Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Christopher Pearson, Geraldine Doogue, Catholic v. Catholic smackdown, and bewildered militant atheists watch the rumble in the octagon ...

Taking a break means so much is lost to the devoted reader of commentariat columnists.

While we indolent grasshoppers are lolling about sipping on a nice sparkling shiraz, perhaps reading an intelligent magazine, or even a book, and preparing for a role in some parable about not getting ready for winter, the restless industrious ants keep pounding away at the keyboard.

Take Christopher Pearson. To think I spent the whole Xmas break without once thinking about him. Such a loss, such a tragedy, such a blight on my humanity. No wonder I missed the true spirit of Xmas.

So forgive me if I trawl - should that be troll - through the only recently past scribbles of Pearson.

Because you see the true spirit and meaning of Xmas is to deal hefty blows to the doubters, the schismatics, the splitters, the heretics, the militant atheists, and - it goes almost without saying - bubble headed ABC presenters.

Like Geraldine Doogue, who has the cheek to call herself a Catholic journalist, and who fronts Compass.

Hey, it's not just bitch slapping time in Avatar (or any other James Cameron movie). Here's how it's done in Pearson's Much more than eat, drink and be merry.

You see Pearson's Catholicism is so much more refined, informed, and unilaterally aware than Doogue's.

The silly ABC cardigan wearer, the socialist tea drinker, the poor dear, in a column on Xmas eve in The Australian (A time to slow down and enjoy each other) made the fatal mistake of calling Christ a radical activist.

Pearson in his ineffabe oppositional way immediately conflates being a radical activist with Che Guevara, as if one can only be a radical activist by being a leftie political activist. In turn, in his diligent desire to note that Christ wasn't an activist, Pearson cogently explains how Christ was in fact an epic failure and an excuse for incessant war-mongering:

By any ordinary reckoning, his life as an itinerant preacher was a failure that culminated in the most shameful form of public execution. Even so, he wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a political radical. Instead he rejected those of his followers who wanted to proclaim him an earthly messiah and expected him to lead a campaign against the Roman occupation. He told Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world."

There's a limited sense in which he might be construed as a non-violent leader, a precursor to Gandhi on a very small scale.

But this is hard to reconcile with his assurance that he came "not to bring peace but a sword", dividing father from son and brother from brother, and his ambiguous legacy in providing fuel for innumerable wars since.

By golly, I reckon with that kind of indictment, I'd be settling for radical activist, because otherwise you can end up sounding like a militant atheist. And what a grand thing it is to learn that an ambiguous legacy (trust god to deliver ambiguity) has provided fuel for innumerable wars. Why, for a radical activist, Christ puts poor old Che Guevara, a pretty hopeless and inept revolutionary, totally in the shade. But do generation of wars count as radical activism? Hmm, perhaps only if perpetrated by left wingers.

But wait, it gets even worse. It turns out Christ wasn't much of a thinker, and any of his triumphs should be credited to others:

I suppose a case could be made for saying that he was some sort of ideological radical, although there are striking parallels between his thought and that of mainstream contemporary rabbinical scholars such as Gamaliel.

Insofar as he could be described -- in a Judaic or Greek philosophical context -- as an agent of change, it has to be acknowledged that all his triumphs were posthumous and could be attributed to his disciples.

Well so much for that poseur ponce. What a dullard and a conventional thinker, and how inept as an agent for change. Clearly Christ was just a naughty boy, leaving his disciples to do all the hard yards - the wars and such like - and for god, a surprisingly inept philosopher.

Hang on, hold it right there, this isn't an attack on Christ. We should be having a go at the Doogue. Phew, fortunately she saves the day by starting to blather on about what hard work it is at Xmas. Per Pearson:

She tells us: "Earlier in life, I expected to feel a suite of warm, wonderful sensations available only at Christmas. My mother created such comfortably predictable Christmases in South Perth, Western Australia, that I felt a responsibility to hand on that tradition to my own family. Given the different circumstances, I succeeded [mostly] but it was hard work. I laboured mightily to acquit the ritual requirements, for myself and others. How could I let them down? My fun and joy were tenuous."

Oh dear, what a tedious, self indulgent person. Spank her Christopher, spank her hard:

It was at this point that I began to wonder whether Doogue had ever given much thought to the career of Mother Teresa of Calcutta or St Teresa of Avila or any of the other saintly figures who, after brief hours of religious ecstasy, had endured "the dark night of the soul", periods of unrelieved spiritual dryness lasting for years on end with no consolation apart from doing their duty.

Indeed, and in all likelihood Doogue doesn't even wear a cilice, so little she knows of pain and suffering and the dark nights of existential despair. Bah humbug, to talk of the lot of women and cake-making when we need to talk of manic depressive suicidal despair.

