Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Part V

Eleusinian Mysteries, Demeter Enthroned, Varresse Painter, credit Wikipedia

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Part V

By Darrell Sutton

Sects that employ predestinarian systems (theological determinism) must adopt rigorous forms of textual analysis and interpretation to shore up their ideological frameworks. Romans, chapter eleven, which adresses the foreordination of human destinies, tends to inspire longer and detailed explorations. Scholars seem to enjoy the entanglements they encounter in its theological presentation. The notions included are not novel or unusual – e.g., Heracles disregarded his sufferings and his disdain for Deianira once he learned that he was doomed to die by the premeditated will of the gods; but when Pauline (or Judaic) statements on ‘fate’ and ‘foresight’ are presented to modern minds, normally they are off-putting, and without question would not have been favorably received among ancient Greeks and Romans within the Mediterranean basin who appreciated Eleusinian mysteries, exotic Orphic ideas or the cult of Cybele.

In ancient Italy, speakers of Latin regularly paid homage to the gods and goddesses they believed properly served their best interests. These factors are delineated fully in that “Augustan epic” composed by Virgil. The Aeneid tells the tale of Rome’s sacred origins. Virgil’s poem honored Homer’s legacy, and the deities portrayed in his verse were well known on street corners in Rome, indeed more or less throughout the Roman Republic. The mention of divine beings in early Roman writings permeated speeches and public documents, much like Christian themes were trumpeted later and openly in England during the Victorian era.

In matters of moral excellence, cultivated Roman writers acknowledged their debt to Hellas, nonetheless they believed their present ethos was equal to, or superior to, all former cultures and existing societies. Cicero said as much when declaiming the uniqueness of his people: he spoke of the Romans’ solemnity, steadiness, greatness of mind, faith, virtue etc.,  in ‘quae enim tanta gravitas, quae tanta constantia, magnitude animi, probitas, fides, quae tam excellens in omni genere virtus in ullis fuit?’ – Cic. Tusc. Disp. i.2.

For these reasons, Roman citizens would have had little use for an eastern god that could not safeguard its devotees from neighboring aggressors, permitting them to be made subject to the imperium of Rome. The passages below from Paul’s epistle to Roman believers, in either Greek or Latin idiom, represent classic Judeo-Christian conceptions formally expressed, and literary ideas that were advertised to spur debate. They are worthy of reflection, and benefit readers whose desire is to grasp how first century Christians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, conceptualised their God and their relation to their spiritual kin: Israel, the people nominally created by Jehovah.

Paul’s expressions in the Latin Vulgate are clear and compact. In forceful idiom and verbiage, chapter eleven offers a summary of what Paul has stated in previous chapters regarding Israel’s status ‘coram deo’, before God. These thirty-six verses bring to an end my abiding endeavor to translate anew chapters 1-11 of Paul’s interesting epistle to the Romans.

Outline

11: 1-6             Paul, a type of Israel, and the remnant according to the election of grace

11: 7-10           Israeli disinterest in God’s electing grace

11: 11-14         God’s redemptive project unites Jews and non-Jews [in Christ]

11: 15-25         Reconciling gentiles to God despite Jewish unbelief

11:26-32         Israel, God’s beloved, finds mercy in their unbelief

11: 33-36        Paul utters praises to God

Chapter eleven

1 I ask, as well, has God now thrown away his people? Absolutely not. Indeed I, too, am an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he knew previously [foresaw]. Do you not know what scripture says of Elijah? just how he besought God [with objections] against Israel? 3‘Lord, they murdered your prophets, they displaced your altars. I too am left alone, and they indeed pursue my life.’ 4 But what does God say in response to him? ‘I retained for myself seven thousand me who did not bend their knees before Baal.’ 5 There is a saved remnant at this time, all the same, conforming to the determination of grace. 6 And if by grace, [it is] not of works now. Otherwise, grace is not grace.

7 What then? Whatever thing Israel wanted was not obtained. But the election followed on; truly the others were blinded. 8 Exactly as it was written, ‘God gave them a spirit of slumber, eyes so that they cannot see, ears so that they cannot hear, down to this present day.’ 9 And David declares, ‘May their table be made a snare, and a deception, a cause of offense, and a retribution to them.’ 10 ‘May their eyes become dim, that they cannot see and always bend their back’ [or, stoop].

