About two weeks ago, Helen Mirren appeared on Fareed Zakaria 360 to discuss her acting career, which includes playing Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 film The Queen and in a stage play called The Audience that recently ended in New York City. Zakaria noted that it was ironic that Mirren had become so well-known for playing the queen, given that she is an outspoken small-r republican (i.e., opponent of the constitutional monarchy and proponent of a republic). Mirren replied that while she respects the queen as a hardworking women driven by duty to family and country, she can’t get behind the idea that the Windsor family is somehow special in a way that justifies putting them on such a huge pedestal. I suppose my sentiments on the House of Windsor could be summed up in this quote from the wonderful out-of-print book BAD TV by Craig Nelson, in which he criticized the 1992 documentary Elizabeth R that was intended to “humanize” the monarch during her infamous annus horribilis:
What the film shows in agonizing detail is that the UK is spending a fortune to have a family dress up in expensive gowns and crowns, appear in public, and make lots of small talk — and they can’t even manage these minor tasks.
I recently got back from a trip to Paris, and was going to write about something related to that, but then I saw this report about the Kenyan bishops opposing a polio vaccination campaign and had to comment:
Last Sunday, while addressing Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church, a black church in rural South Carolina, GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee asserted, “I hear people say we’ve got racial problems. We don’t have a skin problem in this country, we have a sin problem in this country.” In a 1997 speech commemorating the desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High, Huckabee expanded on this “sin not skin” notion by saying:
Government can do some things, but only God can change people’s hearts. Government can put us in the same classrooms, but government can’t make classmates go home and be friends when school is out.
Government can make sure the doors of every public building are open to everyone. Government can ensure that we share schools and streets and lunch counters and buses and elevators and theaters, but let us never forget that only God can give us the power to love each other and respect each other and to share life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I imagine that these statements went over quite well, given that they were uttered in the Bible Belt, where people of all races love god-talk, but they’re quite silly, given that 1. Christianity and racism have aided and abetted each other throughout the centuries 2. prejudice surrounding skin color most certainly is the problem, not “sin.”
Earlier this week, a poster on the Bilgrimage blog said that an EWTN host said that the reason why adults having sex with children was a sin was because it was “non-procreative.” I wish I had asked this poster who the host was, because I don’t like reporting anecdotal stories like this. However, given that this is the same network where Fr. Benedict Groeschel once defended Jerry Sandusky (!) and said that Sandusky’s victims “seduced him” (!!), it’s not hard to believe that they’d have other hosts with peculiar views on child sexual abuse. This comment led to me think about how the paradigm of sin is inadequate to determine whether something is right or wrong.
Last week, I wrote about the negative reaction to the revelation that Harper Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchman portrays former hero lawyer Atticus Finch as a racist segregationist. Upon further thought, I think that much of the dismay revolves around the need and desire to have “good whites” in stories about racism.
Fans of To Kill a Mockingbird are aghast at the revelation that Atticus Finch, the noble protagonist of that celebrated book, becomes a segregationist and Klansman in his dotage in Harper Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchman:
I’ve been rather busy these last couple of months, so I only just saw this predictably apocalyptic column from Rod Dreher that came out after the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling:
I’ve discussed the absurdity of the Benedict Option before, so I won’t rehash those arguments. Instead, I’ll focus on Dreher’s belief that these isolated “Benedict communities” will one day spring forth and take back civilization once us decadent secularists foul everything up.
Black humanist poet Langston Hughes wrote this poem back in 1935, and it remains just as relevant today in the era of “Black Lives [Ought to] Matter” as it did then.
Guest post from Myristic Mystic:
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard some “conservative” say, “hate the sin but love the sinner,” though over the last few years that seems to be less common, for some reason (perhaps it was judged to be a double-edged sword by the right wing think tanks). This is the kind of abstract statement that is highly problematic, because it can prompt unstable minds to do terrible things. And who concluded that one can love and hate at the same time, in the same context? This suggests a poor understanding of human psychology (if not a deliberate attempt to prompt atrocious behavior).