Friday, September 25, 2009

Labour Councillor calls Catholics "slobbering zealots", denies he's a bigot

Kudos to Damian Thompson for blogging this. He's not a blogger I always agree with, indeed I don't agree with all of this post but he's bang on the money with his main target.

Labour Councillor in Barnsley, Tim Cheetham (crazy name, crazy guy) came over all funny at the sight of the faithful venerating the relics of St Terese of Lisieux. Merrily tweeting and blogging away he very sweetly described them as "slobbering zealots" .

In case you don't know this, dear reader, veneration of saints and their relics is something Catholics, Orthodox Christians and High Church Anglicans do. That is, we give them their due honour as outstanding spiritual atheletes and for their closeness to God. Scroll back through time and we find that veneration of saints and relics was practised in the early Church too. A letter from the Church in Smyrna in 156 described how the remains of their martyred bishop, St Polycarp were treated:

"We took up the bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together as we are able, in gladness and joy, and celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom."

Catholicism is a sensual faith; its central ritual, the Mass, particularly in the beautiful extraordinary form is a fabulous spectacle of gorgeously attired priests performing intricately choreographed movements and alternating moments of hush and drama. The great art inspired by Catholicism is heady with colour and magnficent detail, the popular iconography - think of the imagery of the Sacred Heart, the heart illuminated by rays of golden light, enclosed in a crown of thorns, peirced by a lance and bleeding garnet drops of blood - blazingly vivid. Above all Catholics want to touch, to feel the divine presence, or that which is close to it. How jealous we are of St Thomas, who was invited to touch the saviour, or of the children of Fatima so privileged to see the Virgin Mary and the multitudes in that place on the day the sun danced.

In contrast to all this exuberant passion, Councillor Cheetham is constantly fending off waves of nausea. He is flabbergasted and plainly not a little repelled by the "creepy", "macabre", "grisly" thought of people lining up to see "parts of a skeleton in a glass box". His mind's eye boggles at them kissing - kissing! - the box and squirms at the thought of saliva (a word he can't bring himself to use, delicately referring to "body fluids") left on the box's surface being inhaled by the next kisser so causing a local outbreak of swine flu. But the grossness overwhelms him, pressing the scented pomander to his nose, he imagines the faithful "slobbering" over the casket.

Councillor Cheetham's saliva fixation is quite a serious one, incidentally. In the comments box he reiterates his revulsion at "the shared lipwork" on St Terese's casket and reveals that he "regularly" lectures children not to drink from communal water fountains. After all who knows what may have pressed its lips to the faucet in the recent past.

To Councillor Cheetham's mind, the only types who engage in all this "exuberant fluid transfer" which, nota bene "caused him some discomfort" are "zealots", people given to an "excessive fanaticism". Tory PPC Louise Bagshawe, who had the nerve to object to Cheetham's language is an "apparently devoted Catholic" and he adds silkily, she is "author of what is described (rather patronisingly in my view) as 'chick-lit'." Bagshawe, Cheetham opines, should "suspend her bigotry" (yes, that's right, she's the bigot, right) just get with the programme and admire him for daring to express himself.

In which we are dissed by a cretin

In fact, everyone who objected to Cheetham's comments - which were, by the way, a trifle distorted by Twitter's word length limit, not that he meant them or anything, though admittedly he's "prone to outbursts of brutal honesty" - are in the grip of something he calls "persecutionism". They are "bigots" and "zealots", you realise, who, no don't laugh, have made "personalised attacks" on him. The vitriol is theirs, not his. They are "intolerant", and have "hijacked" St Terese's message "with nothing more constructive to add than mean spirited internet posts, intolerance of other beliefs and unfounded accusation."

I said don't laugh.

Along the way he rehearses some derivative and frankly idiotic arguments - one might call them prejudices - about the Whore of Babylon, which he declares "conducted their business [in Africa] in a socially damaging and dictatorial way". His comments have the weight of authority because of "the time I spent in Africa". He doesn't elaborate on what this business was or is and leaves it to his readers' imaginations to figure out what was socially-damaging and dictatorial about it. I suspect it's another fixation - big black men and their big black phalluses which they are incapable of keeping in their trousers. Since Cheetham is cretinous enough to hold one set of ancient prejudices, he's cretinous enough to hold a full complement of them.