11 So I ask, ‘did they stagger that they might fall down?’ Absolutely not. But [on account of] that fault, salvation is [intended] for the gentiles, to provoke them to be jealous. 12 What if their fault are the riches of the world and the decline of them the riches of the gentiles, how much greater their abundance? 13 For I declare to you gentiles in so far as I am an apostle of the gentiles, I will regard-with-reverence my ministry [efforts]: 14 if, somehow, I might provoke my flesh to be envious and may save a number of them.

15 Even if the dismissal of them is the world’s reconciliation, oh what an acquisition without life from the dead! 16 If the portion is holy, the lump as well. And if the root is holy, the branches too. 17 And if some of the branches are broken, but you, being a wild olive tree, were joined to them, sharing too in the root and fullness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the root. And if you boast, [remember,] you are not  sustaining the root, but the root, [supports] you.

19 Will you say then, the branches are broken off that I should be inserted? 20 Good. They are separated by unbelief. You indeed stand by faith. Do not relish the exalted but be reverent. 21 For if God did not spare the native branches, no, not by chance will he spare you. 22 Perceive then the goodness and severity of God. To those who in fact were cut off, severity; but to you also, God’s goodness. If you will be persistent in excellence; otherwise, you too will be cast away. 23 And them too, if they persist not in unbelief will be implanted. For God is able to graft them in again.

24 If you were cut out of an olive tree, [one] wild by nature, and against nature grafted into a good olive tree, how much more these, which are according to nature inserted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant brothers of this mystery, that you not be firmly set in your own wisdom seeing that blindness touched Israel in part, while the fullness of non-Jews do enter. 26 And as you see, all Israel will be saved: just as it is written,

‘Out of Zion will come one who takes control [who] will remove irreverence from Jacob. 27 And this covenant from me [is] for them when I will take away their sins’.

28 Certainly concerning the Gospel [they are] unfriendly on account of you; but regarding election, ‘precious’ because of the Father. 29 Namely, God’s gifts and callings are without repentance. 30 I mean, just as you did not believe God at one time, now however, you were shown compassion through their unbelief. 31 And as has been stated, they also have not believed now [in] the mercy that is yours, that they should find mercy. 32 Truly God shut them all up in unbelief that he might be compassionate to them all.

33 O the extent of the riches and wisdom of God! How incomprehensible are his judgements and his unsearchable ways! 34 For who has understood the mind of the Lord? Or who was his advisor? 35 Or who first gave [anything] to him?, then it will be restored to him.  36 Seeing that  all things are by him and through him and for him, forever praise him! Amen.

Classicist Darrell Sutton is a regular contributor to QR

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Glyndebourne Festival, 2022

Glyndebourne Opera House, credit Wikipedia

 Glyndebourne Festival, 2022

Two new productions from the Glyndebourne Festival: Poulenc’s La Voix humaine & Les Mamelles de Tirésias, Saturday 6th August 2022, Glyndebourne, Lewes, East Sussex, reviewed by David Truslove

Emotional turmoil and exploding breasts bring heartache and hilarity to Poulenc’s double staging at this season’s Glyndebourne Festival. Both works explore different facets of the female psyche, one affecting, the other absurd. The expressive range of these two one-acters may be worlds apart yet form two sides of the same musical coin. While a late Gallic romanticism is embedded in the abbreviated phrases of La Voix humaine (Debussy with a bittersweet twist), echoes of Offenbach and Stravinsky dazzle the ear in Les Mamelles de Tirésias, yet both scores belong unmistakably to a composer once described as “half monk, half hooligan”. Whether elegant or earthy, Poulenc’s scores are brilliantly served in bold, brightly lit productions by the much sought-after French director Laurent Pelly, with stylish performances from the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Glyndebourne’s own Robin Ticciati.

