Monday, April 18, 2016

The Big Questions on YouTube

As predicted, Sunday's TV debate now appears on YouTube for the benefit of non-UK based readers.

I didn't say anything in the first of the three discussions (about the right to privacy). Here's the second of the three: 'Does the Vatican need to give more power to women?' Caroline Farrow kicks off the discussion; I come in later, in response to something said by a lady from a Catholic Women's Ordination group called Miriam, who was actually invited by the presenter to interrupt Caroline. Miriam's intervention starts at 8 minutes 20 seconds.

The next clip shows the last of the three topics: 'Does God care what you wear?' I appear on this 11 minutes in; Caroline Farrow spoke from 7 minutes 50 seconds.

I've been on BBC radio three times - twice on the local Oxford station, and once with Edward Stourton - and yesterday morning's appearance on The Big Questions was my first appearance on the Telly, but it conformed to my expectations.

Ever since I can remember, left-wing and liberal points have had the biggest applause on BBC debate shows. On The Big Questions, it would seem that they are the only ones which get any applause at all. (Although I think I raised a bit of laugh once or twice.) I don't know how they select their audience, but it is clearly not the same way they select the panel. They wanted to get conservative Catholic voices on the show, it wasn't an accident, and if Caroline Farrow and I had to work harder than other panellists to make our points, at least we were able to contribute. There was just very little sympathy for us - or to the rather pleasant Sikhs, or the very reasonable Muslim lady - on the back benches. This isn't rocket-science: every religious or culturally conservative point being made on the BBC's airtime is made to a backdrop of disapproval.

It makes us come across as somewhat embattled, but then again I suppose we are a minority voice in 21st century Britain, and it is better to be heard in this way, than not at all. The trick is to use the limited band-width accorded to us to be say something striking and forceful, without allowing ourselves to be portrayed as nutters.

That lawyer chap, Mark Stephens, can be as aggressive as he likes, because he is reassuring the studio audience their prejudices need not be disturbed. It is amazing, even more with the cool light of hindsight, to see how the mention of women covering their heads in church actually got me shouted down.

This, or something else I said, even got me a classic social-media death-threat. Judging by his twitter-feed, he is on the political right. There is actually no indication what exactly he objected to.


We'll see if I get asked back!

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  1. One point that wasn't made during the programme is that modest clothing doesn't have to be plain. Your guest poster a few months ago demonstrated this . You, Dr Shaw, came closest when you said that people's immodest dress shouldn't be a distraction for other worshippers in church, but the implicit distinction seemed to be between a sackcloth and a bikini without allowing for any other possibility.

    I realise that the odds were stacked against you, and you didn't have the chance to make every point you might have wanted to, so this isn't really a criticism. Well done for going into the lions' den

    1. Yes, that's an important point. Although attractive and flattering clothing doesn't seem to be important to the kind of audience we had. The lady behind me with torn jeans being a prime example. Ironically the best-dressed person there was probably the Budhist monk.

  2. Well done Dr. Shaw. But the lady who was speaking about modesty was ironically wearing something that didn't actually look modest by Catholic standards.

    Either case, it was good to see a Catholic stand up for the faith so publicly. Especially considering that you knew you will be ridiculed for it!

  3. Well defended Chairman.

    On clothing and appearances: the chap from ACTA was smartly dressed and, to a degree, so was his fellow fiendette alongside him (they probably judged that they may as well at least brush-up to present the public face of their so-called 'organisation' - for nothing they were likely to say could be deemed smart, as they proved). Also Soft Lad, aka 'International Media Lawyer', was acceptably presentable for national TV. Lembit Opik in particular was dressed like a gentleman.

  4. Its interesting that this was a debate by Non Catholics on an internal Catholic matter.

    I remeber some years ago seeing Peter Hitchens on a programme (it might have been question time) where the question was asked whether Catholic Priests should be allowed to marry. When it came to him he simply replied that he was not a Catholic and the rules as to the Catholic priesthood regarding marriage or gender was entirely a matter for the Catholic Church. Nobody was obliged to be a Catholic or to become a Catholic Priest so there was really no reason to complain about the rules of a Church which you voluntarily chose to join and no reason to comment on the rules if you were not a member of the Church.

    I admired him for that

  5. Having watched the programme I was somewhat amused by the last speaker who blamed the prosecution of a woman in Northern Ireland on the control of the Catholic Church. Northern Ireland of all places is certainly not run by the Catholic Church and the Act under which the woman was prosecuted was an Act passed by the UK Parliament which has certainly never been dominated by Catholics

  6. The trouble is that we Catholics have in the last 55 years let the whole debate swing to the secularists. It is our own fault. Even in the Catholic press, orthodox Catholics receive little, sometimes I think decreasing, space for their views. Damian Thomson, for instance is clearly taking a contrary line now and being allowed by his editor to do so?

    Personally have started a policy in secular press comment of while never raising Catholicism as such, of stating it appropriately should I judge it to be relevant.

    It can be a bit trying. Prejudices are disturbed (I note a pop-in add which has come into this article.!) and so few Catholics as yet are prepared to come in and support.

    ps : re clothing, I like, sorry, used to like, a shapely ankle. Wouldn't like to see a return to Victorian or earlier fashions?

