your article does not touch on my main point: namely, why certain words in the sexual vocabulary convey a thoroughly negative sense of becoming mixed-up / violated / damaged. (e.g., the unpleasant phrases 'totally f*****', 'totally scr****', 'totally b*******'). From my worldview I have a simple and economical explanation for this: namely, that this is exactly what the sexual revolution can do to people. It promises gold, but delivers brass. (Ferdinand: the true gold of which I speak is committed/marital eros.) I am not sure that any convincing explanation can be provided by the 1960s worldview for why such words which are trumpeted as meaning something pleasant should in such a telltale Freudian way come to be used to convey a sense of being mixed-up, violated or damaged.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 12:27pm GMT

"Among Brits, this does not apply to the Archbishop, or to John Sentamu, or to Tom Wright, or to Steve Chalke, or to Stephen Green. They all seem opposed to the government on many issues."

You consider these to be the loudest voices in Christianity? I doubt the majority of Christians, or of the public in general, at least on this side of the pond, would have any idea of who any of these people are. The loudest voice of Christianity on this side of the pond is Republican, at times stating one can't be a Christian if one isn't Republican, and firmly believes the election of Barack Obama heralds the end of the American Republic (well, perhaps that last bit is slightly exaggerated). It also opposes teaching evolution in schools and believes that God actually cares who wins a football game, so they consider themselves oppressed if the can't pray before a football game. It opposes any form of gay rights, indeed, it has been linked repeatedly with anti-gay violence, has created an environment of impending doom (GAFCON imported that), and opposes anything that would upset the American consumerist economy, including spreading lies about the Canadian health care system to frighten people off socialized medicine, and on and on. For all their much vaunted "support" of the family, they actually oppose any attempt at lending state support to the family, or indeed, state support to any kind of social initiative. It was interesting to watch how these conservative Christians attacked Obama during the last election over things he had said that were mild approximations of what we Canadians take for granted. Did you know he wants to create a socialist society in America like in Denmark? As though elevating the standard of living of the American people to the level of that of the Danes, not a small jump, were a bad thing. THIS is the looudest voice of Christianity, at least equal with the Pope, and they believe Christianity equates with conformity to the apparent values of 1950s America with a solid capitalist underpinning. I confess I have slotted you into this group, but I am coming to the realization that is not accurate.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 12:06am GMT

Hi Ford-

Hence my phrase 'among Brits'. Of course, I could have given an international rollcall, had I been knowledgable enough or had enough time to spare. I think America can be very insular in these matters, and find Americans to be less than averagely internationally-minded. But the same applies to many or most countries, which is the root cause of unthinking/unimaginative cultural conformity which is at the root of many of our problems.

Anyone able to provide a more convincing explanation of why these sexual swearwords are used in contexts that associate them with being mixed up and damaged?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 12:33pm GMT

Hi Christopher, I tried to answer your point, but for some reason it was not put up on the board.

Posted by toby forward at Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 7:31pm GMT