Based on a 1930 monologue by Jean Cocteau, La Voix humaine (1958) was originally written for the French soprano Denise Duval. It is the final adieu of a heartbroken woman known only as Elle who has been deserted by her lover. Charted through a string of broken telephone conversations over some forty minutes, her pain, pleas, self-delusion and final parting is one of Poulenc’s most personal creations in which one feels every momentary shift in mood. In recent years this tragédie-lyrique, an operatic one-off, has had much exposure (virtually achieving cult status as the go-to socially distanced opera), with Barbara Hannigan, Danielle de Niese and Claire Booth creating highly individual enactments.

Now it’s the turn of French mezzo-soprano Stéphanie d’Oustrac, the composer’s great-grand-niece, who sings the role of Elle in a wonderfully communicative performance. She carries a vintage telephone around an empty stage, more a shifting platform serving as both her room and her mind, attempting without success to breathe life back into a failing relationship. To the rear, a red neon strip, variously dwindling and brightening, mirrors Elle’s fluctuating emotions. Dressed in a coat over black nightdress, d’Oustrac brings beauty of tone and, without resorting to histrionics, increasing desperation to this demanding role, winning our admiration and sympathy in every gesture.

No less compelling is Poulenc’s rarely performed Les Mamelles de Tirésias, based on a 1917 production by Guillaume Apollinaire – the poet, playwright, and novelist who added ‘surrealism’ to our vocabulary. This opéra bouffe would have been a perfect antidote to the grim realities of Nazi occupied Paris when Poulenc completed the work in 1944. Yet beyond its escapism and subversive farce there contains a serious message to repopulate a country ravaged by war. This hour-long romp of brilliant invention concerns a marital couple known simply as Thérèse and The Husband. Thérèse relinquishes her breasts (that turn out to be balloons), grows a beard and changes her name to Tirésias. Denied physical relations, her corset-wearing husband learns how to produce children and delivers 40,049 of his own in a single day. If that isn’t surreal enough, the events all take place in Zanzibar. Any chance the work’s gender politics might offend or seem obsolete is negated by the sheer fun generated by Urs Schönebaum’s technicolour lighting and Caroline Ginet’s imaginative sets. These include a vast, stage-filling sheet for the marital bed, an ingenious baby making machine and two pastel-coloured characters (Monsieur Lacouf and Monsieur Presto) bringing echoes of the French mime artist Marcel Marceau. But crowning these are serried ranks of puppet babies, with a front row comprising boisterously bawling manipulators from the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus.

Well defined performances are given by a superb ensemble of largely French-speaking singers, chief amongst whom are the sassy Elsa Benoit as Thérèse and Régis Mengus as her hapless husband. Gyula Orendt makes an impressive foil as the Policeman (his erotic interest in the husband overtly conveyed), with other roles amply fulfilled by Loïc Félix, François Piolino and Christophe Gay. Above all, the cast relish every fantastical detail, and respond to Poulenc’s gleeful, mischievous score with as much commitment as the LPO under Ticciati’s invigorating direction.

Performances continue at Glyndebourne until 28th August

David Truslove is an opera critic

 

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To the End of the Line

 

Darlington Railway Station, credit Wikipedia

To the End of the Line

by Bill Hartley

Railway junctions don’t usually have signposts. However, the observant traveller on the East Coast Main Line may spot one just north of Darlington. The sign points to the Stockton and Darlington Railway, or at least what’s left of it. Three years short of its two hundredth anniversary, the northerly branch of the route is now known as ‘The Bishop Line’ since it terminates at Bishop Auckland. The journey takes about half an hour and provides an opportunity to view the mixed fortunes of towns and industries which grew up near the tracks.

The departure point is Darlington Station, once a showpiece on the East Coast route; a piece of grandiose Victorian architecture covered by a barrel roof, supported by cast iron pillars with heraldic adornments. In contrast, that sign just to the north takes the traveller into a curious world of Railwayana both ancient and modern but rarely Victorian.

Darlington’s original station North Road lies just a short distance away, a lucky survivor of the Beeching cuts. Here, the architecture is far from Victorian swagger, reflecting instead the light touch and elegance of the Regency era. This was a line which opened in 1825 and the building appears more like a large villa, providing a rare example of what stations were like before the railways really got going. There is a museum here too, where they keep George Stephenson’s Locomotion Number 1 which pulled the inaugural passenger train on the day the Stockton and Darlington opened. Beyond, the station Regency elegance is rapidly overwhelmed by streets of terraced houses. A good barometer of economic decline is the number of pizza outlets and the district has several. Close to one of these is the Darlington Locomotive Works. Not to be confused with the long departed original, they are still in the same business, constructing steam locomotives. Back in 2008 the works finished building Tornado and now have another in hand.

