Tim Farron’s Fate

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Tim Farron

They were different times, times when men and women sometimes paid with their lives for their disagreement with the political establishment – or for trying to swim against the spirit of their age because of the evil they perceived in that spirit. Such was the time of Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, whose head rolled from the block on Tower Hill because he would not say that his king’s marriage to his wife, Catherine of Aragon, was invalid. Driven by pride and his lust for another woman, that king, Henry VIII, did away with More.

Tim Farron will not be taken to the Tower of London, tried by a kangaroo court and judicially murdered. Nevertheless, nearly 500 years after Thomas More suffered that fate, Farron has had  his political career sacrificed on an almost identical pagan altar as his Christian predecessor.

Farron could not bring himself to say that human acts which Judaeo-Christian morality has deemed to be sinful for thousands of years, were not so.  Farron refused to answer a politically irrelevant question – as to whether he thought gay sex is a sin. He also thinks abortion is wrong. For that, hounded by the agents of the sexual revolution and assisted by the neo-Cromwellian interrogators of the libertarian media, Farron has now been consigned to the margins of the public square.

The High Priests of the Sexual Reformation – call them the gay lobby, the abortion lobby, the gender benders, call them whatever you like – are now in control.  They are the apostles of intolerance and their spies are everywhere. Their agents are policing thought. If those whose thoughts do not measure up to the new moral standards step into the public square they will be trampled on.

Farron has written in less dramatic terms than what has been outlined above about the predicament he faced. But the reality of his position is the same. He has been crushed by the thought police. In this week’s Spectator he put it like this:

From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith.  I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience.  Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.  At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again – asked about matters to do with my faith.  I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message.

Journalists have every right to ask what they see fit.  The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader. A better, wiser person than me may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to have remained faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

The conclusion Farron has had to come to is a chilling one:

To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live
as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me. 
That’s why I have chosen to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.  

At every turn he found himself the subject of suspicion because of what he believes and who his faith is in. He says we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.

Despite the sadness of this story, despite even the sordidness which lies at its root, in Farron’s concluding words in his Spectator piece, something beautiful, something ineffable shines through:

I joined our party when I was 16, it is in my blood, I love our history, our people, I thoroughly love my party.  Imagine how proud I am to lead this party.  And then imagine what would lead me to voluntarily relinquish that honour. In the words of Isaac Watts it would have to be something ‘so amazing, so divine, (it) demands my heart, my life, my all’.

Those words come from Watts’ 1707 hymn, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Ominous sounds

Civil wars often, very often, start when political factions abandon civilised democratic principles and practices.

Then someone starts shooting and the war of words gives way to the taking of life.

Partisans of the American Democratic Party are now, by their implicit rejection of the will of the American People who elected Donald Trump, treading dangerous ground. We can only hope that the shots which rang out in this Washington baseball field will not go down in history as the start of something much more terrible.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 11:41 AM EDT, the New York Times flashed this across the world:

Steve Scalise Among 5 Shot at Baseball Field
A lone gunman opened fire on Republican members of the congressional baseball team at a practice field in a Washington suburb Wednesday, using a rifle to shower the field with bullets that struck five people, including Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives.

And The Hill now reports: Scalise shooter identified, was Sanders volunteer.

A 66-year-old Illinois man has been identified as the gunman who shot Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and several others on Wednesday morning as they were practicing for the congressional baseball game.

Multiple media outlets citing law enforcement officials have reported that the gunman, who died after being shot by police, is James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill.

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James T. Hodgkinson

The Facebook page of the  shooter was steadily losing “friends” as news about the shooting mounted.

The Times adds, that the Virginia shooting suspect was an opponent of President Trump and “wasn’t happy with the way things were going,” his brother said.

The shooting is believed to have dragged on for 10 minutes or more, according to eye-witness accounts.

The violence was even more nerve-wracking given the political implications.

Bernie Sanders ‘sickened’ after learning campaign volunteer was shooter James Hodgkinson, according to The Washington Times
Sen. Bernard Sanders took to the Senate floor Wednesday to condemn the morning attack on Republican members of Congress, saying he was horrified to learn that the suspect had been a campaign volunteer for his presidential bid last year.