Pull yourself together Doogue, and experience a world where Christ is the bringer of wars, and save for his disciples, an epic failure.

But stay a moment, don't think that's enough of a spanking for this bubble headed ABC personality:

About five years ago, Doogue tells us, she had a "road to Damascus conversion. I would not try so hard. I would meet all the deadlines, yes, but I wouldn't (a) aspire to feelings of extra-special wonder during carols and the like and (b) I would give priority to a social season rather than a religious event."

Perhaps the less said about (a) the better, but nearly 2000 years of Christian faith and practice affirm that her second resolution is wrong-headed. Of course it may be that some of her family are converts to some other religion or to militant atheism, in which case it would be understandable if she wanted to play down the religious dimension -- especially at Christmas dinner -- to save embarrassment all round. But, for any kind of serious Christian, giving priority to the social season on the Feast of the Nativity must surely stand as a classic case of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Oh no, say it ain't so. Throwing the baby out of the barn.

And it may be that Doogue might have converts or militant atheists in her midst, which is way worse than cockroaches, locusts or mice!

Now you might find this kind of speculation - rooted as it is in speculation totally devoid of any actual evidence led into the column - as a kind of bare-faced effrontery, but clearly you know nothing of Christian effrontery.

How dare the philistine Doogue carry on about the social season rather than the religious event! Likely as not she didn't even bother with a nativity scene to set on the sideboard, as a balance to the pagan Xmas tree next to the fireplace.

Doogue's view of the experiment is: "It worked. Christmas is still a chore, especially for mothers, in my view. But once I've covered my must-buy presents and made the cake, I truly anticipate the Christmas-New Year period as a unique time when we all slow down, really talk to each other [in more than 140 characters] and revel in this gorgeous environment of ours."

Oh no, you bubble headed booby. Really talk to each other? What is she babbling on about?

Ssh, she's also mentioned the environment, which you might think is god-given, and there to be enjoyed and lazed about in, like some kind of luxuriating pagan lost in sensuous idleness, but which we all know is mere code - like radical activist - for hateful greenies and stupid climate change believers who don't have a clue about anything, let alone religion.

And as if that clangorous false note about the environment were not ingratiating enough, she attempts to underwrite the new order chez Doogue by assuring us: "Jesus Christ would have been pleased." This strikes me as bare-faced effrontery.

Oh yes talk of the beach is surely ingratiating and outrageous.

And oh the bare-faced effrontery of the hussy. What a deserving smack down. As if she can read the mind of Christ and even imagine he might be pleased, when only George Pell and Christopher Pearson (and possibly the pope) can work out what's in the mind of Christ.

Well consider us all stricken or struck, as we look forward to another year of the Christian wars.

And silly old David Burchell had the impudence, the bare faced effrontery, yesterday to suggest that, as a breviary in our new era of religious wars, we should enter into dialogue.

Clearly he didn't reckon on Catholic v. Catholic smackdowns inside the octagon, which makes even the most strident militant atheist avert eyes, away from the bloodshed.

Who is the more righteous, who is the more deserving, and who truly knows how best to celebrate the spirit of Xmas? Pearson v. Doogue. We report, you decide.

Better still, why not read about the role three American evangelical Christians played in the devising of the 'death for gays' legislation in Uganda - Jeffery Gettleman's Americans' Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push and Gay in Uganda, and Feeling Hunted. Forget what the prattling Burchell - it's all humbug, and there's still plenty of work for militant atheists in the new year, if only we can stop these Catholic v. Catholic grudge matches hogging the ring.

But I did like all this talk of bare-faced effrontery. It might become the de rigueur term of abuse for the new year (I think I've offended geese enough for the moment, and even Robbie the robot is copping a little too much):

1. shameless or impudent boldness; barefaced audacity: She had the effrontery to ask for two free samples.
2. an act or instance of this.
1715, from Fr. effronterie, from effronte "shameless," from O.Fr. esfronte, probably from L.L. effrontem (nom. effrons) "barefaced," from L. ex- "out" + frontem (nom. frons) "brow" (see front). L. frontus had a sense of "ability to blush," but the lit. sense of effrontery has usually been taken to be "putting forth the forehead."

Yep, I reckon that about summarises Pearson having a go at Doogue for talking about family and cakes and having social interactions and even thinking she's chummy and talking to Christ in her head. Aren't all Christians given to prayer schizophrenic in that way?

Golly, and I've always thought of Doogue as one of the more irritating and falsely ingratiating ABC personalities - she makes Saturday morning radio on the ABC unlistenable, and the smarmy way she introduces Compass sends shivers down my spin

But you know in much the same way as I now like Avatar because it irritated the shit out of Miranda the Devine, suddenly I'm warming to her.

Rather a bubble headed booby than a grouch with a huge chip on his broad shoulder ...

(Below: and now for a couple of militant atheist jokes).

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