Beyond North Road and passing through the cornfields of Durham, it’s hard to appreciate that the route was built primarily to shift coal from collieries around Bishop Auckland, down to Stockton and the River Tees. The contrast in the fortunes of the various settlements along the line is marked. For example, the one economic success story is Newton Aycliffe. This is a well manicured new town, with various industries housed in bright modern buildings. Among these is Hitachi. Take a long distance rail journey in Britain and the likelihood is that you’ll be riding in one of their trains. The company involved in building the trains for HS2, Britain’s newest railway, is next door to the Stockton & Darlington.

Normal service, so to speak, is resumed just to the north at Shildon. Here, there is no sign of elegant railway architecture, though there are ample pizza outlets nearby. The station has been ‘modernised’ down to bus shelter basic. Back in the early nineteenth century, Shildon was little more than a crossroads. Subsequently it had the bad luck to become a one industry town and has never recovered from the closure of the wagon works, back in the eighties. At one time its marshalling yards were second in size only to the Chicago stockyards. The town has two other claims to fame. It was the first in England to lose all its banks and has, for the past three years, maintained its position as the cheapest place in Britain to buy a house.

Shildon has a heritage centre; often a good indicator of a place which has had its economic heart torn out. Government guilt money, so to speak, and a way of pretending the place hasn’t been forgotten about. If the locals are sufficiently interested then they have a reminder on their doorstep of what the place used to be like.

North of the town, the line starts to enter what was once the heart of the Durham coalfield. Several long vanished branches converged on the Stockton and Darlington at this point. One of these bore a politically incorrect name. The Black Boy branch closed in the 1930s. Even so, there is still the chance to walk the old route to the colliery along the ‘Black Boy Trail’. Deep in the Durham countryside, they are not quite as sensitive as they might be.

Shildon is one example of what happens to a town when the dominant industry disappears. In Bishop Auckland the impact was even greater. The collieries, those ‘accidents in the landscape’ as George Orwell described them, are of course long gone and the countryside has regained its mainly rural aspect. The townscape of Bishop Auckland, though, serves as a reminder that things were once very different. The station, clean, bright and bland is the end of the line in more ways than one. A few hundred yards to the north there is a set of buffers and the cutting beyond is gradually reverting back to nature.

Wandering the streets it’s still possible to get a flavour of the market town which grew up to service Auckland Castle and the Prince Bishops who once lived there. However, even the mighty bishops couldn’t hold King Coal at bay and just beyond the town centre rows of pit cottages soon appear. This was once a town of many small retailers. The big national chains never really bothered with the place, perhaps due to its isolation. As a consequence, the economic decline along the high street is more marked, with many shop premises lying empty. Not even the ubiquitous pizza outlets can provide enough infilling to make up the difference.

The local authority is making a brave attempt to keep up morale. Lamp posts on the high street are adorned with banners celebrating local people. Unfortunately, nothing can disguise the fact that what gave the town a purpose has gone and the retail businesses which lived from it are heading the same way. Of course, there’s a heritage centre. The Auckland Project is based at the former bishop’s palace and the people running it are doing their best. However, Durham City isn’t too far away and probably has more to offer the visitor. Plus it can be reached via the East Coast line, so is better served than Bishop Auckland, at end of the old S&D route.

It’s likely the heritage industry will be out in force in a few years time to celebrate the bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. There’s much of interest here, not least of which is the continuance of train building, both steam and electric, next to the world’s oldest passenger railway. However, no amount of heritage activity can mask the decline of those towns along the line.