Dylan’s long journey to the “Father of Night”

A Rare Smile

Bob’s in the news again, Bob Dylan, that is. He is eventually going to collect his Prize money, having finally paid his debt to the Nobel Committee by penning his truly Dylanesque lecture – a duty he had to fulfil before they could give him the money. He deserves it.

You could say it is all about three books. These are the books which he says have been central in his life and his music: Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Homer’s Odyssey. 

Alexandra Schwartz in The New Yorker magazine touches the flavour of the lecture in her reflections on the man and his work in her piece in the magazine this week.

At the end of his lecture, Dylan describes the moment in the Odyssey when Odysseus visits Achilles in the underworld. Achilles tells him that trading a long life of peace for a short one of honor and glory was a mistake. He is dead for eternity; “if he could, he would choose to go back and be a lowly slave to a tenant farmer on Earth rather than be what he is—a king in the land of the dead,” Dylan says. “That’s what songs are, too. Our songs are alive in the land of the living.” Dylan never needed to make that trade. He has had more lives than a cat, and all of them add up to one long life of enough honor and glory to sustain a small nation. One day, he, too, will go down under the ground. But his songs will stay forever alive, up here.

Scott M. Marshall, the author of the soon-to-be-published book, Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life, takes the eschatological theme a bit further. 

As the lyric goes, may his song always be sung. It doesn’t appear that will ever not be the case, even long after he’s gone on — tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.

Marshall looks at the element of Faith in Dylan’s life and work and gives us an account of some short biographical anecdotes which tell their own story. This “song and dance man” is no ordinary song and dance man.

Miami, Florida, January 1974: A man in a hat in his early 30s pedals up on a 10-speed bike to a Jesus People rally. He wants to chat after the rally with Arthur Blessit, one of the speakers. Blessit, a man known for literally carrying a large cross around the world, is a Jesus freak if there ever was one. The man on the bike asks Blessit questions about his faith and Jesus. Their meeting lasts about 10 minutes, and is briefly cited by Rolling Stone magazine.

The man on the 10-speed bike is Bob Dylan, and he’s just returned to touring for the first time since 1966 — and happens to be in the middle of a wildly popular U.S. concert tour.

A few years prior, in autumn 1970, Dylan took in an Eric Clapton concert in New York and then found himself on a station wagon ride with Clapton and two old friends, Scott Ross and Al Aronowitz. Ross, married to former Ronettes singer Nedra Talley, had become a Christian since the two last met in 1965, and he shared his faith with Dylan after the singer inquired about it. Before the evening dissipated, Dylan stopped by his apartment to pick up and give Ross a copy of his then-current album, “New Morning.” Dylan referred Ross to its final song, “Father of Night,” a song that served up evidence that its composer, the utterly reluctant counter-cultural idol, had not forgotten there was a Creator.

The recording of his Nobel address:

The searching soul of Ridley Scott

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Ridley Scott has not always hit the nail on the head when it comes to making films. But when he has, the nail can go straight to the heart of the matter. He seldom gives answers to the mysteries of our existence on this crazy planet but he certainly keeps us asking.

His masterpiece, Blade Runner, can be visited again and again and has enough layers in its composition to keep us coming back to it repeatedly with relish, either for yet another viewing or just in our imagination and memory where, for some of us at least, it will remain embedded forever.

The Martian has ideas but lacks the atmospheric power of Blade Runner. It is still bright star in the rather dark firmament of 21st century film-making to date.

Scott’s new film is Alien: Covenant – a return to the tried and tested franchise which for all its misfits is away above the sci-fi comic-book franchises which have plagued and blighted this great art-form for decades now.

Just released worldwide, the latest Alien is reviewed by David Ives for Aleteia. In it he sees signs of Scott’s further probing of the universe for answers to the overwhelming question: is there or isn’t there a God in the heavens? Ives describes himself in these terms:

In a world he didn’t create, in a time he didn’t choose, one man looks for signs of God in the world by… watching movies. When he’s not reviewing new releases for Aleteia, David Ives spends his time exploring the intersection of low-budget/cult cinema and Catholicism at The B-Movie Catechism.

