Sunday, June 02, 2013

Another tough week for anti-intellectual fundamentalists and conspiratorial conservatives ...

(Above: why do the Sydney Anglicans keep doing it? What explains their insatiable lust for cookies, like a perverted cookie monster?)

It was J. G. Ballard who wrote about dreary and genteel London suburbs that they were:

... far more sinister places than most city dwellers imagine. Their very blandness forces the imagination into new areas. I mean, one's got to get up in the morning thinking of a deviant act, merely to make certain of one's freedom. (as noted in The Invention of David Bowie, outside the NYRB paywall at the moment)

The pond feels very much the same whenever it approaches the website of the angry Sydney Anglicans.

Quick, think of a deviant act. Almost any deviant act will do ...

Only a little while ago, Michael Jensen, now sent into the wilds to tame the heathens in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, asked whether evangelical anti-intellectualism is alive and well.

And sure 'nough, there's Phillip Jensen on the front page of the site, celebrating Dwight L. Moody as The Billy Graham of the 19th Century.

Moody was the quintessential example of evangelical anti-intellectualism, yet you can scour the Jensenist tract, and all you will find is blather about the Moody Bible Institute coming to Sydney, and Sydney Anglicans being asked to pray to God to bless their endeavours.

So who are the Jensenists celebrating?

Well naturally Moody deplored the theory of evolution, preached the gospel and the bible in a heavily literal way (with all the stupidities and lack of nuance that involves), and looked towards a premillennial Second Coming ... which naturally didn't Come.

Indeed Moody can be credited for helping inspire the profound ignorance and suspicion of the theory of evolution that still litters parts of the United States, a position which helped fuel the split between fundamentalist evangelical and liberal Protestantism. (more on Moody's role in putting evolution on the defensive here).

In short, Moody was a man who was fundamentally wrong about many things, unless you happen to be a fundamentally silly angry Sydney Anglican ...

Ironically Moody also preached a kind of ecumenical Arminian Christianity that undermined Calvinist doctrines of original sin, thereby undermining the very foundations of the angry Sydney originally sinning Anglicans ...

But Moody did believe in keeping women in their place, so he and the angry glass ceiling Sydney Anglicans have that in common.

So it goes, as the pond's old mate Kurt Vonnegut exclaimed on a daily basis when confronted by such nonsense, and enough already, because this week the Pellists have been at the front of the action  ...

And what do you know, the Pellists have been involved in a secret society, a deep conspiracy revealed by the Sunday Terror this very day, and the Terror thoughtfully provides a very large snap of one of the key conspirators in the story (James Packer, John Howard and Cardinal George Pell part of secret Chartwell Society):

By golly that man looks like the very heart and soul of a conspiracy.

Naturally the conspirators in this secret society keep everything secret and furtive, and according to the Terror its success had depended on its secrecy.

Seems like the old habits of the Franco-loving Catholic church die hard ...

It's been a bad week for the Pellists, what with Pell being forced to acknowledge various mis-deeds, as you can re-live in nightmare reads like Cardinal George Pell has confessed to creation of false documents and 'reprehensible' cover-ups of child sex abuse.

It makes it even more bizarre to contemplate the week old thoughts of Pell in the Sunday Terror, which happens to dwell on Vatican Two:

The Catholic Church had only celebrated 21 councils in 2000 years, with the previous one in the Vatican in 1869-70. Nearly all of these Councils were followed by periods of upheaval and confusion. This was spectacularly true even in Australia, as the tertiary educated Catholics who were tired of being different were swept up in the permissive revolution which followed the invention of the pill and was spread by music groups like the Beatles and Rolling Stones. 

And there you have it.

Could there be anything more superficial, simplistic and addle-brained an explanation of changes way back when? The pill and a couple of pop bands? Could Pell get any more condescending?

Well yes he could:

Mass and the sacraments had been celebrated in Latin. All this changed as English was introduced. It was also acknowledged that no state, Catholic or otherwise, could compel religious belief in citizens and Catholics were urged to be more co-operative, and to dialogue with those around them. 
These are wonderful benefits, but rates of Church-going slipped, priests, brothers and nuns left, those who remained often abandoned distinctive religious uniforms and vocations to priesthood and religious life dropped spectacularly. 
In a few countries like Holland the situation was much worse. It needed Pope John Paul II to steady the ship. He made much progress.

Now if you read between the lines here, you will see it's more of the usual.

The Latin mass changed everything, English was introduced and the world fell apart, Catholics were forced into dialogue, and what happened? The Church suffered, folk stopped wearing frocks (that's distinctive religious uniforms to you) and conservatives were needed to reintroduce the peculiar brand of intellectual repression and oppression beloved of the Catholic hierarchy ...

Of course he's right. Frock wearing should be encouraged and the more the merrier (though Australian naval officers must take care when in charge of a ship).

It turns out however that it wasn't Vatican Two that was a problem for the Catholic church, it was the Catholic conservative movement, and its wilful denialism, evasiveness and shiftiness, with the Pellists to the fore.

You can't blame the pill, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones for what's gone on in the Catholic church all over the world, from Ireland to the United States to Australia over the years - it began well before the Beatles emerged from their cavern. It's an institutional disease, and it goes to the heart of the celibate culture of the institution ...

No wonder Pell feels comfortable attending secret societies to advise the Liberal party on the way forward ...

And so to a few cartoons to relieve the grimness of the week, one of which coincidentally features Evolution:

But don't think this is new.

Cartoonists have been having a field day with the Pellists, ever since the church kicked Pell out of Melbourne and foisted him on Sydney.

This appeared in the Canberra Times on 26th August 2004, and what has changed since then?


  1. The Chartwell Society - "major figures on the world stage ... John Howard, Cardinal Pell and Peter Cosgrove".
    With those role models, one can only hope that the whole thing suffers an early death.

  2. C'mon you drones! You wanna lief forever?


Comments older than two days are moderated and there will be a delay in publishing them.