William Hartley is a social historian

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Lamming It

St Botolph’s church, Boston, Lincs., credit Wikipedia

Lamming It

Edge of England, Landfall in Lincolnshire, Derek Turner, Hurst & Company, London, 2022, 446 pages, hardback, £20, ISBN 978-1-78738-698-3, reviewed by Stuart Millson

The mainly low-lying coast and country of Lincolnshire – the unregarded Fenland world to the north of The Wash and to the south of Edward Heath’s local government region of ‘Humberside’ – has exerted its spell on writer Derek Turner. Eire-born and then migrating to London, the author – deeply sensitive to history and place – began to feel stress and strain in the metropolitan environment of the capital during the Blair years, and so decided that a change of life was in order. [Editorial note; see ‘Deptford dreaming’, Derek Turner, The Brazen Head, March 11, 2021]. In a trajectory similar to that of fellow author Adam Nicolson, who left London life for the woodsmoke of Sussex, Turner found much to admire in the mediaeval churches of Lincolnshire, its sometimes odd villages and hamlets (many with strange tales of folklore or the supernatural) and marshy countryside, criss-crossed by ancient drainage systems – and all under a high procession of clouds and breezes, or rain from the North Sea.

The Edge of England offers potential visitors to the county many interesting directions: through lost kingdoms (the Kingdom of Lindsey, for example); the long era of Roman administration, succeeded by the incursions and rule of the wild, long-bearded kings of the Dark Ages, and into the environs of Lincoln Cathedral, or to places of past trading glory, such as Saltfleet, and even to Margaret Thatcher’s home-town of Grantham. Continue reading

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Darkness Visible

Le IX Thermidor an II, by Charles Monnet, credit Wikipedia

Darkness Visible

Robespierre: the Man Who Divides Us the Most, Marcel Gauchet, translated by Malcolm DeBevoise, Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2022, Hb, 199pp, reviewed by Leslie Jones

As Professor Gauchet sagely observes in his new book, “All the arguments that were employed by the revolutionary rhetoric of the next two centuries”[1] were prefigured by Robespierre, as in his keynote speech to the Convention of 28 October 1792. Indeed, something akin to democratic centralism and the dictatorship of the proletariat emerged in France during the ascendancy of the Committee of Public Safety, to which Robespierre was appointed in July 1793. Excesses, such as the September prison massacres, were justified as part of a popular movement. During the Terror, Robespierre maintained that an enlightened and beneficent minority was acting on behalf of the majority. His objective was always “the empire of virtue, achieved through democratic and republican government”. [2]

Lenin considered Robespierre a “Bolshevik avant la lettre”. Although eminently bourgeois himself, Robespierre anticipated Marx’s class analysis. He believed that corruption invariably accompanies wealth, that incorrigibly ambitious and greedy men had latched on to the Revolution which they viewed “as a trade and the republic as a spoil”. “Virtue is always in the minority on earth”. [3]  “The motives of the people”, in contrast, were at heart “always pure”, for the people love justice and equality, the public good over self-interest. The author thinks that Robespierre saw himself as “a foremost example” of the political virtue “incarnated in the people” and highlights his “self-idolizing impulse”. [4]

Robespierre discerned a “single foreign conspiracy [but] with two faces”, to wit, the “Indulgents”, or lukewarm revolutionaries (Dantonists) and the “Exagérés, or extreme revolutionaries (Hébertists). When Hébert accused the Queen of incest with her son, Robespierre called him an “imbécile”. “All the factions”, he insisted, “must perish together”. The Hébertists campaign for de-Christianisation represented for Robespierre a foreign inspired attempt to divide the patriots. The French people were deeply attached to the notion of a supreme being, in his estimation.

The author considers Robespierre’s conspiratorialism as delusional, as “the dark side of a luminous resolve to bring the Revolution to a successful conclusion” and thereby establish “a truly authentic republican regime”. [5]  Robespierre proposed that without terror, virtue, the subordination of self-interest to the public good, is powerless. According to Professor Gauchet, the trial of the Dantonists, proceeding from a spurious indictment drawn up by Saint-Just, was the “least glorious” episode of Robespierre’s career. Danton and Desmoulins were falsely accused of aiding hostile foreign powers and the remnants of the aristocracy. Are you “in no way criminally responsible for not having hated the enemies of the fatherland?”, Saint-Just asked them. Robespierre’s conception of a people, “united in its devotion to country”, was for Gauchet also delusional, given the profound ideological divisions in France between Paris and the provinces, and between the Jacobin activists (a self-styled avant-garde) and the peasantry, many of whom remained steadfastly royalist.

