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Sunday Night Journal, December 17, 2017

One of the things that make being a pessimist less enjoyable than it might be is that the pleasure of being proven right about the impending collision with the oncoming train is substantially diminished by the discomfort of experiencing the collision itself. On balance, I would rather be wrong than right about many of my predictions and expectations.

Recently someone remarked that the culture of Catholicism on the Internet seemed to be dominated by those whose motto was taken from Flannery O'Connor's Misfit ("A Good Man Is Hard to Find"): no pleasure but meanness. You can certainly see his point, and of course it's not only the Catholic subculture that has this problem. It's everywhere. I'm not on Twitter, and I don't think I ever will be, so my impression may be distorted, but that impression is that some very large portion of what goes on there consists of people savaging each other, and sometimes of a large number of people attacking one person in what can fairly be described as a verbal lynch mob. 

Almost twenty-five years ago, in the Fall 1993 issue of Caelum et Terra, I published a short piece in which I considered the potential for the world of online communication to increase the level of hostility in the world rather than to bring people together. I don't think I had heard the term "World Wide Web" at that point. It did exist but if its existence was known to me at all I'm fairly sure I hadn't yet experienced it, as the original browser, Mosaic, had not yet been introduced to the world at large. But I'd had five or six years of experience in pre-Web online forums, including Usenet, the text-only discussion groups on the Internet, and at least one of the commercial services which provided similar capabilities by subscription. (America Online, or AOL, you may remember, was pretty big at the time.) And I'd seen the way people could turn on each other with startling viciousness.

That piece was called "Global Metropolis," and I've thought about it often since the Web changed our lives so strikingly. But I don't think I'd read it since it was published, so I decided to dig the magazine out of the closet and, if it still seemed relevant, spend some of the time this evening when I would have been writing typing it in instead. Well, I did find it interesting as a view from 1993, and at least part of it seems pretty accurate. The next-to-last paragraph is the one that seems a fairly accurate prediction of the Internet's potential for exacerbating rather than pacifying conflicts.

I sometimes think it might be more accurate to say that we are creating a global metropolis, a violent one like those of the United States, where people perceive each other socially either as naked individuals in isolation from family and community, connected, if at all, by financial ties, or as anonymous components of a class or race. In these great warrens, people live in close physical quarters but without much sense of belonging to the same community; with, in fact, a dangerous sense of having tribal enemies everywhere. What this combination of proximity and anonymity has done for the great cities, television, along with increasing economic interdependencies, may perhaps do for the world at large: to increase both the level of tension and the degree of isolation.

You can read the whole piece here (it's not very long, about a thousand words). I certainly didn't imagine anything like Twitter, which as far as I can tell is an active deterrent to substantial discussion, which is actually intended to reward the quick and superficial remark. The glimpses I get of it make me think of an enormous number of dogs barking hysterically and ineffectively at each other. And if I had imagined it I would never have dreamed that we would have a president who sits in the White House and uses such a ridiculous medium to bark at anyone among the citizenry who annoys him.  

I'm not saying that the Internet in general and "social media" in particular are altogether bad--I mean, here I am. And I even have a Facebook account. Still, it seems that the "bringing people together" effect of it is very often to bring them into tribes united by their detestation of another tribe, and thereby to purify and concentrate their anger. The net did not cause the political divisions in this country, but it is certainly exacerbating them.

Still, when I look at the people around me going about the ordinary business of their lives, I don't see this division, and that's a hopeful thing.


A couple of weeks ago on the first Sunday of Advent our priest made the point in his homily that Advent is as much about the Second Coming as it is about the Nativity. "We await the birth of a sweet little baby who will one day destroy the world," was more or less the way he put it. 


While watching The Crown on a chilly evening last week I discovered that my old dog, who is too blind and deaf to notify us of strangers in the vicinity, still is capable of service as an all-natural toe warmer. 

ToeWarmerI enjoyed The Crown considerably, by the way, and I think my wife enjoyed it even more. It's wise to keep in mind that they filled in some historical blanks with their own speculations and that it's a mixture of fact and fiction, not a documentary. Claire Foy's performance as Elizabeth is extremely convincing. I must say, however, that I remain puzzled to say the least about the function of the British monarchy.

Have I mentioned that we also recently watched the third series of Broadchurch? I suppose it's not surprising that I didn't like it as much as the first two, but it's still very good. There is apparently little to no chance of a fourth series, which might be a good instance of quitting while you're ahead, but this one left an important matter unresolved, which is a little frustrating. Well, maybe it isn't unresolved--maybe that was just the end of...well, if you've seen it you know what I'm talking about, and if you haven't I shouldn't say any more.


