The other Hitchens rants again

It’s not easy to see Peter Hitchens – the personification of the Daily Mail mindset – as a devout Christian. But here he is, furious about the fact that betting shops can now open on Good Friday. The headline:

Our braying, Godless land where Easter is another day at the bookies

As opposed to “another day” in which a newspaper’s main headline contrives to add to the grief of the mother of a 15 year-old murdered girl, by implying that the fact that the girl drank alcohol was somehow a reason for the girl’s murder and therefore the mother’s fault? Good example of Christian charity, that paper? Oh, blow me down with a feather, is that the Daily Mail?

Pause to reflect on the meaning of “braying” in Hitchens’ headline. Can’t find one. Assume, uncharitably, that is must be there to make “godless” seem more threatening. As with the unusual capital letter on “Godless”.

I must confess to not knowing that bookies were previously closed at Easter, (not being a gambler) so I start from a bit of a disadvantage. Nonetheless, I can’t see what the opening hours of betting shops have to do with morality, at all. There might be (unconvincing to me) moral argument for banning betting but how can there be a moral argument for banning betting on certain days?

But it appears, according to the rabid one, that the new testament provides the justification:

……this is the first generation in centuries that does not know that the soldiers cast lots at the foot of the Cross, ignoring the groans of the crucified Jesus and the weeping of his mother, to decide which of them should have Christ’s seamless garment.

Betting makes the baby Jesus cry? But only at Easter?

Hitchens then argues that:

“paintings of the Crucifixion by the great Flemish Masters such as Hieronymus Bosch and you will see, baying or sneering at Golgotha, exactly the same snarling, contorted, heedless faces you find on the drunken streets of our country.”

What? I thought this was rant against betting on Good Friday, rather than against angry drunks. Is a bad-tempered drunk in the street somehow mocking the crucifixion? Is the (conceptual) guy putting a Five pound Yankee twist forecast on the fourth race at Cheltenham somehow responsible for another (mythical) guy betting on an old t-shirt 2000 years ago?

Falling for Hitchens’ usual rhetorical trick of arousing emotion by association of ideas, I confess that I now picture Hitchens as some sort of Bosch demon. I definitely picture him “snarling” at the keyboard as he types his column.

Oh, it turns out the cause of society’s ongoing tumble into the Pit isn’t gambling on the first “Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the moon (the Paschal Full Moon) that is on or after the ecclesiastical vernal equinox.” (Wikipedia) Nor is it people who look ugly when drunk in public. It’s single parents, according to the next few paragraphs.

This is actually what people such as me have been warning of for years, while being dismissed loftily as puritans and bigots and falsely described as believers in a past “golden age”.

Please let me join in the lofty dismissal. May I add ranting, fear-mongering, hate-spreading, self-satisfied, unable to present a halfway coherent argument?

He’s supposed to be a committed Anglican, according to his Wikipedia biography.

That’s “committed” used in a sense other than that which it has when it’s coupled with “should be”.

And that is “Anglican” used in a sense that is so unlike that brand of Christianity of Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney, as to make you wonder if the Trades Descriptions Act might usefully be applied to religion.

I’m channelling God

The God channel, Euro version, is one of the delights that Virgin Media haven’t let fall off the list. It’s too easy a target but I’m not constrained by any rules of engagement here. The only other channel that managed to be simultaneously comic, mindnumbing and stomach-turning was the Fashion Channel and that seems to have gone.

Between the theologically incomprehensible Jewish Voice and the hypnotically tedious In Touch, presented by the pastor of some Atlanta Baptist Church, there is an awesome advert for an event for the Easter weekend, being held at Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC.)

Massively oversized strongmen wearing tight Lycra patterned costumes. (I thought they were wearing US flags but that may be a false memory, caused by the traumatic effect of exposure to ten minutes of Jewish Voice.) Very garish stage and stage effects and loud music. You see them doing typical World’s Strongest Man feats – smashing through towers of breeze blocks with their bare hands and so on.

I am utterly baffled by the connection, here. Christian Centre & (unlikely to be 100% “natural”) Strong Men?

Except maybe it’s “These dudes could do some serious smiting. Beware godless hordes.”

Easter Message to the Faithless

This post was inspired by a cake I ate today. It was so miraculously kitsch it should have its own weblog. It wouldn’t fit on a scanner without serious damage to its hull integrity, So no picture.

You’ll have to imagine a birds’ net made of meringue, filled with cream and studded with fake bark made from shredded chocolate, interspersed with those tiny chocolate eggs that have a hard shell that’s patterned to look like the eggs of imaginary but colourful bird species.

This brought to mind the chocolate anatomically correct Jesus that offended Catholics.

Shouldn’t ornithologists be campaigning about this cake? Maybe, representing their most cherished idols in confectionery format is just water off a ducks’ back to ornithologists but I believe they should be warned.

Shameless Why Don’t You blog-promotion. This was last year’s Blog Easter message. I’ve posted the link in the absence of a currently working site-map or site search thanks to various upgrade attempts or the will to write a fresh Easter message for our faithful.