A vignette

Today I have a little morsel that some of you may find tasty. To begin with, let’s introduce our characters. X is a well-known Catholic intellectual with a track record of involvement in Hare Brained Schemes. Y is a participant in X’s latest Hare Brained Scheme. Z is a pillar of the community who heads a Prominent Organisation that’s sponsoring X’s latest Hare Brained Scheme.

Let’s say for talk’s sake that X has rather austere views on the wearing of miraculous medals. After all, they spoil the line of your open-necked shirt, and no fashionable man-about-town should be seen wearing one. In fact, X has an aversion to miraculous medals almost as strong as his aversion to hormonal women.

Let’s say that a training event is being held for the Hare Brained Scheme. At this event X notices that one of his protégés, Y, is wearing a miraculous medal. Being an important man and under a lot of pressure, X barks out “Take that miraculous medal off, it makes you look like a saddo” or words to that effect. But the trouble is that Y is a deeply religious person with a fierce attachment to this miraculous medal, and finds X’s behaviour very distressing. Moreover, some of the other people present are upset by X’s outburst.

No, they aren’t just upset. As they ponder this, they actually become quite furious. It would be most unfortunate at this point if they decided to approach Z with a complaint about X’s behaviour. Z, we must point out, is neither a personal fan nor a theological soulmate of X, and agreed to support the Hare Brained Scheme as a public-spirited gesture. Moreover, some members of the Prominent Organisation have begun to discreetly ask whether supporting the Hare Brained Scheme was in the best interests of the Prominent Organisation. So, with Z already wondering what on earth he has let himself in for, he is not likely to be in the frame of mind where tales of X being gratuitously rude to those more orthodox than X is going to encourage Z to show X the sunny side of his countenance.

Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.


  1. Phil said,

    July 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    You just lifted this out of comments and anonymised it – although I wouldn’t worry, I shouldn’t think anybody who doesn’t immediately understand your version will have understood it there either. Let alone sympathised.

    Like Mark, I look forward to you explaining to your new readers why miraculous medals can be likened to the sigh of the oppressed creature and the heart of a heartless world. Alternatively, you could always explain to us why they can’t.

  2. Res Miranda said,

    July 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    “auste…re” is that a clue?

  3. policraticus said,

    July 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Could this be spell mutiny on “HMS Catholic Voices”? or a mere storm in a tea-cup for the President of the CU? Either way it doens’t exhibit much savvy on the part of the co- coordinator of CV when claiming to know so much about PR, he comes over all British Airways-style in offending someone personally over what they happen to wear around their neck. British Airways won in the case of suppressing the wearing of a cross by an employee on the grounds that it was not standard issue uniform and against health and safety blah blah. However CV team members are not employees but they may have to conform to a ‘uniform’ policy on what can and cannot be conveyed to the wider public on what X regards as an appropriate version of Catholic faith and truth. And this from the man who reminds others how to be ‘civil’ in conducting arguments on two of his blog entries entitled ‘Radicalism and Civility’ for the Jesuit “America” magazine. So if as he argues that the pro-life cause [for example, where many miracluous medals are worn] can be rendered ‘disreputable by a lack of civility’ …


    then perhaps the same could be said of the methods to achieve the aims of the CV project?

  4. kate said,

    July 22, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I hope Y gave X a good smack and that the other people present told X where s/he could put his/her autocratic nonsense!

    • Res Miranda said,

      July 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm

      “She/he…his/her” – I hope you’re not suggesting that X doesn’t have a Y chromosome…

  5. birkenstock said,

    July 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Oh we did this at school:

    Y +Z = -X

    or maybe:
    Y + Y + Y + Y + Y = Z – X

    X has had it.

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