He writes this about Scott and his oeuvre: 

The previous film in the Alien franchise, 2012’s Prometheus, was something of a mixed bag for long-time fans of the series. While it marked the much longed for return of original director, Ridley Scott, it was hardly a revisit to the thrills and chills of the first film. Rather than H. R. Giger’s classic Alien xenomorph chasing astronauts through darkened corridors, there were instead puddles of evil black goo and lots of arguments about whether or not God exists.

That seems to be a question that has been bothering Scott for a while now, as evidenced by such projects as Kingdom of Heaven, Exodus: Gods and Kings, and his failed attempt to jump start a TV series about the Vatican. Perhaps he keeps coming back to it because he can never get a solid “No” as an answer. For example, in a recent interview with Dread Central, the director talked about speaking to a group of scientific advisers while filming The Martian.

“I said, to some scientists, who believes in God? There was a long silence and out of seven of them, four went … and I said you believe in God? Oh wow, and you’re astrophysicists, astromathematics, I mean how can you actually believe in God when it’s all about technology? They said, we always reach a wall. I said, is that right, what did the wall tell you? It tells me we’re not clever enough so whatever is behind that wall is the evolution of how it really occurred. So I said, is that where we get God from? He said, yup.”

Apparently, nothing shakes up an atheist’s worldview like a scientist who believes in God. However, rather than dismiss the existence of such people like so many others in popular culture try to do, Scott incorporates them into his works. So, once again, we get an Alien movie in which a fair amount of time is spent watching smart people ponder the possibility of a creator.

Ives full review is here.

The madness continues unabated

Of all the strains of that debilitating mental illness we call political correctness, none is more threatening to our culture and Civilization than the faux phobia generated around the so-called crime of cultural appropriation.  I’m an Irishman. How dare I write in the language of the English?

Without what they call cultural appropriation there would be no Madam Butterfly, no Turandot, Le nozze di Figaro. Nor would there even be rock’n roll.

It is bewildering. The latest – at least at the time of writing, and if I wait a few minutes it probably will not the the latest – outbreak of this malady is reported in Canada and commented on here by a writer in the National Post.

I have checked my white privilege, which may be balanced somewhat by the fact I’m a woman and thus a member of a group which on paper is chronically oppressed, which may in turn be offset by my relative age and affluence, which may be softened just a smidge (Note: not smudge) by my blue-collar roots and experience, which is almost certainly erased by my status as a cisgendered female, and can we all agree to just stop this nonsense now?

I refer of course to the latest twitstorm about Hal Niedzviecki, the editor of Write magazine, a quarterly published by The Writers’ Union of Canada.
According to a history written in 2007 on the occasion of TWUC’s 35th anniversary, the union then had 1,639 members, from which I draw the not unreasonable inference that its magazine, a professional-type journal alternately dreary and precious aimed at professional book writers, similarly is not read by millions.

Anyway, in the current edition, otherwise devoted to indigenous writers and writing, Niedzviecki wrote an editorial entitled Winning the Appropriation Prize, in which he began by saying: “I don’t believe in cultural appropriation” and suggested that writers should be able to imagine and write about, well, anything and anyone — “other peoples, other cultures, other identities,” as he put it.

“I’d go so far as to say that there should be an award for doing so — the Appropriation Prize for best book by an author who writes about people who aren’t even remotely like her or him,” Niedzviecki said.

Naturally, he joined the growing list of people who have committed sins against the modern orthodoxy and who for their troubles have been silenced or bullied and in some cases forced into abject apology.

(This is by no means a complete list, but includes Andrew Potter, the director of McGill University’s Institute for the Study of Canada, who in a Maclean’s column observed an extraordinary traffic jam in Montreal caused by a blizzard and wrote that it revealed Quebec as “an almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society” and who subsequently resigned or was voluntold to resign as director; the Toronto artist Amanda PL, a non-indigenous woman whose gallery show was cancelled last month after she was accused of appropriating aboriginal culture by painting in the style of Anishinabe artist Norval Morrisseau; Candis McLean, author of a book that critically examines the 1990 freezing death of an aboriginal youth and whose speaking and signing events were cancelled in the face of protests organized by a University of Regina associate professor named Dr. Michelle Stewart; University of Toronto psychology prof Dr. Jordan Peterson, who had his knuckles rapped by his own university when he vowed not to use genderless pronouns.)
Read Blatchford’s full commentary here.