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I find the internet to be pretty awful, and as a result am no longer on Facebook. But the absolute worst is what people will write underneath news articles. Many will use any article to espouse their political beliefs in the most divisive way. And many others have no qualms about making sickening racial, ethnic, misogynistic, etc. statements about anyone. Click on "comments" at your own risk! Since I have moved I have yet to sign up for another internet provider, and I have not yet missed it. You all pretty much only hear from me when I am at work.

100% agreement about the comments on news stories. It is really a mistake to read the comments on any story where the public at large is commenting. There's a "meme" going around that goes something like this:

Me: Most people are basically good at heart.
Me after reading the comments on a news story: This world must be cleansed by fire.

Rob G's comment on Broadchurch 3 from an older thread:

"I have to say that there is one sequence that is so perfectly done and so moving that it caused me actually to gasp out loud "Oh, no!" and basically to burst into tears. Now it's not uncommon for me to tear up a little during movies, but this is the first time I can recall ever having an actual "out loud" reaction like that."

Interesting--I have no idea what scene you're talking about. Can you reveal that without giving away too much?

Probably not!

Was it the revelation of who did it? I had suspected that.

no, not that. I've put it in an email to you along with my 52 Albums piece, to preclude any spoilers.

Now I'm going to have to go home and binge.


You may not want to. It's not a pretty story. But then the others weren't either.

Well, I've seen two, maybe three already. I have to finish it. Since I'm not travelling by myself any time soon, I won't have to worry about being scared. ;-)


I have been waiting for this post to show up all day--looking right at it--commenting on it--and not realizing that this was it.


I enjoyed the final Broadchurch but none of it moved me to tears. Trish was great as the ordinary woman struck by lightning

I thought it was really good that they made her a very plain, unglamorous, not-young woman. It reduced the potential salaciousness of the story.

That's funny, Janet.

My excuse is that last week I did the bulletin for December 17, and now I'm working on the bulletin for December 24,so I'm thinking, "December 14. That's last week's post."

I've finally had time to read the whole post. That paragraph is an excellent description of the isolation/tribalism.


To think it was written 24 years ago, and was so perceptive. :-)

Im watching The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

I was going to say prescient.


That works, too. :-) Although the patterns were already visible then. I was pretty impressed by some of the vituperation I saw on those pre-Web discussion boards. It was there that I first encountered homosexual activists who eagerly anticipated driving "homophobes" out of society. And first heard the term "safe space" and saw it used to shut people up.

I haven't heard of Mrs Maisel.

Going to watch The Fall 3 next, as it just came in through the library. A friend warns me that the first episode is quite gory -- not violent so much as "clinically" gory. We shall see.

Its a musical comedy - which I detest. But its got fabulous costumes and its set in Manhattan in 1958

I watched several episodes of Mrs. Maisel with my mother while in Missouri recently, and it is well made.

There's one from the '50s called Funny Face which I have a slightly guilty liking for--Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn.

I searched for Mrs. Maisel and I see it's a series. I assumed when you said "musical comedy" that it was a movie. A housewife who becomes a stand-up comedian? I don't know....

I quit The Fall after the first series. It was too creepy and grim, and I didn't care much for the Gillian Anderson character.

So, Funny Face--My Fair Lady. I guess musical comedies rise and fall by whether or not Audrey Hepburn is in them.


Not necessarily. There are also Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. And Funny Face has both Astaire and Hepburn.

Was the "Oh no!" scene in the 4th episode?


No -- 5th or 6th

I saw Mrs Maisel advertised... on Twitter.

" I must say, however, that I remain puzzled to say the least about the function of the British monarchy."

Peter Hitchens describes it as being like the King on the chess board. He occupies a space that other powerful forces can't. I urge you read him on this topic if you're at all interested. I like the analogy myself, but don't feel capable of explaining it well.

I would indeed be interested. Is it a book? Blog posts?

Turns out the episode I was watching was 6 and not 4. We got to the end when I thought there were 2 or 3 episodes still left. I liked it much better than Season 2.


"I liked it much better than Season 2."

I think 2 would have been better if they would have stuck more to the trial and made Hardy's old case less prominent.

It's on his blog. Probably simplest to google the term you want plus hitchensblog. Or you could look at his tags on the sidebar.

