St Mary’s Appoints New Pro Vice-Chancellor, and a Friend of Ours

johncharmleyOne of the nice things about having a blog, and some very good friends it can make you, is that you get to recognize those friends when something really good happens to or for them such it is here. Professor John Charmley, as regular readers will know, is a very old (no not that way, he’s younger than I am) friend of this blog, and a very close friend of both Jessica and I. I’ve personally found John to be simply a “Man for All Seasons”.

Since this is effectively a press release, I’m simply going to republish the whole thing.

St Mary’s University, Twickenham is pleased to announce that Prof John Charmley is to join the institution as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Strategy in September 2016.

Prof Charmley is currently Head of the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities, Associate Dean for Enterprise and Academic Director for Employability at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

His role at St Mary’s is a senior leadership position and will be particularly focussed on developing, communicating and delivering the University’s strategy for teaching, learning and the wider student experience.

Educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, he obtained a first class degree in History in 1977 and was awarded his DPhil in 1983. He is the author of eight books on modern British politics, including the acclaimed Churchill: The End of Glorypublished in 1993.

Prof Charmley said, “I am looking forward to joining St Mary’s in September, meeting new colleagues and helping Britain’s premier Catholic University to build on its proud reputation for teaching excellence and student experience”

Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell said, “I am delighted that Prof Charmley will be joining our senior team. He brings a wealth of experience from his roles at University of East Anglia and I am confident that he will make a significant contribution to our academic community.”

For those that don’t know (mostly American, I suspect) this is a very senior post at a very good Catholic University in the UK

Newman Lectures

Francis CampbellThose of you who were here last year at this time will remember that we carried, the audio of and some pictures (videos when the speaker agreed) from the Newman Lectures, sponsored by the University of East Anglia, and the Diocese of East Anglia. We are again going to carry them, as they become available, barring technical glitches, which do happen, as we all know.

This year has a very distinguished group of presenters

  • 4 April:   Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor, St Mary’s University, Twickenham
  • 11 April: Dr. Graham James, The Bishop of Norwich
  • 18 April: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Former Archbishop of Westminster
  • 25 April: Bishop Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth

I’m very excited about this lineup, and also again working with John, Andrew, and Siobhan. So if you can’t make it to Norwich, don’t miss out completely.


 

THE CHURCH IN SOCIETY AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO THE STATE

The first Newman lecture this spring was by Francis Campbell. His CV is most impressive:

Currently Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Francis has had a long and distinguished career, working as – amongst other things – Policy Advisor and Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Senior Policy Director with Amnesty International, and British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2005 to 2011.

Probably wouldn’t hurt to add for us Americans, a British Vice-Chancellor is an American university president.

Enjoy, a most interesting lecture.

These lectures are sponsored by:

UEADiocese of East Anglia

 

 

 

Next will be: Dr. Graham James, The Bishop of Norwich

Welcome to a New Subscriber

uk-us-shooping-0211We don’t often recognize new subscribers here, but occasionally we do. And one joined us the other day that is about as rare around here as hen’s teeth, but still has ticked some boxes that I like (a lot).

Our new subscriber is a blogger, a new one, I think, although quite good, and works in-depth as well, a young Brit female (three of my favorite categories right there), from Basildon, in Essex, and rarest of all a Labourite. I suspect she’ll disagree with much of what is written here, but perhaps we can learn from her, and her from us. Many of us know that while we have become curmudgeonly conservative types, we started out much more liberal, until life taught us some lessons. Winston Churchill famously said, “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.  If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” Actually he didn’t, according to the Churchill Centre:

There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: “Surely Churchill can’t have used the words attributed to him. He’d been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35!  And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?”

But still there is a ground truth there.

In any case, she is Melissa D’lima, who blogs at Historyxpolitics. She also says she likes modern British history a lot, and so I can’t help but give a plug to a friend of mine, Professor John Charmley at the University of East Anglia because he has done an extraordinary amount to increase my understanding of that subject, especially with his Chamberlain and the Lost Peace and his History of the Conservative Party both of which are available at Amazon. He’s a bit of a maverick in British history, and we’re much the better for his insight, I think. I should also likely say that following him on Twitter at @ProfJCharmley has opened an entire world of British historians to me and I’m much better for it. If I were younger (well, much younger) I would be looking for a way to study under him.