Take a look at this short horror film which peers into the future which faces us if we do not get a grip on this epidemic soon:

Cormac McCarthy – challenging us in our comfort zones

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You can read the novels of Cormac McCarthy and treat them like a bad dream. Or you can read them like a “Stephen King nightmare thriller with no cheap thrills” – as Kenneth Lincoln says in his study of McCarthy’s work. You can also treat his stories as you might treat those grotesque surrealistic narratives which sometimes invade our sleep and with which we then might entertain each other around the water-cooler. With some of them you would not even dare do that – lest your friends might call in the men in white coats.

Alternatively, you can take them seriously and come to the worrying conclusion that they are not just stories, but something akin to prophesies. As the five decades rolled by over which McCarthy worked on these fables – for two of those decades in relative obscurity – they became more and more like a mirror revealing to us the horrors lying beneath the facade of modernity. They tell us in the grimmest possible terms about the terrible things we have done to each other – and continue to do – and the terrible consequences of our failure to be what we really are and were meant to be.

Cormac McCarthy, although brought up a Catholic by his Irish-American family, does not avow any particular religion. But he is profoundly religious. The terrible contortions of humanity which we encounter in so many of his characters point to the same devastating end as do some of the lethally deranged characters which we find in the oeuvre of that profoundly Catholic writer, Flannery O’Connor. Those aberrations have all got the same gaping hole in their heart – the ignorance or wilful rejection of objective truth and a transcendental Creator.

In this, the second decade of the third millennium of the Christian era, the centre no longer seems to be holding. An apocalyptic vision of mankind’s fate, and the place to which our folly has brought this world, runs through every one of McCarthy’s ten novels. But he does not preach. He portrays the victims of our folly and the interplay of the forces of evil with our foolishness – and then implicitly leaves us with the simple exhortation, “he that has ears to hear, let him hear.”

He is not the only prophet of our time. Other Tiresian witnesses  “have foresuffered all enacted on this same divan or bed; … have sat by Thebes below the wall and walked among the lowest of the dead.” Surveying the excesses of modernity over the last century they have pointed to the same end: Alasdair McIntyre spelled out the philosophical roots and practical consequences of our flight from virtue and reason into the quagmire of emotionalism where our private lives and public policies now wallow in disastrous self-indulgence;  Charles Taylor and Brad Gregory take the story through its sociological and historical ramifications, while Rod Dreher now looks in desperation towards a neo-monastic solution for it all.

McCarthy depicts a world which has come apart at the seams. He does not spell out the reasons why this has happened. He does not tell us how to redeem ourselves. But neither does he tell us that we are irredeemable – despite his going within a hair’s breath of this in some narratives, particularly in the earlier portrayals of our plumbing the depths of depravity. In the last  instalment of his ten-novel output, The Road, the hope which is the basis of mankind’s salvation is burning ever so fragilely on its final pages.

“SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. (Pope Benedict XVI, encyclical, Spe Salvi, 1)

I am not suggesting any kind of link of mutual influence to be found between the author of The Road and the author of Spe Salvi, but in both we do find a signpost to the same truth. Hope is a sine qua non for our survival as it is for our salvation. The road travelled by the man and the boy in McCarthy’s novel is symbolic of our own journey. The devastated landscape through which they travel is akin to the desert  brought about by the scourge of relativism of which Pope Benedict frequently spoke. The total breakdown of law and order which constantly threatens their lives is the consequence of the same scourge which has destroyed the foundation of all morality.

“The  man” in The Road lives out the last years, months and days of his life on this earth because, he says, God has entrusted him with the life of “the boy”, his son. Hope is fragile in the world of The Road, a sunless world of grey ash which has been devastated by some cataclysmic disaster – man-made, we assume. But it is still there in the boy’s heart. After they find a well-stocked larder in an underground shelter the boy says a prayer for those who left it behind: “Dear people, thank you for all this food and stuff…and we hope that you’re safe in heaven with God.”