Professor Gauchet emphasises Robespierre’ s ambivalence about executive power which he had consistently opposed when exercised by the monarchy, then by the Girondins. Power, he had then maintained, encourages pride, selfishness and corruption. In late 1791, he opposed declaring war on Austria on the grounds that war encourages dictatorship. The internal and external threats to the Revolution, however, convinced him of the need for strong government. “Let us make terror the order of the day”, demanded a group of Jacobins in the Convention. Robespierre concurred and he supported the Law of the General Maximum, which regulated prices and wages (although the Jacobins remained wedded to private property and free trade). He made a sophistic distinction between a constitutional government which preserves the republic and a revolutionary government which founds and protects it. The former protects the individual from abuses by the state. The latter protects the state from those who attack it. For the author, the French Revolution was a tragedy, “proof of a terrifying inability to realize the highest and most noble of human ambitions, namely, the ambition of a people to govern itself”. [6]

Like Rousseau, Maximilien de Robespierre believed that “liberty and virtue settled for a brief moment in a few parts of the world” and that Sparta, in particular, “shines like a flash of lightning in an immense darkness”. [7] But ultimately, he could discern “No light, but rather darkness visible”.

ENDNOTES

[1] Gauchet, p65
[2] Ibid., p112
[3] Robespierre, quoted Gauchet, p68
[4] Ibid., p170
[5] Gauchet, p111
[6] Gauchet, p80
[7] Ibid., p130; and see Rousseau, Discourse sur les Sciences et les Arts (1750)

Dr Leslie Jones is Editor of Quarterly Review

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Endnotes, August 2022

Lemberg/Lwów in 1915, credit Wikipedia

Endnotes, August 2022

In this edition: orchestral music by Thomas de Hartmann, reviewed by Stuart Millson

The enterprising Nimbus Alliance label, which brings dedicated CD buyers out-of-the-ordinary repertoire, herewith presents the music of Thomas de Hartmann, played by the Lviv National Orchestra of Ukraine, under the baton of promising young conductor Tian Hui Ng. A Ukrainian-born Russian aristocrat, de Hartmann (1884-1956) attended St. Petersburg’s military academy, at which his musical talent was recognised. Under the tutelage of composer Anton Arensky, the young musician began to absorb the Russian romantic “imperial” genre of his native land – his first great success being a ballet, which attracted the interest and participation of Nijinsky, Fokine and Pavlova. Soon, de Hartmann became absorbed in a more cosmopolitan European culture and a collaborative friendship was struck with Kandinsky, but the Bolshevik Revolution forced the aspiring young composer to seek sanctuary in France.

The first work on the CD – the Piano Concerto – dates from 1939, the year in which de Hartmann’s adopted country stood on the precipice of war and invasion; and yet in much of the concerto, there is a sense of a peaceful, thoughtful private conversation between the soloist and orchestra – although a spiky, jazz-infused, Prokofiev-sounding spirit also manifests itself in the work. A striking, galvanising conclusion to the piece puts one in mind of the startling monoliths of brass which you might find in a Respighi tone-poem, or even in Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony – although there is no evidence to suggest that de Hartmann responded to either style. Continue reading

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Pitch Perfect

Ben Westwood, credit Wikipedia

Pitch Perfect

It’s five minutes to three on a Sunday afternoon in June. A crowd of around 5000 has gathered to watch the game. The players, their warm up completed, have temporarily left the field. Over the PA system the announcer is thanking sponsors and issuing reminders about upcoming events. Then comes the serious stuff. The announcer solemnly informs the crowd that ‘no discrimination will be tolerated’. There is no actual definition of just what constitutes this offence but should it occur, then details of how it may be reported are provided.

