New bishop’s eulogy to sheep-pickler Hirst
22:11 GMT, 30 November 2012
22:11 GMT, 30 November 2012
Those of us who think Damien Hirst’s art derivative, coarse, self-centred, puerile, scatalogical, manipulative, cruel, opportunistic, over-priced, anti-intellectual and, in those and many other respects, anti-Christian, decadent drivel, are plainly wrong.
Hirst is an agent of Jesus Christ, a man of ‘substance’ whose ‘exquisite’ work draws us to a contemplation of Heaven. So, anyway, says the new Bishop Of Chichester.
Martin Warner, just enthroned in his post, made a speech about art at Church House recently. In it he endorsed the lacerating cartoons of The Guardian newspaper’s Steve Bell and the Left-leaning films of director Danny Boyle (who the other day threw the F-word at Tory Culture Secretary Maria Miller).
Praise: Martin Warner said in Hirst's work 'we see something profound about the giftedness of Creation and ourselves. If we think he is toying with insubstantial ideas, then think again.'
But it was multi-millionaire formaldehyde man Hirst who really got the prelate’s juices running. Critics of Hirst, said Warner, ‘miss much of the point of what this intriguing, post-Christian, post-Roman Catholic artist has to offer’. He has a ‘sphere of imagination shaped by Christianity’ and his ‘exquisite artefacts’ have ‘value in God’s sight’.
In Hirst’s work ‘we see something profound about the giftedness of Creation and ourselves. If we think he is toying with insubstantial ideas, then think again.’ On and on he went.
Was he talking about Hirst’s severed cow’s head, the boxes of flies, the piles of drugs and druggy syringes, the wings that have been pulled off dead butterflies, the giant ashtray full of cigarette butts, the pickled shark, the mocking statue of an angel whose flesh has been ripped away God knows. He really does, apparently!
The bishop made his remarks in a talk entitled Advocacy And The Art Of Evangelisation at a ‘clergy study summit’ at Church House. It was attended by 550 Anglican priests.
Some observers will say that little of this is surprising — that the Church is irredeemably Left-wing and that we should not expect its bishops to be anything but fashion-following fools.
But wait. Warner was one of the few purple-shirts to speak against female bishops at the recent Synod. He is a ‘traditionalist’ (what an unsatisfactory term that is to those of us who like the Prayer Book but would happily see women as bishops).
Given what Damien Hirst does to sheep, members of Martin Warner’s new flock in Chichester should beware.
Deadpan Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, was not quite able to keep a straight face in front of MPs this week
Deadpan Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, was not quite able to keep a straight face in front of MPs this week.
Asked when he last saw former BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, he replied that it was at a lecture given by the notoriously long-winded, stuttery Mr Thompson.
The subject of the lecture ‘Rhetoric,’ said Lord Patten, and the edge of his lips gave just the tiniest tug of amusement.
‘Non-partisan’ magazine Total Politics held a breakfast debate the other day on welfare budget cuts. Fifteen ‘key players’ attended.
Seven were Labour MPs, one was a Labour peer, two worked for the soapy Joseph Rowntree Foundation, one was a sociology lecturer, one used to advise Ken Livingstone and two worked for anti-poverty charities. Just one, an economist from think-tank Policy Exchange, was vaguely Right-wing.
Talking of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, its chief exec, Julia Unwin, who has added her Left-wing voice to the ‘living wage’ campaign.
One slight hiccup: Rowntree runs old people’s homes and lots of its staff were paid well below the ‘living wage’ of 7.45. Nanny Unwin has had no alternative but to pay her staff more.
They may still be some way short of what she and her mates pocket from Rowntree. Its accounts show 11 executives are paid more than 50,000 a year, with the chief earner getting 160,000.
Pope’s secret Labour past!
There were headlines this week: ‘Top Catholic rejects Gove free schools.’ These referred to the deputy director of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, the aptly surnamed Greg Pope. He was unenthused by Michael Gove’s meritocratic schools policies.
Was Mr Pope’s antipathy a shock What went unreported was that he is a former Labour MP and Whip. No doubt a place on the Labour benches in the House of Lords awaits him.
The big, bad Clegg
Little Matildas: L to R, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon, Sophia Gennusa and Milly Shapiro
Theatre professionals went to Downing Street for a drinks party at No 11.
Among them were four of the little girls who play Matilda in the West End production of Roald Dahl’s book.
As they were leaving, the children daringly posed outside No 10. Cue shrieks when, mid-pose, they realised the door was opening from within. ‘They were terrified it might be Nick Clegg emerging to seek their votes,’ I am told.
Fred Charlton has been in touch after my disclosure that
Attorney-General Dominic Grieve likes scuba diving. Over to Fred: ‘You
know why Mr Grieve scuba-dives He knows he’ll never be attacked by
sharks. Professional courtesy, you see.’
It’s Clooney’s clone
Fact one: Ed Balls and his friend Speaker Bercow often carp about the Government leaking stories to the Press before telling Parliament.
Fact two: Mr Osborne usually gives Mr Balls advance copies of his parliamentary statements.
Fact three: That did not happen on Monday, when Mr Osborne announced Mark Carney as the Bank of England’s next governor.
Fact four: Mr Carney’s appointment did not leak.
Mind you, are we really sure it is Mr Carney. Does he not have a hint of George Clooney Keep him away from Mariella Frostbite!
Uncanny Does Mr Carney (left) not have a hint of George Clooney
Protesting with a pinny
Round our parts, in the Diocese of Hereford, women are planning to go to church next Sunday wearing aprons.
The idea came from retired optometrist Christine Walters, who was fed up when the Synod blocked female bishops.
The aprons will mock the notion that women are only good for tea after church. Tea At our village church, we prefer a slug of amontillado.
By the way, I am instructed to announce that Mrs Letts will not be wearing an apron on December 9 — but only because she is our church organist and has to be able to see the pedals, or those Advent hymns might sound a bit Wurlitzer-esque.