Convinced of his own importance in the grand scheme of things, Councillor Cheetham is a man who has "a fairly strongly held view" which he is "open and honest about". He's unabashed by the "ranting" of his leading critic, a mere "Telegraph keyboard jockey" who has "nothing better to do than foment hatred". Unlike the hitherto obscure Cheetham, that Telegraph keyboard jockey is the one who's paid to blog and does so getting a staggering amount of hits. Cheetham may like to ponder that.

As Dolphinarium readers know, we've seen this before. The disparaging comments, the primitive prejudices, the outrage, the utter outrage at the suggestion of bigotry and the attack-is-the-best-form-of-defence tactic of accusing the critics of bigotry.

Venomballs turned all that into a fine art, suggesting that Catholics should be discriminated against in public life, lashing out against imaginary left-footer fifth columnists in the party and seeing "dangerous" Catholic League conspirators peeping at her from behind walls. But give her this at least, dear reader: nutball may have been a few prayers short of the full novena but at least she was literate. Councillor Tim Cheetham claims inter alia to be a student of theology and ordained. How can I put this gently? He must be studying at and have been ordained in one of those terribly hands on places because he can barely string a sentence together without making an embarrassing prat fall.

Is there a sub in the house?

There are howlers aplenty in Cheetham's ramblings; nouns which should start with a capital letter are in lower case, there are superfluous inverted commas all over the place, he uses the wrong possessive adjective "their" when referring to an organisation, rather than "its" and for that matter, he repeatedly incorrectly renders its possessive with an apostrophe, while - of course - missing out the possessive apostrophe when it is needed, hence a French nun's, that is something belonging to a French nun, in Cheethamville becomes "a French nuns". Yeurghh.

Frankly it's no wonder Councillor Cheetham's thinking, if one may call it that, is in such a mess. He doesn't have sufficient command of his mother tongue to arrange his thoughts into any coherent sequence.

What the recession really means

Recessions are fearful things, two consecutive quarters of economic contraction depicted as sharp downward curves on a graph of GDP has awful consequences in the real world; the jobless figures spiral upwards and swingeing cuts are imposed on public services. The bankers who mucked around with collateralised debt obligations and the like never dreamed that their recklessness would trigger the Great Recession but so it has come to pass and as usual it is the poorest in society who will be hit the hardest.

In Coventry, this means that the council is savagely slashing funding to the homelessness charity, Coventry Cyrenians from £2.2million to £750,000. A Cyrenians insider described the news as "devastating" and with good reason. At the moment the Cyrenians' emergency accomodation service takes in 180 people facing homelessness a month. Soon it'll be only able to take in 20 and those will have to be rough sleepers. Homeless people who aren't on the streets will have to be turned away. It doesn't stop there. Another vital service provided by the Cyrenians is its tenant outreach service, gives advice and guidance to people facing eviction. That's going to go too. Coventry's homeless and desperate will be left to fend for themselves.

Meanwhile, one of the world's richest families wants a substantial increase in its already obscenely lavish state hand outs, despite the fact that spending on these greedy parasites has outpaced inflation for years, resulting in the accumulation of a £21 million surplus. MPs are supposed to be powerless to do anything about the £7.9 million paid into the civil list each year - that's not including security costs, by the way which costs tens of millions of pounds more - because of a deal struck by the palace and the treasury in 1972.

Parliament should tear up the outrageous 1972 deal and reform royal finances in a sensible and affordable fashion. An appropriate salary for the Queen would be one linked to national average wages and with a London weighting. An upper limit of say £40,000 would be more than enough. It would be expected that the Windsors would take umbrage at all this but what on earth would they do? Form a union and vote for strike action?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pope to visit Britain in 2010

We announce with great pleasure ... first official visit by pontiff ... historic occasion ... get the flags and bunting out etc etc.

It's marvellous news that Pope Benedict is to visit Mary's dowry, actually. I can feel the excitement rising already.

I'll never forget his saintly predecessor, His late Holiness, Pope John Paul the Great visiting England in '82. I waved a little Polish penant at him, our boy, our pope and almost swooned when his hands made a gesture of blessing over me.

God Bless Our Pope!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The savages invade The Jungle

Terrifying little children as they do.

Illegal immigration indeed. No One is Illegal!