The man perseveres in the struggle to stay alive and protect the boy from the pursuing cannibals and other desperate human predators, the “bad guys” in the child’s language, for as long as he can. Dimly, he sees he has to, for the boy is humanity’s last hope. As he dies, that hope is still alive and with his last breath he tells the boy that goodness will find him, “It always has. It will again.” As the boy cries beside the body of his father, other fugitives, families, parents and children, find him.  They have been following them and now adopt the boy as their own. A woman tells him that God’s breath is his “yet though it pass from man to man through all time.”

All great novels probably constitute a kind of biography of their writers and tell us something of the story of their souls. The novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, taken in sequence, tell a sad story of a young man’s struggle with the temptations of a degenerate age and his tragic surrender to vanity, ambition, infatuation and self-indulgence. McCarthy’s novels seem to tell a better story. It seems to be a story of a man’s struggle with the temptation to pessimism and despair about our flawed human condition and the state in which we have left the world. It might be too much to say that McCarthy has reached the point at which T.S. Eliot felt able to conclude The Waste Land with the three words “shantih, shantih, shantih”, the “peace which surpasseth human understanding”. But  the evolution of his soul as evidenced by the sequence of his novels suggests something like it.

In all McCarthy’s novels the element of evil is palpably present. In some it is the only element, in the same way in which it is the only element in the hell-centred books of Milton’s Paradise Lost when we are in the company of Satan and his diabolical legions plotting their revenge on the Creator. In two of the novels Satan himself is incarnate: in “The Judge” in Blood Meridian and in Chigurh in No Country for Old Men.

But the apparently unredeemable grimness of the early novels now has a counter-balance of goodness in the wings – without any loss of the power of the warning about what lies in store for mankind when truth is denied. Placed before us is the horror of a world laid waste when men and women, in wilful blindness or malice, exercise their choices in favour of things evil. McCarthy’s questions, stated or implied, are begging to be answered. Where do the “bad guys” come from? Where do the “good guys” come from? What drives the one, what drives the other? What he shows us is the lethal conflict in the heart of men and among men which follows from evil choices – untold suffering for the innocent and the guilty alike.

McCarthy’s fiction is much more than fiction. It is fiction which has a frightening truth at its heart  – the truth which tells us that by denying the essence of our humanity we are capable of destroying everything that mankind has achieved since the moment of his creation.

The words of Rod Dreher’s friend, a monk in the Benedictine Monastery of Norcia, imply the critical choice before mankind today when he says “Those who don’t do some form of what you’re talking about, they’re not going to make it through what’s coming.” That’s not fiction. It’s time to identify with the boy of McCarthy’s fiction, “the one”.

Kenneth Lincoln describes the boy’s final acceptance of his destiny like this:

The boy speaks guileless truth and still brushes his teeth in the morning. He knows there are not many good people left, if any, and the odds are against them, so he comes to the point for his father. “I don’t know what we’re doing, he said.” And still they do what they’re doing, leaving a thief naked in the road to die, the boy sobbing to help him. His father says that the boy is not the one who must worry about everything, and the boy mumbles something. “He looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one.”

Comments on this post can be read on its MercatorNet posting here

 

Culture War Backfire: Polls Show Left Losing Gender Debate to More Traditional Millennials

Aussie Conservative Blog

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There is some good news amid an apparently changed cultural context, as despite extreme feminism and other Leftist causes being prevalent in public life, these ideas are becoming increasingly unpopular amongst the bulk of society.

Clearly, the voices who shout the loudest and make themselves the most visible, are not always those who enjoy overwhelming support.

While we should be proud that conservatives are more modest and pleasant in this regard, such an environment should serve as reason for an emboldened, re- energized populist backlash, to ensure that further ground is not lost on key social issues.

Because as Hitler’s Germany proved, wicked ideas do not require predominance in a society, for great acts of evil to subsequently occur.

Daily Wire, by John Nolte, April 3, 2017:

Last week I wrote about why I am not buying into the conventional wisdom that the Left is winning the culture wars. This is objectively true on the issues of guns…

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That long black cloud is comin’ down

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Fear, desperation and pessimism make a dangerous cocktail. American journalist Rod Dreher seems to have imbibed this potion. “The West has lost the golden thread that binds us to God, Creation, and each other,” he writes. “Unless we find it again, there is no hope of halting our dissolution.”

