Comments: Opinion for Harvest

Blessed JHN never celebrates love between man and woman or married love, as far as I know, in the entire course of his vast literary output; though he does express disgust at sexual misbehavior between the sexes (which some use as evidence of heterosexuality). Affectively he was given to passionate devotion to his own sex (the airbrushed Hurrell Froude being the most intense case).

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Saturday, 9 October 2010 at 3:54pm BST

I think Giles Fraser is well tuned in to the current noise of American politics.

I live in a conservative part of Virginia, and the tone of anger in letters to the local newspaper, as well as the editorials and op ed pieces, has become markedly harsher in the last two years.

Because we host one of Virginia's refugee resettlement offices, we are a far more ethnically diverse community than you might expect, with a Muslim population large enough to support a mosque. In the last year or so a group of Jews, Christians and Muslims has started meeting once a month to discuss issues of interest, especially Arab/Israeli relations. This interfaith group has its regular meeting tomorrow - open to the public - and in yesterday's local paper a man wrote to urge conservative Christians to attend and voice concerns in "a gentlemanly manner."

Last sentence was [approx]: "Then we'll see how long these discussions continue."

It's poisonous and it scares me.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Saturday, 9 October 2010 at 6:55pm BST

Giles Fraser's piece on the Tea Party is spot on. IMHO, the Tea Party is all about fear. Both from people who are fearful and from those who want to exploit fear. It's also about making some people more American than others. And I agree with those sources that Giles Fraser paraphrases about the real anger among some white males that there is a non-white male in the White House.
I find it more than strange that many of the conditions that Fraser cites for fueling the existence of the Tea Party existed under the former President Bush, and there was no organized activity. But Barack Obama gets elected, and NOW the Tea Partiers are upset.

Posted by peterpi at Saturday, 9 October 2010 at 7:38pm BST

"Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Looking at the fearful, insular US."

Have fun shooting fish in a barrel, eh Giles?

But amidst the six paragraphs of "Duh (Try living through it!)", there's this:

"The instinct for economic protectionism against the economic threat of China is growing steadily. It is remarkable how quickly the US is prepared to abandon its apparent commitment to the free market."

1) Whatever the "Tea Party" stands for (do they know?), one thing I've NEVER heard from it, is economic protectionism. ("Buy American"? Maybe. "Put tariffs on foreign goods"? Nuh-uh. Their "astro-turf" overlords would never permit the latter sentiment!) But

2) They SHOULD!

I, for one, will never apologize for wanting tariff protections on goods coming from nations {cough *China* cough} w/ 1) NO worker (inc. *union*) rights, and 2) little to NO consumer/environmental protections (Deadly pet food anyone? Hello?)

I know y'all across the Pond are going to equate "US Market Protections" w/ keeping YOUR products out of the US market: I'm NOT endorsing that.

But knee-jerk endorsements of absolutely "Free Markets" mean only upholding the "freedom" of capital(ists) to SCREW workers (and the Earth!) wherever there is the most profit to be made. How would anyone get THAT from the Gospel? O_o

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 9 October 2010 at 7:48pm BST

Oh yikes - haste made some grammatical errors in my post. Mea culpa!

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 10 October 2010 at 3:25am BST

"At the heart of Augustine's doctrinal complexity is a simple conviction that we attain blessedness not by navigation, but by love. Grace is the means by which this becomes real, and its aim is not damnation, but hope and renewal."

- Alan wilson in The Guardian -

Whether this is truly 'Augustinian' or not, this statement is surely at the heart of the wonder of our redemption. If only the Global South clergy & prelates - and all who are opposed to open-ness in the Church about our common human sinfulness -could reflect on the fact that 'Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners'; then there may not be so much emphasis on the 'spectre' of sexual differentiation; something which has brought the Church into its present climate of self-righteousness and the danger of schism.

With what scienmce has discovered in today's world of gender and sexuality, even Saint Augustine might have been able to integrate his former life with his latter understanding of the redeeming love of the Creator - despite what he had experienced of human fragility.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 10 October 2010 at 9:12am BST

"Newman's advocacy of friendship is hard to make when, on the one hand, there are those who would use him as a gay icon and, on the other, there are others who would make him a comfortable, conservative saint." - Mark Vernon, The Guardian -

Maybe we will never know - this side of paradise -what precisely motivated John Henry Newman's decision to be buried in the same grave as his beloved companion. One wonders, though, what 'The Church' thought about this at the time of his burial - especially considering the fact that the whole idea of 'Special Friendships' (one-to-one) certainly were not encouraged at the time either in the seminary or the religious communities.

Perhaps the real question might be this: Was Cardinal Newman intent on overturning current thinking in the Catholic Church about the value of the bond of friendship between two clerics who worked together? Newman himself used the word *love* to explain their relationship. One wonders whether this was in the fullest extent of that word? And then we might go on to the matter of whether the Greek word 'agape' might be inclusive of all ways of expressing love.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 10 October 2010 at 9:32am BST

As an open minded Roman Catholic, I appreciated the story about "the end of the pew". Why? Just becouse in my humble opinion, the problem of secularism in our societies is not only concerning social justice in society, but even and in large due to the methodology of the Churches. In fact we have to be innovative and first of all, approach to the usual people of our current cities. I certainly recommend this report to all the clergy and all the people!...