Thanks, I'll do that.

Re Broadchurch, I said I liked the first two better than the third, but thinking about it a bit more I'm not sure. I'm remembering some things about 2 that bugged me. I guess I'd have to watch them all again in pretty quick succession to say more. I did have a little sense of 3 being a bit topical, a bit Statement-ish, at least in comparison with the first two. But it wasn't heavy-handed. In any case all three together are way better than most similar projects. A Facebook friend voiced the only really negative view I've heard--she didn't like the first series enough to finish it. (!)

Ha, guess you've forgotten what I said about Broadchurch, especially #3, this past April. I've been lying kind of low, hoping you might have, since I'm so obviously the odd one here. ;-)

I should probably limit any assertion that I do or don't remember something, especially a conversation, only applies to the past three months or so. I had indeed forgotten that, totally. Notice, though, that your view isn't as negative as the one I referred to--that person didn't even finish series 1, whereas you seem to have more or less liked it, just not 2 & 3.

To save others the trouble of following the link, here's what Marianne said:

"I thought the first one was very well done, but I found much of the story line in Broadchurch 2 implausible, and at some points downright laughable. It did hold my attention, though. Broadchurch 3 not so much even in that respect."

It was what I said right before that, Mac, which I thought would make you all want to throw me into the outer darkness: "Broadchurch 3 just finished here in New Zealand as well, and, gosh, I can't believe anyone actually thought it was well done. I thought it was awful in just about every way."

It's Christmas morning here in New Zealand, so I'll wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Oh no, having been aware for many years that there are people who don't like The Lord of the Rings, no disagreement about something like Broadchurch fazes me. Anyway, you were only talking about series 3. I would be interested in hearing more about why you thought it was so bad.

Merry Christmas to you, too!

Just in order to make Marianne feel better, I thought The Crown was appalling, and stopped watching after a handful of episodes of Season 1. In specific: the reason I stopped watching was that the movie was a horrendous 'Dianification' of the monarchy. Usually when people talk about the Dianification of the monarchy, they mean turning the members of the royal family into celebrities or generally treating the monarchy in an overly personalized way. I mean it more specifically than that - that the divorces of the older members of the royal family, starting with Edward and then going on to Margaret's flirtation with a married man, Peter Townsend, are all viewed through the lens of the divorce of Diana and Charles. Its all about the royal family's neurotic, antiquated attitude to divorce. Nothing to do with what many Anglicans still thought about divorce in the 1950s. Diana always claimed that Charles came to dislike her because she was more popular than he was. The final episode of the Crown for me was where Elizabeth I goes to Ireland with Peter Townsend and he gets cheered more loudly than she does. Elizabeth promptly puts her foot down and insists that Margaret break off her affair with him. That was the end for me. I'm a bit surprised that Americans don't see the problem with this show. They look completely baffled when I try to explain and I don't get far. I suppose that for all Americans the British Monarchy is a Diana Monarchy. They just see it as personalities.

Marianne, that exposure of my crazier side goes out for you!

Im watching Deutschland 83 right now, at home after a foot operation.

Merry Christmas to all.


Merry Christmas !!

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Grumpy, I just assumed the Crown would be something I would dislike. Your description seems to confirm that.

I have flip-flopped a bit on the Monarchy over my lifetime - having been pretty republican (ie not monarchist) in my 20s and 30s, probably partly in reaction to Royal scandals.

If it's on Netflix, I can't watch it anyway.

I think when the Queen finally dies,I'll be pretty gutted, in very large part because she has been the reigning monarch for my whole life, and also because I think it will become a travesty after she's gone.

I say this as an Australian Catholic, who has mixed feelings about both Britain and the Church of England. But basically I equate the deterioration of the monarchy as a sign of the general destruction of modern society, including the attack on the Rule of Law. It distresses me.

Yes Louise I will be gutted when HM dies. She really has lived for her duty to her people. But I feel that what she represented Will continue in other ways outside to poor old C of E

Most interesting comments on The Crown and the monarchy. I'm not able to respond now but would like to. Should have a chance to tomorrow late. Merry Christmas to all!

Grumpy and Louise, I thought you might like to see Damian Thompson's tweet after the Queen delivered her annual Christmas message: "Every year, I think: in an era of mediocre bishops, Catholic and Anglican, at least we have one outstanding Christian leader."

