I am not quite sure how it happened, but by the age of 13 I was a blissfully indiscriminate Anglophile—a devotee of Jane Austen, “Doctor Who,” Monty Python and the Beatles. The summer of my first teen year, I didn’t just wake up in the wee hours to watch the televised wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer; I dutifully recorded the audio of some of it on a small tape deck for easy replay. When “Chariots of Fire” surprisingly won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1982, it felt like a personal triumph.
It was in that impressionable state that “Brideshead Revisited” entered, and changed, my life. The 11-part television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s great novel aired weekly on PBS, the main supplier of my Brit fixes, and I sat gape-jawed at it, drinking it all in, even as its narrative took turns I didn’t understand at the time (some of which I still wrestle with, in different ways). The book soon became a beloved talisman as well. And while my initial attraction was the usual aesthetic one—the accents, the clothes, the vintage motorcars—the novel’s deeper strands wove themselves indelibly into my own story.
Across the western world it has been a long tradition to arrange a production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet at Christmas time. Few productions have been as gorgeous as The Mariinsky Theatre’s production of 2012 with the beautiful Alina Samova. More than 9 million have seen it.
David Marr’s Quarterly Essays on Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell have been among the most politically damaging of any writing that has come from the left. They have been damaging not because Marr mounts irresistible argument backed by unassailable evidence. No, they were damaging because of Marr’s considerable talent as a writer – a postmodernist writer with the creative power of a skilled novelist. Marr is a writer of ‘faction’ – fiction that is presented as fact. I make my case for Marr’s status as a postmodernist writer of ‘faction’ in chapter 13 of my just released ebook TONY ABBOTT AND THE TIMES OF REVOLUTION (paperback due February 2019).
Nobody has been more scathing of David Marr’s ‘political analysis’ than Gerard Henderson of the Sydney Institute. Below is his devastating critique in Media Watchdog No. 343 of Marr’s essay on Cardinal Pell.
One should distinguish between Christianity as the cultural backbone of Western Civilization and Christianity as religious belief and commitment. You can acknowledge the cultural force of the stories of the Old and New Testaments – like the stories of Job, Daniel in the lions den, and the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son – without committing oneself to the doctrines of the various Christian confessions.
That is not to discount the indispensable place of Christianity as a religion in Western Culture. Edmund Burke claimed (in the Reflections) that man is a religious animal and warned (with great prescience) that if people get rid of Christianity something else, more than likely evil, will come to fill the void. No, the Edmund Burke Society is primarily concerned with culture and proposes that the Christmas period is the time to reflect on the second greatest event – the birth of Christ – in the New Testament for its cultural importance. We can connect this reflection with the English language as its vehicle.
Enid Blyton and her writing went through a bad period when the left had almost full control of the media. They dismissed her as a untalented purveyor of the West’s oppressive bourgeois capitalist society. It’s gratifying to see in recent times just tribute being paid to one of the greatest of children’s storytellers in English.
Enid Blyton, the popular children’s writer, died 50 years ago this week.
Astonishingly prolific, the author composed some 700 books between 1922, when she published her poetry collection Child Whispers, and her death in Hampstead on 28 November 1968, often rattling out 6,000 words a day at the typewriter.
She has sold more than 600 million books, which have never gone out of print, been translated into 90 languages and enjoyed a loyal following among young readers for generations, her characters from the Famous Five to Noddy capturing the imagination and inspiring a taste for adventure. Read on...
The show trial of Archbishop Philip Wilson has backfired badly causing hurt to many people, most especially victims of child sexual abuse who thought the law was being rightly applied to put an errant Catholic bishop in the frame.
Wilson was charged under a provision of the New South Wales Crimes Act, section 316, which has hardly ever been used. It’s a provision which was introduced in 1990. It was reviewed by the New South Wales Law Reform Commission in 1999 and comprehensively trashed. Some commissioners thought the provision should be abolished. Others thought it should be retained. Read on…
HOW THE DRUM REPORTED FR. PHILLIP WILSON’S CONVICTION BUT IGNORED HIS ACQUITTAL
Fr Philip Wilson, the former Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, was found guilty by Magistrate Robert Stone in Newcastle Local Court on 3 July 2018 of failing to report a child sex abuse allegation. The prosecution maintained that Fr Wilson had been told that a Catholic priest was a child sex abuser in the mid-1970s and that he had failed to report this matter to NSW Police between April 2004 and January 2006 – as required by Section 316A of the NSW Crimes Act.
That night Julia Baird presented The Drum on ABC TV with a panel that comprised Dee Madigan, Stephen O’Doherty, Megan Motto and Karen Middleton. It was a total pile-on against Fr Wilson. So much so that even Dr Baird declared “there seems to be a consensus on the panel here” – having previously bagged the Catholic Church herself for what she described as “obstructive clericalism”.
The pile-on occurred despite the fact that neither the panellists nor the presenter had read Magistrate Stone’s judgment. Indeed, the judgment is still not readily available –as Fr Frank Brennan documents in his article titled “Philip Wilson’s dead letter day” in today’s edition of Eureka Street.
Yesterday in the Newcastle District Court, Judge Roy Ellis overturned Magistrate Stone’s decision. He found that Fr Wilson should not have been convicted beyond reasonable doubt. Judge Ellis, while believing that the complainant in this case was an honest witness, said that he was not satisfied with the accuracy of some of the complainant’s recollections. He found that Fr Wilson was an honest and forthright witness. Judge Ellis also held that it was possible for entirely honest individuals like the complainant to have false memories.
So what did The Drum do last night with respect to Judge Ellis’ decision? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The case was covered by ABC TV News but ignored by The Drum and 7.30.
When Fr Wilson was convicted by Magistrate Stone, the ABC reported that this was a finding of international significance and discussed the case at length. However, when Fr Wilson was acquitted by Judge Ellis, the matter was not covered by The Drum or 7.30.
The decision in R v Phillip Edward Wilson has been released with certain names redacted.
For those of us who love Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, and Irving Babbitt, the extravagantly convoluted term, “the moral imagination,” rolls readily off the tongue and warms the heart like few other things. Yet, most of our closest allies on the right scratch their collective and individual heads in confusion. “What is this moral imagination,” they ask in some understandable bewilderment. The term comes from Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. It only appears once in this seminal writing, but it is the cornerstone of the entire work. And, yet, even for those of us who love the term and the concept… we too easily employ it, more often than not, out of its context, thus rendering this precious Burkean-ism somewhat un-Burkean. Read on…