Interestingly, he also epitomizes one of the paradoxes of British political life. like so many of the great Tories, he is a self-made man, who came up from the working class, all the way through an Oxford doctorate.

One of the people whose work he (and Jess) introduced me to is Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb. From her website, “In October 2011, she took up her post as Head of the Faculty of History and Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at New College of the Humanities (NCH), where she lectures and tutors on British History 1450-1649 and European history 1500-1800. As Head of the Faculty of History, she is a member of the Academic Board, responsible for the academic governance of NCH.” As that indicates, she is far more than a pretty face on TV, and part of why I value her is that I’m convinced one can not understand modern British History (or American, for that matter) without understanding the Tudors, who started modern history for us, and later the world.

If anybody cares, what I’m reading at the moment is Adam Smith: both Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, David Hume: The Understanding, and John Locke’s First and Second Treatises of Government, as well as some lighter stuff.

Something else Suzi did that I really like, and something the American left often has trouble with, is realizing that we must not look at the past through our twenty-first-century eyes. It truly is a foreign land.

So welcome, Melissa. I hope you enjoy it here, and I’m quite sure I’ll enjoy your blog as well, and watching as you, dare I say, continue to grow up. I’m impressed now, who knows what the future holds, so ‘Good Luck and a fair breeze”.

Religion in Foreign Policy

A protester at a rally against ISIS organised by Muslims in Edinburgh (PA)

A protester at a rally against ISIS organised by Muslims in Edinburgh (PA)

It is undeniable that we are suffering a failure of education, including education in our faiths, especially Christianity. This is evidenced not only by our lack of knowledge of our history of our society but also of our church history, and our churches’ teaching. A large proportion of our populations, even those that will admit to Christianity, claim to be spiritual but not religious. Nor is this new, it’s been going on in the US since the sixties, perhaps longer in the UK.

Professor John Charmley, writing in the Catholic Herald posits that:

Education in “spirituality”, while a useful corrective to a tendency towards utilitarianism verging on the Gradgrindian, does not fill the gap left by the ebb of faith in our society.

What Benedict XVI called the “dictatorship of relativism” is relativistic about everything except itself. It seeks to dissolve the organic fabric of established order and replace it with its own, appropriating Orwell’s insight that you cannot express things you do not have words for – which is why it tries so hard to change the language. A world in which a man can be a “mother” and priests can wonder whether the Holy Spirit is feminine, without asking what it then means to say that Our Lord was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, is one in which Christian anthropology has vanished from the public square.

The effects of this go wider than the Church. A state department or a Foreign Office full of political science graduates will tend to analyse things through certain lenses, which is why they will advise politicians to say of ISIS that it is not “Islamic”, and instead, use the language of terrorism and national security. This plays well to an agenda of not upsetting an abstraction called “Muslim opinion”, but is it true? We deal with terrorists, in part, by isolating their political demands and seeing what deal can be struck.

But if, as history suggests, ISIS shares many characteristics which inspired the initial Islamic conquests, its demands are not likely to be ones to which we can agree. If we do not understand this, and if we insist on a reductionist approach to religion, which sees it as an adjunct to secularist definitions of quality and inclusion, then, unable even to ask the right questions, we are unlikely to get close to the right answers.

True, isn’t it? How many times have we groaned in frustration when the State Department made some pronouncement about ISIS, that betrayed a lack of understanding, not only of ISIS but even Christianity, perhaps even American patriotism? It’s rather like sending the Chicago Bears to play cricket, about the only thing they have in common is that there is a contest and some sort of ball. They are not only not on the same page, they are not in the same library.

He comments here that our newspapers no longer have specialist religious reporters, which is true, but given the appalling job they do reporting anything these days, I’m not entirely sure that it’s a bad thing.

Does the Church have a part to play here? Blessed John Henry Newman wrote that “the Gospel requires the reception of definite and positive Articles” and the reverent acceptance of the “doctrinal Truths which have come down to us”. It is even more the fashion of our age than it was of his to ignore this wisdom in favour of a vague belief in personal spirituality; recovery of his ideal is essential both to good catechesis and a wider religious literacy. The idea of a received truth, which cannot be changed at the whim of fashion or a majority, is at the heart of the faith once received – and of other faiths too. As Newman wrote: “Faith is a state of mind, it is a particular mode of thinking and acting, which is exercised, always indeed towards God, in very various ways.” This non-reductionist way of thinking about faith is one way in which the Church could help fill the gaps in our public discourse.

