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Apr 28 2012

Mine is better!!

Cristina Odone was very annoyed a couple of weeks ago that religions she takes to be inferior in some unspecified way are sometimes counted as Big Serious Grown-up religions like Catholicism.

Saint Morwenna, who in the 6th century built a church on a cliff with her bare hands, must be turning in her grave. Her beloved Cornwall, the last redoubt of Celtic Christians, is to teach witchcraft and Druidry as part of RE. The county council regards her religion (and that of other Cornish saints such as Piran and Petroc) as no better than paganism.

And? So what? If that’s true (which I doubt), what of it? Why shouldn’t Religious Education simply teach about all religions (or as many as there is time for in the curriculum) impartially? The county council is a branch of government, and as such, ought to be secular. The county council isn’t a branch of the Church of England…much less of Odone’s favored religion.

 When the BBC’s The Big Questions asked me to join its panel of religious commentators two years ago, I was taken aback to find it included a Druid. Emma Restall Orr rabbited on inoffensively about mother nature, but I was shocked that her platitudes were given the status of religious belief by the programme makers. Ms Restall Orr exults in her website that the media has stopped seeing Druidism “as a game” and now invites her on serious faith and ethics programmes from ITV’s Ultimate Questions to Radio 4’s The Moral Maze and Sunday Programme.

Well I’m shocked that Odone’s platitudes are given the status of serious thinking worth a spot in major media. Are Catholic platitudes really better (or more serious) platitudes than Druid platitudes? Odone gets invited on “serious faith and ethics programmes” even though she’s confused enough to think that “faith and ethics” make a natural and sensible pair, so why shouldn’t Orr be likewise?

H/t Roger.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    MatthewL

    I trust you noticed that the comments are pretty solidly against her. Lots of strong criticism with a few faint religiousish asides. I imagine the reaction would be quite different here in the US.

  2. 2
    Michael Fugate

    “Are Catholic platitudes really better (or more serious) platitudes than Druid platitudes?”
    No.

  3. 3
    unbound

    But Cristina Odone has more friends therefore she must be right, right?

    /sarcasm

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes, I noticed, but I wanted to throw in my $.02 as well.

  5. 5
    CeePeeThreeOwe

    “The county council regards her religion (and that of other Cornish saints such as Piran and Petroc) as no better than paganism.”

    Equally silly would be more realistic.

  6. 6
    Didaktylos

    Yes – but her horse manure is produced by thoroughbreds with very distinguished pedigrees …

  7. 7
    James K

    I find this line of reasoning particularly ironic coming from a Catholic in Britain. Given how many of her co-religionists were burned by the likes of Thomas Cromwell, I would think she’d better understand the virtues of ecumenicism.

  8. 8
    Lyanna

    I think it’s insulting to pagans to put them on the same footing as Catholics when, as far as I’m aware, pagans do not advocate letting women die rather than giving them abortions. Pagans did not excommunicate a 9-year-old girl’s mother for getting her an abortion when she was pregnant with twins by the stepfather who raped her, while not excommunicating the rapist. Pagans do not try to prevent contraception from being covered by health insurance plans. Pagans do not build wealthy powerful institutions, which have special diplomatic status, and which they then use to protect child molesters. Pagans do not counsel domestic violence victims to return to their abusive husbands because marriage is a sacrament. Pagans do not, as far as I know, bar women from equal roles in whatever religions they have. They are not prominent advocates for banning gay marriage and gay adoption. They do not tell gay people to be celibate or face hellfire. And they never abused children in orphanages, or had any Magdalene laundry-type torture. Pagans do not send Bill Donohue out to blame teenaged victims of molestations for not fighting back.

    They believe things that lack evidentiary support (or most do, anyway; maybe some pagans are more like nature-worshippers), but they don’t appear to claim special moral privileges because of those beliefs.

    Saint Morwenna was probably plagiarized from a local pagan goddess anyway, like many saints were.

  9. 9
    stonyground

    “Saint Morwenna was probably plagarised from a local pagan goddess anyway, like many saints were.”

    Yep, Including Mary Mother of God. I believe that some of the statues of the Madonna and Child that now reside in Catholic Churches were stolen from Pagan temples.

