When a person who holds opinions not beloved by media folk is called onto a current affairs show, it can feel like being called to the principal’s office for a ticking off. I’ve been there.
It felt like that when Mary Wilson interviewed Anna Sochanska, the Polish Ambassador to Ireland, on Morning Ireland (RTÉ Radio One, Wednesday). I thought summoning the ambassador was only a function of Government! I felt Mary Wilson was too inclined to interrupt, and came across as imperious, even scolding, though she did say “apologies for interrupting you” before proceeding to do it several more times. The item was in the context of the EU threat to fine Poland €1 million per day until they got rid of a judicial disciplinary body that in the opinion of the European Court of Justice was a threat to judicial independence. But there was also an issue in relation to minority rights, including, as Wilson suggested (‘it is said’), of people who were ‘LGBTOnePlus’ (sic). Other minorities didn’t get highlighted for some reason. The ambassador accepted that some independent local councils had declared support for the traditional one man/one woman family, but that some of these declarations had been struck down as discriminatory.
The ambassador’s key point was that some competencies were reserved for nation states, and some belonged to the EU – ongoing discussions were aimed at resolving any disputes. Wilson used a journalistic tack that I’m not fond of: “Do you condemn…?” and was too much in principal’s office mode, “Do you accept the primacy of EU law?”; “How are we [!] going to resolve this?”
If they don’t like viewpoints of a conservative nature, they certainly have no time for demons! I saw The Exorcist years ago and had no inclination to see it again, but I was very interested in the documentary Fear of God: 25 Years of the Exorcist (BBC Four, Thursday). The background to the film was intriguing – on an artistic level it’s always interesting to see how a novel becomes a film script, how actors are chosen for various roles. When it all works it can often seem to be a result of happy accident. Linda Blair, who plays the possessed girl Regan (definitely no relation!) wasn’t even proposed for the part originally. The adult Blair, describing herself as a Christian, told of the foul language she had to speak to convey the demonic possession and I felt there was something decidedly dodgy about having a young child actress doing this. The film had two theological advisors, and at least two priests acting in the film (one told of getting his provincial’s approval). The director William Friedkin said he could only get such sanctity from a real priest! Friedkin told of how some regarded the film as a great recruiting tool for the Catholic Church, while others saw it as a monstrosity with the devil embedded in the fabric of it. There were stories of movie goers rushing to churches afterwards or getting medical treatment! The writer William Peter Blatty had been to the Jesuit Georgetown University and based his story on newspaper reports of a real possession case in Washington D.C. – we were shown the newspaper headlines of the time – the boy, as it was in the real case, had been messing with a Ouija board, his Lutheran pastor was very disturbed by the accompanying phenomena and referred him to a Catholic priest for exorcism.
Thinking about the hysteria occasioned by the Exorcist in its day made me wonder if there wasn’t some element of hysteria in the current climate change activism. I suppose like with any good cause there will always be some who go to extremes, and I’m conscious that today’s extremists may be tomorrow’s moderates, heroes or even prophets. Last week I mentioned Pope Francis’ positive contribution for the COP26 Conference. This week I heard a media report of President Joe Biden saying we have a moral obligation to future generations – I agree entirely but I’d be more impressed if he supported the right of those generations to be born.
Watching the youth protests in Glasgow on the RTÉ News: Nine O’ Clock (RTÉ One, Friday) I was torn between admiration for their enthusiasm and concern over the climate anxiety being stirred up among the young, which can lead to a sense of doom and depression, pessimism and paralysis – not good for anyone’s wellbeing.
Pick of the week
With God On Our Side
RTÉ One Monday November 15, 9.35pm, BBC One NI Wednesday 10.35pm, BBC Two NI Friday 11.05pm
Former President Mary McAleese meets politicians and peacemakers, perpetrators and victims of violence, to ask what role religion played in creating, and resolving, conflict in Northern Ireland.
BBC One NI Tuesday November 16, 10.35pm
Mandy McAuley investigates how rising energy prices and limits on government support may mean a winter of hard choices for the deprived.
Father Spitzer’s Universe
EWTN Thursday November 18, 6am
Fr Spitzer answers viewer questions on a wide range of subjects, including: Reason, faith, suffering, virtue, and the existence of God.