Perhaps even more to our point, they might actually have some inkling of understanding what motivates people like ISIS, or Iran and Saudi Arabia, and what also de-motivates them. Realpolitik was, perhaps, a useful club for beating godless communists, who already understood that Marx and Lenin were false gods, and bringing them to heel. It is much less likely to work on people who actually do believe in their God, no matter how false we may believe them to be.

In truth, many of these people appear to have gone so far done this Gradgrindian road that they no longer even understand what Conservatives speak of when we talk of the meaning of the Constitution, or the effects of Manga Charta, all has become political, that is to say, in flux and subject to change at the drop of a poll number, with the change itself instantly disappearing into the ‘memory hole’. “We’ve always been at war with Oceania”. don’t you know?

None of this is to say that only people of faith can understand other religious people, but it is to suggest that they can bring to the study of such things a language, and an understanding, not readily available from an education system which studies the many epiphenomena of religion without understanding the phenomenon itself.

Professor John Charmley is head of the Interdisciplinary Institute at the University of East Anglia, Norwich

From the CatholicHerald.co.uk » How religious is ISIS?.

There is also a podcast that Professor Charmley did with the Catholic Herald, link below, which extends his points very well. I know some of my readers find the British somewhat hard to understand but, I think you’ll find him to be quite easy to comprehend.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/?powerpress_embed=84223-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

‘John Lydgate’s Medieval Identities: Monk, Poet, and Graffiti Artist’ The Newman Lecture

CAPGo1jWMAA7Ab6So after our Easter break we have the last Newman Lecture of this season. This one is by Dr. Karen Smyth of the University of East Anglia speaking on John Lydgate’s Medieval Identities Monk, Poet, and Graffiti Artist.

Karen Smyth is a Senior Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Literature at the University of East Anglia.

As always, Professor Charmley’s live tweeting of the lecture is included in Storify form in the link following the Soundcloud. please do follow the link, there are a lot of pictures with this one.

‘John Lydgate’s medieval identities: monk, poet, and graffiti artist’ Dr Karen Smyth (with images, tweets) · ProfJCharmley · Storify.

A Climate of Fear, Cash and Correctitude: On the Prairie

English: The official logo of the University o...

English: The official logo of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of you know that I completely discount the whole climate alarmism as essentially nonsense. The climate has been changing as long as there has been a climate. Probably about the fourth day, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” Genesis 1: 14. But in any case it’s nothing new.

So it’s ironic that I have friends at the University of East Anglia, that hotbed of UK corrupt science, that ran on government subsidies (or maybe still does). I don’t kid them about it much because they are good conservative people who know corruption when they see it, and are as honest the day is long.

I’m even gladder that I don’t as I write this introduction, because it seems that the University of Nebraska, Lincoln is every bit as corrupt, and in the exact same way, so I hope they will extend me the same courtesy, as I have said so often in the last few years, “I didn’t vote for this s**t.”

Still I’m a technical guy, and a religious one as well. Yes, there are quite a few around, you just don’t hear about us, because we’re not the ones getting the corrupt grants that so many universities run on anymore, and that may kill the universities yet if they don’t fix it. You see, science is like math: A=A and 2+2=4 not 3.9756 and a good excuse. In other words what is; is, and always has been, and always will be.

Do humans have an effect on climate? Probably, but it is so small that it is immeasurable. Mankind is a prideful beast however, who wants to take credit for things he didn’t and can’t do.

And so another story of a corrupt institution and how it will sell whatever answer its political masters want, if the price is high enough. maybe someday our universities will once again do real, peer-reviewed, honest science. But it’s unlikely to be soon, unless we shut off the government cash-teat.

The crazy goings-on in Nebraska cannot be ignored – especially because they are symptomatic of much bigger problems. As our article notes, Nebraska scientists are refusing to participate in a study that state legislators want to examine natural causes of climate change, unless it is revised to include human influences. In fact, they won’t even suggest that other scientists participate in it. Including ONLY human influences in climate studies doesn’t seem to bother alarmists one whit. But focusing for a change only on natural factors is cause for outrage.

Their stance seems mystifying – until one examines climate change financing, political correctitude, and determination to gain control over people’s lives and livelihoods. Dennis Mitchell and I survey the problem in this week’s column, and point out that these attitudes are found far beyond the Cornhusker Kickback State.