Mac, it’s been a while since I watched it, but I thought the acting of Olivia Colman and David Tennant was way off the mark in Broadchurch #3 -- Colman was crying, or at least teared-up, practically the whole time, and Tennant’s rage was more than a tad too much. Even worse, though, was comparing what the mother of the boy who was murdered in Broadchurch #1 was feeling with what the rape victim in #3 was feeling as being basically the same -- I found that horribly wrong. And then there were smaller things, like the traumatized victim of the attack never closing the curtains on the windows in her house at night, which drove me nuts.

Thanks, Marianne. I saw that tweet.

About The Crown, Grumpy says:

"I mean it more specifically than that - that the divorces of the older members of the royal family, starting with Edward and then going on to Margaret's flirtation with a married man, Peter Townsend, are all viewed through the lens of the divorce of Diana and Charles. Its all about the royal family's neurotic, antiquated attitude to divorce. Nothing to do with what many Anglicans still thought about divorce in the 1950s. "

I was surprised to hear this. And it just goes to show...something or other, I'm not sure what. Something to do with the power of what one brings to a drama like this, I guess. Because I didn't see it that way *at all*. In fact I saw it in the way you seem to be implying would be the right way with respect to what was really going on. For me it was precisely about what many Anglicans and in particular Elizabeth thought about divorce. Certainly you have a better sense of what present-day Britain would see in it, and what the filmmakers likely intended--a sort of slam against E and anyone else with "antiquated" views about divorce. But if that's so they failed utterly with me. I saw Elizabeth as placing her office as head of both church and state ahead of her personal sympathies. It seemed heroic to me at several points. Yes, she's portrayed as staid and so forth. But in my view her staidness comes off as having something noble about it. If that irks the filmmakers, so much the better. I mean, by the end of the thing I was singing "God Save The Queen" and thinking the American Revolution might not have been such a great idea.

The Dianafication of the monarchy...what does that mean to me?...I've never really given it much thought, though I had a vague sense that something was wrong with that picture. But now that I stop and think about it: it's not exactly the celebrity-izing of the royal family in general, but the way Diana herself, specifically, became the Kim Kardashian of the day. To what extent she sought that, and to what extent it was thrust upon her, I don't know. I never really paid much attention to the whole thing, but somehow I never had a good impression of her. Had the impression that she was an attention-seeker, and somehow not the stuff of which monarchs should be made. Which seems to be a minority view on the whole. And I was sort of appalled by the hysteria that followed her death. So American, in a not-good way.

Marianne, I admit to having had thoughts similar to yours about Broadchurch 3--some of the behavior of the victim etc. But I just figured well, I'm a man, I don't get it. I mentioned about that I thought it tended a bit toward Making A Statement, but I didn't think it was enough that way to damage it very much.

Also, I had in mind a terrible incident which occurred here in Alabama not too long ago. A young U of A student said she had been raped by a guy who is the son of a prominent family. She went to the police and they didn't really believe her, or else--as many believe--they were protecting the accused. She dropped out of school, went back home to Texas, and committed suicide. I do not understand the psychology of that at all--why being raped would make you want to kill yourself. But apparently those kinds of feelings do tend to follow it. So with that story in my mind I didn't see the victim's reaction in B3 as excessive.

I haven't yet listened to the Queen's Christmas message, but I will.

I don't want to have a long debate about it because my only intention was to make Marianne feel less alone in being alone in not liking Broadchurch (sic). If you look at the description for the episode on Peter Townsend going to Ireland with the young Queen Elizabeth, or if you re-watch it, you will see that he is cheered more loudly than she is, and that when they return to England the Queen orders Margaret to break off her affair with her popular lover. This is one of the legends invented by Diana Spencer, that prince Charles grew to dislike her because she was more popular than him. I think those two points are just facts, but if you don't agree, that's fine too.

You're misconstruing me. I'm not disagreeing with you. I don't mean that those things aren't there. I'm only describing my reaction to them. I'm saying that even if the filmmakers' intentions were as you describe, which you're probably right about, being acquainted with the UK reality, I didn't react the way I was meant to.

Maybe that's partly because I'm obtuse but it's also partly because I believe in many of the same things Elizabeth does, and where the writers mean for me to see bad I see good. Makes me think of All In the Family. You were supposed to despise Archie Bunker, but a lot of people cheered him unironically.

And of course I'm not arguing against what you said about Diana. Like I said I only had rough impressions of her and they weren't good ones, so what you say is entirely plausible to me.

Marianne, I agree that the Queen is a great public inspiration. I think Damian Thompson's constant griping against the bishops is kind of toxic. I don't listen to his podcast.