The only obvious discrimination at work is the location of the Warrington Rugby League Club supporters, corralled in a roofless section of the ground. Predictably the message is ignored by the crowd, gathered at the ramshackle Belle Vue Stadium to watch Wakefield Trinity, the home team, take on the visitors. Beyond team allegiance, one wonders how these mainly working class spectators might show discrimination towards each other. Despite the size of the crowd they are the sort of people who can be trusted to behave themselves. Within the stadium there isn’t a police officer to be seen. Continue reading

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No Shining Path

Lisa Raitt, credit Wikipedia

No Shining Path

Tasha Kheiriddin, foreword by Lisa MacCormack Raitt, The Right Path: How Conservatives Can Unite, Inspire and Take Canada Forward, Toronto: Optimum Publishing International, 2022, xi + 194 pp. ISBN 978-0-88890-331-0 (Paperback) ISBN 978-0-8890-332-7 (ePub), reviewed by Mark Wegierski

In her foreword, former prominent Conservative MP Lisa MacCormack Raitt complains that she might now be put through a “purity test” (p. x) as to whether she is conservative enough. She concludes – “What remains to be seen is which message will win the day – will the Big Blue tent hold, or will we dissolve into populism?” (p. xi). This sets the stage for the main text, in which Trump and populism are portrayed as noxious things that Canadian Conservatives should strenuously avoid. The tone is even set by Kheiriddin’s book dedication – For Papa, who always told me, “Take the middle way.” (p. v).

Tasha Kheiriddin is a prominent moderate-conservative activist, media personality and newspaper columnist. She considered running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada in the 2022 leadership contest, but instead became the campaign co-chair for Jean Charest’s leadership bid. Jean Charest was a Minister in Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government of 1984-1993. He was also the Progressive Conservative Party leader between 1993 and 1998, noted especially for refusing to reach an accommodation with Preston Manning’s Reform Party – which  he branded as bigoted. He became the Liberal Premier of Quebec in 2003-2012. His main rival for the CPC leadership is Pierre Poilievre, a longtime Conservative MP, who served effectively as Finance Critic, and who is moving towards populism. He expressed support for the Freedom Convoy that took place in Ottawa in late January and early February 2022. The protest was crushed by a massive police deployment, when the current Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act (the equivalent of martial law). Continue reading

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Endnotes Extra

St James the Great, credit Wikipedia

Endnotes Extra

by Stuart Millson

50 Years of the East Malling Singers

One of Southern England’s most ambitious amateur choral societies celebrated its half-century, with a concert on Saturday 9th July of mainly British choral-orchestral music – a programme which also paid tribute to Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Charismatic conductor Ciara Considine raised her baton before a packed St. James the Great Church (a large performance space in the heart of Kent) – her performers numbering over sixty: a fifty-strong choir and orchestra of some 13 players, with the highly-gifted organist, Nick Bland, providing a magnificent, fortifying, reverberant backdrop to the voices.

Vaughan Williams’s wartime Hymn of Freedom, with words by Canon Briggs of Worcester Cathedral, set the tone of the concert: that sense of national ardour and purpose emerging strongly, from a composer who served in the First World War and who sought, at the age of 68, a meaningful role in the Second. Parry’s Jerusalem of 1916 appeared at the end of the concert, but the Vaughan Williams hymn seemed to be a more modern mirror-image of that more famous work: a ‘Jerusalem’ for the era of the Blitz and blackouts, and the welfare state and United Nations which emerged from the ruins in 1945. Continue reading

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Ars Poetica, Remembering A. E. Housman, 2

Antinous Mondragone, credit Wikipedia

Ars Poetica, Remembering A.E. Housman, 2 

By Darrell Sutton

III

The prolongation of the Great War did not hinder Housman’s scholarly duties. Volume 3 in his series on Manilius was issued in 1916. He offered advise to aspirant poets. He evidently believed his private judgments to be of considerable value. On April 9th 1917, he sent Edmund Gosse a cursory missive of corrections for future editions of The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne.[i] He supplied similar notes on The Letters of Algernon Charles Swinburne which had been edited by Gosse and T.J. Wise in 1918.

He was not a recluse but he avoided certain social gatherings. Some dinner parties were attended, various invitations were declined,[ii] except for periodic summons to specific scholarly bodies whose constituents desired to hear of, and were fascinated by, the rigorous analysis of texts. He was opposed to writing ‘literary criticism’ upon demand,[iii] but he attended meetings of classical scholars.[iv] From 1915-1922, Housman’s text-critical labors were tied to several projects linked to the Roman poet Ovid.[v] He published his views in full and their grounds. Continue reading

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