Sunday, November 13, 2011

Damian Thompson’s week in review
  • The Conrad Murray case about Michael Jackson: pharmacies are basically candy stores for troubled adults.
  • The eurozone crisis shouldn’t blind us to the wonderful things we have absorbed from continental culture. For example, the German word Schadenfreude. Jolly useful, isn’t it? Call me mean-spirited, but it sums up my reaction to seeing the European elites demolish their own empire by accident, Norman Wisdom-style. Look at the way long-suppressed national stereotypes are back in vogue. Feckless Greeks. Lazy Italians. (Or possibly the other way around: it doesn’t greatly matter.) Arrogant French. Ruthless Germans. All difficult customers, no doubt – but do you know what I mean when I say that Europe suddenly feels real again?
  • I never thought I’d see a politician make a fool of himself more thoroughly than Rick Perry doing his JR-meets-Mr-Humphries routine in front of New Hampshire Republicans. Alas, the governor of Texas was just warming up for this week’s debate. I expect most of you have seen it by now. Anyway, that’s him out of the race. I’m assuming Herman Cain won’t last the course, which leaves us with the Mormon robot. Unlike Thompson I’m not a fan of the military-industrial complex (but like him am not anti-military). My guess is it’s a case of Thatcher-like British neoconnery, living the empire vicariously through the former colony now (since WWII) in charge. As I like to say, libertarianism seems to most Brits like Beowulf: its roots are deep in their culture (where the classical liberalism that started America came from) but they think it’s scary, foreign and barbaric, and they don’t understand it. (Counterpoint: they started the postwar welfare state because poor Londoners used to literally starve to death. Think Dickens.)
  • Bad coverage of religion, only the culprit seems to be a minister pushing his own bias: Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the Reverend George Pitcher told us that the St Paul’s Cathedral row displayed a fault line between the “dressing-up, ceremonial and remote” bit of the Church of England and its “progressive, reformist tradition”. Nicely fits ignorant secular people’s view of it. A cartoon. No mention of either the orthodox Catholic social-justice tradition (often well-meant leftist opinion not doctrine, such as when a Vatican official recently called for a world government controlling the economy) that some Anglicans imitated (now usually just a churchy copy of the secular left; the Catholic version’s pro-life and family values), that the ‘progressive reformists’ are a dwindling bunch of old folks driving their denomination to death (the way the mainstream media tell it you’d think they were bringing in boatloads of youth and ex-Catholics; not so much) or that, as Thompson notes, the only Anglicans with their act together are the happy-clappies, which is fine if you like that sort of thing – and most people don’t. Don’t be distracted by superficial differences of costumes and rhetoric. High, Low, Broad, traditionalist, liberal – they’re all equally committed to a Liturgy of the Wringing of the Hands while the established Church falls off a cliff. That’s their right (I don’t tell them how to run their church), and it’s not broadly socially helpful to Catholics like in Newman’s day, so, so what? Sayonara.

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