Grumpy, I think that part of what Maclin is saying is that we are looking at this from outside, so we just don't see what you see--not because you are wrong, but because we are blind to it.

I think it's equivalent to what I fell about the way the South is presented in many films. Nobody who grew up here when we did can buy that one-sided hateful presentation, but nobody who didn't grow up here when we did can understand it.


"felt" not "fell"

About Broadchurch. I didn't notice the uncovered windows but that's a huge oversight on the part of the director.

I don't have any trouble with the relationship between the two women. They did not suffer the same terrible thing, but people's reactions to different terrible things are fairly similar.

WRT #2, the sexual relationship between the couple who were involved in the earlier murder disgusted me. It was portrayed in a salacious way, and though I don't remember it clearly now, the impression in my mind is "evil sex." Then there was the scene when Ellie had sex with a man she picked up in a bar for some reason that had to do with the case. That just seemed so out of character, and I think that they just ramped up the overt sexual aspects just for ratings or something. Even though both 1 and 3 dealth with sexual crimes, they were more discreet.

I felt like 3 got back to the feel of the original series which 2 had departed from.

I really liked the way they dealt with Joe's situation.

Maclin, I don't know why you think there can't be a 4th series. Have they said that?


Yes. If you google something like "broadchurch series 4" you'll see what they're saying. It's almost a complete rejection of the idea, at best only a distant possibility of a 4th.

"I think that part of what Maclin is saying is that we are looking at this from outside, so we just don't see what you see--not because you are wrong, but because we are blind to it."

Yes, exactly. Not saying Grumpy is wrong at all.

Grumpy, I think you're right about Damian Thompson's "constant griping against the bishops" being "kind of toxic", but I do like to follow him on Twitter because he often sends me on to interesting things -- like this piece on the Queen in the Guardian: "How the Queen – the ‘last Christian monarch’ – has made faith her message: Over the 65 years of her annual Christmas broadcast, the Queen has begun to take a deliberate turn towards religion"

yes, Twitter is very interesting for the articles it sends one on to!

Im so often sent on to something good in the Guardian I feel like making them a donation!

I do see what Mac and Janet mean - the analogy with the south explains a lot.

"Over the 65 years of her annual Christmas broadcast, the Queen has begun to take a deliberate turn towards religion"

I found the Billy Graham thing to be pretty interesting and surprising.


Yes, I did to. I assume there is some reasonable factual foundation for it.

I've had the same thought about the Guardian. I frequently run across good things there. Left-wing but not so doctrinaire as to seem irrational.

There are pictures of the two of them together and articles about their friendship.


Another thing in the series which I may not have reacted to as the writers intended: the portrayals of Elizabeth knocking about in the Scottish countryside in boots and a headscarf. I don't know if we were supposed to think "what a dullard" or not, but it just made me like her.

I just think it's because that is what she did. That was also in the movie with Helen Mirren, and Billy Graham wrote he talks about coming to visit and seeing a woman dressed that way bending over in the garden, and then realizing when she stood up that it was the queen.


The mention of the Queen in a headscarf made me think of a BBC documentary on her that I saw on PBS many years ago, which showed her scarfed and walking about on one her properties, looking at and talking about horses; you can even see her driving a Land Rover. It's up on YouTube here. The scarf part starts around the 19:45 mark, and she's zooming along in the Land Rover at around 21:25.

My grandmother (born 1906) almost always wore a headscarf when she went out. It's just what her generation did. The Queen is a generation younger, but has always dressed conservatively.

I was quite surprised, 20-odd years ago, to hear a canon of an Anglican cathedral enthusing about Billy Graham, and what an impact he'd had on him in 1954. From what little I know of him he just seems so un-CofE.

Your perception is correct. He's a Southern Baptist, which is extremely un-CofE. Or at least he was when he started. May have become more non-denominational evangelical as time went on. But maybe he had a bit of a John Wesley effect on some Anglicans.

"at best only a distant possibility of a 4th"

In the bonus material on the discs of series 3 the creator/writer Chris Chibnall said that they've completed the story as he conceived it and that for all intents and purposes it's finished.

When we had a Billy Graham Crusade here about 25 or 30 years ago, I was very impressed with their organization. There were people from several denominations who moved here 3 years before the crusade and joined local churches, so they were working with people of many different Christian denominations for the success of the crusade for years, and they trained people from the local churches to do following up, so it's not just a moving experience with no support, and they aren't proselytizing, they are sending people back to their own churches.