Thank you for posting our article, quoting from it, and forwarding it to your friends and colleagues.

Best regards,

Paul 

A climate of fear, cash and correctitude 

Trashing real science to protect grants, prestige, and desire to control energy, economy, lives.

By Paul Driessen and Dennis Mitchell

Earth’s geological, archaeological and written histories are replete with climate changes: big and small, short and long, benign, beneficial, catastrophic and everything in between.

The Medieval Warm Period (950-1300 AD or CE) was a boon for agriculture, civilization and Viking settlers in Greenland. The Little Ice Age that followed (1300-1850) was calamitous, as were the Dust Bowl and the extended droughts that vanquished the Anasazi and Mayan cultures;cyclical droughts and floodsin Africa, Asia and Australia; and periods of vicious hurricanes and tornadoes. Repeated Pleistocene Epoch ice ages covered much of North America, Europe and Asia under mile-thick ice sheets that denuded continents, stunted plant growth, and dropped ocean levels 400 feet for thousands of years.

Modern environmentalism, coupled with fears first of global cooling and then of global warming, persuaded politicians to launch the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Its original goal was to assess possible human influences on global warming and potential risks of human-induced warming. However, it wasn’t long before the Panel minimized, ignored and dismissed non-human factors to such a degree that its posture became the mantra that onlyhumans are now affecting climate.

Over the last three decades, five IPCC “assessment reports,” dozens of computer models, scores of conferences and thousands of papers focused almost entirely on human fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide/greenhouse gas emissions, as being responsible for “dangerous” global warming, climate change, climate “disruption,” and almost every “extreme” weather or climate event. Tens of billions of dollars have supported these efforts, while only a few million have been devoted to analyses of all factors – natural and human – that affect and drive planetary climate change.

You would think researchers would welcome an opportunity to balance that vast library of one-sided research with an analysis of the natural causes of climate change – to enable them to evaluate the relative impact of human activities, more accurately predict future changes, and ensure that communities, states and nations can plan for, mitigate and adapt to those impacts. You would be wrong.

A few weeks agoNebraska lawmakers called for a wide-ranging study of “cyclical” climate change. Funded by the state, the $44,000 effort was to be limited to natural causes – not additional speculation about manmade effects. Amazingly, University of Nebraska scientists are not just refusing to participate in the study, unless it includes human influences. One climatologist at the university’s National Drought Mitigation Center actually said he would not be comfortable circulating a study proposal or asking other scientists to participate in it; in fact, he “would not send it out” to anyone. The director of the High Plains Climate Center sniffed, “If it’s only natural causes, we would not be interested.”

Their dismissive stance seems mystifying – until one examines climate change politics and financing.

None of these Nebraska scientists seems reluctant to accept far larger sums for “research” that focuses solely on human causes; nor do professors at Penn State, Virginia, George Mason or other academic or research institutions. They’re likewise not shy about connecting “dangerous manmade global warming” to dwindling frog populations, shrinking Italian pasta supplies, clownfish getting lost, cockroaches migrating, anscores of other remote toridiculous assertions – if the claims bring in research grants.

American taxpayers alone are providing billions of dollars annually for such research, through the EPA and numerous other government agencies – and the colleges, universities and other institutions routinely take 40% or more off the top for “project management” and “overhead.” None of them wants to derail that gravy train, and all fear that accepting grants to study natural factors or climate cycles would imperil funding from sources that have ideological, political or crony corporatist reasons for making grants tied to manmade warming, renewable energy and related topics. Perhaps they would be tempted if the Nebraska legislators were offering $4 million or even $440,000. But a lousy $44,000?

Peer pressure, eco-activist harassment, politically correct posturing, and shared ideologies about fossil fuels, forced economic transformations and wealth redistribution via energy policies also play a major role, especially on campuses. Racial and sexual diversity is applauded, encouraged, even required, as is political diversity across the “entire” spectrum from communist to “progressive.” But diversity of opinion is restricted to 20×20-foot “free speech zones,” and would-be free speech practitioners are vilified, exiled to academic Siberia, dismissed or penalized – as “climate skeptics” from Delaware, Oregon, Virginia and other institutions can testify. Robust debate about energy and climate issues is denounced and obstructed.

A Climate of Fear, Cash and Correctitude | PA Pundits – International.

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