He outlines his survival strategy in a New York Times best-seller, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. It has been widely reviewed in secular newspapers and magazines like the Think Progress, the National Review, Atlantic, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post – to say nothing of Christian blogs. So Dreher’s solution is an intriguing one – but is it the right one?

There is no doubt about the truth of much of his analysis. Dreher notes that many of today’s Christians are perfectly at home in a liberal world: Liberalism has changed them, and they, in turn, have changed their Christianity. We have only to think of the Podesta-Hillary Clinton emails plotting the subversion of the Catholic faithful. Clinton lost the election, but for Dreher the respite is only temporary.

“We are on the brink of entire areas of commercial and professional life being off-limits to believers whose consciences will not allow them to burn incense to the gods of our age,” he predicts. Fewer and fewer public spaces will be open to faithful. Young Christians who dream of becoming doctors or lawyers may have to abandon their ambitions.

His pessimism about our future political and cultural life is rooted in the conviction that “we in the modern West are living under barbarism, though we do not recognize it.” This is a world in which “Our scientists, our judges, our princes, our scholars, and our scribes … are at work demolishing the faith, the family, gender, even what it means to be human.” It’s scary stuff.

But I would argue that Dreher has good intentions, but the flight from the world which he advocates is misguided. Ever since Cain killed Abel, mankind has grappled with evil. And, by and large, we have coped. There have been highs and lows, but the overall picture is one of progress.

For the rationalist there is one reason for this – mankind’s ingenuity. For men and women of faith, it is the hand of providence. For Christians, the love and mercy of a Divine Father whose Son redeemed us is the foundation of all our hope for the future. It is a lack of emphasis on hope and a failure to see how it has unfolded in two millennia that are the weaknesses of the Benedict Option.

– See more at: https://www.mercatornet.com/above/view/the-benedict-option-terrific-for-monks-but-not-for-ordinary-christians/19588#disqus_thread

Footnote to a commemoration

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A biography of the great art historian, Kenneth Clark, has just been published. It is reviewed in the Times Literary Supprumlement this week. And a paragraph in the review reminds us of something that might be forgotten in the commemoration currently going on around the world of an event 500 years ago.

Clark is mainly remembered now for his masterly book and BBC Television series, Civilization, first broadcast back in the 1960s.

Susan Owens, reviewing James Stourton’s new biography, notes that he has been able to quote extensively from Clark’s letters for the first time, “and the voice we hear is unexpectedly funny and candid.

“But it is the accounts of Clark’s involuntary reactions that perhaps shed the most light on the character of someone so often described as ‘chilly’ and ‘remote’. While making episode six of Civilisation, ‘Protest and Communication’, he kept breaking down in tears in front of an astonished crew as he stood at the church door in Wittenberg to speak Luther’s words ‘Here I stand!’ The shot took six takes.”

In the very depths of his being Clark felt the pain of the devastating impact on western civilisation symbolised by that moment in history, a gesture of rebellion – without passing judgement on its causes – from which flowed so much death and destruction, wars, persecution and impoverishment of the human spirit, century after century ever since.

James Stourton, KENNETH CLARK Life, art and civilisation, 496pp. William Collins. £30. ISBN 978 0 00 749341 8

Green with envy… to be sure, to be sure!

Just for the Day that’s going to be in it…

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In the next few hours a large chunk of the world will go green – not out of a love for the environment, but because that’s what you do on March 17.

Forget about any sense of style, every shade of green you can envisage will be flown, painted, worn and waved on St Patrick’s Day. All those inner Irishmen and women will surface for 24 hours of corned beef and cabbage, stout, whiskey and a few old songs about the Emerald Isle.

Paddy’s Day is an occasion for celebration, a day to maybe overindulge with drinking and singing… sure isn’t that what those Irish are famous for?

That’s true. Us Irish have a bit of a reputation when it comes to having a hooley or losing our tempers. The hot-blooded, big-drinking Irish… the Land of Saints and Scholars from which some of the world’s greatest writing has emerged.

But…

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