They way I know this is that as an afterthought, someone decided that they should get the Catholic parishes involved and a priest asked me to be one of the people who made follow up calls and answer people's questions and get them involved in some sort of Bible study. It was not really successful in that we came into the mix way too late, and the Bible study never happened, but I have to give them points for trying.


Yes, good for them.

Rob, that's pretty much what I found when I looked for info about a 4th season. It was only the use of faint qualifiers such as "for all intents and purposes" that there was even a theoretical possibility of opening the door.

Have you seen this on The Crown?



I see there are new episodes of Travellers. I wish I could remember it better.


Janet yes I saw it and shared it today

But I don’t want to be a killjoy ! That’s no reason why people shouldn’t enjoy it

I saw that on Facebook, shared by two or three people in addition to you, Grumpy. But WSJ wouldn't let me see it as a non-subscriber. Maybe I just didn't try hard enough. I'll be surprised if I find out Janet subscribes to it.

Janet, I noticed the announcement about Travelers, too, and the sequence of thoughts was something like: "Looks interesting...looks familiar...I've seen it...I have no idea what happened." Guess it didn't make that much of an impression.

I think I liked Travelers better than you did.

I had no trouble accessing that article.


I had no trouble accessing it, but I don't know if that's because I subscribe and I'm continuously logged in. I try not to log out of things like that because I always forget my passwords. People commented on my facebook that they could not and that they could access it. The whole thing is in the title - there's dozens of historical defects in both shows, and it matters because people don't just see shows like that as entertainment, they think they are looking at 'history'. I have to confess I'm planning on seeing Finest Hour!

I assume with any historical drama that everything that isn't a documented public event is mostly invented. So I think I'm not letting the slant, whatever it is, become reality in my mind. But I'm probably influenced anyway.

Back when the Dan Brown controversy was raging, I was amazed and not amused at the number of his defenders who, when challenged on its factual accuracy, would sneer "It's FICTION!" and in the next breath tell you how it exposed the evil of the Catholic Church.

Now that you mention it, Janet, I think I do remember you liking Travellers better than I did.

From what Noonan says, even public events are falsified in The Post, and I just recently heard an interview with the woman who wrote the screenplay talking about her research.


It's the urge to make historical dramas up-to-date on current issues that I find super irritating. Like the ITV series Victoria, about the young Queen Victoria, that simply had to have a gay love story line, even if it meant making it up using real historical people -- Lord Alfred Paget, who was an equerry to the Queen, and Edward Drummond, who was Prime Minister Robert Peel’s private secretary:

In real life, there was no evidence that either of the men were gay or had any same-sex relationships.

Alfred Paget was a soldier and politician who only became the Queen's Chief Equerry in 1846 - three years after the real Drummond was killed.

Paget went on to marry a loaded heiress and have a staggering 14 kids.

Daisy Goodwin, the show’s writer, admitted she had been "creative" in her interpretation of history.

Speaking about the show to the Daily Mail she said: "Some people might get very cross with me. But if it did happen, we would never know.

"The word homosexual did not exist in those times. There were as many gay people as there are now, but they didn’t define themselves as straight or gay or bisexual."

Daisy also added that it would be difficult to say how the Queen herself, played by Jenna Coleman on screen, would have reacted to the kiss.

"Famously she didn’t believe there could have been such a thing as lesbians," she said. "But I think Victoria was a lot more tolerant than she was made out to be."


Its a sign of the death of the historical imagination. They just can't put themselves back in time. I didn't watch Victoria, but I know my sister did and she was not delighted.

Im going to go out on a limb about Billy Graham, and we know I'm not a scholar of church history. I know about enough to get catholic freshmen through one or two classes on the Reformation if we have to. I've read about three books on it in my life, so its not a specialist area of study.

