For years I have grumbled about the lecturers in The Great Courses series. They are too professorial, too much the stuffy PhD types.
Typical is Professor John Sutherland who lectures on the “Classics of British Literature” at University College in London.
He talks too much and speaks too much that is irrelevant. He reads lines of poetry or narrative with unnecessary comments throughout while reading what’s on the screen. He stutters and stammers. He smiles too much. He even smiles when talking about tragic events. He constantly repeats, “Now, then.”
He is also afflicted with political correctness, calling Fagin in “Oliver Twist” an anti-Semitic caricature. Actually, Fagin is one of the best characters portrayed in the whole Dickens canon.
Professor Sutherland talks too much about Milton’s “Paradise Lost” but never mentions that he gives the best line to Satin: “Better to reign in Hell then serve in Heaven.”
He never mentions “Aeropagitica,” Milton’s speech for “the liberty of unlicensed printing.” It was also a magnificent plea for freedom of the press. Published in 1644, Milton wrote in “Areopagitica”: “As good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book…hee who destroys a good Booke kills reason it selfe.” (Milton, alas, had his limits about press freedom. A protestant, Milton declared it all right to censor books about popery (Catholicism).
Sutherland will say, “He was a homosexual,” as if that matters. He reads a Wilfred Owen poem but doesn’t mention his great anti-war poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est.” (Owen was a British poet and soldier killed in France while fighting in the trenches of World War I.)
Here is “Dulce et Decorum Est” published posthumously:
Bent double like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge…
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod…;
Drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the hoots
Of gas shells dropping softly behind.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you hear at every jolt the blood
Come gurgling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
(Latin translation: “It is sweet and honorable to die for one’s country.”)
METHODIST COURT’S UNCHRISTIAN RULING
The United Methodist Church’s highest court recently declared that the consecration of its first openly gay bishop violated church law.
The Methodist Judicial Council found that a married lesbian bishop and those who consecrated her were in violation of their “commitment to abide by and uphold the church’s definition of marriage and stance on homosexuality.”
The New York Times, devoting half a page to the ruling, said the bishop, Karen Oliveto of Denver, “remains in good standing” pending further proceedings.
The decision was the violation, unchristian to the core. The ruling was 6-3, meaning that the panel contains just three Christians.
“Under the longstanding principle of legality, no member may violate, ignore or negate church law,” the council ruled. “It is not lawful for the college of bishops to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”
Bishop Oliveto was elected by the church’s Western Jurisdiction last summer and assigned to oversee 400 congregations in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
She was the first woman to serve as pastor of a large Methodist Church in San Francisco and first woman associate dean of the Pacific School, an ecumenical seminary in Berkeley.
Many Methodist ministers flout the denomination’s restrictions and perform gay weddings. More than 150 gay Methodist ministers have publicly “come out of the closet.”
The Methodists, with 13 million parishioners, are the third largest religious denomination in the U.S. The Catholic Church is No. 1 and the Southern Baptists No. 2.
Other mainline U.S. Protestant denominations, including the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches, allow gay marriage and openly gay ministers.
WSJ DEFENDS UNDEFENSIBLE
An opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal recently defended the poor, beleaguered stock market, the Dow Jones Industurial Average, rampant capitalism and the statue of the Charging Bull.
The statue of the Fearless Girl, opposite the bull in Stock Market square, stares down the bigger, angrier and fiercer snorting bull.
Arturo Modica, creator of the bull statue, complained that the defiant girl had no business being in the square, taking away attention from his statue and not being representative of the Stock Market.
He’s wrong. The bull represents the money-mad aspect of America. The Fearless Girl represents the “better angels of our nature.”
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (Jake.firstname.lastname@example.org)