    I think that it is good that Odone brought this matter up, most in the UK are only vaguely religious and very tolerant. Odone’s claim that her brand of poisonous drivel is special will be seen as laughable by most. As Lyanna says, Paganism is a sight less poisonous than Catholicism.

  10. 10
    24fps

    You know, there’s a quite fun Museum of Witchcraft in Bocastle, Cornwall. I didn’t notice, when I was there last summer, that Catholicism was much in evidence or that paganism was especially reviled. Cornwall seems quite proud of its pre-Christian folklore. Sounds like they’re attempting to have a nice balance on a number of mythologies.

  11. 11
    skepticlawyer

    In a large number of European countries, paganism is outstripping both Christianity and Islam, and there is empirical evidence to suggest that this trend will be permanent within 30 years. I wrote about the phenomenon here:

    http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2011/09/18/hatches-matches-and-despatches/

    Of course, there are complexities, and paganism is harder for skeptics to fight when it does deal in unrealities – there is no problem of evil for classical (Greek or Roman, although the latter is more popular because it resembles Shinto) and Celtic paganism.

  12. 12
    Aratina Cage

    Yes – but her horse manure is produced by thoroughbreds with very distinguished pedigrees …

    If one is in the business of selling horseshit, and one’s horses have been bred to produce more nutrient-rich manure than normal, then I see nothing wrong with her claim. :P

  13. 13
    maureen.brian

    If the dreadful Odone would kindly stop trying to give the Pope brownie points for absolutely everything she might have time to draw breath.

    One breath would take her to St Morwenna’s wiki page which places her in the early 6th century – if the poor woman existed at all.

    A second breath would take her to the page for the Synod of Whitby at the end of the seventh century which led to the imposition of Roman hegemony.

    So, if Morwenna existed – very little evidence – and whether or not she built a chapel with her bare hands (the only way of building anything at that point!) she pre-dates by more than a century the point at which the so-called successor of Peter can claim credit for anything at all this side of the channel.

    Q.E.D. But I still wish she’d shut up.

  14. 14
    sailor1031

    Odone’s problem is the common one of religionists – if you tell them there are other religions pretty soon they’ll start wondering which one is the right one. Then they’ll start thinking maybe there is NO right one. Ten they’ll decide all religions are wrong. And we can’t have that can we? – that’s (gasp!) atheism…..

    As for Petroc; he travelled across to Cornwall from Ireland using a stone altar as a boat. You can still see it at Padstow church; it’s only been replaced four times over the centuries so it’s almost as good as new. Those celtic saints were way better than those namby-pamby saxon and norman ones…..

  15. 15
    Beauzeaux

    Just try reading the Lives of the Saints and keep a straight face. Her Saint Moronbelievable built a church with her bare hands, did she?
    I can top that. One of the martyred St Elizabeths (there are more than one of course) was slain by a dragon. A dragon.
    And what was St. George famous for? Slaying a dragon. (Not the same one.)
    So MINE is better.

  16. 16
    Kiwi Dave

    Just one more example of those
    I’m religious
    You’re superstitious.
    She’s hyperstitious/atheist etc
    conjugations.

  17. 17
    Russell Blackford

    “the media has stopped seeing Druidism ‘as a game’ and now invites her on serious faith and ethics programmes”

    Ugh! This sort of thing grates. It should be “media have” – it is, presumably, not one medium (singular) that does this but the media (plural). So why use the singular verb “has”? Next thing, Odone will be asking us all, “What is your criteria for a genuine religion?” Or she’ll be earnestly informing us that a period of 1000 years is a millennia.

  18. 18
    Bernard Hurley

    As the old saying goes, we all worship the same God: you in your way, I in His.

  19. 19
    Rudi

    How, precisely, does one go about deciding which faiths are “serious”? Serious in what respect? Factual validity? Reasonableness of argument? Whether or not that faith features cannabilstic rituals?

    What a total moron.

  1. 20
    No one dares distinguish | Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] already mocked that column briefly, but why not mock it again at a more leisured pace. These things repay doing thoroughly. Fear of [...]

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