  7. Actually my dress was modest to be fair. It falls below the knee when standing but obviously when sitting it did ride up a bit.

    On reviewing the clip, I am revolted to note that the cameraman made a point of filming from a particular angle, actually focusing on my legs rather than my face, as though he was trying to make some kind of point.

    I'd like a clip of the privacy question because actually I made probably the best intervention there by discussing how the nature and understanding of marriage has been altered and yet we are not allowed to discuss it.

    But filming up my skirt was a pretty low trick.

    1. Well, I really liked your boat neckline! Very elegant and appropriate. I'm sure I wasn't the only viewer who noticed it!

    2. Yes, I thought your attire was perfectly smart and modest. Joe's was okay too.

  8. My grandmother's eldest brother, while a second-year student at St Mary's Teacher Training College (then at Brook Green, Hammersmith) kept a diary which has passed down to me. I note the following entry:

    'Sunday, Jan. 27th [1901]. Out with Tom Meehan to Brompton Oratory. The singing was fine. Tom was distracted during service by "une belle fille" in black skimped skirts displaying figure to great advantage.'

    Queen Victoria had died just five days previously. Nowadays at the Oratory it is more likely to be female American tourists wearing what my generation referred to as 'hot pants'. Distracting? You bet. Where are the second Misereatur and Indulgentiam when you need them?

  9. As an American, it was fascinating to see how similar the media is on the other side of the pond. I'm not sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if we had a similar show here, and the stack would also be set against more conservative people. Great job standing your ground and calling a spade a spade. It's remarkable how well the secular culture has warped and mangled Catholic Church history to such a degree, that people will accept all type of nonsense on face value.

    Regarding placing women in higher places: One of the many fatal flaws in the progressive/liberal argument for female ordination is confusing the priesthood with power or special influence. In the Catholic Church, real "power" or "influence" comes from being a holy person, a saint. I believe a holy, pious mother or wife has far more practical power or influence over the people around her, than a priest. One may hear a priest speak once a week during a homily; my mother raised me and taught me the faith everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

    Regarding dress at Church: I find it amazing how people will dress up for the silliest events, but can't seem to manage to wear a button shirt or a nice skirt to Church. We should give our best effort in everything that is to or for the Lord, to include our dress. I was in the US Navy for several years; we would wear our dress uniforms for all type of events and for all types of people. We routinely stood on pomp and circumstance for several dubious reasons. Ask the average Catholic (or person for that matter) what they would wear if they were to meet the US President or the Queen of England; they would wear their very best. But it seems when we meet the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings truly present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist, we can only manage to wear flip flops and a string bikini top.

  10. Typical BBC tactics, assemble an audience of antagonist individuals together in a studio, add a secular presenter and that is the result.

    Miriam Duignan and the representative from ACTA want a church that is not Catholic, they want a populist church.

    The ACTA rep advocated a church based on questionnaire responses. Really? The Catholic church "is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15) not some interchange of ideals based on the the flavour of the period.

    Weak arguments put forward by Ms Duigan/ACTA well defended by Caroline Farrow and Dr Shaw.

  11. That lawyer chap, Mark Stephens, can be as aggressive as he likes, because he is reassuring the studio audience their prejudices need not be disturbed.

    The virtue signaling never stops.

    You know, it's not an argument that would be easy to make in such a milieu, but it's astoundingly odd to take advice on the reordering of one's religion from those who don't take the premises of that religion seriously in the first place, for whom the only premises are materialist ones.

    But that's what the project of liberalism within the Church has been up to for decades. And the results have been lethal, just as they have been to even greater degree in the CofE and the Kirk. Why is it, I would like to ask, that wherever your ecclesiastical prescriptions are tried, they invariably result in extinction for the religious body in question in fairly short order?

  12. Well done Joe and Caroline - you survived this exercise in blatant BBC bias, bullying and blacking, very well. The sheer fatuity and hypocrisy of thsoe men telling us that men dominate women whilst talking over, and preventing, the Muslim woman from speaking was almost farcical. That creep Mark Stephens is, if anything, worse. It is alsmot impossible to have a rational discussion on programmes such as these since the bias is so thick you couldn't cut it with a knife.

  13. Dr. Shaw, thank you for defending the faith, however I think more could have been said about the points and a greater effort to stay and continue your points resisting the attempts by the host to lead you off topic. Concerning the priesthood and women, as a philosopher you should have reasoned and develop the point that it is not a job but a vocation, thus it relates to a question of nature, not of power. Women have the natural nature of motherhood whereas men the fatherhood of God and this is strengthed by the supernatural infused nature at ordination.
    Concerning dress, there seemed to be a strongly manichean belief albeit not explicit. That it does not matter what one wears but what matters is the soul. Although the soul is more valuable than the body we as Christians believe that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and thus must be adorned with dignity.
    I recognise that the host is extremely biased letting liberals speak and always cutting the conservatives but I think it important to point that out and continue speaking regardless of you not appearing there again because of your objection.

    1. I fancy I was assertive enough - if not too much - for most viewers.