Posted by Pensamento Positivo at Sunday, 10 October 2010 at 3:50pm BST

"Was Cardinal Newman intent on overturning current thinking in the Catholic Church about the value of the bond of friendship between two clerics who worked together?"

I think his gesture was part of a broader project. There is an emotional wound at the root of Newman's personality (study the cold relationship to his mother, the extreme narcissistic introspection) and he worked hard, as if to compensate, to build up warm affectivity, using his heart, in many relationships -- encouraged in this by the ethos of friendship in Oxford and in the Fathers (which he highlights in an essay on Basil and Gregor) -- his funeral arrangements would fit into both traditions. "Current thinking in the Catholic Church" may have been less clear and monolithic than imagined; the Oratory of St Philip seems to have provided an ideal context for Newman's ideal of friendship; he refers in one sermon to St Philip telling one of his young disciples that if he does not behave better he will be deprives of his caress. Personal communication, laced with affectivity, is the pathway of the gospel in JHN, cor ad cor loquitur.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Monday, 11 October 2010 at 7:26am BST

Pews can inhibit and many churches are overpewed. But some sorts of chairs ( esp on carpet) can kill atmosphere. When we restored St George's Bloomsbury we took out the pews ( a controversial move) but had Luke Hughes's Pew Benches 9 all sponsored). They are movable and stackable and opened St G's up for concerts / lectures / drama a small parish financial viability with no loss of the sense of sacred space in a glorious Hawkesmoor Grade 1 Listed Building.

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 11 October 2010 at 12:15pm BST

Absolutely bang on Giles Fraser for making such a cleanly written and accurately descriptive essay on the "tea-baggers" (as they are derisively known to us here in the U.S.).

I cannot say this enough, the climate in the USA at present cannot be far away from what feelings and tensions where in pre-WWII Germany. It is as Cynthia Gilliatt put it, chilling.

Posted by evensongjunkie at Monday, 11 October 2010 at 5:42pm BST

I have always liked the Russian approach to pews, which is not to have them. Or chairs, except a few around the perimeter for the use of the aged, the ill, or the lazy (like myself).

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Tuesday, 12 October 2010 at 8:17pm BST

In re Giles Fraser's essay:

Posted by evensongjunkie at Tuesday, 12 October 2010 at 11:56pm BST

Pews or deck-chairs ? Is the ship cruising or heading for the rocks ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 13 October 2010 at 2:32pm BST

The mate on watch is obsessing about chart corrections, the wheelsman is grumbling about what course to steer while not watching the gyrocompass and the old man is entertaining his buddy from Rome down in the Officer's ward.

Posted by evensongjunkie at Thursday, 14 October 2010 at 3:26am BST

Giles Fraser's assessment of the Tea Party is little more than European prejudices recycled. The Tea Party Movement represents legitimate Americans' concerns about the explosive growth of our Federal Government (and yes, Giles, many of us were horrified by Mr. Bush's excesses, but are absolutely mortified by the profligacy of Mr. Obama). We have watched the rule of law be subjugated to the whims of a self-righteous, self-important elite who think they know what is best for those of us who are "clinging bitterly to guns and religion." For example, those who invested in bonds in at least one of the Big Three car companies saw their investment put behind the interests of labor unions - in complete contradiction to over two hundred years of established US law. Mr. Obama declared that it was so, so it was the way things were!

The proles are now expected to jump eagerly into lock step with the Marxist Zeitgeist and smile when the Federal Government destroys our private health care system and makes ALL Americans dependent on them for their very lives. Now the thieving Leftists are eyeing our private pension plans, and are advocating the nationalization of our private retirement plans because the Federal Ponzi Scheme called Social Security is bankrupt to the tune of many tens of trillions of dollars over the next decades.

Yeah, it is all about the level of melanin in Mr. Obama's skin that motivates the Tea Party folks. It has nothing to do with Constitutional integrity and the rule of lay. You are right - we are just a bunch of dull-witted stooges who do not know what is good for them. How wonderful it is to have self important folks like you Giles to tell us what we are all about.

Hey Giles, take some time to read the US Constitution. Unlike your own Constitution, the US Constitution is only a few pages of succinct genius. When you finish that, pick up the Federalist Papers and give them a read. Then you can really challenge yourself and read the letters and other miscellaneous writings of the Founding Fathers of the US. Then, and only then, can you comment on the Tea Party intelligently.

Europeans think that Fascism will come from the US Right. What they fail to see is that it is forever rearing its ugly head from the the US Left.

Thanks for sharing your mindless, prejudiced drivel. You have really contributed to greater understanding between the US and Britain.

C. S. Farrar

Posted by C. S. Farrar at Tuesday, 19 October 2010 at 5:31am BST
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