We are here and we will fight. Freedom of movement is everybody's right.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

St Thérèse Superstar

The Little Flower

The World Tour

England 16th September to 16th October 2009

London Dates:
Sunday 11th October Carmelite Church Kensington Church Street
Monday 12th October Westminster Cathedral

Eagleton and the New Atheists

I've never understood the appeal of Ditchkins and their imitators, the exponents of the New Atheist shock-jockery. Leave aside Richard Dawkins' endearingly hopeless ignorance of the Abrahamic religions and Hitchens' frantic raids on any straw man conjured up by his mind's eye, the better to camouflage his ongoing gallop to the right. Leave aside the fact that our aging iconoclasts fail to appreciate the heroism of those persecuted for their faith from the Maccabees to Bishop John Han Dingxiang, or how these magnificent examples of self-denying courage inspire the faithful; martyrdom, as St Augustine aptly observed, is the lifeblood of the Church. Leave aside the fact that Hitchens' polemics on all matters religious, for all their agreeable literary flourishes, aren't quite as daringly original as the dustjacket encomia might lead one to supppose.

Leave aside all that, to your humble blogger it all seems rather backward. Allow me to expostulate: For heaven's sake, Gambetta was passé in the 19th Century. Who the hell cared about that hot air balloon, the Belleville Manifesto, when workers were organising themselves and socialists asking vastly more significant questions about the economic realities of life than the windier anti-clericalists could ever articulate?

As an aside, just as when Pope Pius IX was told that the anti-clericalist firebrand had an amitiés réligieuse in the form of a Romanian Catholic nun with whom he conducted a sweet and sensitive correspondence over many years, a fact which rendered the hammer of the modernists quite literally speechless; a couple of years back, my friends Neil and Padraig of Resonance FM's cult science and rationalism show, Little Atoms, trekked up to Oxford together with Nick Cohen to interview Christopher Hitchens. Interview over and settling back in expectation of a long lubricated evening, the Hitch startled them by announcing that he had another appointment to make - Evensong in an Anglican church - and shuffled off into the night.

Marxist literary theorist and former altar server, Terry Eagleton, is another person who is less than bedazzled by Ditchkins' money for old rope and Deo Gratias, it's inspired him to pick up pen and paper and get to writing. I look forward to reading it. If it's anything as good as this review, on the Socialist Resistance website, by Andrew Johnson, it'll be well worth getting stuck into as the nights draw in. Here's an excerpt for your delectation:

Eagleton convicts Ditchkins of a number of interlinked philosophical faults. For materialists, they are remarkably idealist in their view of religious belief as the source of most of the world’s evils. The question of their positivism is not quite so clear. Dawkins, as a distinguished scientist in his own right, is well aware of the provisional nature of scientific knowledge, and certainly knows that scientists disagree with each other all the time – as they would have to for there to be any scientific progress. The air of absolute certainty Dawkins adopts – which stands him in good stead with those laymen who are in awe of scientists – is to a large extent a matter of style, and is less in evidence in Dawkins’ scientific writings. As for Hitchens, he is always more comfortable with concrete political issues than theoretical ones, and his great sweeping statements are not so much a case of dogmatism as of his using rhetorical flamboyance to cover up the gaps in his knowledge.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


On Now

Looks like it'll be a good weekend.

She Came Along

Saturday, September 05, 2009

No Pasaran!

Not now.

Not ever.


See Racist Scum Out of Brum on Shiraz Socialist

And say a prayer of gratitude for the awesome power of the workers' movement which has been keeping our streets safe from fascists from Cable Street to Bennett's Hill.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Standing room only

at the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor for our wonderful Father Edward Houghton.

I know that Father Edward would've been tickled pink to know that the legendary hoaxer of Westminster Diocese, the man who fooled Ruth "legs" Gledhill, was there to pay him his last respects, along with The Tablet's Brendan McCarthy (who bears a startling resemblance to Toby Abse) and many many others.

It was a weekday evening but the Mass drew the kind of crowd usually only seen on the major feasts of the Church.

Greater rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents (remix) ...


Anyway, time for some Mr Vegas.

Heads hiiiiigh ...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Seventy Years Ago Today

The sky fell in and God hid his face from us for six long years.

Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła, Kiedy my żyjemy