I used to have a church historian colleague who said that the idea of the Anglican 'via media' - ie the idea of Anglicanism as a middle way between Catholicism and Protestantism - was a later invention. He was a reformation scholar, who creates editions of some reformation chap like Bucer. So I thought he should know, although of course other scholars might disagree with him. I don't know how much later he meant by 'later' - did he think 'via media ism' came in with Laud, in the 17th century, or in the 18th century, I'm not sure. But the meaning of his statement was that the original clerics around Henry VII and Elizabeth I were hard core Protestants, whether that means unremitting Calvinists or lutherans or Puritans. I have no means of judging whether my friend's view is correct, but it seems plausible, because until at least the later half of the 16th century, as Elizabeth's brand of the English reformation got going, there simply wasn't the conditions for a 'middle way.' There were simply Puritans and Catholics who hated each other. You have to have a sense of Catholicism and Protestantism as stable going concerns before you can call yourself a via media between the two. I might have said William Laud, archbp of Cantuar under Charles I, would be the beginnings of the 'middle way' idea of Anglicanism, because by then you have Catholics who know that the 'Anglican church state' is never going away and who have reconciled to it, and actually want a superior version of Catholicism, not something entirely different from it. But the Puritans find this too Catholic, and off comes Charles I's head! I'm afraid that such a version of the history of the church of England as I can come up with is pretty sub '1066 and all That'. However, let's say that by the time of Laud, in the 1640s, you have 'Evangelicals' or the original Puritans and you also have via media people. The puritans/calvinists/evangelicals revived in the early 19th century and there's a huge revival of faith - Newman was originally drawn to this. The puritan/evangelical/calvinist revival is a reaction against the Via Media, which by now has drifted into the 'broad church,' which is 19th century Anglican liberalism. Then Newman helps to create the ritualist movement, the Oxford movement or whatever one wants to call it - the Anglican high church. So then there are three wings to Anglicanism - the original evangelical/puritan/calvinist, the Via Media people, and the Anglican high church, who call themselves 'Anglo-Catholics.'

Of those three groups, the puritan/calvinists are the only ones I can see being at all attractive to the young Elizabeth. In her youth, in the 1940s and 1950s, the high church Anglicans were left wing, they had a long term aim of reconciliation with 'Rome', on their own terms of course, they always tried too hard to be more Catholic than the pope, using the Sarum rite and other oddities. Its not an attractive group to the head of the Church of England. The broad church people would not be appealing to a pious and rather conservative young woman. The other thing is - Scotland, where she is not the head of the Church (! ask a presbyterian Scot what they think about that idea!), but where the royal family spends a lot of time, and where they have private, Presbyterian chaplains. So there's always a strong Presbyterian/Calvinist input to the religion of the royal family, because they need to be head of that country too, if not head of the church of Scotland (!). So the Queen is by default a kind of Anglican Evangelical.
No, I cannot see the Queen as an Evangelical like the English Evangelicals I have known, simply because they were too middle class! But I don't know. In any case, I don't find the association with Billy Graham baffling. No, of course twentieth century American evangelicism is not just the same thing as the 16th century puritanism which is at the theological roots of the Anglican communion. But Billy Graham is some kind of modern analogue of the founders of Elizabeth's religion.

I have an English friend who is a rather hardline Calvinist, and who writes pieces on a well known magazine of religion and public life which take many, many hits. Like me he came to America from England, and like me he knew the English evangelicals in his youth. I once remarked to him that an evangelical woman in our (Scottish) university was just like the evangelicals I had known at school thirty years before. Yes, he said with no little distaste, 'congealed in aspic.'

I admire the Queen immensely, and so don't get me wrong. But I'd say she is kind of congealed in an aspic which has somehow preserved the certitudes of English evangelical middle class rural culture unchanged for 60 years. No, she's not middle class, she's part of the rural gentry, wearing a headscarf like all women of that class.

I suppose the Bishop of Clogher and the Guardsman was a little too early to bring in for Victoria.

In case anyone else is like me and had no idea what Paul is referring to:


Grumpy, from what I have read over the past few years as a consequence of the establishment of the Ordinariate, your rundown of Anglican history is correct. There was definitely no thought of a via media in the first Book of Common Prayer. I think your guess as to the idea having caught on as a conscious principle in the 17th century is correct. I think it was well-established by Swift's time.

So your assessment of Elizabeth's sympathy for Billy Graham seems very plausible. I suppose I would have supposed her to be more broad-church-y, if I'd thought about it, but by the mid-20th century I suppose there wasn't much place in it for sincere old-school piety.

Despite Anglicanorum Coetibus, the hard-core Anglo-Catholics are still holding out. Not sure what they want.

Janet and Marianne--yeah, I suppose I may be given the makers of these historical dramas too much credit for honesty. I don't remember a gay story line in Victoria--is it in the 2nd series, which hasn't shown here yet? That's pretty appalling. My reaction to such fabricating is not as tolerant as "whatever".

