In Which I Find Myself Agreeing With the Lefty Liberals

Christina Odone opines in the Torytellytubbygiraffe about the teaching of RE. Here, I feel, she is treading the same ground as Rowan Williams.

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.

It probably doesn’t help that she starts her argument with a strawman. There is no evidence whatsoever that the council thinks anything of the sort. What it is proposing is religious education, not indoctrination. Religion covers a wide variety of topics and paganism and druidism were a part of the religious fabric of these islands long before Saint Morwenna built her church –  if, indeed, she did.

Religious education should be just that; education about the various belief systems that mankind has adopted –  it would also, reasonably, include the ancient Norse traditions, the gods of Rome and Greece along with the deities of the ancient Egyptians (including the sun, belief in which, Akhenaten shared with the druids). It’s fascinating stuff and worthy of study. That, surely is the crux of education –  we learn from what others have to say and do. RE overlaps somewhat with history. This includes the ancients and their beliefs. It is a subject that enthralled me when I was growing up, so why not study it? How is this in any way making a judgement about Christianity or undermining it?

I have to say, reading Odone’s article, I am reminded of the bigot who is so insecure in her own belief that she wishes to stop people learning about those of others –  even if it is, as it should be, viewed in a detached manner. We see logical fallacy and silly hyperbole abound:

God, Gaia, whatever: school children are already as familiar with the solstice as with the sacraments. In pockets of Cornwall, children will point out a nun in her habit: “Look, a Druid!” Their parents will merely shrug — one set of belief is as good as another. How long before the end of term is marked by a Black Mass, with only Health and Safety preventing a human sacrifice?

You see? How can anyone take such arse dribble seriously? And this woman is supposed to be a professional journalist. What Odone wants of RE is, like Williams, something that is other than mere education and it is a very dark place she would take us to.


  1. The thing is, virtually nothing is known about the druids. The historical record is wafer thin. By all means, teach the history, which amounts to a couple of paragraphs the Romans noted down as they were busy laying waste to the island, and visit the various stone circles etc.

    What I would say is objectionable would be teaching the modern, dressing-up box version of druidism and passing it off as an authentic continuation of ancient rites, which it’s not, as far as I know.

    The christians, in contrast, had mastered the science of writing by the time they turned up, so at least there’s something to study.

    • Actually, I have no problem with teaching it in context – i.e as you say, little or nothing is known about the pre Roman religions and that modern paganism and druidism has its roots firmly in Victorian Britain.

      • Which is an interesting phenomena worthy of study in itself. Most modern pagans recognise that their religion is entirely constructed from scratch and has no historical roots but they aren’t bothered since they believe it still represents fundamental truths, it is probably the only truly apophatic religion there’s ever been. Still tosh of course but rather more honest tosh than most. Odone is one of those completely overrated journalists with a ridiculous line in hyperbole, she’s no better than Mad Bunting or Andrew Brown for all her claims to be a serious Catholic commentator.

        • XX Most modern pagans recognise that their religion is entirely constructed from scratch XX

          Most. Ineed. Most annoying. Because using the methods of comparative study with other religions that “still exist”, and have unbroken lines to their roots, such as Shinto, Saami/Norse (My own), American Native, African tribal, etc, it is quite easy to extract the kernel of truth, from the shite added by the likes of Gardner and Crowley, just by following the common threads existant, and common, in all.

          A thunder storm, and therefore a thunder God, are the same be they in Kiruna, Anchorage, Okinawa, Adelaide, or any other place where REAL…. ahh HEATHENS are. (“Pagan” is an concept kidnapped by the Gardnerarian arselickers so as not to sound TOO “tough and daring” when Mummy, or the local Vicar* asks “What religion ARE you then?” REAL ones call ourselves HEATHENS, and fuck anyone that finds it “too aggressive!)

          Wiking witt and humour. The old Norse “Vikar”, which has come to mean what we know today, a priest, or a man in a skirt that is not NECCESSARILY Scottish, ORIGIONALLY, and is still used to translate, “IDIOT!” :-)))

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