I did find, in watching both Victoria and The Crown, that when I looked up info about known historical events it seemed that they were accurate. But, for instance, although Lord Melbourne was a sort of mentor for Victoria, he was not at all as portrayed.

As it happens my wife and I just last night watched Hidden Figures, the movie about three African-American women who worked for NASA in the '50s and '60s. Afterwards I looked up the history, and it appears that a whole lot of the movie was simply made up--that they filmmakers had taken some people who really existed and really worked for NASA, and made up a story about them. I was a little shocked. Ostensibly the movie is based on an ostensibly factual book, so I don't know whether the author of the book shares any blame.

Some high church anglicans that I knew in Aberdeen made it iver the Tiber and promptly became Latin mass Trads. I think they are happiest in a small elite group where they feel in control. Thr high church anglicans always closely mirrired the catholics until vatican II. Aside from finding catholics socially contempible, they simply dont like the look of this big messy unruly church

It’s much easier for evangelicals to convert because they have no ecclesiology no interest in ritual and they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mac, "whatever" is not my usual reaction to such dishonesty either. Lately, though, I often feel unable to do anything more than look away since it's so pervasive. And that made-up story is in the second season.

Yes, I was going to mention Hidden Figures. After watching the movie, I wanted to read the book because I knew a lot of that stuff was bunk.

The book is not the best-written book ever, but it appears to be very factual.

The dress code--nothing about that except that the women wore sturdy shoes because of the condition of the grounds.

The restroom thing--there were colored restrooms (sorry but that's what they are called) that were marked, but the others weren't, so the woman just used the white restrooms. It doesn't seem to have been a deal at all.

So many things, it's maddening because all the propaganda of the movie undermines the real accomplishment of these women.


Yes, they just *had* to do...that stuff. Some of those things just didn't happen, some happened years before, etc etc.


Marianne, yeah, there really isn't much one can do except look away or in my case grumble or rant pointlessly.:-/

I *think*--not 100% sure, but I think I've heard in Ordinariate scuttlebut that some Anglo-Catholics (i.e. actual English ones) really don't want anything to do with the BCP. Whereas for me the whole point, almost, is to get Prayer Book English in the liturgy. Take away that and the hymns and the "Anglican patrimony" doesn't amount to all that much for me.

The upshot of the restroom story is that this extremely intelligent and capable black woman cannot deal with her bathroom problem unless a white man comes to her aid.


I was talking to an ordinariate priest today, and he told me that the Evangelical anglicans are much more likely to convert than the high church people, because the high church people think they already have it, whereas the evangelicals realize they don't. He said that the greatest number of converts these days are from Evangelical anglicans on the islands of the Torres strait between Australia and New Guinea.

"unless a white man comes to her aid". That Wikipedia bit tells about the filmmaker being attacked for indulging in the "white savior trope."

More worthy of criticism to me is the fact that the bathroom story didn't even happen. But I can see how it would be annoying that the invention takes that particular form.

I'm not so sure that that's broadly true, Robert. It does seem to be a tendency for those who consciously call themselves Catholic--the actual and self-designated Anglo-Catholics, who do indeed believe the already have Catholicity, so what's the point, and besides, "the Romans" are sort of yucky, as Grumpy notes.

But you can be "high church" well short of claiming in a formal and theological way to be Catholic. At least in this country I think it tends to be the high(er) church types in general more than the evangelicals who convert. The three-way split here is, roughly, high church and orthodox in a Catholic direction, low church and orthodox in a Protestant-evangelical direction, and of course heterodox, the ruling party in the Episcopal Church. In my experience the second group are not much interested in converting, because they are truly Protestant.

Really Mac? Most of the converts to RC that I know are former Evangelicals. That is, both from the UK and from the US. I know very little but friendliness from current Evangelicals and little but condescension from the high church anglicans

BTW of course I don't mean to cast any aspersions on the Ordinariate groups. If there was such a thing in my area I would have gone and taken a look. When I left the CofE I missed the BCP and even Series II tremendously.

These days we have a new professor of Patristics who is an Egyptian convert from Islam to Melkite Catholicism. He became a priest just a few years ago, before he came to the MidWest, and says a Melkite mass on campus. Its drawing a largish crowd of grad students types and yours truly.

What I'm really complaining about is not so much that they did that (about the white guy saving the black woman), but that they are making up all this stuff that didn't happen to prove their point, and then they stupidly shoot themselves in the foot.

Believe me, the fact that they made it up is worse to me.


He probably said Anglo-Catholic. I just misreported it.

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